Drilling Down


Dear Pat and Brad:

With Father’s Day approaching, the kids and I are thinking of getting my husband some rechargeable power tools. Do you have any recommendations? When is the extra cost of cordless worth the investment?—Jesse

Dear Jesse: Great idea! If your husband enjoys tackling home projects, rechargeable tools are an excellent gift idea.

Rechargeable cordless tools are worth the investment when the corded version is the least convenient option. For example, a power drill is something you usually move around with and often use outside, so a cordless drill is much more convenient and a worthy investment. On the other hand, a table saw is usually not the first choice of cordless tools because it doesn’t need to be moved repeatedly during a home project.

Quality cordless tools are usually less expensive if you buy them as part of a set instead of one tool at a time. And since each line of tools uses a unique battery, you can’t mix and match between brands. So, it may cost less in the long run to buy a cordless starter kit with a few helpful tools and a battery, then add tools to the set as needed.

Here are a few cordless tools that the father in your family should love!

A cordless drill is one of the handiest tools for home projects. Photo courtesy of Charles & Hudson.

1. Power drill

As one of the most-used power tools, a drill should be everyone’s first cordless tool. Using a corded drill can mean constantly moving the cord around furniture, other tools, or your own feet, which can be dangerous. Cordless drills are so easy to use, and the technology has improved so they have more power and hold a charge longer. Light-duty drills are smaller and less powerful but easy to use for smaller projects.

A rechargeable string trimmer is quieter and more energy- efficient than a gas-powered model. Photo courtesy of Mikita Tools.

2. String trimmer

A string trimmer is a quick way to trim weeds and grass near walls, bricks, and rocks. If your family uses an old gas trimmer around the yard, it’s time for a change. Two-stroke engines pollute the air and require regular maintenance. Electric trimmers are more energy efficient and quieter. You can find a variety of models between $50 and $150, and it’s worth paying a little more to get a highly rated model that will last longer.

3. Leaf blower

If the father in your family uses a gas-powered leaf blower, you can do him (and your neighbors!) a favor by giving him a cordless leaf blower, which is more energy efficient, much quieter, and less polluting.

A rechargeable flashlight can bring full light into small spaces. Photo courtesy of Brad Thiessen.

4. Flashlight

LED technology is amazing––today’s LED flashlights can produce 20 times as much light as the old incandescent ones. And they come in a variety of options, from tiny key chain lights to headlamps to waterproof spotlights. A flashlight can usually give better light than a cell phone, especially if you’re working in a tight space like under a sink. A flashlight often comes as part of a cordless tool set, or you can buy a single unit that recharges using a USB port on a charger, a USB wall socket, or a mobile phone battery.

Rechargeable tools help avoid the risk of a cut cord, which can bring a shocking end to a home project. Photo courtesy of Brad Thiessen.

Batteries make cordless tools possible. Lithium-ion batteries are more expensive, but they’re gaining popularity because they hold a charge longer. They also have a longer life, but they still degrade over time and may need to be replaced in about three years.

It’s worth buying a reputable brand of cordless tools so you can be confident you will be able to find a replacement battery. Lithium-ion batteries should not be disposed with trash because they are a fire hazard and contain toxic chemicals. Your local waste disposal service can provide information on how to dispose of these batteries properly.

It goes without saying, but these cordless tool gift ideas aren’t just for dads. All DIY enthusiasts would enjoy any of these gifts and hopefully put them to good use!

I hope this information helps you choose the right cordless tools for your husband so he can enjoy using them for years to come.

Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen of Collaborative Efficiency write on energy efficiency topics for more than 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56% of the nation’s landscape. For additional energy tips and information on Collaborative Efficiency visit: www.collaborativeefficiency.com/energytips.