Own DeWalt’s 18V cordless tools with the “old” post-style NiCad and NiMH batteries? Well, in October 2015 there'll be an adaptor available to convert (or upgrade, depending on how you look at it) to their slide-style 20V MAX Lithium Ion technology (an important point to note is that the maximum initial battery voltage-measured without a workload- is 20 volts. Nominal voltage is 18).

The press release states that the batteries will work with “most” DeWalt tools. What does this mean? I spoke with DeWalt’s product manager to get the details. Here’s what I found out:

  • While you’ll be able to use your old cordless tools, you won’t be able to use your old 18V charger to charge the 20V MAX battery equipped with the adaptor. So if you don’t already own the 20V MAX charger, you’ll need to buy either a tool that comes with one, or an adapter starter kit (see below).
  • The adapter won’t work with DeWalt’s 18V cordless nailer line. The reason has to do with the electronics built into the nailers that provides the firing charge. There are added circuits that won’t interface with the electronics inside the adapter.
  • A few other tools, like the DC500 vacuum, as well as some lasers, will function with the adapter, but won’t interface well. The batteries in these tools sit behind a door, which won’t close with the new adapter.

With this adapter you’ll be able to choose from DeWalt’s 20V MAX Lithium Ion battery capacities that include 1.3Ah, 1.5Ah, 2.0Ah XR, 3.0Ah, 4.0Ah XR®, and 5.0Ah XR®, as well as their 2.0Ah and 4.0Ah Bluetooth® enabled batteries.

So if you already own the 18V system, you won’t need to get rid of your tools to take advantage of the newer batter technology. DeWalt says the adaptor won’t add any additional weight, nor will it affect that weight and balance of the tools. We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out once we get our hands on them. For now, it’s still a cool product that enables to you to take advantage of the latest battery technology without scrapping your 18V cordless tool cache.

Cost for the Adapter: $39

For a “starter kit” (adapter, two 20V max batteries, and charger): $149