COMMUNITY FORUM

PlaneBuilder

03:26PM | 08/27/02
Member Since: 08/26/02
8 lifetime posts
Bvtools
I've purchased a variety of Cordless drills over the past few year and all tend to need replacement batteries. My current irritation is with my Craftman 12 volt Professional series Drills, Lights, and Saw. I needed to replace the battery packs and was shocked a the 'scam' pricing structure. I can buy a new drill with 2 - 12 Volt packs (that don't fit my current model for $50-60 or ONE replacement battery pack for my Craftsman tools for $45. Anybody have an option ... I'd love to keep my existing tools running but at $45 per battery???

rpxlpx

10:20AM | 08/28/02
Member Since: 03/13/00
1675 lifetime posts
You might check with one of those new batteries-only stores, like Batteries Plus. See if they offer an equivalent battery for less.

PlaneBuilder

04:45PM | 09/13/02
Member Since: 08/26/02
8 lifetime posts
Nope not a battery "pack" to be found ... but I did fine a place that would consider rebuilding the pack with new NiCad cells ... kind of a complex repair and probably not worth the shipping and manual cost to rebuild the old pack. I'm thinking about trying it myself if I can find a place to buy the NiCad cell then solder together to match the layout of the old pack. Thankfully they have screws so the pack can be taken apart.

Mark Hammond

05:12PM | 09/13/02
Member Since: 05/09/01
246 lifetime posts
Yea,
I guess to a point it's a scam but everyone of the manufacturers do the same thing. ***** is by far not the only one. Makita sells a lot of their products without batteries so you still need to buy them to get the tool to work! And talk about expensive.......wow! Single batteries are expensive as hell but in most cases, depending on what voltage you need, you can get a new drill kit with up to two batteries and a charger for close to the cost of a new single battery. It's called marketing and a fact of shopping life. Get used to it!! Mark Hammond

Lawrence

06:31PM | 09/13/02
Member Since: 11/14/00
333 lifetime posts
All manufactures do it. Toyota and Honda parts cost far more than US parts in part because they need to make up the cost of import duties on auto sales on their auto parts sales. And the cost of buying a full car out of spare parts would be ten to a hundred (dare I say a thousand?) times the cost of buying it "fully assembled." ("I'll take the fully-assembled car, Chuck, and skip putting it together, myself....")

However, there are two legitimate reasons. First, the batteries ARE the most expensive part of the tools. The tools are just metal and plastic, and they are just modified or upgraded designs of designs that have been around for over a hundred years: not much research and development costs. Batteries capable of producing heavy amperage in small packages, on the other hand, are the product of immense ongoing research. They are also fairly new to the scene (past ten to twenty years) compared to the tools, themselves: drills have been around for centuries, power drills for at least a century.

Batteries also involve chemical manufacturing with liquid, not solid, parts, which is more hazardous, toxic, and thus more costly to handle.

The second part pertains to the economies of scale. Most people do not use ther tools to the extent that they wear out the batteries. In fact, very few do. (Think of all the unused Christmas gifts that lie around idle across the country, not just your well-used tool sets.) Most who expereince battery failure just replace the set when the batteries go out because it is, say, ten years old by then and they just want the fancy new ones. Thus, the economies of scale that allow volume discounts on the original tools, themselves, do not exist for replacement battery parts.

To explain a bit further, I'll simplify the math and use wildly-conservative estimates. Suppose it costs $1,000,000 in fixed costs to set up the manufacturing facility and business infrastructure to manufacture the tools, and an additional $100,000 to manufacture, package and distribute the extra batteries individually, including the costs to the retailers for handling an extra product. Seems like the replacement batteries should be cheaper because the costs are 10% of the costs of the tool sets. However, because they sell, say, 1,000,000 tool sets a year, they can spread the fixed costs of the tool sets over a million sales: or $1 per sale. At the same time, suppose 100,000 (10%) or so of those 1,000,000 tool sets experience battery failure. Suppose half those people just buy new sets, leaving, say, only 50,000 bothering to research, seek out and buy replacement batteries. That requires the manufacturer to spread the extra $100,000 over only 50,000 sales, or $20 per sale: TWENTY times more as the per-unit fixed-cost of the ENTIRE tool set. Although the costs are lower, the cost per unit (in fixed costs) ends up being higher.

These are obviously fictitious numbers, and I'm not submitting them as actual justification but merely as a simplified example of how a much less-expensive part (90% less expensive) can end up costing 20 times more than the more-expensive tool if the volume discount and economies of scale are not there.

The batteries probably are more like 40-60% of the cost of the tools sets--they are where the research, materials, and manufacturing costs are--so the costs of manufacturing, packaging, listing, and selling them individually would go up to 50-70% of the cost of the tool sets. Moreover, 10% of batteries do not fail; it is probably more like less than 5%. Both of those changes would significantly increase the per-unit costs, but would make the math more complicated.

[This message has been edited by Lawrence (edited September 13, 2002).]

GlennG

02:49PM | 09/16/02
One more piece of advice, ALWAYS use the same battery until it is near dead before recharging it. These batteries tend to have a memory and if you recharge them before they need it, it will greatly reduce their lifespan.

I have been using cordless tools for many years and I have had to replace very few batteries. And I use them all the time.

Glenn

LDoyle

03:34PM | 09/16/02
Member Since: 06/03/01
324 lifetime posts
The older nickle-cadium batteries suffered from 'memory' problems and they needed to be completely discharged every couple of months before recharging. Newer metal-hydride (sp?) do not need this discharge and have no 'memory' problems. If yours are the older NiCad, have you tried completely discharging them and then recharging? Some may have to go thru several discharge cycles before they come back. May be too far gone to come back now but good suggestion from previous poster to run them down completely before recharge.

dannybob

09:30PM | 09/30/02
Member Since: 11/24/01
5 lifetime posts
Lawrence was right-on with the reasoning for the high battery replacement costs; but of course, that doesn't solve your (our) problem, does it?

I say "our" because I recently experienced the same thing -- in my case, it was two cordless drills (reconditioned 12v DeWalts) and FOUR batteries...all petering out about the same time. Do I replace those batteries, at $62 apiece, or buy new drills: $99 each, with 2 batteries included? It's a conundrum, to be sure.

I'm a full-time contractor, and part-time personal home remodeler. I bought the DeWalts as my home drill/drivers, so I wouldn't have to drag my regular set home every time I needed to drill a few holes or drive some screws. For work, I have two 14.4v Porter Cables. I paid about $180 each for them, a good 4 years ago, and their batteries are still running strong and holding a charge for quite a while. I'm sure you can see where I'm heading: though I have no definitive proof, my own experience is telling me that the more expensive, professional-grade drills have batteries to match.

My solution: I'm gonna chuck the ones I have, spend the big bucks, and replace them with 18v pro-grade models. Perhaps this would be your best bet, as well.

ACD

06:53AM | 10/18/02
Member Since: 10/15/02
359 lifetime posts
Just purchased a new Portercable drill and love it. it came with 2 battery packs that have a fairly good run time. I had an older skil that when I bought it was the best cordless available and it was a whopping 12 volts when the rest were 9.6. I had the same problem with batteries at first but figured out the charge-discharge thing and made the last pack I bought hold up for 6 years. Unfortunately the charger gave out and I cannot replace it so I had to chuck the whole thing and buy new. I dont trust the theory of no memory on the NMH batteries and still tend to run them down to nothing before charging just to be on the safe side. I had a cell phone that had that type of battery and had it on the charger all the time and it failed.

PlaneBuilder

09:10AM | 10/20/02
Member Since: 08/26/02
8 lifetime posts
To no avail on the rebuilding idea. Too much trouble to save a couple mediocre tools. I think I'll start my Christmas list early and baby the good battery I have left until then. Hate to just throw the 12 Volt items away or toss in the garage sale box (recipicating saw and 2 drills) but don't like just having them around when I can't depend on them or have to spend 45 bucks/per battery pack to keep them going.

I'm open for recommendations on a good combo pack and place to purchase? The Dewalt products seem to come highly recommended?

[This message has been edited by PlaneBuilder (edited October 20, 2002).]

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