Ask Kevin: How to Select Power-Tool Batteries

In this video, This Old House host Kevin O’Connor shares a few tips for getting the most out of your cordless tools.


  1. Older power tools will likely have nickel-cadmium (nicad) batteries, which are heavy but rugged and resistant to cold weather.
  2. A busy contractor might need to replace a nicad battery every two years or so.
  3. Lithium-ion batteries are much lighter and more powerful than nicads.
  4. Fuel gauges are found on most lithium-ion batteries that show how much power is left.
  5. Lithium-ion batteries hold a charge for a very long time, making them ideal for seldom-used power tools.
  6. Once a rechargeable battery dies completely and can no longer be recharged, be sure to recycle it properly. Most power-tool manufacturers have a recycling program and will accept old and dead batteries.

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