We do a lot with both tools and batteries. Case in point are our articles on the DeWalt FlexVolt technology and the Milwaukee 9.0 Ah batteries. But what about the battery chargers that resupply energy to these batteries? As it turns out, there are possibly even more differences among battery chargers than the packs themselves. While we don’t think anyone will “jump ship” from one platform to another just because of charger technology, it’s good to know who stands out. For this article, we requested the best battery charger from every major tool manufacturer. Most responded and participated. We then took a close look at each to see how they were made. Following is our evaluation of the best battery chargers for power tools.

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Notice we said WHAT makes the best battery charger, not WHO. Answering the first question really depends on your needs and how you use your power tools. As you go through this article, realize that we don’t expect anyone will shift their tool platform of choice based on a charger. What we do want to communicate are any standout features for each platform. Some manufacturers have really done something special with their tool battery charger technology. That deserves some recognition. By the end, you should know which charger offers the best benefits for your tool platform.

Also, there are chargers that exceed the capabilities of the basic models included with tool kits. Knowing that can decrease your charging time should you choose to purchase a more advanced model. For any Pros and power users wanting to increase productivity, this could rock your world.

No lithium-ion battery pack can be recharged until the temperature is down to a safe level. This is an issue as many packs hit the charger immediately after use. If you just completed a high torque/high speed application, that battery pack may not truly start charging for as much as 10-30 minutes. Yes, even though that light is on, your battery is just sitting there. Some manufacturers employ heat sinks and other physical technologies to help dissipate heat in packs.

Some of the fastest chargers on the market, however, use fans to pull air through the battery packs. Obviously, the packs need to be designed with venting to facilitate this. Running air over a sealed battery pack doesn’t do much. Consequently, chargers with fans that don’t actually circulate air through a pack aren’t really doing much to speed the charging process. Packs and chargers that use air cooling efficiently include Makita, Metabo, Hitachi, Husqvarna, EGO, and the pending Bosch Eneracer battery packs.

Since we do literally hundreds of hands-on power tool reviews each year, having access to every charger was critical. When we started collecting them all, we decided the best way to serve our particular needs was mounting them to a piece of 3/4-inch plywood. On the back of the plywood we mounted two industrial power strips which we connected to two separate 20-amp circuits. This gave us plenty of current for simultaneously recharging multiple packs from different manufacturers. We can’t run them all at once—but we’ve never needed to.

It also revealed some serious flaws. As it turns out, many of these battery chargers don’t include keyhole mounts for wall-mounting. It’s an almost unconscionable oversight. Here are the notable offenders (That’s right, we’re calling you out!):

In order to mount these charger we did a combination of “tricks”. For some, we actually took them apart and drilled our own keyhole mounting points. This further solidified the fact that a small manufacturing tweak could have added this feature. On others, where the circuitboard was too close, we used a Southwire heavy duty cable tie to secure them to our plywood.

One thing we noticed once all the chargers were together was that some were…really annoying. There are, apparently, no standards with respect to LED lights on battery chargers. Some manufacturers decided to initiate solid or blinking lights for no reason at all. Hilti, Ridgid, and Bosch have green lights on at all times (with no battery inserted). This strikes us as backwards, since I want to only see a light when a battery is inserted. Preferably, I’d only see a solid green light when a battery is fully charged.

Hitachi decided that a flashing Red light would be a good standard of operation with no battery inserted. When you look at the charger you instantly think something must be wrong…Makita isn’t much better—but at least their flashing light is green.

Here’s what we recommend for ALL manufacturers. If they would adopt these standards we think the world might be a better place:

Any variation on blinking speed would be fine, but the above general guidelines would make a whole lot more sense than the hodgepodge of systems we see currently.

One nice feature we noticed with some chargers was the integration of USB charging. The best integrations include 2.1A fast charging for tablets and phones, but even a 1.0A charging port is better than nothing. Models that had this feature included:

We don’t expect you to jump ship at any point just because we identified the best battery charger. Hopefully, this article helps you now which charger is the best on your platform. Kits often come with only the most basic battery charger. Knowing how to increase your productivity with the best battery charger for your power tools could be the key to saving you time and money.

We’re most excited to see a shift towards air-cooled systems. With the integration of newer battery cells (20700 cells in particular), cooling is going to be key. It will allow for greater use of the cells, higher torque and speed in power tools, and faster charging. You can also tell a charger will be faster by the current load. If it has less than a 4A draw, it’s not a rapid charger regardless of what it may say on the box. What charger(s) have you been most impressed with? Let us know in the comments below.

When he's not remodeling part of his house or playing with the latest power tool, Clint enjoys life as a husband, father, and avid reader. He has a degree in recording engineering and has been involved in multimedia and/or online publishing in one form or another for the past 21 years. In 2008, Clint founded Pro Tool Reviews followed by the landscape and outdoor power equipment-focused OPE Reviews in 2017. Clint also heads up the Pro Tool Innovation Awards, an annual awards program honoring innovative tools and accessories across the trades.

I ditched DEWALT when they were still stuck in the NiCad era (and less than two year life batteries) for NImH Makita where I got 6 years from a battery. As soon as Makita went to Li-ion, I bought an impact driver and drill kit with 1.5AH batteries. That was at least 10 years ago and the batteries still hold a charge. I’ve since add several more impacts, drills, recip saw, 2 circular saws and am now lusting after the latest compound miter 36V. I have a collection of 3, 4 and 5AH batteries. I’m not a contractor, but use… Read more »

RE – Festool: i see youi already mention the Airstream, but it’s a charger AND battery system! :https://www.festool.de/Microsite/Pages/UNPLUGGED.aspx#powerselecthttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtgLCk2NBh0 Out now , (only-?) in Germany.. //Found that as i clicked on a Festool-Logo/Link , to ‘Support our Advertisers’. :-) (They probably see i have german IP-address. ) Thus Vids only in German, but u still get the idea. Greetz, Simon

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