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Among the more commonly asked questions we get have to do with cordless power tool batteries. Specifically, the questions have to do with the interchangeability of batteries among different brands.
We’ve researched these questions carefully, read power tool warranties carefully, and checked branded websites and their FAQs in preparation to write the articles we’ve written on the subject. Those articles have included discussions about DEWALT batteries, Ridgid batteries, and Ryobi batteries.
Today we’ll take a look at Makita batteries and whether they can be used with other brands’ cordless power tools.
Cordless Power Tool Batteries
In the past, it was the nickel-cadmium battery that powered cordless tools. The more recent technology of lithium-ion batteries, though, has replaced them across all brands of power tools.
These types of batteries are easily rechargeable and are composed of power cells of various voltage ratings from 1.2V to 3.6V, and these cells are then combined in a battery pack that can range all the way up to 48 volts. The math is pretty easy: 5 cells @ 3.6V each will give you a combined voltage rating of 18V.
Power tool manufacturers do not make the power cells, though. They source the power cells from outside and then manufacture their own battery packs to the voltage their power tools will require. They also manufacture their own battery charges. With most power tools (drills, saws, and so much more) in our workshops 18V tools, we need 18V batteries to power them.
The slots on the batteries are compatible with the slots on the charger from each manufacturer and are made to fit tightly both for a recharge and for powering tools efficiently and effectively. Battery packs are also manufactured to communicate with the motors within the tools when in operation to enhance that efficiency.
This ensures battery compatibility throughout the entire product line of each manufacturer. In the case of Makita, its LXT 18V battery is fully compatible with the entire line of Makita LXT power tools and includes more than 150 of them in the Makita product list.
Who Owns The Makita Brand?
Makita Corporation was founded in 1915 and is a Japanese company based there in the city of Anjo. It manufactures the Makita line of power tools and has manufacturing plants all over the world, including the United States.
In 2012, its gross sales were $2.9B, billion with a “b.” In 2019, Makita held a 5.2% share worldwide in the power tool industry, which totaled $52B in US-based revenue, or $2.7B. Its parent company is JPW Industries, a conglomerate that owns many other companies.
Power Tool Battery Compatibility
As we said, Makita makes its own battery packs and battery chargers, and its 18V tools will run on the Makita 18V lithium-ion battery packs. But what about using those Makita battery packs on another brand’s cordless power tools?
Before we answer that question, let’s look at another member of the power tool industry: Stanley Black & Decker. This parent company is one of the world’s largest power tool manufacturers. It holds a 19%+ market share among all of the brands it owns. Besides the obvious Stanley brand of tools and the Black & Decker line, those brands also include:
- Black & Decker
- Irwin Tools
- Porter Cable
- And many others
Each of those brands makes its own line of power tools and its own battery packs and chargers.
While you would expect that some economies of scale could be achieved by making a single line of batteries and chargers that would be compatible across all brands, that is not the case.
Why Is There No Standardized Lithium Ion Battery Configuration?
The answer is money. Lithium-ion batteries will have a lifespan of from 3 – 5 years if properly used and stored. The tools they power, though, will last longer and come with a warranty for that use.
This means we’ll have to purchase new batteries for our tools every 3 – 5 years. If we take good care of our power tools, they will last 10 – 15 years, if not longer. So, 3 to 5 new batteries will be needed during our power tool’s lifetime, at least.
Since each of the manufacturing brands was making their own batteries before the brands were acquired by Stanley Black & Decker, and tools were made to be compatible with those batteries within the brand product line, it simply makes economic sense to continue.
Makita Battery Compatibility
As we said, Makita 18V lithium-ion batteries are compatible with the entire Makita line of 18V power tools. However, as you have no doubt guessed, they are not compatible with other power tool brands, and for the reasons we identified.
In a previous article about DEWALT and Ryobi battery compatibility, we found they were not compatible straight up. We also mentioned an adapter that could help bridge the configuration issue so that DeWALT batteries could be used with Ryobi tools.
While this workaround does come into play with a number of batteries of one brand being used on another brand’s power tools, we questioned whether it was prudent to do so.
We understand the desire to save money. Our woodworking shop budget is tight, too, with a family to support. Some battery brands are less expensive than others, and it would be great to be able to mix and match less expensive batteries with more expensive power tools.
This is especially true when you consider the need for 3 – 5 battery purchases during the lifespan of the power tool. It also would provide the opportunity to have a variety of power tool brands in our shop, but only need a less expensive battery or three and a couple of less expensive chargers.
Warranty Considerations on Battery Pack Interchangeability
When you purchased your power tools, they came with a warranty of use. It’s likely the warranty included some language about improper use and actions that might void the terms of the warranty. It is also likely this would pertain to battery packs used with the tool.
There are adapters for all major brands of power tools and battery packs, and Makita is no exception. However, using a battery pack that was not meant by the manufacturer to be used with its power tools will likely void the tool’s warranty.
You paid for the warranty when you bought the tool, and taking an action that could void it is wasted money. There’s a value and budget judgment called for here: save money on batteries by buying an adapter vs losing money on a voided warranty.
We recommend instead, you carefully choose a brand you would be willing to stick with and pick up a couple of batteries of the same brand to support that choice. Keep battery use in the family, so to speak, and stay with the brand of your choice.