Tech Stuff

The Cordless Age

Like most shops, mine has become increasingly populated with cordless power equipment, ranging from impact wrenches, drills, saws, grinders, vacuums, a wide array of flashlights, tablets, cell phones, cordless desk phones and on and on.

These cordless items are obviously handy, but the downside is we end up with many different chargers with wires that always seem to get tangled up, not to mention forcing us to figure out which charger applies to which tool. Ahh!

Don’t tell me I’m the only person who confuses these wire chargers that are not labeled and appear similar at first glance. How can there be so many single pin connectors that don’t ever seem to connect to the tool that I need charged? And, don’t get me started about voltage differences ranging from 6V to 40V, plus figuring out which charger will work with the varying battery types and match up with the correct amps ratings. Ahh, again!

While some chargers are visibly no-brainer identified, many are not. Pleasant examples are the chargers that are included with impact wrenches. However, with items such as flashlights, hand-held vacuums or cell phones, all too often, I open the package and remove the device, marveling at the sleek appearance and solid feel. Then I grab the charging cord only to see a generic-looking black cord. A month after purchase, I stare at a drawer full of black charging cords, unable to recognize which cord goes to which device. Why aren’t these darned things labeled? Probably for the same reason that some car company engineers hide the engine oil filter in a damned-near-impossible location... they don’t have to work on the car.

Cordless items are obviously handy, but the downside is we end up with many different chargers with wires that always seem to get tangled up.
<p>Cordless items are obviously handy, but the downside is we end up with many different chargers with wires that always seem to get tangled up.</p>

At any rate, if you’re in the same boat, instead of storing all of your charging items in a common box, take the time to label each one when you first open the package (X-brand drill; Apple phone; black tactical flashlight; right angle drill; Microsoft tablet; trouble light, etc.).

Here’s something I do. Wrap a piece of body tape around each wire with the tape extended as a tab and label with a permanent marker.

Ever visit a police station? Admittedly I’ve graced more than a few with my presence. They have all of their field radios neatly harbored in a row in a multi-radio charging station. Walk in, drop your radio into its charging port. Indicator lights inform you of state of charge. Grab a fully charged radio on your way out. Copying that approach, why not install a wall shelf (dedicating precious workbench space is usually not an option), with all of your chargers installed. Label the front of the shelf (or on the wall above the shelf) accordingly for each charger. That way, all of your cordless device chargers establish permanent residence in one spot.

Install a second shelf immediately below the charger shelf for the devices to be charged. Yes, you’ll have to walk across the shop to charge, but isn’t that better than digging through your drawers for the correct charger?

When you’re trying to charge multiple batteries at the same time, it may be difficult to have enough power outlets in the same spot. While you may be tempted to grab a ladder, go outside and splice into the electrical power cable that feeds the building, this probably isn’t a wise move, hence the common use of a multi-port extension cable strip (likely a better decision).

YOUR SOLUTION

How do you handle this issue? How do you avoid wasting time and brain cells trying to remember which charger applies to which device? Inquiring minds want to know. Email me at [email protected]

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