July 11, 2020No Comments

Why has my Makita 18v battery stopped working?

If you have been working under a rock, then you would be excused for not knowing about the powerhouse that is Makita. They have successfully dominated the market especially since Battery operated tools were first introduced to the market in 1969. In particular, The Makita 18v battery has revolutionalised the construction industry but they do have their faults. For example, I'm sure you have asked your self "why has my Makita battery stopped working?" Don't worry, you're not alone. This blog post will teach you how to fix your Makita battery and, above all, prevent it from happening.

What causes my battery to die?

There seems to be two main causes as to why your Makita 18v batteries die. The first is overheating which is due to several reasons. The second main cause is that the first two cells fail due to them being used to power the circuity of the battery management chip. Which causes the battery to slowly discharge while it’s not in use.

What causes my battery to overheat?

There are several reasons as to why your batteries overheat. I’ll start with the obvious one which is the environment that you are storing/using your batteries in. For example, are they cooking in your toolbox due to a lack of ventilation? Or are they in the back of your car which consequently acts an oven on a hot day? Do you work outside, therefore, you have to charge your batteries in direct sunlight? These are all factors as to why your battery would “overheat” in the general sense of the word.

Excessive heat exposure:

Exposing your batteries to such heat could lead to Thermal Runaway, which is the technical term for explosion. This is due to an accelerated increased temperature. In turn, releasing energy that further increases temperature. This can lead to the battery no longer working, budging, corrosion and in some extreme cases explosion. Here is more on “why is heat bad for batteries?”

A general rule of thumb is to try and charge your batteries at room temperature (20 – 22°C). However, living in a hot and temperamental climate like Australia makes this is somewhat impossible. According to this article from Battery University, it’s safe to charge your batteries in any environment between 0 – 45°C. It’s been deemed safe to use your batteries between -20 – 60°C.

Damaged cells

The most common way for a cell to die would have to be from external damage! Think of all the times you have dropped a battery or dropped other heavy tools onto your battery? Don’t worry I’m guilty too… This could lead to battery damage.

The screenshot below is from a YouTube channel called Well Done Tips. In this video, he takes apart a dead Makita 18v battery and teaches you how to fix your Makita battery. Highlighted by the orange circle is the damaged cell. It’s unclear as to how this happened but as you can see in the photos below it’s a rather delicate system. If you don’t protect your batteries they could break down and corrode like the one shown in this video. 

This is a photo of a damaged battery cell from a Makita 18v battery. there is noticeable cell damage on the second cell from the bottom.
In this brilliant video, you see the YouTuber @welldonetips take two bad Makita BL1830 lithium batteries and make one good operating battery. Plus he will show you two tips, how to solve protection circuit problem when it was triggered and when the regular Makita charger isn’t charging battery any more.

How tough are my Makita 18v batteries?

Below is another example of how fragile the inner workings of a Makita 18v battery is. The only thing protecting the cells and chip is the plastic casing that surrounds the battery. For more information about the chip please scroll down.

here is a photo of a Makita 18v battery that has been opened up for inspection. you can see the memory board and battery cells powering it underneath.
This Is a photo of the contents of a Makita 18v Battery from the Makita Battery Repair Blog.
Yes, the Batteries can take a beating but after seeing this it has made me realise how fragile they can be! After all, the cells and chip are only protected by the 3mm polycarbonate casing. Hopefully, now you think twice before you start chucking them to each other... Haha, I defiantly will!

The batteries we use for power tools are generally more rugged than those in consumer products. Largely because we use Power Cells instead of energy cells. They have a lower Ah rating than Energy Cells and are in general more tolerant and safer if abused. This doesn’t mean they are indestructible so you should protect your batteries as best as you possibly can! Here is a video on Reviving battery cells. Please note only attempt this if your battery is no longer under warranty and if you are confident with electrical goods and possess the right equipment.

Damaged batteries due to metallic particles and dust:

Another main reason why your batteries overheat is due to unwanted metallic particles and dust. Outlined in this brilliant article from the Battery University, that is to say, you can see that manufacturers go to great lengths trying to minimise the exposure of metallic particles. As pointed out by the Battery Association of Japan in this article, metal objects may short-circuit the positive and negative terminals of the battery, as a result, this provokes a large electrical current, which may result in overheating, explosion or fire of the battery, or overheating of the metal object.

Here are a few tips to protect your batteries:

  • Don’t charge your batteries in direct sunlight.
  • Don’t leave your battery and charger inside your car! Especially during the warmer months.
  • Try not to leave your toolbox exposed to sunlight as a result, it will heat up the contents of the box which could lead to damage.
  • Try to be cautious when it comes handling your batteries. For example, you should think twice before you chuck them to your mate on the floor below so he can put it on charge. 
  • When storing your batteries you should use the plastic cap to prevent any unwanted particles from entering the battery. However, doing this every time you store your batteries seems unpractical, alternatively, you could keep your batteries locked into your tools or place them in a 48tools Battery Holder.
  • Don’t charge your battery on the floor as it will be susceptible to water and dust etc.. but If you have to, you should consider using the Batloc Box for additional protection.
  • Try not to carry your batteries around in a tool bag full of metallic particles and dust, as a result, this could enter the battery leading to permanent damage. 
  • If you feel that your battery is roaring hot due to overuse, Most importantly you need to give it a rest and use a different one. (Let the battery cool down before you place it on charge!)
  • Ideally, you should charge your batteries at room temperature!

Your Battery might not be working because of the faulty memory chip

Inside of every Makita 18v battery is a memory chip or control board. This chip is a crucial feature of the battery because this is how the battery can communicate with the charger and other tools. This is a brilliant safety feature, however, they can be faulty. If a chip in the battery is saying it's overheated or has a damaged cell then the charger will deem the battery unsafe. Once you get the red and green lights flashing simultaneously three times then your charger will deem your battery unsafe locking out the management chip on the battery. This will essentially turn the battery into a brick. 🙁

It only takes one damaged battery cell to notify your memory chip of the problem to consequently disable the battery.  There are countless tutorials on YouTube I suggest you start with either Well Done Tips or Vuaeco. Most of the time, however, the chip is correct by notifying the battery charger the battery is no longer safe to use.

How can I fix my Makita battery?

Too often good batteries are ending up in landfill because of a chip’s faulty reading or something that could have easily been fixed! For more tips on replacing the memory chip and how to fix your Makita battery click on the photo below. You will certainly void the warranty if you attempt this. So please only try this if you feel confident have the right tools and past warranty.

In this photo you see the insides of a Makita 18v battery. the link will take you to a blog post where he will teach you how to fix your Makita battery
This is a photo that I sourced from a Makita 18v Battery repair blog written by Ryan Flint. In this post, he shows you how to properly repair the fusible link for the battery chip. This problem seems to be quite common for these Makita batteries. (The numbers reflect the steps in the blog post above.)

In Summary

I know batteries feel strong and robust, but they are delicate, impressive pieces of technology which need to be treated accordingly. We take this science and technology for granted because it's apart of our everyday lives. We need to know how to work with these technologies and respect them at the same time! Hopefully, now you realise how intricate inner workings of a lithium-ion battery can be and now you know how to fix your Makita battery!. Which will make you more careful when it comes to this impressive technology.

Please let me know if there is anything you think I should add to this. You can reach out to me on my Email: [email protected]batloc.com.au Because I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Cheers,

Patrick

June 9, 2020No Comments

Top five ways to protect your battery and charger while you’re working onsite!

Do you trust your fellow tradies?

Take a minute and try to imagine how much better work would be if you didn’t have to worry about other people stealing your tools. Honestly think about it, you wouldn’t have to pack up every time you have smoko or lunch or every time you use the toilet. You had complete trust in the people around you and know that they would not steal your tools when you’re gone!

Unfortunately, this is not the case and every time you leave the place where you are working you have to pack up your tools, or take a punt, cross your fingers and hope no one steals them.

The Problem

The problem with batteries and chargers is when you plug them into the power station to charge you can’t always keep an eye on them. On most job sites the PowerStations are set up in convenient locations so that everyone on that floor or area can access them, but this means they are set up in busy locations like lift lobbies and hallways. With hundreds of people on site each day and minimal security measures in place, things tend to go walkabouts.

Now My Problem

I for one believe this system is flawed, you can’t simply trust the people around you and hope for the best! That’s not good enough. If you are a victim of battery theft in the past, then I do feel sorry for you because I too know the pain! Here are a few tips I learnt during my 9 years of experience working on commercial job sites in Sydney:

Now this isn’t any ground-breaking state of the art technology and I’m sure you have seen this on job sites before, but it is a good reminder and may be useful for any apprentices reading. If you don’t have an engraver at home you can purchase one here. Once you have the engraver you should engrave either your full name or initials onto the skin of the tools.

1. Engrave your battery and charger

I cannot stress enough that every time you purchase a new tool you should engrave it as soon as you are able to.  A problem that I found was that any time I delayed engraving my tools I would end up forgetting about it and carry on with my work so it’s important to do it as soon as you can.  

A thief is going to have a lot of explaining to do when he is trying to sell tools that have someone else’s name on it so for this reason alone thieves try to stay away from engraved tools. Sharpies are okay but they are not enough, anyone can rub that off with a strong enough cleaner.

this image provides an example of how and engraved tool and battery should look like.
Highlighted by the orange circles above you can see my name "PAT P". It's important that you engrave your name clearly, big and placed consistently throughout your tools.

Here is a short video full of tips for engraving your tools

2. Spray paint all of your tools.

Once again nothing new here, but this is a good option, nonetheless. The reason why I like this one so much is that it’s nice and cheap, all you need is spray paint. Find a colour that suits you, go and ask your boss, your wife and your closest friends ‘Does this colour look good on me?’ If it’s a unanimous decision then go for it.

The trick here is to rough up your tools to make them look like you wouldn’t want to purchase them off some dodgy bloke off the internet, the older and more damaged they look they more likely they won’t be stolen.

Another benefit is that your tools are now easily recognisable for you so you don’t accidentally take someone else’s which can also happen, as popular brands of tools i.e. Milwaukee and Makita are very common.

Here is a photo of my tool spray painted to act as a deterrent for theft.
Highlighted in the orange circles above is where I have spray painted my tool skin and battery so other people know that they belong to me. The trick here is to spray paint all of your tools the same colour and the same place if you can i.e. handles or the base of the tool.

3. Charge your batteries at home

This is a good option for people that have an extensive collection of batteries (8+) and it’s probably the best way to keep your battery and charger safe. This is also a good one due to the little to no costs involved, all you need to do is take your flat batteries home after work each day and charge them. Obviously, you need to remember to take them back the next day.

If for some reason they still manage to go missing, then your partner has some explaining to do! The only problem with this is the nuisance of physically taking them to and from work each day and remembering to do so.

4. Charge your batteries at home

As previously mentioned, the problem is that you have to leave your battery on charge at the designated charging station, often far away from where you are working, where you can’t keep an eye on it. One idea that I’ve seen work well on a few job sites is to run a power lead from the power station to your toolbox or working area and charge it where you can see it.

It’s not as easy as it sounds, however, when running a lead you need to make sure its appropriately tagged and elevated from the floor eliminating any trip hazards. Check out Adept Direct, they are an Australian company that specialises in electrical safety-based products. This is an annoying process, to say the least, especially if your box is far away from where you’re working. Keep in mind you will also have to pack up your lead each day if you don’t want to run the risk of theft.

5. The Batloc Box.

Some of you might think I’m being a little biased on this one, but I couldn’t make a list of 5 ways to protect your battery and charger without mentioning our product! This is a brilliant way to protect your battery and charger because you can now charge your batteries anywhere you want on-site, meaning you don’t have to take anything home or run a lead to your desired location.

Batloc offers the tradie physical protection with the tough plastic box that you can lock up using your own unique 3-digit code. If you would like to learn more about this product then check out the Batloc website for more information.

6. Record the serial numbers on all the tools you buy.

I know it’s a top 5 list but I thought I better add this one, it’s not a deterrent because there is no noticeable prevention in place, but if you write down your serial numbers in an excel spreadsheet, then you have a much better chance of tracking them down your tools if they are stolen. Companies like Track’em, Techno Source and Share My Toolbox specialise in tool tracking and inventory stocktake. 

It’s easy to assume that once your tools are stolen they would end up at the nearest cash converters, which in some cases would be true. But Unfortunately, it’s now easier than ever to sell stolen goods online with little to no repercussions for the thief. There is little that you can do to protect your tools from being sold online.

This was a list of 5 (well, actually 6) ways that I personally have tried or have seen others use to prevent battery theft. I hope you enjoyed it, Please comment below if you have a way to minimalize theft of the job site.

Thanks,

Patrick

May 5, 2020No Comments

When is the best time to charge my Batteries?

When I was starting out in the construction industry, I was told by one of my tradesmen to “run your batteries dead before you charge them”. Being the good obedient apprentice that I was, I followed his instructions without question.

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Copyright Batloc 2019. Site by Blink Creative

Copyright Batloc 2019. Site by Blink Creative

Copyright Batloc 2019. Site by Blink Creative

Copyright Batloc 2019. Site by Blink Creative

Copyright Batloc 2019. Site by Blink Creative