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We have a great (Porter and Cable) cordless drill but the batteries are no longer commercially available. Amazon has a listing but it's been sold out for the last five years. Do we have any other recourse? I'm kind of loathe to throw out a perfectly good drill, but to complete any project we have to charge both batteries completely. It would be nice if one battery would last just a touch longer.

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and other sites like ebay? –  ratchet freak Apr 9 '12 at 15:23
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I got tired of throwing away perfectly good things because the batteries died, so I've been selecting tools based on their history of supporting batteries (I like DeWalt). For just about any other gadget around the house, I've been finding versions that run on standard AA (rechargeable). Doesn't help you now, but something to think about before your next purchase. –  BMitch Apr 9 '12 at 22:37
    
+1 for Dewalt on battery pack availability. My old one that I ran till it cracked the transmission housing takes exactly the same configuration battery as its many years younger replacement. Couple of tie wraps and the old one gets used as a crash drill. New charger works with the new battery chemistry as well as the two replacement packs I'd recently bought for the old one. –  Fiasco Labs Apr 16 '13 at 20:51
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4 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Standard answer: No, not really. These proprietary battery packs often contain non-standard cells in order to cram as much power into as small a package as possible. As a result, trying to tamper with the pack could expose you to caustic, toxic chemicals, and with certain battery chemistries can even cause a fire. Do not try to disassemble a battery unless you have a high degree of knowledge about working with batteries.

While the batteries may have been discontinued by name, if Porter-Cable still makes ANY cordless tool, they may have retained the connector design. That would allow you to buy batteries marketed for a newer generation of tools that will work in your older ones. That's really your only shot at playing by the rules.

Alternately, you may be able to find a third party that makes battery packs that will fit your drill. This is an extreme long-shot; there may not be any off-brand packs, and if they exist using one may void the warranty, and may also have questionable QC that could be hazardous. But, it's definitely worth looking for.

Answer for people with knowhow and nothing to lose: MAYBE. I'm going to assume the battery pack is NiCd or NiMH chemistry and not Li+. NEVER mess with a Lithium-Ion battery pack; the primary ingredient (elemental lithium metal) will literally explode on contact with air. Even a minor manufacturing defect can cause these batteries to catch fire. Just don't. However, Li-Ion is pretty new and is the current generation of cordless tool batts, so if your tool's battery packs have been discontinued they're probably an older chemistry like Ni-Cd.

Anyway, if you have a Ni-Cd or NiMH pack, look for something you can unscrew or unsnap to open the outer casing (understand you have now voided any warranty that may still exist for the pack, so this is the last option). Take a look inside. If you see what look like garden-variety but un-labelled battery cells arranged inside the pack's enclosure, breathe a sigh of relief; they used commercial cells to construct the pack, and these are available wholesale in relatively small quantities to mere mortals. They're normally used by R/C hobbyists to make custom battery packs. You'll need to carefully document how the cells are connected to each other inside the pack, then carefully disconnect them from the main contacts and, with a set of new cells of the same chemistry, size and capacity, build a new bank of cells to replace these worn-out ones. This may require soldering battery contacts, which is an operation I DO NOT RECOMMEND IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A VERY HIGH LEVEL OF SKILL WITH A SOLDERING IRON. It is possible, but you need to have the skill and tools to make a good join quickly. A 40-watt pencil is the absolute minimum, and I really would recommend a soldering gun; it will have the heat you need to rapidly heat the work and solder to make a good join without heating the entire battery to the point of failure in the process.

Understand that you will likely void the warranty of anything you put one of your rebuilt battery packs into. So, I am only telling you it's a possibility because you are already considering just throwing the tool away with the packs.

If when disassembling the battery pack, you see square metal blocks or anything else that doesn't resemble a bank of cylindrical cells, stop. You will not be able to replace the cells without knowing exactly what they are and where you can get replacements. They may be available to normal people, but they may just as easily be proprietary to Porter-Cable, or only available in industrial quantities (like 10,000 cells at a time). If you can't find a supplier willing to wholesale them in smaller quantities you're probably stuck.

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While this is a good answer, it seems like an insane amount of work to fix the batteries in your drill, only to have them fail after another year. –  Steven Apr 9 '12 at 20:07
    
This is a terrible answer. The cells used in NICD and NiMH packs are standard - you can't find them at the grocery store, but they are definitely standard. Scaring people away from Li-Ion packs because they contain an element that by itself is explosive is ridiculous. Yes, there are safety handling measures, and you shouldn't puncture the cells, but the pack is already dead and the risk is very minimal. You should NEVER use a soldering iron or gun to attach cells to each other. Even if you do it quickly you can still cause damage to the seals. Use a service - there are many that do this. –  Adam Davis Jul 24 '13 at 15:56
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Sorry to disagree with KeithS, however there are many companies that rebuild NiCad battery packs. I'm not saying it is a great deal financially, however most common brands can be rebuilt. NiCad packs, for example, are made of several 1.5Vdc cells. the cells themselves are usually pretty uniform in size, however can differ in quality. Putting more in series makes for higher voltages, putting more in parallel gives higher AH ratings. Beware of super discounters, look for a company that offers a good warranty and replacement policy. An example: http://www.freedombatteryrebuilds.com not endorsing them, just an example of re-builders.

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Not sure why you're disagreeing with me; this is basically what I told OP they could do themselves. If you can do it, you can pay someone to do it for you. And the link you cite says they won't do Li-Ion (like I told OP not to mess with) and can't do certain models (non-standard cells in the packs, which was the other think I told OP not to get into). –  KeithS Apr 9 '12 at 20:44
    
@KeithS Nobody is disagreeing with you, simply giving alternative options. I'm not sure rebuilding a battery pack is a job a typical DIYer could/should take on. Letting people know that there are experienced folks out there that can do it for you, can be helpful to somebody who is not comfortable doing this type of thing themselves. –  Tester101 Apr 10 '12 at 12:23
    
@Tester101 I think shirlock_homes did start with "Sorry to disagree with KeithS" ... –  Amanda Apr 10 '12 at 16:35
    
@Amanda Hmm, guess I missed that. –  Tester101 Apr 10 '12 at 16:43
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Batteries plus will do a rebuild. I had them rebuild an electric razor for me and know they can do cordless tools.

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Remember that this is a global community. Does Batteries Plus operate in a large geographic area, or is it a local service? –  Tester101 Apr 10 '12 at 12:28
    
@Tester101 their site claims 500 locations nationwide. So ... not global, but US-wide. –  Amanda Apr 10 '12 at 16:36
    
Plus charges around $80-$100 for it. I used Voltman in the past. Great job. voltmanbatteries.com –  Evil Elf Apr 10 '12 at 16:51
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I'm late to the party, but in case people look here in the future, Battery Giant will rebuild batteries as well. They have a tech center in every store and will do rebuilds through the mail as well.

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Please disclose any affiliation you have with the company. –  BMitch Apr 16 '13 at 20:34
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