Cordless batteries have varying run times and capacities, but how does amp-hour (AH) rating factor into choosing the best battery?
First, volts and amp-hours are both important numbers to be aware of, but the two terms describe very different measures.
Volts is the best measurement of tool power to a point. In very general terms, volts is the amount of power a battery can deliver. Normally, the higher the voltage, the more powerful your tool. But, do not Think that 20-volt tools are more powerful than 18-volt tools as that is all marketing. Also, the quality of the tool can also dictate some of the power as some Milwaukee 12-volt tools might be more powerful than a Ryobi 18-volt tool.
Amp-hours measures the run time of the battery. The amp hour rating can best be described as the ‘fuel tank’ of the battery. The higher the value, the larger the ‘fuel tank’. With batteries, each cell has a measurable maximum capacity, measured in amp-hours. Amps are units for current flow. A battery cell with 1.0 amp-hour capacity can supply 1.0 amps of current for 1 hour. If for the same cell, a more power-hungry tool is connected, and it draws 2.0 amps of current, the battery can supply 2.0 amps of current for 1/2 hour. Attach an even larger motor, and it can supply say 10.0 amps of current for 1/10 an hour, or 6 minutes. Let’s say there’s an even larger motor, still, and it draws 20.0 amps of power. In theory, we could expect 1/20th of an hour of runtime or 3 minutes.
Several components of the power tool affect how efficiently it can transfer the power from the attached battery and how long it will run on a single charge.
Knowing your power and run time needs as they apply to the project at hand is imperative to choose an appropriate battery platform. Moreso, choosing the right battery for the tool based on its power consumption is also very important. If you supply a battery then can only supply 5 amps and the tool needs 10 amps to supply you with rated specifications, that tool will underperform. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to complete a job with a battery that runs out when you need it most or will not power your tool to be usable.
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