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18V VS 20V Max Batteries: Clearing Up the Confusion Video

Everywhere we go, people tell us that 20V Max tools are more powerful than 18V tools. But in the 18V vs 20V Max debate, is that actually true?

Well, no, actually. DeWalt was the biggest name to get this conversation (and confusion) rolling. That’s because they changed from the 18V designation on their Ni-Cad tools to 20V Max on Li-Ion to avoid confusing the two lines with each other. And the reality is DeWalt’s new lithium-ion tools are more powerful than their Ni-Cad models – but so are everyone else’s.


You’ll also see brands like Porter-Cable (also a Stanley Black & Decker brand with DeWalt) and Kobalt use this “Max” designation while other brands are content to stick with 18V. Then the whole thing gets turned on its head because everyone uses the 12V designation for their compact tool lines when 12V Max is the appropriate term.

Turn around to look at Europe and you’ll see and completely different set of rules and labels on the same exact tools. So to muddle through all this confusion, Clint DeBoer and I walk you through what all these numbers mean and help you understand how these battery packs are the same – and different in some cases.


Want to read about 18V vs 20V Max rather than watch the video? Click here!


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DamoGeoff MarshallTony RomaninoMarty SimmonsJim Rsk Recent comment authors
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We must have similar regulations here in Australia as to Europe, since our DeWalt and Stanley FatMax offerings (Porter Cable 20v Max equivalents) are all spec’d 18v. Sounds from your article as though most manufacturers are just hopping on the same train in regard to sourcing cells for their packs. I think you touched on it at the end, but Lithium chemistry and battery design can vary quite a bit. It’s possible to squeeze 4.35v into a cell with the right construction, and such cells can put out a higher voltage for longer, but will drop off quickly as they… Read more »

Geoff Marshall

It’s all about that AH

Tony Romanino

I don’t care as long as it dose what I paid for it to do

Marty Simmons

“220, 221, whatever it takes”

Jim Rsk

All a marketing game, and difference of reporting max vs nominal voltage.