One thing about electronics that almost everyone knows is that water and electricity don’t go well together.
When you’re working with electrical tools around water, you have to take extra measures. Not only does the water pose a risk to your tools but also to yourself. Especially with corded tools, water can be a (fatal) hazard. You should never use a corded tool in a wet area.
But what about your cordless tools? Sure, we don’t go swimming with them, but how dangerous is the battery in one? How much water can a cordless drill handle? For example, can you use a cordless drill in the rain?
We will answer all those questions (and a few more) below. We’ll go into how different parts of your cordless drill are affected by water and even what you can do to make your cordless drill (a bit more) waterproof.
As we mentioned before, your cordless drill isn’t made for water. It’s best to keep it as dry as you can. But you can’t always predict rain, and with some projects, you can’t avoid all water.
So with the caveat in mind that in a perfect world, we’d like our cordless drill all dry at all times, let’s take a look at how much water your cordless drill can really handle.
Battery and water (and your safety)
As we said, electronics and water can be a dangerous combination. First, let’s answer the most important question: can the battery from a cordless drill kill you?
Most cordless drills (and comparable tools) work with 18V batteries. The current in it can technically kill you, but this requires highly improbable ‘perfect’ conditions. A more likely scenario is that you will get a good shock and definitely kill your battery.
It’s good to know that even if you are involved in a freak accident around the house, you’ll be able to buy a new drill once you’ve dried off.
But your drill battery doesn’t need a freak accident to get fried. Leaving it out in the rain will do, as will putting it in a puddle you didn’t notice or knocking some water over it. Too much water at one time is fatal to your drill.
With rain, the critical question is how wet the critical parts will get. Most of the battery is wrapped in plastic.
In a world where it would only rain on the plastic parts, you’d be fine. It’s the battery itself and especially the parts where the battery connects to the drill that should remain completely dry. When this part gets wet, you run the risk of killing the drill and the battery.
The drill and water
The drill itself is impacted by water in a slightly different way. When separated from the battery, the main risk is rust. Water will affect your drill the same way it does all moving parts made of metal.
While it won’t blow up your drill (that is, until you connect it to the battery), it seriously reduces the lifespan of your tool. Of course, the danger is that any lingering water will cause much bigger troubles when you do connect the battery.
Can you use a cordless drill in the rain?
So when you take all the above information into consideration, it’s clear that while it’s not wise to use a cordless drill in the rain, a few drops won’t hurt it right away.
Once it starts pouring, though, the risk of water getting into the critical parts of your drill is simply too big to keep going. The smart thing to do would be to get inside the moment you feel the rain.
But sometimes, you don’t have a choice. Even if you plan to go inside the moment it rains, you can’t always help water get on your drill.
Luckily, there are some things to help make your drill ‘water ready’. Of course, it’s basically impossible to make a drill truly waterproof, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do.
How to better prepare a cordless drill for rain
To better protect your cordless drill from the elements (especially rain in this case), there are some steps you can take. Again, this won’t make your drill waterproof or suitable for swimming, but it may add an extra layer of protection from inevitable rain and water.
First, detach the battery from the drill. Then, open the drill as best you can. Most drills around the house can be opened by opening a few screws. When you’ve opened the case, spray the inner workings of the drill a few times with a silicon or lacquer-based coating.
Next, you’ll need some electronic insulating compound. This type of grease can be liberally added to the contact points between battery and drill. By greasing the electrical contact points this way, you add a layer of protection against moisture and rain.
The question of whether or not you can use your cordless drill in the rain is not easy to answer. The safe answer is that you should never use your cordless drill in the rain or around water.
A more realistic (but not very satisfying) answer is that the risk for your drill depends on the circumstances: how much rain is getting where?
The best answer is that there are steps you can take to protect your drill and that this is the best option. You’ll never be able to keep your drill away from any moisture, so protecting your drill is a very realistic option.
At the same time, even when you’ve taken measures to protect your cordless drill from water, it’s best to keep the water around your drill to a minimum.
Even if water is bad for your drill, the 18V battery doesn’t pack a punch that’s enough to kill you in normal circumstances. A good amount of water will kill your drill in the end, so it’s best to remember that dry electronics are happy electronics.