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Here’s How to Choose the Best Battery for Your Outdoor Power Equipment

Here’s How to Choose the Best Battery for Your Outdoor Power Equipment

OPE batteries
Tackle projects with outdoor power tools that deliver the performance you want. Thanks to better battery technology in recent years, cordless tools have come a long way when it comes to power and run time. As a result, you get freedom from cords and plenty of power to take on all your outdoor tasks.

Discover the types of batteries and how to choose the best battery for your needs.  ​

Key Factors for Outdoor Power Tool Performance

There are a number of points to look at when using battery-powered tools. Consider the following factors, whether switching to cordless tools or updating your existing selection.

Cordless Tool Convenience

Battery tools offer a variety of benefits that can make DIY jobs around the house easier. In addition to delivering equal power and run time to gas-powered models, today's top-of-the-line cordless tools offer:
  • No cord to get tangled or limit your equipment's range
  • Easier maintenance and operation than gas-powered equipment with no gas or oil to mix, cleaning of carburetors and engine components or winterizing at season's end
  • Quieter operation
  • Less cost associated with gas and oil refueling
  • A variety of sizes and power outputs to suit your property's size and needs

Power tool
Batteries charging

Battery-Pack Versatility

When you purchase outdoor power equipment, it's a good idea to choose the same brand for all your tools and components. Here’s why:
  • The battery pack is compatible with multiple tools. This allows you to use it interchangeably across all of your equipment
  • You can build your tool collection over time, and charge each additional tool with your chosen battery platform
  • You get a convenient, cost-effective and streamlined system
Many brands offer a range of handheld battery tools such as weed eaters, trimmers, leaf blowers, chain saws and lawn mowers. Build up your existing lineup or research different brands and choose one that offers the variety and power you need.

TIP: Buy a spare battery pack to keep on hand. This allows you to swap it out and avoid downtime while you're working.

Battery Basics and Care Tips

Familiarize yourself with common terms, battery types and care methods to get the best performance out of your cordless power tools.

Rechargeable Battery Terms

Get up to speed on common terms you'll come across when researching cordless batteries. 

Voltage indicates how much power a battery can deliver at a given time. The higher the voltage, the more powerful the tool. Consider the following voltage as a guideline when choosing a battery: 

Light Work: 7V–15V 
Medium Work: 12V–18V 
Heavy Work: 18V–36V 

Capacity (run time) is the amount of time a battery can operate on a single charge. This is expressed in the amount of amperage hours (Ah) it can deliver. Ah represents how long a battery can hold a charge, not the level of current during operation. Therefore, a higher Ah means longer battery use between charges. 

Cycle life is the overall life of the battery. It represents the number of times a battery can be recharged before its performance degrades. The cycle life will vary by battery type. 

Nickle cadmium (NiCd): 1000+ charge cycles 
Nickle metal hydride (NiMH): Varies; longer if stored and charged correctly 
Lithium ion (Li-Ion): 300–500 charge cycles 

NOTE: Look at cycle life in relation to capacity/run time. Compared to other types, Lithium ion batteries have a shorter cycle life but a longer run time between charges. Therefore, a shorter cycle life isn't an issue if you want tools that will operate for longer periods. 

Memory effect refers to the reduction of a battery's capacity through improper charging and storage. 

Self discharge is when a battery slowly loses charge when not in operation. All batteries lose charge but at different rates. A slow discharge rate is ideal if you use your tools less frequently. 

Deep discharge is when a battery is allowed to completely drain through normal operation. For some (not all) battery types it can reduce cycle life and capacity. Some batteries require deep discharge periodically to ensure battery health. This requires extra user maintenance.

Types of Batteries

There are 2 main types of rechargeable batteries used with cordless power tools.
Nicd Battery

NiCd Batteries 
NiCd batteries are the oldest of the three battery types. 

Pros: Tough, inexpensive, long cycle life, strong current flow 

Cons: Heaviest of the three types, low capacity (Ah), require cooling before recharging, require regular deep discharge, toxic and damaging to the environment
Lithium Ion Battery

Li-Ion Batteries 
The newest technology in rechargeable batteries for cordless tools is Li-Ion. These lithium batteries outperform NiCd and NiMH. 

Pros: Lightweight, hold a large amount of energy, very high capacity, less sensitive to temperature than NiMH, do not suffer from self-discharge and memory effect like NiCd and NiMH batteries, longest charge/recharge life cycle, no maintenance 

Cons: Overheating can destroy them*, shortest overall life cycle, most expensive 

*Most have safety features to prevent overheating. 

Li-Ion batteries are versatile in that they can be designed in various shapes for better tool balance.

Caring for Your Battery

Prolonged battery life is often impacted by incorrect charging or heat damage during charging. A high-quality battery charger helps ensure optimal charging and maximize battery life. Some battery types require more maintenance than others. In general: 
  • NiCd batteries require regular deep discharge (monthly) to prevent memory effect 
  • NiMH batteries require semi-regular deep discharge (every 2-3 months) to prevent memory effect 
  • Li-Ion batteries are the least sensitive with no maintenance. They do not suffer from self-discharge and memory effect 

When choosing a battery charger: 
  • Ensure it features sensors and electronics that optimize charging of your battery type 
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions to preserve the life of your battery 
  • Consider the charging time for NiCd and NiMH. Choose the fastest charger in your price range to help reduce memory effect
OPE battery charger
OPE in use

Battery Buying Mistakes to Avoid

Avoid common buying mistakes to get the most out of your outdoor power equipment. Make sure: 

  • The battery platform you choose is compatible with your outdoor power tools. If you are purchasing for the first time, look for a cordless power tool line that carries a battery pack and the tools you want 
  • The battery meets your performance needs. Review the voltage, capacity, etc. in totality. Pick a battery type (NiMH, Li-Ion) that offers the power and run time you need for the job 
  • To check the charging instructions before use and avoid battery damage. Don't assume the battery is fully charged when purchased
The type of rechargeable battery you use plays a critical part in the performance of your outdoor power tools. Without enough capacity, your battery-powered leaf blower or hedge trimmer might quit part way through the job. You won't get much mowing done if your battery-powered lawn mower doesn’t have power. 

Browse our selection of outdoor power equipment and enjoy the convenience of powerful, low-maintenance cordless tools that get the job done.
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