In past articles, we have written about DEWALT battery compatibility with a few specific brands of cordless power tools, including Porter Cable, Ryobi, and Kobalt. We’ve been asked enough times about other brands, though, that we want to offer a general overview of DEWALT batteries and their compatibility or lack thereof with other manufacturers’ tools.
First, though, let’s discuss power tool batteries and battery technology for cordless tools.
Lithium Ion Battery Technology
Lithium-ion batteries are a fairly recent technology that replaced the nickel-cadmium battery. LI batteries are easy to recharge and contain battery cells of 1.2 volts, 1.5 volts, or 3.6 volts. When they are assembled into a battery pack, they create packs that will range from between 3.6 volts to 48 volts.
The upper range of those packs, the higher voltage will create greater torque or turning power. To give you some idea of this, a battery voltage of between 4 and 8 volts is enough to turn your cordless screwdrivers. Power drills in the 12 – 18 volt range will be sufficient to tackle most tasks around the house. The higher the voltage, the heavier tasks the tools can perform, but the greater the voltage, the larger and heavier the battery packs will be.
Every cordless power tool manufacturer sources the battery cells elsewhere but makes its own battery packs. The battery slots on the power tools, as well as the branded battery chargers, are made such that the branded battery pack will fit well and tightly so that the tool is powered efficiently and effectively.
In addition, battery packs are manufactured to communicate with the power tool’s motors. This makes for that efficiency and effectiveness.
DEWALT Batteries, 20-Volt Max, and FlexVolt Systems
DEWALT’s FlexVolt system was introduced in 2016, a multi-volt battery system powerful enough to meet the needs of 60-volt cordless power tools. It’s also capable of dropping down to meet the lesser needs of 20-volt lower-power tools.
In addition, though, DEWALT also maintains its 20V Max platform to power its line of 18V cordless tools. These batteries are smaller and more compact than the FlexVolt system, but they are rugged and made for tasks that require only moderate power – generally, most tasks you’re likely to need them for around the house.
DEWALT marks its cordless power tools with the voltage required to power them, ranging in voltage requirements of 20V, 60V, and 120V. You will not have to guess what battery voltage your tool needs as a result.
- FlexVolt batteries are made to power DEWALT 60V and 20V tools
- 20-Volt Max batteries work with all DEWALT 20V power tools, including 20V chargers. However, they will not work with the higher demand 60V and 120V power tools – not enough juice to turn those motors.
DEWALT Power Stack Batteries
DEWALT also offers Power Stack batteries, designed to run longer and cooler and deliver greater power.
The PowerStack 20V Max has half again the power of its standard 20V Max battery in a 25% smaller footprint and with double the lifespan.
The PowerStack 20V Max 5Ah battery has half again the power and gets 20% more work done per charge as against the standard 20V Max 5.0 Ah battery.
This line from DEWALT is powerful, compact, and lightweight, and the video at the end of this article demonstrates the line. They are compatible with all DEWALT 20V Max tools.
DEWALT 12V Power Tools and Their Batteries
Square pegs in round holes come to mind. That’s the case with the DEWALT line of 12V power tools. It produces 12V batteries for that line, and you will find any 20V Max battery will not fit on the tools – too large for these small tools.
Interchangeability of Batteries Among Tools
As you have gathered, DEWALT’s battery packs are made to fit DEWALT cordless power tools. The slats on the battery, the power tool, and the charger are made to fit specifically, tightly, and well. While a DEWALT 20V Max battery pack will easily fit and power any 18V power tool in the DEWALT line, it is not made to fit any other manufacturer’s power tools, and those other manufacturer’s tools are not made to accommodate DEWALT batteries.
The absence of a standardized battery size, voltage, and slot fittings is money-driven. Each manufacturer wants to sell you their own battery packs and chargers and so produces them, so they fit only their own line of tools.
Lithium batteries have a lifespan of 3-5 years, depending on usage and storage practices. Power tools, though, will last longer if cared for properly. This means at least another battery purchase is in their future, if not more.
This is true even for those manufacturers that are owned by the same parent company. For instance, Stanley Black & Decker owns DEWALT, as well as Craftsman, Stanley, Black & Decker, and Lenox. Yet, each makes its own battery packs and chargers.
Battery Adapters for DEWALT
We have mentioned adapters in our previous articles about battery interchangeability, and the articles linked earlier have our thoughts on them. We’ll briefly state those thoughts again.
When we purchase a power tool, it comes with a warranty of use. Warranty language in those instances require the tool to be used only for its intended purposes and in the manner intended by the manufacturer. This includes the battery pack to be used with the tool.
Adapters are not in “the manner intended by the manufacturer” and will void the tool’s warranty. You paid for the warranty, so why would you want to do that just to save a few dollars on an alternative battery pack?
In addition, and as we mentioned earlier, battery packs are designed to communicate with the power tool’s motor, and manufacturers design their battery packs to do this with some particularity. An outside brand adapter will not have this capability, and the power tool will lose its efficiency and effectiveness.
We recommend that you forget about adapters and stay with the battery packs and charges that are made specifically for the power tool you just bought. Give some care to the choice of power tool line you will purchase, taking into account all of its aspects, including battery pack and charger, remembering that battery packs from a manufacturer will be compatible, voltage need for voltage need, with that manufacturer’s line of tools.
In case you aren’t familiar with the PowerStack battery packs from DEWALT, here’s a video demo from a DEWALT representative that will bring you up to speed.
The answer to the question is no, DEWALT batteries are not interchangeable with other brands straight up; an adapter can be used with some other manufacturer’s tools, although we recommend against it.
Don’t risk voiding your power tools’ warranty, and don’t risk using a battery pack with an adapter that might reduce your tool’s efficiency and effectiveness. Get the most for your dollar over the long haul.