Battery in cordless tools

New to battery operated tools. Looked in Battery Interchangeability thread for the answer, and it may be there, but I don’t see it.

My Q is: if you just have the tool, say a drill (whether regular drill, hammer or impact), how do you know which amp battery you can use with it?

Inherited a Makita battery operated hammer drill. Nothing else. Teal color. I assume that’s important because I see there’s other colors like all black and black and white.

How do I know which battery to use and charger to get? 2.0Ah battery? 3.0Ah battery? Less? More? 12v charger? 18v charger? Do you have to know what the tool originally took? If so, how do you find out?

Thanks for helping a newbie.

Are the labels gone from the drill? Usually somewhere on the body there’s a model number. Look for that model number on the Makita site, and see what battery line it uses.

Once you know the voltage, and which line it comes from, then the Amps don’t matter much. Just know, the higher the Amp-Hour (Ah) rating on a battery, the more power is available to the tool at any given time. If your particular tool hogs power like there’s no tomorrow, you’ll need a battery with a higher Ah number. If you have the drill, but no battery or charger, then I suggest buying the charger when you go for he batteries, so you know for certain that those batteries go with that charger. Also, that you know they fit your drill because you looked it up online first.

I think, if there’s less information than you need, you’ll have to be more specific about the drill.

For Makita (and a lot of lines) it’s usually fairly simple. If it’s a slide style pack, you have two options, the 18V LXT batteries or the 12V CXT batteries. If it’s an older tool with the slide style, it’ll be the 18V. They have 18V tools in white, teal, and black, the differences being black is subcompact, teal is their normal and high end tools, and white is/was their lower end tools. If it’s an insert style pack, you’ll either have the old 12V tools with the small pod packs, or one of a couple possible older 18V types, either the bulky pack style NiCad with insert stem, or the long and thin 18V insert pack. If you take a picture of the tool and battery connector specifically, we can tell you for sure it’s the 18V LXT battery style, or if it’s something else.

Here’s a makita charger with both the 12V and 18V slide style packs (CXT and LXT) so you can see the size difference:

Also about battery compatibility:

When it comes to amp hours of the batteries, that is the capacity and mainly relates to runtime, but also to power delivery. Larger AH packs can deliver more power for power hungry tools, with the usual differentiator being slim style packs vs. the thicker extended style packs. An older hammer drill likely won’t be a huge power draw, so you can probably get by with any of Makita’s current 18V batteries, as long as the connector is compatible with newer batteries as in the toolguyd post. If you want the most performance, I’d stick with any of the extended style packs, rather than the slim ones.

Thanks very much Tim for the reply and help.

Is the picture you posted the slide style, like I assume it is? Because at the end you then talk about extended style pack and slim ones. Are the slide style (as pictured) and the extended/slim style packs one and the same?

Also still not quite sure I understand this, though: Can any color tool (teal/black/black & white) be used with any amp battery (2.0/3.0/4.0, etc.)? Does the actual tool itself dictate which battery can be used? I understand it depends on if the battery actually fits in the tool, but say they all do (for argument’s sake) - if it’s a tool that originally came with a 1.5 or 2.0 battery, and a 4.0 or 5.0 battery fits, can it be used, or would that be too high for a tool that originally had a 1.5 or 2.0 battery?

Last Q, I think: How can you tell if a battery charger is a rapid one? I’m assuming that an RC on it means Rapid Charger, but some don’t have that designation, so does that mean they’re not rapid chargers? And then to confuse me even more, the picture you posted only has an RE (DC18RE) not an RC (DC18RC) like I see on some, but the description in the picture actually says Rapid Optimum Charger. What’s up with that? heh heh.

Thanks again.

Thanks Dorian for the help.

I don’t understand your comment: If your particular tool hogs power like there’s no tomorrow, you’ll need a battery with a higher Ah number. As in my Q to Tim, does that mean that if a battery fits a tool, any size amp battery - 2.0 up to 5.0 or higher if they make them - can be used in that tool?

Which makes me think of yet another Q: Are batteries and chargers all compatible, or are chargers specific to batteries, and vise-versa? Like if the tool came with a 2.0 battery and charger, can a 3.0 or 4.0, etc., battery be used on that charger?

Sorry to be so dumb about this stuff. I tried looking online for the answers but it’s hard to pull up an answer (get a generic Makita drill!) when you Google/ask those kinds of questions. Which is what led me here.

Yes they are the same. Here’s an example of what’s known as a slim style pack, basically they’re lower capacity batteries that only use 1 “row” of battery cells.

This one is an example of an “extended” style pack, it is higher capacity and uses two or more rows of battery cells, hence the bigger physical size and extended moniker.

With the tools, color of the tool unfortunately doesn’t really differentiate them. Makita currently makes two categories of drills, 12V, and 18V. The 12V tools come in teal for the current generation, white for the older style 12V tools. The current 18V tools come in white, teal, and black, the difference being black tools are more compact, white tools are lighter duty, and teal tools are heavier duty. You can’t use a 12V battery on an 18V tool, and can’t use an 18V battery on a 12V tool. The Ah rating of the battery is its capacity, so a 4Ah battery has twice the capacity of a 2Ah and so forth. You can always use a higher capacity battery on a tool, provided the larger batteries physically fit. there’s no such thing as too much capacity, aside from weight and battery size considerations. In general, you can also use lower capacity batteries on a tool, but performance of the tool may suffer. So essentially, for a regular 18V drill at least, which isn’t a high power tool, any 18V battery of any capacity will work.

Some higher power tools like saws are intended to only be used with extended style batteries, because those batteries are capable of supplying the higher power demands of those tools, whereas the slim style batteries may not be able to provide that level of power. In semi-recent tools, this isn’t a problem, they’ll all work with any recent battery, you’ll just notice the reduction in power and runtime with the smaller batteries, or possibly the tool shutting down from the battery getting too hot.

Makita had a bout of interestingness with their early 18V tools in that they made tools which had extra plastic tabs so you couldn’t plug a compact / slim style battery into the tool. This was to prevent their early high draw tools (like the circular saw) from being used with their early slim style batteries. I don’t know if they ever did that on their drills, and I don’t think it’s something you’ll need to worry about with any new battery. That is what that toolguyd article I linked talked about, if your tool has one of those connector types pictured, it’ll be compatible with any of the newer batteries just fine.

So if we can confirm your drill is an 18V model that uses the slide style batteries, all you need is a starter set with a battery (of whatever size you prefer) and charger. The charger I posted earlier was just an example, mainly because it has both 12V and 18B charging slots, so you can see the size difference between those batteries. For batteries, slim batteries save on size and weight, but have a shorter runtime. While the extended ones will weigh more and be larger, they may provide a slight increase in the power of the tool by virtue of being a more capable battery. If you plan to get other tools in the future, I might recommend the larger battery pack just in case you get a tool that would benefit even more from it than an old drill.

Probably too much information, sorry about that. If your drill looks like it takes the slide style batteries, it’s most likely 18V, since the 12V slide style is more recent. A photo of the drill can confirm that if you want. I’ll take a look for starter kit options and post a few in a bit for you for 18V batteries.

Chargers are voltage specific, not capacity specific. So an 18V battery charger can charge any capacity of 18V battery, 2Ah, 5Ah, 9Ah, etc. The charger I linked as an example has two slots, so it can charge both 12V and 18V batteries on the same charger.

The difference you’ll find in chargers is how long it takes to charge a battery. An older regular charger may take 30 minutes to charge a 1.5 Ah battery, but 4 hours to charge a 5Ah battery. A newer regular charger may take only an hour to charge a 5Ah battery. A rapid charger may cut that to 30 minutes to charge a 5Ah battery. For electrical reasons, you won’t really find a charger that charges any battery of any size to full charge in much faster than 30 minutes. Thus even if a charger can charge a 5Ah battery in 30 minutes, that doesn’t mean it’ll only take 8-10 to charge a 1.5Ah battery, it’ll still take likely close to 20-30 minutes.

Okay… Ummm… I don’t want to scare you or stop you from asking… I just think you should listen to Tim from here on out. Tim has Makita experience, where I just have general battery and cordless tool experience. I’m a DeWALT and Dremel user, so you really need to listen to Tim.

My statements were general, and apply to ALL tool brands. Tim has narrowed it down for you, and it’s time to let him take over. And for crying out loud, your questions are not dumb! You were handed something you’ve never handled before, and were forced to figure it out! You did the best thing possible, you ASKED those who have more experience! Never be afraid to ask! That’s how we all learn!

To answer directly: If you go and buy a battery and charger, as per Tim’s guidance, and the Drill will only run for a few minutes or so per charge of the battery? You need a bigger battery. If you have a 2.0 Ah battery, try looking for the same battery with a 3.0, or higher, Ah number on it. By the time you’ve found the right battery and charger, it won’t matter how big the battery is, as long as you’re buying batteries that fit your drill, the charger will charge them.

Here’s a 5Ah 1 battery starter kit for Makita 18V. It’s $159 at Acme, with a coupon today and tomorrow for 15% off that (see post on toolguyd main page, other coupons / deals come up occasionally as well).

The same kit with a 4Ah battery is $149.
The same kit with a 2Ah slim battery is $119.

I’m going to throw out there that none of those probably are a good deal. Here’s why. For $119 (usually also $99 during the holiday season), you can get a brand new but low end drill, with a 3Ah battery and charger. So it’s actually cheaper to get a tool kit than it is to get just a charger and battery.
A drill kit with two slim 2Ah batteries is $169.
A drill and impact combo with the fantastic subcompact tools and 3 slim 2Ah batteries is $229.

The value of what you get for buying a plain charger and battery set just isn’t there. You’re almost universally better off buying some other tool in a starter kit to get the batteries and charger, and a free or nearly free tool out of it. Of course it depends on how much you would want to spend, but if there is another tool you want, or think may be helpful down the road, that can help sway things. If you have any idea of what kinds of projects you may use this drill you inherited for, maybe we can steer you a little bit beyond just getting a battery and charger, see if we can rustle up something of better value to you.

Thanks very much once again. Appreciate the help. Will try to see what I come up with.

Appreciate your help and honesty Dorian. As in my reply to Tim, I’ll see what I can do. As for asking questions, my philosophy also is there’s no dumb question. It’s my mantra. It IS how we learn. However, some people get irritated with simple questions so I try to apologize in advance.

Thanks to you both for the help. Appreciate it very much.

Never too much information. You’re answering the questions I asked that I wasn’t sure were answered before. Tried asking someone who supposedly knew these things, but was told not to worry about them (my Qs) because they don’t matter. Not that my Qs don’t matter, but that I’d never have a particular situation that my Q asks, so I don’t have to ask that Q. Still, I want to know the answer. Don’t care if I never run into it, I like knowing.

You’ve been very helpful and informative. I really appreciate that. And the fact that you’d take the time to look stuff up in order to help me. If I disappear for a while please don’t take it negatively in any way. I’ll probably be back needing help again. I’m trying to absorb and look things up on my own, plus life interferes. I’ll try to post a picture of the drill. Gave it to someone who says maybe they can find a battery & charger, so don’t know when it’ll come back.

First, I’m a visual person, so those pictures helped tremendously, because I was picturing something completely different. Thank you for posting them.

Second: So THAT’S what’s meant by slim style and extended! And, pack. Which I call battery. So when “pack” was used I wasn’t sure what it was. Terminology…

Unfortunately, some people forget that THEY know the terminology and can picture what they’re talking about, but those like me don’t. So when you talk extended/slim style/pack, or anything else, really, we sometimes have no clue what you’re talking about. So pictures always help define terminology. Again, thanks for that.

Yeah, battery and pack are somewhat loosely used here and interchangeably. We call it a pack because to get to 18 volts, you need 5 individual battery cells. Here’s an example of what an individual cell inside one of those packs looks like:

So the slim battery pack has 1 set (or row as we call it) of 5 cells. The cells are 3.6 volts each, and put in series (which means the voltage adds together), times 5, equals 18 volts. The larger battery packs combine multiple sets of 5 battery cells together, in order to increase capacity (but not increase voltage), and also be able to deliver more power. Some of them have 2 rows of 5 cells, you might see them as 2x5 on breakdowns, others have 3 sets of 5, so a 3x5 pack.

12V battery packs are similar, but only have 3 cells in a row instead of 5. 3 cells * 3.6 volts per cell = 10.8 Volts, which is what we market as 12V.

DeWalt’s flexvolt batteries (along with other multi-voltage batteries) are pretty neat in how they combine the sets of battery cells. So we established that cells connected in series add their voltages together. Connecting multiple strings of the same voltage in parallel doesn’t increase the voltage, but increases the capacity. So a standard Flexvolt battery pack is 3 rows of 5 cells, 15 cells total. The tools that run on 60V flip a switch on the battery to change the configuration from being 3 parallel rows of 5 cells, to 3 series sets of 5 cells, or basically 15 cells in series. 15 * 3.6V/cell is 54V, which is where they get their 60V from. But the capacity thus diminishes, while the voltage increases. A battery pack that is say 9Ah at 18V using 3 rows, means each row is 3Ah, and since there’s 3 in parallel, it combines to make 9Ah. If you take that same battery pack but use it as a 60V pack, the cells go to all in series, so it’s one long series of 3Ah cells, so you get 3Ah, but at 60V.

The original lithium makita batteries were a 1.5Ah slim pack, with 1 row of cells at 1.5Ah. The extended pack was 2 rows of the same cells, giving 3Ah. The new 5Ah and larger packs from Makita are still 3 rows of cells, they just use more modern cells in the battery packs that have higher capacities.

Edit: removed a sentence and reworded to avoid assumed bias :).
Edit 2: fixed late night not thinking wrong numbers.

You are an encyclopedia of knowledge. Interesting. Anyone else wouldn’t explain that. Thanks for taking the time.

To remove some of the bias here… the point of the FlexVOLT system isn’t “Trickery” to make you think you’re getting more power. It’s to use a single battery for two platforms. 60/120V FlexVOLT tools, and the 20V Max/XR tools. One set of tools flips the switch to higher voltage, so it can run higher voltage tools, the other set flips the switch so you can unhook that battery from the FlexVOLT tool, and drop it on one of the 20V Max family tools. Key example is cutting a board on the FlexVOLT 60V table saw, or a Beam on the FlexVOLT 120V Miter Saw, and then immediately pulling the FlexVOLT battery out, clicking it into your 20V Max/XR Cordless Drill or Impact Driver, and installing said Board or Beam into place.

The same goes for the other multi-voltage systems. They’re meant to join two systems together, not trick users. If they already have a fantastic high-voltage tool of some sort, and a smaller, similarly fantastic lower-voltage tool, they can share a battery on-site of any task. The original Makita hammerdrill here could have been a lower voltage, but much beloved, model. Makita could have a much more efficient Circular Saw at a much higher voltage, and having a single battery that can run both would mean you could go straight from cutting to installing with the same battery, resulting in you carrying fewer heavy batteries with you.

Let’s not go bashing this type of system, just because you’re a Makita fan. They’re far more efficient when it comes to getting the job done. Instead, let’s just focus on the problem at hand. “Learning” has questions in need of answers. Putting a bias in the answers won’t help anyone.

Actually I’m not bashing it at all, or suggesting they’re trying to trick users with it. I use trick in the sense that they’re doing an operation that is somewhat hidden from public view to accomplish a result. Maybe feat would have been a better term. It’s a good bit of innovation in any case. Flexvolt has advantages, and their tools are fantastic. I have the compressor and miter saw, and have tried several other of their tools. Wouldn’t trade in either of those tools for anything. And I’m not a Makita fanboy, although they also make great tools, I only own a few from over several years, they used to be my main line (which is how I know about the batteries). Milwaukee is my main line for both 12V and 18V, so if anything I’m a Milwaukee fan.

My mistake. The English Language has some odd cross-connections with meaning.

How about we just agree that we’re careful NOT to go as far as bashing, and ignore the incident all together. Just a misunderstanding. All good. What matters, really, is that we’re helpful, and understood, to the one asking questions. Even in our disagreements, we’re pulling up more info for them.


I think you got some good information here.

What you might want to do with that inherited drill - is go to a Makita dealer and see if they will slide a battery in for you to make sure the drill works. You might be able to do this at a Home Depot if they have a Makita demo tool available. Usually a drill is the sort of tool that one might appreciate a lower weight battery - and settle for lower run time. Unless you have Popeye the Sailor arms - a drill is a tool that can tax them after long use - so a lighter battery - even if you need to swap them out can be nice. In contrast using a circular saw might place greater demands on the battery and a higher Ah battery might be a good choice. A saw is also often partially supported by the work being cut - so the extra weight is less of an issue.

The flexvolt discussion is also pertinent to tools and tasks that place greater demands on their batteries. Makita - as an example offers a saw that runs at 36V - powered by twin 18V batteries in series. Milwaukee - at least for now - is sticking with 18V (up to 12Ah) batteries to power their saws. Dewalt uses the flexvolt system to operate a circular saw at 60V. Not having tested this new crop of saws - I can’t render an informed opinion - but know that 6 years ago we found the then available 18V saws to be rather wimpy - switching to a 36V saw for tasks like cutting roof decking.

Just to correct a little mistake each cell is 3.6 .
And 12v is 3 cells and 18/20 is 5
A 12v is really 10.8/3.6= 3, 18/3.6=5
Hope that helps