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chyna's avatar

I am wanting to buy a cordless drill. Can you explain the differences to me?

Asked by chyna (45800points) January 8th, 2012

I’ve been looking at cordless drills to use in home projects. I don’t understand the difference in the volts. I see they are available in 12, 14, 18 and 20 volts. What is the difference and which one should I buy?

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8 Answers

judochop's avatar

Battery life and power will be greater the higher the voltage.
Personally I would recommend a corded drill. Cordless drills always seem to run out of power just when you need it most and or are never charged.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

The lower voltages are for turning screws, like in everyday household objects. Taking out batteries, putting a screw into the pre-made holes in a some assembly required object.

The mid range voltages will drill into softer wood if you need.

The highest voltages will approximate the power of a corded drill.

Think about how often you will be drilling into things in the absence of a starter hole, and if you rarely will, you can get by perfectly well on a low volt or mid range model.

Also be aware the weight goes up with the voltage significantly.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@chyna My favorite most flexible drill is a Fishkar manual drill. Yeah, I have to crank it but it goes anywhere.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Maybe an electric screw driver would satisfy your drillin desires. They have handy little charging stations that holds an extra battery and the driver too… Always ready already and they can be pretty darn powerful. They can accept a vast array of sockets and bits that just snap in. Alas, they don’t do any real drilling.

As far as which one to buy… Drills and drivers are very personal tools which must feel good in the hand of the one who uses it. Go to the hardware storr and get it in your hands… See how it feels… Size, weight and balance are important considerations.

jerv's avatar

Anything 12 volts or less is barely a drill in my opinion. You can use it to put small holes in soft material or drive small screws, but for the sort of things that are actually useful like carpentry, hanging sheetrock, or mounting electric boxes, they range from inadequate to pathetic.

18 volt drills are good for just about anything a corded drill is good for, but may be a little overkill for some tasks. Personally, it is my favorite size as it can easily do things that a 14.4 volt drill might bog down with, yet not ridiculously heavy or large at least not for me. Bigger ones are more than I have a use for.

Battery life and voltage are unrelated; battery life is determined by the size of the pack and measured in amp-hours. The 18 volt Makita I use at work has a smaller battery than some 7.2 volt drills. Also, battery type has a lot to do with it; that Makita uses a Lithium pack while the cheaper/older ones often use NiCad packs. I won’t go into too much detail about why NiCad is bad except to say that smaller packs with more endurance that are less delicate and require no special care are better than cheap packs that are heavier and require good charging/discharging discipline.

Extra batteries are a must. I always have at least one extra pack charged or charging.

As @RealEyesRealizeRealLies says, you also need to find one that is comfortable for you. Try a few out. I find some too small, others balanced wrong, and some just plain too heavy.

Lastly, don’t go cheap; you get what you pay for. A decent cordless drill may run a little more than you feel like spending, but cheaper ones will either not do the job or just break and require replacement. Buy right the first time!

@Adirondackwannabe Those are great for just making holes, but not so good as a driver, and I am not big on driving dozens/hundreds of long screws into 2×4s with a manual screwdriver.

JilltheTooth's avatar

OK, @chyna , I’m a little girl, like you, and I like to compensate with more power. I have a Makita that it is about 10 years old, and still works. I’m not a contractor, so I just use it for home stuff, but having small arthritic hands, I really appreciate ite it. When this puppy dies, I’ll probably replace it with a DeWalt or a Craftsman. Granted, I’m not really rational about my tool collection my daughter can vouch! so maybe I’m not the one to give the best advice here….

If you’re gonna build stuff, invite me over, I’ll bring some great tools, a bunch of experience, the engineering gene, and peanut M&Ms.


RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

^^^ Yep… Can’t go wrong with Makita.

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