Did you know that DEWALT, Black & Decker, Craftsman, Porter Cable, and more top power tool brands are all owned by the same company? That parent company is Stanley Black & Decker.
The American Stanley Black & Decker is an enormous company and owns many of the power tool brands you know and likely use in your woodworking shop. The DEWALT division develops high-quality, industry-leading tools; while Porter Cable is more of a budget division developing products that compete with Ryobi, Harbor Freight, and other more modestly priced offerings.
Porter Cable is the older of the two, founded in 1906; DEWALT was formed in 1924. Beyond that, other distinctions include the power tools developed, the countries where the tools are manufactured, price points and more:
- DEWALT’s first power tool was a radial arm saw; Porter Cable’s was a circular saw
- DEWALT tools are manufactured in the United States and Canada; Porter Cable’s are manufactured in Mexico and China
- DEWALT’s power tools are at a higher price-point; Porter Cable’s are more toward the budget end
- DEWALT’s cordless tools are powered by a Flexvolt system of batteries that adjusts voltage use automatically; Porter Cable’s cordless tools use a 20V Max system.
DEWALT’s cordless power tools target the higher priced market, and with its reputation for high-quality performance are geared toward those who want or need higher power and a longer lifetime. Porter Cable, at a lower price point in the marketplace, are nonetheless suitable for smaller tasks that require less power.
Each has its value in the woodworking shop, and which of the two is better suited for your needs will be determined by the projects you intend to take on. For lighter use requiring less power and on a tighter budget, Porter Cable cordless power tools could very well be the right choice for your shop. For the more robust needs and higher power requirements, assuming they can fit in your budget, DEWALT would be the smarter choice.
DEWALT has a more varied and extensive product line than Porter Cable. Each is powered by lithium-ion battery packs, but Porter Cable cordless power tools are not as powerful as DEWALT models. They are not built for hard, everyday use for long periods of time, whereas DEWALT tools are, making them the favored job site brand.
Lithium Ion Batteries
We’ve written extensively in past articles about batteries for cordless power tools, including here, here, and here. For more detailed information about lithium ion batteries, you can refer to those articles. Today, we’ll give just a cursory overview of them.
Lithium ion batteries are a relatively recent technology that has replaced the nickel-cadmium battery. They are easily rechargeable and contain cells of 1.2 volts, 1.5 volts, or 3.6 volts. When assembled, they are used to make batteries that range between 3.6 volts up to 48 volts.
The higher the voltage, the greater the torque (turning power). A voltage rating of between 4 volts and 8 volts is sufficient to power your cordless screwdrivers. Power drills in the 12 volt to 18 volt range will help you take care of most tasks around the home. Anything 20 volts and up are for heavy tasks, but higher voltage will mean larger and heavier battery packs.
Therein is a distinction worth mentioning, too. Each cordless power tool manufacturer makes its own battery packs, but sources the battery packs elsewhere. The battery slots on the power tools are made such that the battery pack will fit well and tightly so that it powers the tool efficiently and effectively.
Are Battery Packs Interchangeable
Simply because the same parent company owns both the DeWALT and Porter Cable power tool divisions, you should not expect that parts, including battery packs, are interchangeable.
Within the brands, it is easy to say that DEWALT 20 volt battery packs are interchangeable among the entire line of power tools. This makes sense – voltage is voltage; DEWALT makes its own battery packs designed to fit the battery pack slots on the DEWALT power tools; and, DEWALT wants you to use its own battery packs.
DEWALT also uses its Flexvolt battery system on DEWALT tools and wants you to use just its Flexvolt battery packs on its tools. The advantage of the Flexvolt battery system is that it automatically adjusts voltage when more is needed for a task.
Porter Cable power tools do not use Flexvolt battery packs. Remember – Porter Cable is the budget option of power tool lines from the parent company. Its line of tools are less powerful and designed for lesser power requirement tasks. The Porter Cable line of power tools use 20V Max battery packs (the maximum voltage available for use from the pack is 20V, although 18V is the true output).
As between the two lines of power tools, the battery pack slots on the electrical connectors differ. DEWALT 20 volt packs and chargers have 5 slots, whereas the Porter Cable 20 volt packs and chargers have 4. They are not compatible.
The answer to the question, then, is no, DEWALT batteries will not fit Porter Cable cordless power tools.
As a general rule, we recommend sticking with the branded battery packs for your tools. DEWALT battery packs with DEWALT tools, Porter Cable battery packs with Porter Cable tools, etc., from brand to brand.
They are made to be compatible, providing the power and circuitry connections necessary to maximize a power tool’s performance. The power signature from battery pack to power tool motor is aligned for that maximum performance, and that is what you want from all of your power tools.
There are modifications that can be made to make another brand’s battery packs work with your tools, and adapters can be purchased that are made for that purpose. Nevertheless, we recommend you stay with the family of tools and battery packs you’ve purchased.
And one aside not involving DEWALT . . . .
Porter Cable and Craftsman power tools share common slots and connectors among their lines. They are both divisions of the parent company Stanley Black & Decker, so this is not a surprise.
However, as between the two, they have different polarities to the connection. You’ve seen on the common household batteries of any size that there is a positive end and a negative end, and if you insert the batteries into your flashlight incorrectly the light won’t work.
This is the obstacle to interchanging Porter Cable and Craftsman batteries between their line of cordless power tools.
Read the manuals of all your cordless power tools and check the list of compatible battery packs for them. Make smart purchases that will keep your tools running smoothly and well. Stay within the family.