Another form of lock-in?

The garden, having got completely out of hand from a miserable Autumn and a cold and soggy Spring, I decided to look for an electric tiller/rotavator suitable for weeding beds between shrubs or plants. There are a few corless ones available.

Meanwhile, in the Reuse Shop attached to the Harpenden Recycling Centre where I volunteer doing PAT testing, a very nice cordless strimmer came in, complete with two batteries. The make is Terratek, and I immediately thought if I could get a tiller using the same sort of battery it’d be great!

But Terratek don’t appear to make a tiller, and I couldn’t find anything about battery compatibility with other makes of cordless products.

Which led me to a depressing (but on reflection, not surprising) conclusion: all brands of cordless tools seem to use proprietary batteries. So if you buy a cordless drill, you have to buy the same brand of cordless sander, cordless hedge trimmer, cordless strimmer and cordless everything else!

It seems like forcing smartphone and tablet makers to standardise on USB-C charging ports was only the beginning. Or is there a more enlightened manufacturer of cordless tools out there that someone can point me to, before I splash out on that tiller?

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Oh wouldn’t it be consumer-friendly to only have one type of cordless battery fitting?

I was recently looking at (but not purchasing due to concerns for continued attachment of my fingers to my hands) one of those cordless mini chainsaw devices:noname Chinese manufacturers have Mkita-compatible devices, so that might be one thing to look for, because there are also Mkita-fit noname batteries.

Corldess tool manufacturers can perhaps try to sneak past the EU watchdogs by claiming a need for particular high capacity or environmental requirements. Is this on our right to repair radar?

I guess unbranded cordless tool batteries might be about as dependable as unbranded replaceent laptop batteries, i.e. not.

Yes and no; if it works well enough for your usage then maybe that’s sufficient. I certainly wouldn’t rely on noname for maximum capacity/performance, but at least if your device has a common battery connector (i.e. as your post) you could always buy real batteries for that connector.

Just thinking out loud. It would not take much engineering to make adaptors. Where voltages are the same one could make (for example) a Dewalt to Makita adaptor. Or just a range of generic batteries with different adaptors for different makes, perhaps already exists. The challenge is shipping and selling batteries is quite risky/expensive. Adaptors however would be far simpler. I wonder how big the market is?

My experience is unbranded batteries are often poor. Sadly I am forced to buy them for some of my early devices (Dyson etc) and it is always pot-luck how long they last.

Having visited several battery factories in China any quality is available, and they pick the low end as the market is all about retail price.

In fact adapters are available, but they cost around a tenner each - quite steep for a bit of plastic, but a price they can presumably sustain as the alternative is a new battery for probably 3 times the price. And they add bulk. I came across a YouTube video with this guy in his workshop, with a whole range of cordless tools and a load of batteries, showing how with a range of adapters he could power almost any of his tools with any of his batteries.

  • Philip