In my area, I’m known among my fellow plumbers as “Mr. Tech.” If there’s a sensible new tool with the latest technology out there, you can be sure it won’t be too long before it shows up in my van. And lately, those tools have all been cordless. I’ve found that shifting to cordless has offered a lot of advantages and has returned far more to my business than the initial investment. However, I know that switching from tried-and-true tools can be a challenge — particularly those you may have invested significant money in — not to mention the time required to learn how to use them.
Here are some reasons why you should consider adopting new, cordless technology as well as a brief list of some must-have tools to add to your arsenal.
SAVE TIME AND MONEY
Time spent on a job lugging in extension cords, finding outlets, switching between extension cords, and other miscellaneous setup tasks really does add up over the course of a project. I know this from experience.
And, as all as contractors know, the old phrase, “time is money,” may be cliché, but it’s true. Battery-operated tools allow you to get right to work on the job site and work more efficiently. Less time spent setting up means more dollars in your pocket.
No. 1 Must-have Tool: Milwaukee Cordless ProPEX® Expansion Tool. This tool is a must if you’re working with certain brands of PEX tubing. It makes installation a breeze with the push of a button. Keep in mind that while it does have a sleek design, it doesn’t fit everywhere. Plan ahead and prefab some connections if you’re working in really tight spaces.
Many new construction sites don’t have much power. Between you, the electrician, the general contractor, and others on the job site, you can find yourself competing for only one or two outlets in the whole house or building.
If you aren’t dependent on an outlet, you’ll have wider availability to be on the job, which not only gets the project done more quickly for you but certainly is a plus when working with a general contractor.
Another benefit is that there’s no more worrying about whether or not you have enough gas to power your generator.
No. 2 Must-have Tool: Milwaukee Cordless ProPress Tool. I find this tool particularly useful when doing boiler manifolds; soldering each and every joint takes a lot longer. The copper fittings for this tool cost substantially more than basic, solder-type fittings, so make sure to account for that when estimating materials costs.
The time saved and the unmistakably sharp appearance of a ProPress job easily compensates for the added cost of ProPress fittings.
Worried that battery-operated tools don’t have as much juice as their corded versions? Guess again. In my experience, I’ve found that cordless tools offer just as much power as their traditional counterparts and, in some cases, even more.
Quite simply, I need tools that are powerful enough to get the job done, and my cordless tools consistently deliver. I certainly don’t have time for not-enough-juice-to-get-the-job-done tools, and I know you don’t either.
No. 3 Must-have Tool: Milwaukee Cordless Super Hawg™ Right Angle Drill. I like this tool for a lot of reasons: its battery lasts a long time, it’s easy to transport, and it’s powerful.
Tip: If you make the mistake of hitting something hidden within the wall, this drill’s clutch will prevent the tool from being forced back toward you with a torqued wrist or an unpleasant sucker-punch to the face.
Between extension cords, outlets, and generators, it takes a lot of power for corded tools to run and a lot of tripwire cords to deliver that power. All of these are potential hazards for both you and others on the job site.
These risks grow when the tools are needed in more challenging locations, such as when you’re on a tall ladder or in a tight crawl space. Eliminating the need for these corded tools and their accessories not only improves ease of use for you but also improves safety. Trust me — when you’re standing at the top of a 12-foot ladder without an extension cord for the first time, you’ll appreciate the good advice.
And, with cordless tools, there are no more headaches from fixing extension cords accidentally unplugged by others on the job site — something that’s happened to me too many times to count.
No. 4 Must-have Tool: Milwaukee Cordless Sawzall®.
I chose this device because it’s a benchmark tool that all plumbers have. In fact, this was the very first tool I received myself — as a Christmas gift from my parents when I first entered the trades.
If you’re going to go cordless, this essential tool is a great place to start. When it comes to a tool that’s constantly in your hand, the ease of use and increased mobility of cordless really stand out.
These are some of the benefits I’ve found while working increasingly with cordless tools over the past few years, but this is by no means an exhaustive list.
As you begin to integrate battery-operated tools into your own business, you may find even more ways that these tools improve your trade.
How to Cut the Cord
Convinced it’s time to take the plunge and begin investing in cordless? Here are two important tips to keep in mind:
Stick with one brand — With most brands, the batteries for cordless tools are interchangeable. It’s important to make sure that your cordless tools are the same brand so that you can take full advantage of this benefit.
After nearly two decades of experience, I’ve used just about every brand out there, and I’ve found that Milwaukee Tool products, in particular, are truly tailor-made for contractors. They can take a beating, and they’re really made to last.
Keep your corded tools as backups — Even if you move to cordless tools, there’s no reason not to keep the corded versions in your van. Things can happen: If you forget your batteries at the shop or they die in the middle of the project, you’ll be grateful to have those spares on hand.
Another reason to pull out your corded tools is when you’re working on particularly messy jobs, like cutting sewer pipes, and don’t want to ruin your more expensive cordless tools. Also, cordless tools don’t like to get wet, so I use their corded counterparts when I’m working around water.