Best cordless drills review and buying guide. Which battery-operated model to choose Dewalt, Bosch, Ryobi, Makita or other? What battery to select; 18 V, 20 V or 24 Volts and is it enough for the job you are planning to do at your home or on the site?
Whether you like to do repairs yourself or not, cordless drill is a must have tool in your home. Sooner or later you will need at least to hang a picture or a shelf on the wall, install or replace a light fixture, loosen screw.
Cordless drills are typically lightweight and simple, designed for smaller jobs, but some models are multifunctional, more robust and stronger – ideal for contractors and professionals such as carpenters and home remodelers. Compared to corded electric drills, the main advantage is battery drive, making the tool more convenient in some circumstances.
But which one of many battery-operated and handheld models to buy?
There are five different types of cordless drills.
Simple drills make holes in different types of materials. Drill drivers are 2-in-1 tools, which bore holes and can also work as a driver, capable to loosen or tighten screws. Drills and drill drivers are the most popular for home use; you could drill wood, plastic, metal, masonry. Both of them are the least powerful drills, often with maximum voltage of 18 Volts (18V).
Combination or combi drills are equipped with one additional feature – hammer function, making a tool ideal when drilling through the harder materials. Combi drills may be informally named as 3-in-1 tool, which combine drill, driver and rotary hammer drill.
SDS drills (SDS stands for Special Direct System) went a step further in complexity. There are three modes – drilling through light materials, drilling with hammer move in rotating motion for masonry and the hardest brick walls, plus no rotation mode that provides chisel use. Chiseling can be handy for making channels for cables or breaking up materials.
Hammer drills or Percussion drills are similar to the SDSs, but it is not possible to eliminate rotating. Therefore, the chisel function is left out and drill works only as a very powerful tool for drilling in rock, concrete and masonry. SDS drills and hammer drills are designed for skilled hobbyists and professionals. They are bulkier and have an additional handle to be held with both hands.
You are going to choose the most appropriate cordless drill for your needs, but some relevant characteristics have to be checked in all types.
Voltage number (battery voltage) means the available power to the cordless drills. Drills that are more powerful also have more functions; they are heavier and more expensive. Roughly speaking, 9V may be used for very light tasks only, 14-18V will be sufficient for slightly ambitious home repairs, and for extreme jobs consider 20 or 24V.
Battery is the most important part of the cordless drill, because the weak battery will decrease the drill power and it won't be enough for the job. If you plan to use drill frequently, buy the spare battery. Check the amp hour (Ah) of the battery, which indicates its capacity i.e. duration between charges. Lithium-ion batteries are the standard for modern electronics and tools and something you should look for, not NiMH. Lithium – ion batteries can be charged and discharged faster, and can hold a charge for a long time. Tools with NiMH battery are cheaper to buy.
Torque or twisting force of the drill is measured in Newton meters (Nm). You will need to choose a twisting force to suit your material and work phase, so check how many torque settings some model offers.
Speed is measured in revolutions per minute (RPM). Similar as the torque, it is preferable if could be adjustable while working.
Brushless technology is an advantage, if drill motor uses it. Tool and battery will last longer.
Vibration dampener reduces vibration, making the tool more precise and durable.
Keyless chuck provides fast bit change, without additional tool.
Depth gauge allows you to fix the depth of the hole.
Drills with hammer function have additional features – impact energy, blows per minute, safety clutch.
Finally, each job requires appropriate drill bit. If you choose a brand name drill, it will be very easy to find a corresponding drill bit set among many on the market.
The most popular and reliable brands of cordless drills are Bosch, Ryobi, DeWalt, Makita, Black & Decker, Milwaukee, Mac Allister, Hitachi...