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What Is Best Cordless Drill For The Money? (Answered)

Power Drill Buying Guide

I hate to waste money on bad purchases. I am all for saving money and making a good purchase right off the bat. I dislike hate generic, soulless advice that say that you should buy as expensive as possible, because money “automagically” means superior quality.

My Choice
The best cost-benefit is the Porter-Cable PCC606LA for several reasons: it is powerful (20V) and robust enough for most jobs around your home; it is compact and lightweight; Porter-Cable makes many other cordless tools compatible with this battery; the battery has a gauge level, so you avoid it discharging completely (and ruining the battery in the process.
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Model & VerdictProsConsMain CharacteristicsPrice
Best Choice for Handyman Homeowner
Porter-Cable PCC606LA
☑ 20V ideal for wood, metal, and fastening applications
☑ Battery gauge to monitor charge level
☑ Compact and lightweight
☑ Build-in LED light for better visibility
☑ Wide availability of cordless tools compatible with this battery
⃠ Magnetic bit holders are inadequate for larger bits20V
1/2 Inch keyless chuck
Li-Ion battery
Two-speed gearbox for speed and power
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Best Choice for Inexperienced Homeowner
Ryobi P1810
☑ 18V more than enough for most projects around the home
☑ Smart charger offers maintenance mode in order to preserve batteries
☑ Wide availability of cordless tools compatible with this battery
⃠ Smaller chuck size could be inadequate for bigger projects18V
3/8 Inch keyless chuck
Li-Ion battery
Two-speed gearbox for speed and power
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Best Cheap Cordless Drill
Black & Decker LDX120C
☑ Competitive price
☑ Compact and lightweight
☑ Build-in LED light for better visibility
⃠ Smaller variety of cordless tools compatible with this battery20V
3/8 Inch keyless chuck
Li-Ion battery
Two-speed gearbox for speed and power
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Best Premium Cordless Drill
Makita XFD10R
☑ 18V more than enough for most projects around the home
☑ Dual build-in LED light for better visibility
☑ Improved water and dust resistance for harsh job site conditions
⃠ Price is above average18V
1/2 Inch keyless chuck
Li-Ion battery
Two-speed gearbox for speed and power
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Interesting Alternative
The Ryobi P1810 has a smaller chuck and a little less power than my main choice, however it is slightly cheaper, offers just as many compatible tools with the same battery system, has a Smart Charger that has a fast charging function as well as a battery maintenance mode (which makes your battery last longer). It is a great value for the money and wonderful for household use.
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Here are some simple questions you should ask yourself:

Do I need a power drill?

Every household needs a power drill, it is one of the most versatile tools you can have. You can use it for multiple jobs around the house such as hanging pictures and shelves, drilling accurate holes very fast, and even building simple pieces of furniture using a dowel jig or a pocket hole jig.

Should I get a drill, an impact driver, or a cordless screwdriver?

Drills work best for quick drilling and almost all screw-driving.

An impact driver can loosen a complicated screw avoiding to strip its head. Driving a screw with an impact driver also will not damage its head. The “hammering” action, as it is called, is noisier than a drill.

Cordless screwdrivers are lighter, but usually underpowered. A professional model costs around the same as a cordless drill, which is more powerful and versatile.

Corded or cordless?

The obvious advantage of corded drills is never running out of power, as well as never having to wait for batteries to charge.

The obvious advantage of cordless drills is the convenience of taking them anywhere without depending on extension cords (and the tripping risk), finding power outlets, and so on.

In a cordless drill, power and torque is determined by the voltage. Higher voltage also commands higher weight. So, if you need more juice in your cordless drill, such as 18V or 20V and upwards, then your tool will weigh just as much as a corded tool. Smaller batteries such as 12V or 14.4V are lighter. 18V tools are great for home use and DIYers because they are the most versatile, strong, and offer a good balance of weight and power output.

Picking a chuck

Chuck is the part that holds the bits in the drill. You should pay attention to both the size and the type of chuck.

You will most frequently see chuck sizes in 1/4″, 3/8″, and 1/2″ in diameter. The standard chuck size is 3/8″ and it is preferred most of the time because you can get higher bit speeds. You should only go for a 1/2″ chuck if you know you will need to use large drill bits.

As for chuck types, you can have them either keyed or keyless. A keyed chuck simply means you will use a mechanical key to loosen or tighten drill bits. The main advantage here is that drill bits are held tighter. A keyless chuck tightens the drill bit when you power the drill while hold the chuck with your hand. The advantage here is that changing bits is faster, plus there is no chuck key to lose in the middle of a job.

Best power drill features

  1. Reverse mode, so you can remove stuck drill bits. Keyless chucks always have reverse mode (because this is how you get the drill bit out), so you have to look for this feature only if you are buying a keyed chuck drill.
  2. Variable speed, so you can use your drill to drive screws. This is also useful for drilling cleaner holes in different materials, which requires different bit speeds. Softer materials require higher speeds. Harder materials need lower speeds.
  3. Two speed ranges are especially important for driving screws. The lower speed range simplifies the task of driving screws without stripping them.
  4. Torque clutch, required if you are driving screws. Before starting the job, you set a maximum torque on the clutch and the drill will not over-drive the screw into your workpiece. This is especially recommended if you are driving lots of screws, such as when building a deck.
  5. LED work light. This is a small detail that you will thank when you are working in a dark place.

Battery and tool storage

Even when your tool is off, it still draws a tiny amount of energy from the battery, which adds up over days and weeks without use. The best course of action is to remove the battery from the tool when putting them away.

Also, avoid storing or charging the batteries in a place with extremely high or low temperatures. High heat ruins your batteries permanently. Cold weather decreases the amount of power available for your tool.

Also, avoid using the batteries to full discharge. Sometimes you will not be able to recharge your battery and you will permanently lose it. Most batteries today also offer a charge indicator, so you can avoid damaging your batteries by running them down fully.

Most batteries today are Lithium Ion (Li-Ion), which offer more power, less weight, no battery memory problems, are lighter, and contain less metal elements harmful for the environment. Avoid the cheaper Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) and the Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) batteries – Cadmium is a toxic metal that can pollute ground water if it is not disposed correctly.

Caring for Li-Ion batteries is simple. Keep them cool. The hotter they become, the higher your chances are of facing battery failure.

One note on battery chargers: many brands also offer smart chargers, which can recharge a battery in 15 minutes to one hour, versus three to five hours of the conventional chargers.

Use the same batteries in other cordless tools

And a final note on choosing a brand: if you decide on a battery size and a brand, then you will be able to share the same batteries and charger among all your cordless tools. This way you can save money on buying (and garage/shop space on storing) extra batteries and chargers.