Give the gift of batteries this Christmas

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Upgrade your loved one’s tools with new batteries

Every year we get a number of requests for gift ideas as the holiday season approaches. To stem the tide a little we publish a gift guide filled with all the tools from the last year that we recommend. From hand tools to cordless to large shop tools. The guide is packed with tons of good ideas but here’s another one for you (subscribe here to get the gift guide when it comes out). If you’re not sure what to get your loved one try upgrading their batteries.


For the Tool Hound that has everything

Almost every family or extended family has at least one tool hound. The guy or gal that can fix almost anything with a rubber band, match stick, and piece of gum MacGyver style. They’re the ones whose favorite room is the workshop and that shop may even rival the tool department at the hardware store. You want to get them something useful, something they’ll appreciate, and something they don’t have. Don’t go looking in the gimmick tool bins on Black Friday. Take a few steps further back into the tool corral and check out the batteries.

These are the 4 Ah batteries I use currently. RYOBI, RIDGID, and Milwaukee M12

These are the 4 Ah batteries I use currently. RYOBI, RIDGID, and Milwaukee M12

Step up to 4.0 Ah

Most of the major manufacturers now have 2 and 4 Ah (Ampere Hour) for their 12 and 18 Volt cordless tool lines. An Ampere Hour is the electric charge transferred past a specified circuit point by a current of one ampere in one hour. If the definition is confusing just think of it as a quantity of electricity. Many tool kits came with either 1.5 or 3.0 Ah batteries in the last few years so a 4.0 battery has 33% more electricity (and runtime) than a 3.0 battery and 167% more than a 1.5 battery. That’s a huge upgrade.

Longevity of Battery Platforms


This drill is almost old enough to vote.

When cordless tools were in their infancy the battery styles seemed to change every couple years. Over time the manufacturers have started standardizing their designs a little more and updating just the guts of the battery and not the interface between the tool and the battery. This has led to some platforms being around for more than a decade. That means that your loved one may have an older tool but can leverage all of the new battery technology.


One great example of this is the RYOBI ONE+ platform. The first ONE+ drill came out in 1996-97. Yes, 1996, almost 18 years ago. That is a ridiculously long time in the cordless tool world. And it will still take the new Lithium Ion 4 Ah batteries. I bet there are even some readers with this old blue drill. If that’s you or you know someone with one, upgrade to the new batteries. You won’t be sorry. I have a couple of these kicking around in my shop and I’m always amazed at how much juice they have left when I push the battery gauge button.

Black Friday Deals

Be sure to check out the circulars that are starting to be released for Black Friday 2013. I’d be willing to bet there are battery deals to be had especially at Home Depot. Probably a few tool kits that come with free additional batteries but also sales on batteries themselves. Maybe even a 2 for 1 on RYOBI… wink, wink.

About the author

Jeff Williams

Contributing Editor Jeff Williams is a carpenter for a commercial General Contractor specializing in concrete, steel, and wood buildings. Jeff comes from a long line of contractors. His parents started a commercial General Contracting firm many years ago and it has afforded him life-long, hands-on learning opportunities from rough and fine carpentry all the way to structural steel and concrete. Jeff has a Construction Management degree and loves the thrill of coordinating and successfully managing large jobs from start to finish. Inspired by the difficulties sometimes encountered to complete punch lists his motto is, "Work hard until the job is done."


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1 Comment

  1. Ken

    “The first ONE+ drill came out in 1996-97.” – Do you know what the model number of the original Ryobi 18V ONE+ drill is from 1996-97?

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