Odds are you own a piece of Ikea furniture, or have owned some in the past.
The Swedish company is the largest furniture retailer in the world with stores in 52 countries making a combined $44 billion in annual sales.
Its mainstay products like the cubic Kallax bookshelf or minimalist Hemnes dresser can start to look out of place compared with more stylized pieces from higher-end brands.
Ikea hacking is the practice of up-cycling products from the flat-pack giant, and in recent years the idea has gone mainstream. A few businesses are even dedicated to custom accessories and modifications for Ikea furniture, while many hacks can be accomplished with little more than a trip to the hardware or craft store.
A recent survey of readers at The Hustle found that half of respondents had heard of the concept of Ikea hacking, while 43% had tried it for themselves. A similar percentage said they had updated an old piece of furniture during the pandemic and more than 9 in 10 said they could consider doing it.
The community at IkeaHackers.net has been gathering a lot of great ideas over the years, and here are eight ideas for easy to moderately challenging projects that can put a unique spin on some of Ikea’s most common classics.
The more we work from home, the more appealing privacy screens are. Ikea does sell one, but custom widths and designs can be made using sections of the Ivar shelf, a few hinges, and your choice of fabric.
A Pennsylvania-based company is creating do-it-yourself kits that turn sustainable construction materials into 140-square-foot tiny homes and offices.
Let’s take a closer look at the Traveler DIY kit, which was first launched on Earth Day in April.
The design of the home – which starts at $26,000 – was inspired by the co-founders’ times in California.
Coexist was co-founded by Anastasiya Konopitskaya and Drew Oberholtzer, a wife-and-husband team.
Traveler has a midcentury modern Scandinavian appeal with a design that “merges the indoor and outdoor,” according to Konopitskaya, a licensed architect. This was done by integrating a 12-foot-wide glass-paneled wall with a sliding door and mesh screen.
But if that’s not enough, extra windows can be added in.
In total, the home can fit three queen beds, accommodating up to six people throughout its first floor and loft, which is accessible using a ladder.
There’s also room for a half bathroom, couch, coffee table, and more, depending on the customers’ needs.
The loft can also either come with a solid plywood or netted floor, which evokes the image of a hammock, according to its maker.
Even the exterior of the kit home is customizable.
Customers can pick between three facades: a “sandy beach” cedar, a plaster and hemp combination, or a recyclable corrugated metal.
The unit stands at 19-feet deep, 14-feet long, and 15-feet tall.
But if that’s too small, several Travelers can be combined into a larger compound.
Now, let’s dive into what makes the Traveler stand out from other kit homes: sustainability.
This includes the wooden pegs and mortise and tenon, both of which are built by a nearby craftsperson.
The company also sources the timber framing’s wood from a local sustainable forest, which allows Coexist to bypass some of the pricing complications other homebuilders and DIY-ers have seen throughout COVID-19, Konopitskaya said.
The team tries to source most of the materials from its home state in Pennsylvania, but due to supply chain bottlenecks in the hemp industry, the raw hemp needed for the homes’ insulation still has to be imported from Europe, mostly France.
It’s 2021. Why not sow some cannabis seeds and reap some home insulation.
The Traveler uses hemp-based insulation for a greener living environment and customers can select between three hemp options: “hemp blanket batt” insulation, precast “hempcrete block” infill, or both.
Hempcrete blocks can maintain interior temperatures, among other uses, and are made of the plant’s woody core, a limestone-based binder, and water. They’re also biodegradable, lightweight, and have no carbon footprint, according to Coexist.
The hemp blanket batt is made of 92% hemp fiber (the remaining 8% is a binder) and is “superior to all insulations on the market because of its high density and thermal mass properties,” according to its maker.
The inspiration for creating a hemp-based home came when the couple was still living in Los Angeles.
“We started building guest and single-family houses in Los Angeles and we were looking for materials that perform well that are also healthy and good for the environment,” Oberholtzer said. “We really couldn’t find anything,”
Then, the couple found hempcrete.
“We went down the rabbit hole trying to learn everything we could about it,” Oberholtzer continued.
That’s when the couple decided to move from California to Pennsylvania, where they bought a small research farm to produce a “seed-to-structure where we could create proof of concepts,” Oberholtzer said.
The farm also grows other products, including flax, and has already received research grants from the state’s department of agriculture. It’s also working with Thomas Jefferson University to create 3D printed hemp bioplastic home products to create a local “hemp farmer-to-end use” supply chain with carbon sequestering capabilities.
Coexist also designed the Traveler to be a healthy unit to live in.
Part of the home is compostable, and none of the wood or hemp materials have been chemically treated, according to its brochure. This means no formaldehyde, volatile organic compounds, or latex paint throughout the home.
Coexist is even in the “early stages of trying to apply carbon credit” to the Traveler, according to Oberholtzer.
So why tiny homes and offices? Well according to Oberholtzer, the idea for the product came out of COVID-19-induced demand.
The couple has two children at home and experienced the same parenting and work-life balance difficulties that have been all too familiar for many parents during COVID-19.
This then led the couple to look into the cabin and tiny home markets, where they found that there was nothing hemp-based “that’s really focused on health, wellness, and performance,” Oberholtzer said.
That’s when Traveler was born, inspired by the working parents’ drive to create their own “well-performing and healthy” DIY kit using their area of expertise in hempcrete.
At first, the couple thought more people would use the Traveler DIY kit as a backyard office since that was the original plan for the build.
But after its market debut, the team realized most of its customers wanted it for uses other than an office, whether it be a backyard home or a family compound.
Unlike other tiny homes that ship prefabricated or almost fully built, the Traveler comes as a DIY kit, construction materials included.
This allows savvy customers looking for a construction project to build their own unit. And all it takes is one week, some power tools, and at least two people.
Despite the extra customer effort of a DIY unit, interest in the Traveler has been skyrocketing, and the response has been “pretty crazy,” Oberholtzer said
At first, Coexist was only selling five units per season. But now, the company is taking unlimited pre-orders for the spring 2022 season. It’s already seen hundreds of inquiries, including some that want to create entire communities out of Travelers.
“We had to pivot a bit because we weren’t anticipating the response, Oberholtzer said. “It’s been great, but we need to do some things to be able to fulfill potentially 50 or 100 [orders], so that’s going to require a little preparation for the spring.”
All of these inquiries have also given the team ideas on how to improve the Traveler. Some customer suggestions have included releasing a bigger build or a build with a kitchenette or full bathroom.
Home Depot shares slid on Tuesday, even after the retailer’s first-quarter earnings jumped 86% from a year ago on strong demand for supplies as customers worked on DIY projects during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earnings came in at $3.86 a share, higher than the $3.02 a share estimated in a FactSet survey of analysts. A year ago, earnings were $2.08 a share.
Revenue for the quarter ended May 2 was $37.5 billion, above the anticipated $34.82 billion and 33% higher than $28.3 billion a year earlier.
Home Depot shares fell as much as 1%, but are still up roughly 20% year-to-date.
“Fiscal 2021 is off to a strong start as we continue to build on the momentum from our strategic investments and effectively manage the unprecedented demand for home improvement projects,” Craig Menear, Home Depot’s CEO, said in the earnings release.
Worldwide comparable sales rose 31% from a year and US same-store sales increased by 29.9%. Home Depot has been considered an essential retailer during the pandemic, allowing homeowners and builders access to supplies and equipment such as hot water heaters, propane, and plumbing fixtures.
Jefferies in a note said the company presented a “solid quarter” with strong expansion in operating margins. Jefferies has a buy rating on Home Depot with a price target of $374.
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Discovery Plus offers all your favorite Discovery, TLC, Animal Planet, Food Network, and HGTV shows.
The service costs $5 a month with ads, or $7 a month without commercials.
The interface has flaws, but the low price makes it a great option for fans of Discovery’s networks.
Table of Contents: Masthead StickyFree Trial for Verizon Unlimited Customers (small)Monthly Plan (ad-supported) (small)
Discovery Plus is one of the latest services to throw its hat into the streaming wars.
The platform launched in the US on January 4 and is the streaming home for programs from Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, HGTV, and Food Network. It also features dozens of new Discovery Plus Originals and handy 24/7 streaming channels for popular shows.
I signed up for the ad-supported plan and tried the service for about a week to see how it performs. While browsing through the Discovery Plus library, it’s been exciting to circle back to classic shows and discover brand-new series, but the interface could still use some work.
Price, plans, and deals
Discovery Plus costs $5 a month for ad-supported viewing, or $7 a month for commercial-free streaming. Each plan comes with a free seven-day trial.
Verizon is also giving select customers up to 12 months of Discovery Plus for free. The promotion is for the ad-free plan and is available to new Fios customers, new 5G internet customers, and all unlimited phone plan customers.
Free Trial for Verizon Unlimited Customers (small)
Unlike some other services, Discovery Plus only offers monthly plans, so there’s no discount if you pay for a full year up front. The service does offer gift cards, however, for 12 months ($83.75) or six months ($41.75) of its ad-free plan.
Discovery Plus understands its lane, offering a big library of shows designed to cater to fans of reality TV, nature programs, cooking, true crime, and education. People who like scripted dramas and comedies, however, will have to look elsewhere. Discovery Plus is purely a service for fans of Discovery networks, and in that sense, its catalog offers a lot of value.
With classic titles pulled from all of Discovery’s brands and networks, the service is jam-packed with blasts from the past, including “Dirty Jobs,” “The Crocodile Hunter,” “Mythbusters,” and “Unwrapped.” There are also dozens of new Discovery Plus Originals, like “Cocktails and Tall Tales,” “Luda Can’t Cook,” and “Monster Garage.”
The original shows, in particular, have creative concepts – like rapper Ludacris learning how to cook different dishes. As a whole, the entire lineup features a solid selection of quality shows centered around the home, food, and history.
By our count, we found 91 programs listed as “Discovery Plus Originals” either with full episodes or trailers indicating they are coming soon. Not every original program was under the Discovery Plus Originals category, however, as we found at least 12 under the platform’s tab for the upcoming Magnolia Network (rebrand of DIY Network).
The Discovery Plus interface works well enough but it doesn’t have any standout characteristics and it can feel bulky and hard to navigate. It’s particularly confusing to find the platform’s 24/7 streaming channels, as they aren’t on the sidebar or top menu like you’d expect.
The platform’s sidebar contains the basics for exploring the catalog, including a tab for browsing shows, a tab for saved programs (“My List”), and a search bar. The “Browse” tab allows you to find content by its original channel and also by category such as “True Crime” and “Lifestyle.”
To get to the 24/7 channels, you need to scroll down a bit on the “For You” page. This is also where you’ll find rows for the platform’s themed collections. The 24/7 channels are a terrific inclusion for binge-watchers as they let you stream non-stop episodes of “House Hunters,” “Property Brothers,” and “90 Day Fiancé” – I just wish they were easier to find.
One of the redeeming features of the Discovery Plus interface is its helpful recommendation feature. When visiting a show’s main page there are up to 20 additional series recommendations to explore, making it easy to jump into similar programs you might like.
I was hopeful that the platform’s “My List” would easily compile all my favorite content in one place, but it turns out that this feature doesn’t let you save individual episodes. In addition to a limited “Recently Watched” section – which is only accessible on the “For You” page – there isn’t a place to queue up specific episodes I want to watch over the span of a few hours. This makes the experience difficult as I have to go back and sort through shows to find episodes.
Discovery Plus does include some 4K titles for subscribers who have the necessary gear, but it’s not easy to find these programs as there’s no specific 4K category in the main menu.
The platform requires you to search “Ultra HD” to find this content. After you do this, an “Ultra HD” tab will appear in the results. Once you click on a 4K title, a “UHD” icon will appear on its page to let you know that it plays in 4K. That said, the icon may not appear on certain devices.
While most of the UHD content is limited to a few nature programs – such as “Planet Earth II” and BBC’s “Dynasties” – I was surprised to find programs like “NASA Mars Landing,” “Misfit Garage” and “American Titans” in 4K quality. On the downside, unlike Netflix and other popular 4K services, Discovery Plus does not support HDR.
While Discovery Plus is relatively new and will likely roll out new features throughout 2021, there are already obvious faults that I hope it fixes.
One of these is the lack of offline downloads, making Discovery Plus the only major streaming service that doesn’t provide this feature.
Aside from that drawback, Discovery Plus is mostly on par with other platforms thanks to its 4K content and support for up to four simultaneous streams (just like Disney Plus). Its starting plan is also one of the cheapest streaming options there is, at just $5 a month. That’s comparable to Apple TV Plus and Peacock Premium.
Should you subscribe to Discovery Plus?
Discovery Plus’ low price makes it a solid option for big fans of reality TV, cooking shows, nature docs, and other nonfiction programs. It’s also an affordable choice if you’re looking for a secondary service to supplement your primary streaming platform, whether that be Netflix, HBO Max, Prime Video, Disney Plus, or Hulu.
Personally, I’d tack an ad-supported Discovery Plus plan onto a Disney Plus bundle. With this combo, you’ll get scripted shows and movies from Hulu and Disney Plus, sports from ESPN+, and nonfiction programs from Discovery for a total of $19 a month.
Discovery Plus, even with ads, is worth it for fans of its cable channels. The exclusive programs, in addition to its extensive on-demand library, can lead to hours of entertainment, even if there are hiccups with the interface.
The bottom line
Discovery Plus is still new, which gives it time to sort out its flaws, especially its limited “My List” feature and lack of downloads. These flaws make the catalog of shows and documentaries difficult to explore to the fullest extent.
But beyond these faults, Discovery Plus knows what its networks do best: offer entertaining and informative content about our homes, lives, history, and natural world.
Fans of scripted TV dramas and comedies will have to look elsewhere, but shows like “Guy’s Grocery Games,” “Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations,” and “Ghost Adventures: Cecil Hotel” are binge-worthy adventures for anyone bored with fictional dramas.
A replacement stylus isn’t cheap; Samsung’s S Pen is $30 and Apple sells its 2nd generation Apple Pencil for a formidable $130. That suggests there must be a lot of technology packed into these devices, but the reality is that you can make a working stylus with a few pennies worth of household supplies in less than 5 minutes.
You probably don’t want to use it in the office – you’ll get stares – but it’s good to know you can make a homemade stylus in a pinch, and it’s a great exercise to do with your kids.
How to make a homemade stylus
Before you get started, round up the following list of supplies.
1. Remove the ink from the pen so it’s just a hollow tube.
2. Cut the cotton swab in half so it’s a ball of cotton at one end and a stick at the other. Handy tip: Cut the stick at an angle, because you’re going to have to push it into the end of the pen, and the swab’s stick is probably thicker than the pen’s opening.
3. Force the cotton swab into the pen so that the cotton sticks out where the ink tip used to be. Push the cotton all the way to the tip of the pen. If it’s loose, use a little tape to hold it in place; otherwise, let the tension hold it in place.
4. Cut a square of aluminum foil and wrap it tightly around the pen. It should start at the cotton, covering most of it, and extend down the length of the pen far enough so you’ll make solid contact with it when holding the pen normally in your hand. Use a little tape to secure the foil to the pen – apply it to the tail of the pen, not the cotton, and make sure the foil wraps tightly around the full pen and a portion of the cotton.
5. Dab the cotton tip in some water. Make sure it’s thoroughly moist, but not dripping with water.
That’s it – your stylus is complete. Test it by holding the pen and using it to control your mobile device. If it doesn’t work, the most likely problems are: the cotton isn’t sufficiently wet, the foil isn’t in solid contact with the cotton, or your hand isn’t touching the foil.
The A-frame Cabin kit targets three segments that have experienced a shake-up during COVID-19 times: DIY-ers, remote and tiny living, and tourism.
The interior can fit up to two people and the structure is only semi-permanent, which means it can be taken apart and moved as needed.
The kit and Den Outdoors have received so much interest, the company is now contemplating raising a seed round “because the business continues to grow despite our lack of resources,” Den founder Mike Romanowicz told Business Insider in an email interview.
According to Den, the kit is a good option for companies in the glamping and hospitality business, and for people looking to list properties on Airbnb.
Unlike most cabin and tiny home makers that sell fully built units, New York-based Den Outdoors takes the approach of selling both construction plans and do-it-yourself kits with all of the necessary parts. In line with these two product types, the A-frame cabin’s plans can be purchased for $99, and the full DIY kit starts at $21,000.
According to Den founder Mike Romanowicz in an email interview with Business Insider, the company and its cabin kit has seen a “huge swell of traffic and interested customers.”
“What’s propelling the product’s popularity is that we’ve launched something that has exactly the right characteristics that people want,” Romanowicz wrote in the email interview with Business Insider. “It’s beautiful, fast to build, and accessibly priced relative to other options in the market.”
Keep scrolling to see inside the wildly hyped A-frame cabin:
To target this segment, Den decided to make the kit easy to successfully assemble.
These new living trends, coupled with the rise in DIY-ers, created the perfect storm for Den Outdoors and its cabin kit.
The company was officially launched this past July. Since then, Den has already seen explosive growth “partially aided by the tailwinds that COVID-19 is providing,” Romanowicz wrote.
The company now has about 24,400 followers on Instagram, over 10,000 customers in its email database, and has seen sales increasing monthly from organic growth alone.
“To date, we’ve been self-funded, but we’re now heavily considering raising a seed round because the business continues to grow despite our lack of resources,” Romanowicz wrote. “The path to scalable growth and profitability lies clearly ahead.”
The do-it-yourself kit also touches upon another segment impacted by COVID-19: tourism.
Den’s cabin kit targets more than the private customer who wants a backyard cabin.
The kit can also be used by glamping property owners or those interested in renting the space out for Airbnb use.
In fact, the kit was in part designed for the hospitality industry as the cabin can be listed with high nightly rates …
… but can be set up quickly and inexpensively, making it a good investment, according to its maker.
Because the cabin is four seasons-approved, it can withstand the wintertime when revenue for glamping and camping-related businesses is generally lower due to non-insulated tents.
Like a tent, the cabin can be easily assembled and disassembled and is portable.
However, the A-frame is more durable than a canvas tent, which is a glamping structure that many companies have started using, according to Den.
“Because of all that, a lot of our interest has come from larger platforms in the camping and glamping industry, as well as from a number of different hotel and hospitality operators and developers who are looking to fix their seasonality problem while offering beautiful accommodations to their guests,” Romanowicz wrote.
The full A-frame is also small enough to be placed without a permit.
The cabin is similar to a shed in that a permanent concrete foundation is not necessary …
… although Den recommends placing the cabin on concrete pavers or deck blocks.
The cabin can also be used as more than just a glamping outpost or a backyard escape.
The A-frame can also serve as a place to work out, or as a separate office room.
According to the company, several people have already purchased the kit to use as a backyard office.
The kits are now being designed and produced in New York with the goal of providing “revenue, jobs, and stability” during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Den’s press question-and-answer sheet.
“We were fortunate enough to partner with an incredibly talented local team with the right skills and tooling to enable us to build this with thoughtful craftsmanship, precision componentry, and in a cost-effective way to enable us to get to a competitive price,” the company explained.
Den is considering unveiling more kits in the future, but as of now, it’s focused on A-frame order fulfillments.
Den Outdoors will begin shipping out the A-frame kits next year.
Even if you’re not an avid DIY fan, it’s good to have a drill at home to help hang pictures or shelves and perform other small tasks more easily. Using a power tool can save you lots of time and can prevent hand and wrist aches versus using a screwdriver to sink screws. And for drilling holes, there’s really no viable alternative to using a drill.
First off, let’s clarify something that confuses many people: when someone talks about a drill, they usually mean a drill/diver. The same tool can create holes when outfitted with a drill bit or sink screws when it has a screwdriver bit. The term drill is used as shorthand, but all of the tools on our list are suitable for drilling holes and for driving in screws.
When choosing the best drill, there’s always the budget to consider, but you don’t have to spend big to get a drill that’s suitable for most household projects or even for a good deal of commercial-grade work.
We’ve included a compact, lightweight drill suitable for use in confined spaces or for working overhead. And we found numerous drills that have variable speed control, easy chuck adjustment, and plenty of power. And as they’re all cordless, you can get your work done anywhere, anytime with no need for access to a power outlet.
Pros: Suitable for wide range of tasks, comprehensive speed and torque control, good price point
Cons: Batteries drain too quickly
The DeWalt 20V MAX Cordless Compact Drill/Driver is a perfect everyman’s tool. It’s priced in range for most budgets, it will last for years even with regular use, and it’s suitable for most drilling and driving projects that are likely to arise in your average household.
With the right bit, this drill can power down through lumber, concrete, sheet metal, and more. It can be set to operate in two different speed ranges, with the option for speeds between zero and 450 revolutions per minute, which is perfect for precision drilling, or at up to 1,500 RPM, which will help you make short work of even tougher materials like masonry.
The drill’s 16 clutch settings help you control the amount of force you bring to bear, helping prevent accidental damage to surfaces or hardware. Also, the drill comes with two 20-volt battery packs, a charger, and a bag that’s perfect for transport and storage.
This DeWalt drill stands out thanks to being both powerful and lightweight. While ideal for home use, it’s even suitable for professional use.
The DeWalt brand is also known for its solid products. Personally, after buying a DeWalt measuring tape more than a decade ago, I have never bought another measuring tape, because the thing still works perfectly. My DeWalt drill, unfortunately, got lost in the shuffle of a major renovation project. However, as soon as the other drill I got as a stopgap fails me, I’ll probably go right back to DeWalt.
Pros: Great low price, moderate weight and size, variable speed control
Cons: Underpowered for some materials
The most affordable drill we recommend is the Black+Decker LDX120C Cordless Drill. Most cordless drills that cost less than this one are so cheap in quality that you’ll either get a tool that’s not suitable for the tasks at hand or that will break quickly. Or worse, it will be both underpowered and lacking in durability. While the Black + Decker drill we recommend is budget-friendly, it’s not a cheap tool.
This drill/driver has an 11-position clutch, offering plenty of torque control for most applications. Its maximum RPM speed of 650 is notably lower than you get with many tools, but that’s a suitable rotation for most DIY projects. A built-in LED light helps to illuminate your working space whenever the trigger is depressed, while the drill’s modest 3.25-pound weight minimizes strain and fatigue even if said workspace is overhead.
While it’s probably not the right choice for the professional framer who needs to sink thousands of screws through 2 by 12s, this is definitely the right tool for a discerning but budget-conscious amateur carpenter or hobbyist.
The best for masonry
If you need to drill into stone, concrete, brick, or other masonry, the Makita XPH102 Hammer Driver-Drill is a commercial-grade powerhouse that comes at a great price.
Pros: Makes short work of stone and concrete, high RPM and BPM, fast-charging battery
Cons: Occasional smoky smell from motor
Like all drill/drivers, a hammer drill is a tool that spins a bit around super fast, boring holes or sinking screws as needed. But unlike a standard drill, a hammer drill incorporates a rapid back and forth thrusting motion while its bit revolves. This hammering action helps to pulverize hard materials, like concrete, stone, brick, and mortar, so you can more quickly and easily drill into such surfaces.
First off, this is a reliable, durable tool that’s yours for a more than fair price. It is rugged enough for professional use and is sealed to resist damage from dust and water, both common factors on a worksite.
The Makita XPH102 can whirl at up to 1,900 revolutions per minute, which is a great deal faster than most of the tools on our list. But perhaps even more impressive than the RPMs are the BPMs, or blows per minute. This hammer drill can pound out an astonishing 28,500 small but effective taps per minute, greatly easing the process of drilling into literally rock-solid materials.
And finally, while many 18-volt Lithium-Ion batteries take several hours to reach a full charge, the 3.0Ah battery you get with this drill charges to capacity in just 30 minutes, so you can spend more time working, less time waiting.
Pros: Compact and lightweight, long battery life, precise and reliable
Cons: Lower RPM than most cordless drills
The Bosch PS31-2A 12-Volt Drill/Driver weighs just 2.14 pounds. That’s a full 33% less than the next lightest weight tool on our list. You can use this drill for hours on end, whether you’re working overhead on the rafters or bent underneath the kitchen sink, and your arms and hands will never get tired. And thanks to its compact size, even when you are working in a cramped area like under the sink or in a crawlspace, you will be able to maneuver the drill about as needed.
With that small size does come some loss of power, of course. This drill’s maximum RPM rating of 1,300 is lower than that of most drills, and its maximum torque output of 265 inch-pounds is on the lower side, too. But here’s the thing: Most DIY repairs and projects don’t need more speed or power than that.
For drilling into wood, drywall, thin sheet metal (like air ducts), or various composite materials, this tool is more than adequate. It’s perfectly capable when it comes to sinking screws, too. Its 20 clutch settings help you avoid damaging hardware, while a bright light helps illuminate your work area. A power gauge on the side of the tool lets you know how much battery life you have left.