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cordless impact driver vs. cordless drill?

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  • cordless impact driver vs. cordless drill?

    Hi all,

    The subject question says it all...I'm not a real power tools guy, so I don't know a heck of a lot about how these two types of cordless tools compare. I mean, I know the basic principles of each, but I'm not sure which would be better for me to buy.

    Basically, my corded drill just died, and since I haven't bought a power tool in ages and wouldn't mind being liberated from power outlets and extension cords, I figured it's time to get into the 21st century and buy a cordless of some kind. I've done tons of research on the Net, educated myself about the best brands/drills etc, and was all set to go out and buy a cordless drill, when I suddenly discovered impact drivers--that made me stop and think I should ask some advice.

    All I need is something that will do light/medium household/outdoor stuff, although of course I'd love it if the drill/driver could do heavier work if need be (who knows what I'll need it for in the future, like decks or lag bolts or whathaveyou?) Once question I already have: it seems the cordless impacts have lots of advantages over cordless drills (much higher torque & rpms, longer battery lives, no stripping of bits, etc) why doesn't everyone just buy impact drivers instead of drills?

    I'm not looking to spend more than $200 US. Which would be a better buy, the cordless impact driver or cordless drill...and why?

    Thanks much!

    [ 10-10-2005, 03:21 PM: Message edited by: canadave ]

  • #2

    You may want to keep checking your local HD’s; they are clearing out the existing line of cordless tools in time to bring out the new line for Xmas. If your local HD has not clearanced the 14.4V Drill and Impact Driver combo (includes charger, 2 batteries and bag) for about $129 they should do it in the very near future. That should satisfy your needs and come in about 35% under budget.

    Good luck



    • #3

      Thanks...I just checked the HD website, and it has that combo for $239! :0 $129 would be awesome...I'll have to keep an eye out.

      One other question--is there any particular reason not to get an impact wrench, as opposed to an impact driver/drill? I don't have many applications for a wrench, but don't they sell cheapo adapters that can convert the impact wrench so that it can do driving/drilling applications?



      • #4

        I can't really offer much in the way of advice with regard to the impact vs regular drill. However, looking objectively at your "occasional" household use and your desire to go with a "cordless", I do have a question and comment.

        Battery life of cordless tools is best when they are used often and, battery life of a "stored" too is greatly diminished. Most NiCad-type rechargeable batteries will loose most of their charge over three of four weeks. So, the question is, do you really want to have to put the tool on charge everytime you go to use it? Similarly, are you prepared to replace the battery every couple of years? Of course if you buy a Ridgid and register it, you'll get the "Lifetime Service Agreement", so you won't have to worry about spending money for new batteries.

        Corded tools provide more power and are ready to use immediately, once plugged in. But, I do understand if you have your heart set on a battery operated tool and only offer the commentary for your thoughts.



        • #5

          Thanks for your comment. Your point is a good one; I've thought about this issue quite a bit recently. My thinking was, with these "smart chargers," I can always keep one battery in the charger (and have it ready to go, all topped up), and then just throw it into the tool and put the other battery into the charger as soon as I want to start the time the first one is used up, I should have the spare ready. Does that sound like a good possibility, or am I wrong in my thinking on this issue?

          As far as buying completely new batteries goes, Sears here in Canada sells batteries for the Craftsman I was looking at for $40 ($70 for two). That's not too much of an expense every two or three years, I think. However, I didn't realize the Ridgid service agreement involved free battery replacements...I'll have to take a closer look at that. The main thing dissuading me from Ridgid at this point is that from what I've read on these forums, alhough some people are satisfied with their Ridgid tools, a lot of people are quite unhappy with them and recommend against buying one.

          Also, how much of a hassle would it be to get a new battery from Ridgid as part of the service agreement? I'm so leery of these things like "lifetime exchange," only to find out you have to pay $30 in shipping, wait 6 months, etc.


          [ 10-11-2005, 11:03 AM: Message edited by: canadave ]


          • #6

            Great thoughts. With regard to keeping one of the batteries on charge until you need it, I guess I'd have to bow to someone's recent experience with doing that. The only experience that I've had with that, is a bit old and wasn't at all good. But battery chemistry and manufacturing processes have hopefully changed in the last 15 years. My first experiences with NiCads were to follow the manufacturer's instructions which said it was okay to leave them plugged into the charger all the time. In both cases, the NiCads died within the year. Further reading, outside the industry literature, indicated that the batteries were just slowly "cooked" until the chemical makeup of the battery was completely shot. I think the term was "boil-out" and so-called "trickle" charging led to very premature failure. Hopefully things are different now, but lessons learned once keep me a bit shy.

            Your point about the shipping cost of having batteries or repairs done "free" is a very good one. Early on, at least, almost any new tool will suffer parts shortages and long service times. There were certainly a wealth of complaints against Ridgid about that. I have no idea of the current service turn-around; but, I agree that having to pay the equivalent cost of a battery, in shipping and wait time, doesn't make much sense IF you need to have the tool right away.