Your cordless drill will be the most important power tool in your toolbox. You’ll reach for it for projects big and small; from remodelling your bathroom to putting together furniture. Most cordless drills come with Li-ion or lithium-ion batteries, which offer more power and longer run times than other types.
The battery will have a lot to do with what drill you choose, since it figures so heavily in the drill’s performance. Before you can compare models, though, you will want to figure out how you expect you’ll use the drill.
There are three general categories: heavy-duty, general-duty, and light-duty. Keep reading to learn more about these three usage types, how you can determine which drill will be best for you, and the options for buying a cordless drill.
1. The Chuck
The chuck is the clamp that holds bits at the business end. It will take driving bits for screwing in fasteners, and cutting bits for drilling holes. The bigger the capacity a chuck offers, the bigger a bit it can hold, and usually, the more power the drill will have.
Models in the heavy-duty category will have the largest size couch you’ll see on cordless models: 1/2-inch. General-duty drills will have a 3/8-inch chuck and can probably handle most bits you’ll use as a homeowner doing home and yard maintenance. And light-duty drills usually have a fixed 1/4-inch socket which will only accept bits that have a hex-shaped shaft.
2. Heavy-Duty Drills
Drills in the heavy-duty category will have tough 18- to 24-volt batteries, which gives them the power to drill holes and drive large fasteners through thick boards. With their big chucks they can take pretty much any drill bit, even those for drilling into concrete block or brick. This means that heavy-duty drills will be heavy and the most expensive out of all three categories. Only buy one of these if you will use it as intended; otherwise, you’ll be wasting money and the drill might be too big and heavy for your needs.
3. General-Duty Drills
Most people will get the best use out of general-duty drills, which will usually have a 12-volt battery. They can drive a whole pouch full of screws with one charge, and can drill holes in wood with no problem. If you choose to buy two batteries with the drill and keep one charging while you work, you’ll never run out of power while you need it.
4. Light-Duty Drills
Best-suited for small jobs around the home like hanging art frames, assembling furniture, or changing a light fixture, light-duty drills have batteries that range from 12- to 20-volts. Their smaller motors don’t spin with the same power as general- or heavy-duty drills. As mentioned above, they’re also limited to accept a 1/4-inch hex bit.
5. Options For Purchasing A Cordless Drill
Cordless drills are typically sold in three different configurations:
- A standalone drill with at least one battery and a charger.
- As part of a kit, with other cordless tools from the same brand.
- As just the tool, with no charger or battery.
If you just want a drill and don’t need or want any other power tools that use the same batteries, go with the first option. If you’re looking for other tools that will use the same battery, go with the kit. Just keep in mind the drills that come with most kits are heavy-duty models. Finally, if you already have a compatible battery from a different cordless tool and don’t need another, the bare tool will be perfect for you. This is the least expensive option, but really, the worst value for your money.