FINDING THE RIGHT TYPE OF CORDLESS DRILL OR DRIVER - SEVERAL FEATURES YOU NEED TO CONSIDER

October 6, 2018

If you have been looking for a new cordless drill/driver, lately, surely many of you have become a little perplexed regarding all of the different brands and model variations, available. As consumers, most of you will fit into the class of DIY’er or weekend warrior and are just looking for a dependable cordless drill to help you knock out your honey do list. To help you make a more informed buying decision, I am will discuss some of the main features of cordless power drills you may want to consider when you are trying to make a purchase decision.

For most home projects, except those involving concrete or heavy timbers, a cordless drill/driver with a 38 - 12 inch chuck is adequate for nearly all tasks. Cordless Drills available in a 12 inch chuck allow for higher torque and greater diversity in drilling applications. However, most of us will get along just fine with a 38 inch drill. Unlike older drill models, nearly all drill/drivers have a keyless chuck which allows you to do quick, one-handed bit changes by twisting an outer collar on the chuck. In addition, look for drills which have an adjustable clutch. This will help compensate the drill torque for various materials and you will end up with fewer stripped screws and damaged work surfaces. Many drills have two speed settings including a low speed (0-350rpm) for most driving applications, and high speed (0-1500rpm), for drilling.

Drill/drivers are available in either a full or compact size. The traditional, full-size drills are ideal for projects requiring a lot of torque in heavier materials. Some of these models made by companies such as DeWalt, or Makita have batteries which may be easily interchangeable with earlier models which may make buying a new drill much cheaper, for some.

Compact drill/drivers are a relatively new item in the cordless power tool business. Because of the newer Lithium-Ion battery technology, manufacturers have been able to design cordless drills which are smaller, and equally as powerful as their full-sized counterparts. For instance, the Makita BDF452HW Compact Lithium-Ion Driver-Drill, weighing in at only 3 12 lbs., delivers 450 in.lbs. of Maximum torque and 285 in.lbs. of PTI torque. Compact drill/drivers are ideal for those who need a drill capable of reaching into tight spaces. The compact size of these drills will actually enable the user to carry the drill around in their jacket or pants pocket, with ease. People with small hands, especially women, will really appreciate the small size of these drills.

Battery packs for cordless drills run commonly in the range of 7.2 to 32 volts. However, 18 volts is the maximum power needed for most weekend warriors. Larger packs are more commonly used in professional-grade heavy-duty drills used at job sites.

For many years, nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd), batteries have been the predominate power system for cordless power drills. Ni-Cd batteries power most cordless power tools used by job site professionals who use these tools on a daily basis. Charging times for most Ni-Cd packs is 45 minutes to over an hour. Therefore, to decrease downtime, it is advisable to choose a drill that comes packaged with two different batteries. Unfortunately, for the DIY’er who may only be using a drill occasionally, Ni-Cd batteries can become a liability since these batteries can loose their charging ability over time if the batteries are not charged and discharged on a regular basis. Over time, Ni-Cd batteries can develop what is known as “Memory Effect” and thus will loose their ability to hold a full charge. Run times on these batteries will eventually diminish.

As mentioned previously, lithium-Ion batteries have revolutionized the power drill industry by providing a light-weight and high-power alternative to drills powered with Ni-Cd cells. Lithium-Ion cells do not develop a “Memory Effect” and can retain a charge for months at a time while in storage between uses. The power output of Lithium-Ion cells is constant allowing a drill to operate at nearly full power until the battery pack is fully discharged. Also, Lithium-Ion drills are often packaged with computerized smart chargers which monitor the batteries charging level and condition and can help prolong the service life of the batteries. Many of these batteries are rated by their manufacturers to have a service life twice as long as Ni-Cd cells. Finally, Charging times for Lithium-Ion packs ranges between 15 and thirty minutes giving you more productive work time.