Sears Craftsman C3 tools work well (only) with Lithium

I’ve been using many of the Sears Craftsman 19.2V C3 series of battery-powered tools for several years now, and have been quite pleased with their performance.

Unfortunately, they generally come with NiMH battery packs, and those I find less than useless (i.e., more trouble than they are worth). For my kind of intermittent use, those packs are usually flat or nearly so when I go to do something, and they seem to have a very short useful life. Sears ought to discontinue them, in my opinion, because they bring disrepute to the whole tool family.

But the big (now middle-sized) Lithium battery packs are great! They hold their charge for very long times, and hold enough energy to do serious work on each charge. I haven’t tried the small Lithium battery packs that Sears now includes with some of the tools–they don’t seem enough cheaper or lighter to be worth the bother. And I’ve just purchased a couple of the new extra capacity 4AH XCP series, but have no experience with them yet. At present, those are selling for the price they used to charge for the big packs.

Over the years, they have had a number of sales of the big Li packs with fast chargers for $89, so I’ve accumulated a bunch. They really have been the key to making the tools useful. Only one battery has failed, and it was covered by the warranty–I rarely purchase the extended warranty for anything, but in this case it was given me as part of an exchange/replacement. I had to struggle to get the promised actual replacement, though–Sears wanted to give me a credit for the (sale) price I’d originally paid, which was not enough to purchase the promised replacement anymore. But I complained and eventually the manager sold me the replacement for that exact amount, so I was satisfied.

The tiny hand vac, 315.115710, is a bit marginal. I think the airflow is just too limited, but they do work. The sound is awfully shrill, though. But I prefer them to my previous hand vacs just because the battery system is compatible with my C3 tools.

A bit bigger and more friendly and effective is the portable wet/dry “canister” vac in this family, 315.175980. It hasn’t always been available to buy, but I now have two of them. I find these quite useful for vacuuming floor edges and corners, webs from ceilings and skylights, occasional localized messes.

I find the inflator, 315.115860, handy for car and bike tires, even though I have an air compressor.

The radio, 315.101260, was a disappointment. It runs the battery down in less than a day’s work. It looks like it has an incandescent bulb to light the dial, which might explain it. Probably they figured the battery was huge so they didn’t have to care about efficiency, but the result is I use a smaller battery-powered (3 AA) radio, which runs for weeks.

The drills are really strong and rugged. A big surprise for me was the impact driver, which I didn’t buy for a long time, figuring the drills were good enough for driving screws and lag bolts. But a construction guy suggested I try one, and now I use it all the time. It is really a lot better for driving screws (or removing them), using its impacts for the hard going part and turning very fast when the going is easy.

I wish they’d add an oscillating tool (like the famous Fein Multimaster) to the family. They have one in the 12v NexTec line, which is very useful, but not as rugged as I’d like. I’ve had trouble with the battery-retaining system, perhaps wearing due to the extended vibration or perhaps softening due to heat, but some battery packs don’t want to stay in by themselves now. The NexTec series are quite usable, but you really have to have extra batteries ready for swapping if you’re going to do serious work with them. I wish the NexTec and Dremel Li batteries were interchangeable. Both are good, and very similar, but it’s not efficient to have separate spares and chargers for both systems.

I’ve also found the NexTec electric hammer useful for odd situations, cramped working areas, etc. It’s awfully noisy, but effective.

2 Responses to “Sears Craftsman C3 tools work well (only) with Lithium”

  1. feedback. unfortunately if you allow people to…

    leave links back to their own sites, you’re going to get a lot of useless comments.always moderate and trash irrelevant and stupid comments, there’ll be plenty of them. reward those who take the time to leave constructive comments or criticism simply…

    • admin says:

      Thank you!
      For many days I just got subscriptions, with no comments.
      Then spam comments started rolling in.
      So, you are correct.
      I’m trashing most of the comments now!

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