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How Much Power for a Cordless Drill

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  • How Much Power for a Cordless Drill

    Cordless drills are awesome - I mean, who doesn't like them. However, here is a question that I have always wondered:

    How much power is needed in a cordless drill?

    Let's say that I'd like to buy one of the Ridgid cordless drills someday. And let's say I am going to go for the X2 version and that money is not an issue (read: I'll save the money until I have what is needed for whatever I end up getting).

    How do I decide how much power is right - 12V, 14.4V, or 18V?

    Of course, one approach is the Tim Allen answer - more is ALWAYS better. However, I don't really want to shell out more cash or carry around more weight then is required.

    So, is there any good rule of thumb? Does anyone have any particular recommendation?

    Any help, advice, comments, ramblings, etc, will be appreciated!!!

  • #2
    As with many questions regarding tools, it all depends what you want to do with it!

    I've an 18V Bosch Drill, but for use in the workshop doing the usual furniture projects, I find it to heavy, and do not require the power.

    Outside, building a large garden arbor, on the jobsite drilling 2" x 4"'s and being able to drill everything that gets thrown at it, it works real well.

    For my shop, the latest 12V drills with their increased performance compared with just a few years ago, and as importantly their lighter weight, is the way to go. Will pick up the $129 Ridgid in the next month or so, and my guess is that, I'll be using that 90% of the time, in the shop.

    If I were buying my first and only drill, it would be the 14V general purpose, suitable for workshop and around the house projects, decks etc., Since I am not in job site construction, and already have an 18V then 12V seems the way to go.


    [ 09-22-2003, 10:55 AM: Message edited by: Cutbuff ]


    • #3
      Originally posted by Cutbuff:
      As with many questions regarding tools, it all depends what you want to do with it!
      That part of David's answer says it all. Each persons situation is uniquely different. In my case, I have yet to come across a project where my 9.6V DeWalt couldn't do the job. To others though, my 9.6V would be considered no more than a mere pop gun. [img]smile.gif[/img]
      I decided to change calling the bathroom the "John" and renamed it the "Jim". I feel so much better saying I went to the Jim this morning.


      • #4
        I like my 18v, it is heavy but I am used to it and don't get tired out by it. I have had 9.6 and 12v, both did not have the power I needed about 5% of the time, while that is not often, when you need it that's when you wish you had 18v. BTW I am average size and strength.


        • #5

          I also believe that most people go for the 18V - 24V for the increase in torque that they get. But take a look at some of today's new models. Their torque ratings at 12V are the same or better than my 18 month old 18V Bosch!

          I don't know where the technological improvements are being made, but they are being made, and we're seeing really high power and torque levels in these 12V and 14V tools that a few years back needed an 18V or 24V to fulfill.



          • #6
            24v is like having a car battery attached to the tool.
            The ultimate limitation on torque is due to the battery. The motor and gears are large factors and do determine the result, but the battery is problem. To get the same torque in a 9.6v tool as an 18v tool, the battery duration will suffer.
            While the batteries of today are better than they were 20 years ago, they are still in the stone age as a means of providing energy.


            • #7
              Thank you everyone for the great and quick responses to my question. I appreciate everyone's comments.

              I think, perhaps, since I currently have a 18V firestorm drill, at some point in the future I will have to go for either the 12V or 14.4V X2 Series Cordless drill.

              As for a response to my own tangent, one of my thoughts is that if I really need the torque, I don't really mind going to the effort to run an extension cord and use a corded drill.

              Of course, I don't do this full time for a living and am not always on job sites - for my own deck remodelling, running an extension cord is no big deal...


              • #8
                Originally posted by Captain Bunzo:
                I think, perhaps, since I currently have a 18V firestorm drill, at some point in the future I will have to go for either the 12V or 14.4V X2 Series Cordless drill.
                I also have an 18-volt Firestorm. If yours is like mine -- one of the earlier versions that uses the same batteries as the Dewalt 18 volt line -- it's an excellent drill for a great many applications. I usually buy Dewalt drills, but I bought this firestorm shortly after the model was introduced based on information that the motor and transmission was the same one as used in the Dewalt 18 volt of that time. I don't know if that's true or not, but I needed a drill badly and it was a lot cheaper than the Dewalt. I generally am hard on tools anyway (I tend to find their limits of endurance [img]tongue.gif[/img] ), and didn't really expect it to last all that long. Now, a few years later, it's still going strong even with the beating I've given it, and it's never failed to do what I asked. I took it apart recently, and yes it does have a couple of plastic gears inside, but after all that abuse they still look like new. The only dissappointment has been the chuck, which likes to let go of bits all by itself at times... and chucks can be changed. B&D changed the Firestorm line along the way and made the drills a lot cheezier (I wouldn't even consider one today.)

                That being said, I find it helpful to have more than one cordless drill in the shop. It can save a lot of time changing bits, and there are things I use my little 9.6 volt drill for that the 18 volt would rip up (too muich torque for the job). Besides that, if I take a drill to one of the sites I'm working on and forget to toss it in the truck at the end of the day, I'm guaranteed to need one that night. After looking over the new Ridgid drills, I'm probably going to pick up one of the compact 12-volt models. It's light, agile, well-balanced, and powerful. I tried to stall one with my hand today and my hand is still reminding me not to try that again! It's also stable when sitting on the battery, unlike most 12-volt drills. It's an outstanding tool for only $129, and will make a good companion to any 18-volt drill in the shop.

                I have several Dewalts where I work, and from what I've experienced of the new Ridgid line, there will be at least a couple of them added to the drill harem before the year is finished. Very impressive, indeed!

                BTW, if you have one of the newer Firestorm drills with the slide-on batteries, you oughta try the 18 volt Ridgids. You'll find out what you're missing!



                • #9
                  i will put my 12V hilti sf-121a up against any of your cordless drills! finest cordless i have ever owned/encountered!


                  • #10
                    Thanks for that deep and meaningful analysis. I feel better for it!
                    So it's a duel you're after? Or is it my one's better than your one type of discussion?
                    Why? How much? What for? What's the torque? What's the battery life? Who the he$$ is Hilti?