Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Skil 18v batteries don't always come with good chargers

The importance of a good 18v battery charger for my Skil cordless power tools cannot be underestimated. Not every charger is the same, and the quality of the charge will have a huge impact on the performance of your Skil 18v batteries, and thus your tools. I learned this the hard way when I finally decided to materialize all my garage ideas. My garage was a complete mess, so I had made all these plans to give it a complete make-over. A lot of the garage ideas required the use of my power tools to build shelving, cabinets, etc. I had all the materials lying in my garage ready to be installed when I realized that my Skil 18v batteries were basically dead. They were totally charged, so I assumed that they were old and needed to be replaced.

I went to my hardware store when I buy all my stuff. The sales guy told me that the batteries that I was running with my Skil 18v drill were not very good. The chargers that come with these NiCad batteries is very basic and is contributing to the memory problems of the battery. He showed my some other chargers from other brands that had conditioning modes on them. A conditioning mode (also known a tune-up mode) will revitalize an old dying battery so they will last much longer. Skil 18v batteries, as well as most others, are wired in series of cells. What the conditioning mode does is charge these cells completely, while the standard quick charge mode will only fill the first few cells of the battery and leave the rest unused. This will prevent the NiCad battery from developing memory and ensure that you always run your power tools at their full potential.

The big problem with the older Skil 18v NiCad batteries and power tool kits is that they don’t offer good chargers with the conditioning modes. Companies such as Dewalt have much better charger offerings, so if you want to stick with the Skil brand, I suggest that you get a tool kit that runs on lithium ion 18v batteries. There are of course a bit more expensive than the NiCad kits, but definitely worth it. Otherwise, you may want to check out the batteries and chargers from other brands. Many of them are considerably more expensive than Skil, so it may not be worth switching.

I tried out a small drill from Dewalt to see the difference between the two brands. So far it is running well, and the tune up mode on the charger seems to work like a charm. I have put my Skil 18v batteries and charger aside for a while, and completed my garage project with my new tools.