How to Choose a Cordless Drill: A Guide for DIY Newbies

How to Choose a Cordless Drill
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A cordless power drill is among the many must-have tools in every DIY enthusiast’s arsenal. However, with the hundreds of makes and models to choose from, it can be quite the challenge to find the perfect one. Thus, before going shopping for one, you must first educate yourself on how to choose a cordless drill.

Then again, you don’t have to worry; we have got you all covered. In here, we will be talking about the basics that every DIY newbie should know when on the hunt for a cordless power drill.

Corded vs. Cordless Power Drills: Knowing the Essentials

Generally, power drills are tools used to bore holes in various types of material on the one hand, and to fasten screws on the other. They accomplish this through the circular motion of the drill tip, which, depending on shape and size, are variously efficient in handling different types of solid material.

Bosch Power Tool Combo Kit CLPK223-181 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless Impact Driver and Drill/Driver Combo Kit (CLPK223-181)
Bosch Power Tool Combo Kit CLPK223-181 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless Impact Driver and Drill/Driver Combo Kit (CLPK223-181)

This motion is achieved using electricity, and it is under this aspect that the corded/cordless distinction becomes relevant. Simply put, corded drills continuously harness electricity from an external power source, to which they have to be constantly connected in order to work.

On the other hand, cordless drills use electrical energy accumulated in an internal battery and can work independently of an external source for as long as it has sufficient stored energy.

The immediate consequence of the difference between these two energy supply systems is that corded drills can generally harness a greater motor power and torque (while having to be permanently connected to an external source). In contrast, cordless drills are usually less powerful, but are more versatile, and can be easily carried and used in a wider range of situations.

How to Choose a Cordless Drill

So, now that you know how and where cordless and corded power drills differ from one another are you certain that you are going to go for a cordless one? If yes, then here are the factors to consider when buying a cordless power drill:

  • In Broad Strokes

The first thing that one would have to take into consideration when purchasing a cordless power drill is its power. The motor’s strength is measured in watts, which will determine how much a punch a cordless drill can pack. Generally, they’re inferior to corded power drills, so be wary of buying something that’s rated at 1000W or 650W as that will, most likely, be false advertising.

Torque is another determinant of how much a power drill can do. Torque is basically the drill’s ability to withstand opposition. Therefore, as with wattage, more is better.

  • Battery Life

The second most important factor that one should know in order to learn how to choose a power drill is battery life. Battery life is determined by voltage and amperes. Basically, a battery that has both values higher will translate into more battery life.

The voltage will determine how much power the drill can deliver, while amperes will determine how much juice can be packed in a single charge.

In addition to battery life, more sneaky manufacturers will bundle two batteries. Even if they’re weaker than a bigger, stronger battery, two will be generally better. Keep an eye out for deals and make sure to give battery life the importance it deserves for planning longer projects. The last thing to note is to look out for quick charging devices. These will juice up a battery in a matter of minutes.

  • Clutch and Clutch Size

Clutches have different sizes and different gripping mechanisms. Keyless or with a key, make sure that the grip that they provide and the size they’re rated for are a good fit for the project. Bigger sizes will mean that it will accommodate bigger drills.

  • RPMs

RPMs or rotations per minute will determine how good the machine is at drilling. Different types of jobs and materials will require the user to adjust the RPM. This means that more options will definitely mean more versatility in terms of project choice.

Overall, one would want at least two or three speeds, but, of course, the more settings there are, the better.

  • Brushless vs. Brushed Motors

Brushless motors are the industry standard. They’re more efficient in energy consumption and product conservation than its counterpart. Also, they won’t put much strain on the power tool even if the user is “abusing” it.

Bosch Drill DDH181XB Brute Tough 18-Volt Lithium-Ion 1/2-in Cordless/Driver (Tool Only)
Bosch Drill DDH181XB Brute Tough 18-Volt Lithium-Ion 1/2-in Cordless/Driver (Tool Only)

On the other hand, brushed motors are less smart than brushless ones when it comes to energy efficiency. They tend to put a lot of strain on the machine, rendering it unable to adjust accordingly to the task.

  • Accessories

This isn’t as important for veterans, but newbies will want to look for set deals. Usually, cordless power drills will come in packs, bundled with drill heads, drivers, sanding heads, and more. Extensors are also a great deal, giving the user a big upgrade when it comes to usability.

Moreover, flashlights and indicators are a must when using battery-powered tools, so make sure that the device has one. Otherwise, one might risk being left powerless in a frustrating moment.

  • Manufacturer

Always buy from a reputable manufacturer. Buying from a shady source isn’t a smart investment, as these products usually tend to fail and underperform, leaving the user frustrated and looking for a better product.

Usually, Ryobi has great starting-level kits and tools, while Bosch and DeWalt offer a wider array of products, both for amateurs and professionals alike.

DEWALT Power Tool Combo Kit DCK483D2 20-Volt MAX* XR Lithium-Ion Brushless 4-Tool Cordless Combo Kit (DCK483D2
DEWALT Power Tool Combo Kit DCK483D2 20-Volt MAX* XR Lithium-Ion Brushless 4-Tool Cordless Combo Kit (DCK483D2)

  • Ergonomics

Ergonomics are important when it comes to a machine that’s going to be used on the regular. Having a soft-grip handle, a pistol grip, and nice finish touches all add up to a good-value purchase.

Find products that are specifically tailored for the working men or women. The manufacturers mentioned above, for example, have a vast experience on what it takes to make a very user-friendly, intuitive product.

  • Warranty

Warranties are important for every purchase, but the nature of power drills and power tools, in general, make them a higher value purchase if they come with a long-term warranty. This will also allow the users to feel better about experimenting with different projects, both in terms of variety and difficulty.

Final Thoughts

The basic thing to keep in mind when learning how to choose a cordless drill is not to overbuy something. A Ryobi starter kit is the perfect tool for a newbie that’s just getting into drilling and DIY projects. That being said, an enthusiast will surely know when it’s time to move on to a DeWalt or Bosch mobile powerhouse.

Make sure to have a good hardware store nearby and ask for help with projects and recommendations in terms of accessories. Remember, power drills are incredibly versatile machines, and one will definitely benefit from learning all of the nuances and tricks that come with it, improving his or her DIY game by quite a bit.

Last, but not least, make sure to get a full-featured machine. Fine touches and ergonomics are arguably one of the most important things to have in order to make the hobby or task more pleasant.

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