Best Product – Is it Time to Retire Dewalt 18V Cordless Power Tools?

Dewalt 18V Cordless Drill

A reader wrote in today with a tough question. They have Dewalt 18V cordless power tools that see casual use, and their batteries have aged and no longer hold a charge.

So here’s their question – do they spend $110 to get a new battery, or consider upgrading to Dewalt’s 20V Max cordless system. After all, Father’s Day is coming up, and there are typically some great deals on cordless combo kits.

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I cannot answer this definitively without learning more about the tools they use or the types of tasks they use them for. If user has to decide between spending $110 and $1000, that’s a tougher scenario for me to offer an opinion about.

Luckily, they also asked a very specific question that is much easier to answer:

Do you see [Dewalt] 18V as having some redeeming value?

If budget and costs aren’t a factor? No, I don’t see any reason to put any money into Dewalt’s 18V NiCad system.

The only reasons to extend the useful life of 18V tools is out of personal attachment, or to save money. I suppose reparability could be also a factor.

A couple of local contractors and tradesmen still use Dewalt 18V cordless power tools – mainly drills. One has a franken-drill with components they sourced from several different drills as parts failed. Another mentioned seeking repairs at a service center and being quoted for more than it would cost to replace their 18V tool with a new 20V Max option.

I believe some users are also getting their battery packs rebuilt with fresh NiCad cells.

The 20V Max lineup is broader, and the tools are more advanced. You get more power, updated ergonomics, longer runtime, and improved capabilities.

The best Dewalt 18V XRP battery is rated at what, 2.6Ah?

It looks like the best Dewalt 18V 3-speed cordless drill (DCD940KX) has a 450 UWO rating (this relates to max torque and power performance) and tops out at 2000 RPM. Dewalt’s DCD791 and DCD796 compact drill and hammer drill respectively, with neither being 3-speed models, deliver 460 UWO power output and they also top out at 2000 RPM.

On paper, Dewalt’s 20V Max compact brushless drills out-perform their best 18V model. You’ll find Dewalt’s premium brushless drills and hammer drills to be so much more powerful and longer running, plus they’re more compact.

The results are similar across the board. Are there any 18V tools that out-match Dewalt’s 20V Max Li-ion offerings? I don’t think so.

If your 18V tools are still chugging along, and you don’t care to upgrade, that’s fine. But once those older tools or batteries start wearing, I don’t see any reason to put any more money into that system. Do you?

Dewalt 18V to 20V Max Cordless Battery Adapter DCA1820

Dewalt has a 20V Max to 18V battery adapter, model DCA1820, which you can buy for $39 via Amazon. They also have starter kits that include a battery and charger.

This adapter lets you use select Dewalt 20V Max battery packs with most Dewalt 18V cordless drills.

If you have an extensive 18V cordless power tool collection that you’re not ready to upgrade from yet, this adapter is still a good option for gradual investment.

Dewalt 18V to 20V Max Cordless Battery Adapter DCA1820 with 18V Drill

The adapter isn’t compatible with all 18V tools or all 20V Max batteries, but that’s still better than the alternative.

Each Dewalt 18V cordless power tool user will have to determine for themselves whether or not – or when – to retire their tools.

But if you ask me, I really don’t see any incentives or benefits in further 18V system investments.

Note: In the context of this post, Dewalt’s 18V system is their older NiCad-based cordless platform. Their 20V Max system is based off an 18V Li-ion battery. Overseas, the 20V Max system is 18V XR.

What do you guys think – is there any reason to stick with Dewalt 18V tools once they start needing new batteries, repairs, or replacing?