Replacement battery packs for cordless tools

Hi all,
I am looking into replacing my 18v drill, impact driver, reciprocating saw set with a 12v set. My current 18v batteries are on their last legs. I could probably frankenstein some new cells into the packs, but I would like to move to smaller tools that are as nearly as powerful as my 8 year old 18v set. I am currently looking at the Milwaukee 12v Fuel (brushless) line. Since I don’t use these tools for a living, I am taking my time and looking for ways to keep costs lower. This may include buying refurbed tools (tools are often purchased and returned for a single use project. I would also be using my credit card coverage to extend the warranty). It may also include buying non-oem battery packs.

Does anyone have any experience for non-oem cordless tool battery pack companies like Powerextra and AKPower? Are there others to consider?
I know the knowledge in this area is definitely on this site, but I wonder if maybe there is another place that might have more discussion…

My only experience here was with a standard (not “XR”) DeWalt 18V NiMh pack. It’s been awhile (like ten years) but I recall that it was one of the brands which had great reviews and was recommended by several people I knew. The pack was not mistreated in any way but it was dead within 2 months. After that I began rebuilding my own with Tenergy cells which performed a lot better. Not having a spot-weld setup I used tabbed cells and soldered the tabs together, a tough and tricky process given the tabs were stainless steel. That cost nearly as much as a refurbished pack so I gave up trying at that point.

I’m a heavy-duty tool user and I have come to the conclusion that no aftermarket packs can compare to OEM or Factory-Refurbished ones. Speaking with a couple local battery rebuilders got me the same thoughts- not worth doing it if more than a couple cells were bad and the pack was nearly new.

Good deals (for DeWalt at least) can be had from “Maxtools”, a factory authorized dealer for DeWalt (including refurbs). Just keep watching for their sales which change every month or two. Never had any problems at all with their goods.

Unless you just like great tools, a lesser brand may meet your needs equally well for less money. You know what you need and want so go for that and I hope you find bargains :slight_smile:


Thanks for your input. I’m not a heavy user but I don’t want to get something I have a chance at killing if I use it heavily a couple of times.
I figure since the manufactures have to make a cost decision on which cells they source for thousands of pack, the aftermarket makers could chose to use better cells to improve their reception. CPOtools ( seems to have high volume sales of refurbed tools (well, they have a nice site at least). I think I will call them and ask their opinion on new, refurb, and aftermarket.

I have this 12v Ridgid set. Drill, impact driver, 2 batteries and charger. One battery is a 4Ah and the second one is a 2Ah. Very light weight and powerful and there are some other tools available in his line but I doubt there is a reciprocating saw. Current price is 149 but it goes on sale from time to time for 129 or even 99

Ridged offers a 12v multitool with different heads. However, it come packaged with a charger, battery, and a non-recip head.|THD|G|0|G-BASE-PLA-D25T-PowerTools|&gclid=Cj0KEQiA6IC2BRDcjPrjm_istoUBEiQASrLz1iobYKX1lHRKmWVAOq9Bb8gCITv_JvU2B7bCg7T6Z50aAj1Y8P8HAQ&gclsrc=aw.ds
Pardon the links, on mobile.

Their lifetime warranty is nice but you can buy a refurbished set for $98 and no tax. It comes with a 1yr.

I like the Ridgid stuff but I am drawn to the Milwaukee Fuel over Ridgid bc of their torque specs.

Fuel stuff is great, but if you’re really just using it as a homeowner, it’s probably overkill. I’d even consider the Ryobi line, if I was in your shoes. (You’re not going to “kill it” in a couple of uses.)

But as far as aftermarket batteries go, I’d say it’s such a crapshoot that you’d be better off just buying OEM.

You didn’t say what your old 18v tools were… it sounds like you’re drawn to something lighter, but it would probably be very cost effective to get new OEM batteries for them. (Unless the tools themselves are junk, of course.)

I generally advise homeowners to not get caught up in the expense of battery operated tools that they rarely use, just buy a good extension cord for your rare use of power tools.

Plug in tools are stronger and better anyway, and they don’t weaken and then die every couple or few years, whether you use them or not.

Buy lifetime plug in tools, and maybe a cheap screwdriver tool for convenience and little things.

The problem with a whole host of battery operated tools is not USING them, it’s the sitting around and the battery simply dying. The cheap ones die quickly since the batteries are often the most expensive component, so you get cheap batteries.

I have a number of those cheap tools, mostly drills, and some decent ones that died normally after a good while or normal use. For a couple I built packs out of 18650 batteries, used ones I had laying around long before I even found this site or knew much about 18650. They are still working long after the NiXX ones died. I AM concerned about pack balancing, over/under charge since I didn’t bother to put balance plugs on them. But, with slow charge in a safe spot, so far so good. I plan to rectify that oversight some time but I an not going back to NiXX packs….ever.

I just read that NIMH// nickle metal hydride batteries lose 30% of their charge in a month vs. ni cad that loses 20…and lithium ion was at 4 ….
IDK the numbers kinda shocked me and made me realize why NIMH has always been such a disappointment ….Also why eneloop or low self discharge is such a hit with just about everyone.

My question is …Are all the new high voltage drills being sold like old TV sets ? Using big numbers to lure in customers who are armed with only a few 1080P type numbers under their belts ?

Seems like all the newer drills are made in china now …but i’m betting Makita still makes more expensive versions in japan too .

BUT with technology moving so fast is it smart putting bigger money in a better more reliable drill iself .
in a disposable economy i think this is always the question .“Do i need the newest greatest most expensive model now …knowing that the cheap chinese version next year will have all the newest features (looking like it’s left my older model in the dust)

i think I’ll just buy a 5 peice screwdriver set

In 2008 I was in construction and replaced an old NiCad Dewalt cordless with a Makita 18v LiIon drill & driver set with (2) 1500mAH batteries. I used it fairly heavily but got out of construction in 2009. That pair of batteries is still in use but has an obviously shorter life. In 2012 I added a new set of compatible Makita tools with 3000mAH batteries and used the snot out of the set residing my house with HardiPlank siding. Home Depot carries the set and individual tools so you can add particular functions.

It may be overkill for regular homeowner DIY but I really like the Makita stuff.

I bought a kit with a bunch of Makita 18V tools and three lithium ion 3Ah batteries when I got a house a few years back, and I think it’s one of the best investments I’ve ever made. Having proper tools when you build something makes a difference both in enjoyment and quality of the work done. The fact that I have the same battery for my drills, my saws, my hedge trimmer, my grass trimmer, my pretty much everything… is really quite nice. Less than 30 minutes to charge them up again, so I’m never without one battery that’s charged. Sure, the cordless tools might not have quite the power of corded ones, but that has rarely been an issue, and not having a cable of death is such a relief when you are sawing or cutting…
The one issue I’ve had is that one battery has died on me and I couldn’t be bothered to send it back again. I think they might replace it for me, but haven’t gotten around to finding out yet :slight_smile:
I’d never buy Ni* powered tools, really don’t like them.

I am looking into replacing a 7-8 year old Makita LXT set. The reason I like the 12V Fuel Impact Driver is that the torque spec is within about 10% of my Makita Impact driver. For the drill and Recip, I can live with brushed.

I use my tools for stuff from paddle bits, loosening lug nuts (with breaker bar to start), I installed new windows in my house last month. Sometimes I also wish I could use my impact for work but it is too much. About once a week I do repair on serviceable tablets that use a T9 bit (so nothing like a standard 1/4” thick tablet, these are 2.5”). It is this work plus the power of the newer tools that seems to make sense to look at 12v. I agree that it seems 12v is on the cusp of several makers offering brushless. In 2 years, there will be many more options.

Corded would be the ultimate one-time purchase, but I like the convenience of cordless.

For homeowner-level use I usually recommend Ryobi- a wide selection of decent tools and OK batteries usually at very good prices during sales. The ‘kits’ may come with NiMh but you can upgrade to LiIon with an appropriate charger and new packs. Their cell choice is mid-grade but good enough for non-commercial use as long as you exercise them regularly. Non-use and over-use is what usually kills tool packs; few people actually wear them out normally. If you don’t abuse the tools they won’t wear out. It took me 18 years to wear out a DeWalt drill and 21 years to wear out their tiny saw under hard usage.

I don’t like Rigid. I used to beta-test for them so I know their tools pretty darn well. Some parts are good, some aren’t, and their packs are similar in grade to Ryobi’s. Their power tools lose their ‘newness’ and wear rather quickly. Rigid makes great plumbing tools though. I feel the same way about Skil tools- just not worth their cost.

Makita, Milwaukee, and Bosch are premium contractor grade tools. Great stuff but overkill for homeowner use. If you think they’re expensive check out Festool- the CPF grade of power tools. Lovely stuff if you can afford it


In addition to the 12V Ridgid drill and driver that I mentioned, I also have the Makita version in 12V.
I am referring to 12V tools because the OP said that he would like to switch from 18V to 12V.
I have 18V tools in Ridgid and Ryobi and although they are more powerful, I find that for most purposes the reduced size and weight of the 12V tools is just so much more convenient to use. Of course if a job requires more power I go with the 18V
BTW, using a 4Ah pack on the 12V Ridgid really brings out the beast inside of it. Much more power, not just added run time.

This is great info. Thanks! I went to HD today with my paddle bits. I tested the Ridgid’s with the 2.0ah pack and the 4.0ah pack. Both cut well. With the 4.0ah pack I was able to push quite a bit harder before it would cut off. I think I will go with Ridgid and I suppose I will buy at HD to get the LSA. Although the refurb set on ebay for $110 is tempting… I will wait for a sale for now.

Also, I noticed that there are 6 holes in the top of the packs and 6 pins in the chargers. This tells me the charger can balance a 3s or 5s pack. Pretty nifty. Here is a pic

Much easier than balancing my Makita pack