Lithium Ion Batteries

Bosch BatteryLithium Ion batteries are the newest batteries to hit the market.  In fact, all power tool manufacturers have left older battery technology and moved to Lithium-Ion batteries.  We get a lot of questions each month about this battery technology:

  • How reliable are these batteries
  • Are they actually better
  • What are the downsides to these batteries
  • Is it true Lithium Ion batteries burst into flames

We do have a section on batteries that explains all the types and gives a brief overview of each type under our – All About Batteries. However, we thought it was important to cover Lithium Ion batteries in more detail so you can understand this battery technology and therefore protect your investment for the long term.

Let's start out with some basics. What are Lithium Ion batteries and are they the same as Lithium batteries? In short, they are different. A Lithium Ion battery can be recharged while Lithium can not be recharged and that's the main difference. The chemistry that makes up these different batteries is different and that is due to more stability needed with a rechargeable battery.

Pro's & Con's to Lithium-Ion Power Tool Batteries

Pro's

  • Very light compared to other types of rechargeable batteries of the same power
  • Stores more power size for size. A typical Lithium Ion battery can store about 150W in 1 Kilogram of battery, while a NiMH stores around 80-100W. Also, a Lithium-Ion can store more energy, about 3.7V compared to 1.2 V for NiMH or NiCd. This means a Lithium ion can use a single cell rather than multiple cells.
  • They hold their charge longer. A Lithium Ion will lose about 5% per month, while NiMH will loose about 20% or more per month.
  • Lithium will work till the last pull of the trigger while other will slowly lose energy before they go dead.

Con's:

  • More chances for a Lithium Ion battery to fail since they need an onboard computer to manage the battery.
  • Even if you don't use the battery it will degrade
  • They are sensitive to extremely high temperatures and will degrade quicker.

While these are the con's, they hold true for older Lithium-Ion batteries.  We wanted to include the cons because people still have this misconception.  Today technology has improved and the con's come less into play.  Manufacturers have figured out ways to improve this technology and can now produce a very reliable battery with fewer defects.

As we discussed above, manufacturers have small onboard computer systems built in for safety features. The system will not let you over charge or discharge the battery too much where it will ruin the battery.If you overcharge a battery, you can cause it to explode.  In addition, you also run into problems when the charge

Some Tips

Storage – When you store these batteries make sure you have a full charge and take them out every other month to use.  Just to make sure it doesn't fall below the safety level. Also, store your batteries in a cool dry place.

Power – When you get a new battery, always put a full charge on it before you use it.  Manufacturer ship the batteries only partial charged.  Once you fully charge the battery, it will activate it and take it out of “Shipment Mode”.

Memory – Lithium Ion batteries do not have a memory.