Power Your Jobsite Cordless Tools with this DIY Solar Charging Station

Power Your Jobsite Cordless Tools with this DIY Solar Charging Station

The key is to skip the inverter and power directly from 12-volt batteries.
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DIY Solar Charging Station

Green Builder Media

Wednesday, February 17, 2016 - 7:45am

CAMPAIGN: Building Science


Phase 1: Standardize Your Cordless Tools

If you are planning to live off grid, or are building something in a remote area without grid power, I am sure you are planning to use a generator. While I have also owned generators, I find them temperamental, noisy, and I hate to drag fuel up some mountain trail when I need to power construction tools. To wean myself off the traditional construction site generator, I found an amazing selection of high-quality power tools that operate on battery packs. In addition, if you standardize on the same brand and voltage, the same battery packs will be interchangeable with a wide array of power saws, drills, portable lights, and even radios. Keeping a spare battery pack on charge also allows a quick battery change and continued tool operation without having to wait.

When I first started buying battery-powered tools, I decided to standardize on DeWALT, but there are several other good brands of battery tools that offer the same interchangeability of battery packs in multiple tools. It is amazing what you can build with just a few battery-powered tools, and a complete set is indispensable if you live off-grid or are building a remote retreat.

Most manufacturers of commercial-grade battery-powered tools with Nickel-Cadmium (NiCad) battery packs have increased their voltage from 12 volts up to 18 volts to increase tool power and extend operating time. Some battery-powered tool manufactures are switching to Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries which allow making smaller and lighter portable tools due to the higher energy density of this new battery technology. Although the DeWALT charger I used for this article can charge both NiCad, NiMH, and the newer Li-ion battery technology, you still should standardize on one type to make sure all of your battery packs can use the same charger.