A cordless drill provides a lot of power and versatility in a compact and lightweight design. Cordless drills are an indispensable tool for projects both big and small. In this article, we’ll review the 10 best cordless drills for electricians.
Today’s cordless drills for electricians run on Li-ion (Lithium Ion) batteries, providing us with longer battery life while maintaining its ultra-light design. A brand new drill today can run 50% longer than a cordless drill from 2012, just eight years ago.
Also, many cordless drills models today also feature stronger and more sophisticated motors. Brushless motors—which are more powerful and reliable than the more prevalent brushed motors—used to be very expensive and only used in the big brand and high-end drills.
However, nowadays, many fairly affordable cordless drills already feature brushless motors.
With those points being said, today we have many different options of cordless drill products available in the market. Although more options are certainly good, it can also lead to confusion for electricians and other potential buyers.
This is why in this buying guide, we will discuss all you need to consider before buying a cordless drill, as well as our recommendations and reviews of our top 10 picks of best cordless drills in 2020.
Although we can differentiate the cordless drills in many different types, we can boil them down into just three basic types based on performance or power:
As the name suggests, this type of cordless drills uses the smallest motors compared to the other types. So, these smaller motors don’t provide as much force as general-use or heavy-duty cordless drills (which we will discuss below). Most of them feature a fixed, ¼-inch socket, so you can only use ¼-inch drill bits.
While they are pretty limited in functionality, they are also the most compact and lightweight, and they are typically powered by a 12-volt battery, but some come with larger 20-volt batteries (although the motors featured are still relatively small).
Light-duty cordless drills are, as the name suggests, better-suited for simple jobs like assembling smaller furniture, changing light fixtures, and so on.
The middle of the pack, and arguably the most versatile of the three types. Mainly characterized by their “x”-inch chuck, which is great for many different jobs (hence the name general-purpose or general-use). They are mainly powered by 12-volt batteries, but typically feature pretty strong motors that can drill holes in thicker wood with relative ease.
Typically the best investment to have for electricians since there are not too many heavier jobs these general-purpose drills can’t do. For these heavier jobs, we can always rent a heavy-duty drill if required.
As the name suggests, the most powerful out of the three types, and mainly feature 18 to 24-volt batteries to accommodate the more powerful motors. They are typically outfitted with ½-inch chucks and can accept most drill bits, which when paired with the stronger motors, can even drill into bricks and concrete blocks.
Obviously, these heavy-duty drills tend to be the most expensive, and also are the heaviest. So, if you want a compact, lightweight drill to carry around, this one might not be for you.
Based on their functionality, we can divide the cordless drills into five types. Each of them is specifically designed for certain tasks, and you can choose between them to match your current project:
The most popular and general-purpose type for electricians and professionals, the drill driver’s main purpose is to drive screws and other fasteners through various kinds of materials. This type also features free chuck, allowing users to change between bits easily and quickly.
However, drill drivers tend to be relatively large in size and you might not be able to maneuver the drill driver around small spaces easily.
Cordless screwdrivers, as the name suggests, have the main purpose of removing and fastening screws. They are usually fairly compact and lightweight, and you can maneuver it easily around tight angles.
Great for simpler tasks like assembling furniture, removing doors, and other light-duty tasks.
Impact drivers offer a higher torque compared to the standard drill drivers—discussed above—, and are great for installing and removing fasteners and nut bolts. Typically more compact than the drill drivers, and easier to maneuver in tighter spaces.
Great for rough carpentry and automotive-related tasks, but you may need hex shaft bits and other required accessories. However, not very good at drilling holes.
The hammer drill is about the forward thrust (hence the name ‘hammer’) while providing enough torque, allowing us to drill through harder materials while driving fasteners in the process. Typically (very) heavy compared to other types, larger, and requires more battery to operate, but they can produce more power. Great for professionals who work with harder materials like concrete, metal, and harder woods.
Rotary hammer drill provides even more power than the standard hammer drill and is very effective at removing materials. While they are relatively portable, they can weigh over 10 lbs, and so it’s quite hard to use them for an extended period. Great for professionals who work with masonry materials regularly.
As we can see, cordless drills come in various different types with different features, and choosing between the different types can be quite difficult. So, here are some important factors to consider before choosing a cordless drill:
Almost all cordless drills (and most cordless tools) nowadays feature Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. One of the key advantages of Li-ion batteries is that it’s much more environmentally friendly and contains fewer toxic substances than the older nickel-cadmium batteries (NiCd), while it can also perform just as well is not better with more efficiency.
So, make sure to check whether your cordless drill features a Lithium-Ion battery.
Also, some models feature a second battery for more battery life. It’s typically more cost-efficient to get these models rather than buying an extra battery later on. So, especially if you tend to use the drill at an extended period of time, consider getting one with two batteries.
When considering between different batteries, we can look at mainly two things: capacity (measured in ampere-hours or Ah) and voltage (measured in volts). The higher the voltage of the battery, the more torque it can produce. However, voltage is not the only factor driving performance.
The larger the battery capacity, typically will mean the longer you can use your drill. However, it isn’t always the case: two drills with similar battery capacities can have different running times.
Nevertheless, battery capacity and voltage are still great ways to measure the battery’s potential performance.
As mentioned above, the biggest factor in determining the cordless drill’s power is battery voltage: the higher the voltage, the higher the torque strength produced for the drill to overcome resistance.
Drills can come in various voltage ratings, and typically the most powerful drills feature 18V batteries, but there are also various models with various voltage ratings in 6, 7.2, 9.6, 12, 14.4, 18, and even more than 20V ratings. As mentioned, however, there can be other factors besides the battery voltage in determining the drill’s power and performance.
The tradeoff of huge battery voltage is weight: a 9.6V drill, for example, typically weigh around 3.5 pounds. However, a heavy-duty hammer drill with 18V battery can weigh more than 10 pounds.
So, consider the case of power vs weigh depending on your needs as an electrician. A high-voltage drill would be more suitable if your tasks involve a lot of heavy-duty jobs. However, if you are mainly performing light-duty DIY work like changing light fixtures or constructing furniture, compact and lightweight drills might be a better overall pick since they won’t tire your hands during longer jobs.
We have briefly discussed above that brushless motors are generally better than brushed ones, but are also more expensive. Brushless motors are more efficient and produce less heat and noise. Also, they require less maintenance.
Most of today’s cordless drills feature a T-handle model, where the base flares in a T-shape to prevent slippage and also to accommodate the battery placement. Before cordless drills, most drills use gun-shaped handles where the handle is placed behind the motor because they wouldn’t need to consider battery placement and weight.
In a cordless drill, the battery is centered under the weight and bulk of the motor, and so the T-handle would provide better balance and can accommodate heavier batteries in heavy-duty drills.
Another advantage of the T-handle design is that due to the hand’s placement that is in the center of the drill, the T-handle tends to be better in maneuvering tighter spaces.
However, gun-shaped (or pistol) handle does have its advantage for heavy-duty drills and in driving larger screws since the hand placement allows us to apply pressure almost directly behind the bit, which will produce more force.
The ‘chuck’ is the part of the drill that holds the rotating bit of the drill.
The most important thing to consider about the chuck is that it should be able to hold the drill bit securely in place. The drill bit shouldn’t wobble at all, and so your drilling would be precise.
However, different drills would also feature different chuck sizes: bigger chuck sizes can hold smaller bits, but not the other way around. This is why it’s generally safer to look for at least a ½-inch chuck so you’d get more versatility with your cordless drill by being able to hold larger bits. This will allow you to take on heavier-duty jobs when required.
Some newer drills also feature keyless chucks, allowing us to tighten or loosen them easily without needing a key. If you change bits a lot during your project, having this feature would provide you with more convenience.
You might also want to consider drills featuring hexagonal (or simply, hex) chucks. They can only work with specially designed hexagonal bits, but they can hold the bits more securely and are less likely to slip. Hex chucks might be a better choice if you often drill through hard materials that would require extra precision and force.
This one is pretty simple but is still a very important factor to consider. You’d want a comfortable grip to work with, especially if you are going to use your drills for extended hours at a time. Some drill models offer ergonomic grips made of high-quality materials, providing you not only with more comfort in your grip, but also security.
Also, if you have existing shoulder, wrist, elbow, and arm issues, make sure to get a model with a high-quality grip and a drill that is light enough for you.
Your drill should provide good enough control at low speed, which will significantly help with accuracy when trying to start a screw. Low-speed control is also very important when trying to start a screwing process or when drilling smoother materials that don’t produce too much friction (i.e. smooth tiles.)
Look for a model that would provide you with several ranges of speed controls/gears: slower speed for slower but powerful drilling for harder materials, and a high gear for faster drilling typically with smaller bits.
Whether you’re an electrician, millwright, or home-owner, we have tested the best cordless drills of various different types and features. Now that you know the key factors to consider when choosing between cordless drills, here are our recommendations of the top 10 best cordless drills for electricians, starting from number ten:
A great hammer drill from Ryobi, and one of the best cordless hammer drills available in the market today. It can produce up to 750-lbs of torque, so you can use it to work on relatively tough materials.
It is also quite versatile, featuring a 24-position clutch coupled with three different speed settings. However, it is also very compact and lightweight, weighing just 3 lbs. It also features an 18V Li-ion battery offering a long-lasting battery life.
All of those features and this cordless drill also comes in a great 5-year warranty. Simply one of the best cordless drills available in the market today.
The LDX220C from Black+Decker is a great cordless drill for light and medium-duty tasks, suitable for both home and professional use. With 20V of Li-Ion battery capable of driving the motor to 650 RPM and 300inches/lbs torque, it is also quite powerful in handling tougher materials.
Also, it features an ergonomic design while being relatively lightweight. One of the best cordless drill drivers for both novice and experienced electricians.
The Skil PWRCore DL529002 is a 12V cordless drill intended for light-duty and general purpose tasks. It houses a 2-speed brushless motor, and despite its 12 V capacity, it can produce a pretty decent 1,700 RPM rotation and 350 inch/lbs torque. It has an integrated LED to help light dark working conditions, and 17+1 clutch settings providing extra versatility.
What’s interesting about this drill is the PWRJump charger, which can produce a 25% charge in just 5 minutes, and a full charge in just 45 minutes. It also has an interesting, hybrid single-sleeve ½” keyless chuck with a ¼” hex. Most 12 V drills offer ?” chuck, and this hybrid ½” chuck is there to accommodate the 1,700 RPM rotation.
All in all, one of the best 12V cordless drills available in the market.
The Makita XPH11RB is a very affordable 18V cordless drill, suitable for both home use and for professional electricians. This kit includes everything you will need as a professional to get the job done. It also has dual LED lights that illuminate the work area making working with this drill in tight, dark spaces a breeze.
This drill has a compact and ergonomic design at less than 7 inches long. Superb balance, easy to maneuver, and extremely versatile with two power settings.
The Metabo HPT 18V Cordless Drill (formerly Hitachi) has some great features and is a high quality cordless drill at an affordable price. It offers 400 inches per pound of power and comes with a lifetime warranty. It’s also a very versatile choice with a ½-inch keyless chuck.
However, it doesn’t offer hammer functionalities, making it not as versatile despite its pretty high power ratings.
The Milwaukee M12 is among the most versatile 12V cordless drills available. It is lightweight and compact, weighing only 2.5 lbs.
A unique thing about this drill is that it is a 2-in-1 drill featuring a ?” drill driver function and ¼” hex impact drill function, making it a very versatile, professional-grade 12V drill and impact driver. So, if you are an electrician who tackles mostly light to medium duty drill work, this is probably the best choice for you.
Super compact, but can produce 275 inch/lbs of torque for the drill driver function, and 850 inch/lbs for the impact driver. Very reliable, compact, and relatively affordable 2-in-1 drill and impact driver, one of the most versatile cordless drills for electricians looking for a go-to light to medium-duty fixes.
The Dewalt DCD980M2 is a pretty versatile cordless drill that also features a massive punch. A great choice for heavy-duty jobs, but is also versatile enough in handling lighter-duty tasks. For this purpose, the drill offers three different speed settings so we can easily adjust the drill to work on various different surfaces.
It has a very efficient, high-powered motor with 535 UWO of maximum power, producing high torque, and also features a long battery life. The only downside is that it is relatively heavy at 5.2 pounds.
The Makita FD07R1 is a high-end cordless drill that also features a massive punch. A great choice for heavy-duty jobs, but is also versatile enough in handling lighter-duty tasks. A power-house of a drill that weighs only 2.3 pounds. A convenient 3/8″ keyless chuck makes quick-changing drill bits a breeze.
The only real drawback is that it only comes standard with 2.0 Ah batteries, however, you can purchase 4.0 Ah batteries separately that are compatible to give it even longer battery life.
A great cordless drill from Bosch. Very compact and you can easily drive screws into tight spots. Handy design especially with its double-handed design, and pretty versatile with the two-speed settings and adjustable torque.
We love this drill for its versatility, built in LED light and various operating modes. Without question this Bosch is one of the best cordless drills for electricians.
Dewalt is, again, one of the biggest names in power tools manufacturing, and the Dewalt DCD991P2 20-volt is a very well-built cordless drill, very durable and sturdy. Although not designed for construction and heavy-duty use, it is pretty versatile and pretty powerful for most general-purpose tasks.
Lightweight and compact, so we can easily use it in tight spaces, and it also comes with an anti-slip feature to prevent it from slipping in your hand. While it doesn’t include a battery (and charger), it’s still one of, if not the best cordless drill for electricians due to its performance and versatility.
All ten of the best cordless drills for electricians we have reviewed above are of great qualities and each comes with their own advantages and disadvantages. So, choosing the absolute best among them is a very difficult task.
However, for the sake of this buying guide, our choice goes to:
Very versatile, and also comes in a very sturdy, high-quality material. However, it only comes with a ¼-inch chuck, which might not be for everyone.
While the Dewalt edged out the Bosch mainly due to its higher output power and battery life, we still recommend the Bosch as one of our best cordless drills for electricians:
Very powerful performance while also being quite versatile with 20 different torque settings. Also, it has a very decent battery life that can handle 700 screws without charging.
That’s not saying the other cordless drills we have reviewed are bad quality (particularly those in the top 6 or 7 spots). However, as we’ve mentioned, each offers its own unique features and advantages.
We hope you’ve gathered enough information from this buying guide, and can make a better purchase decision with what we’ve shared.
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