10 Best
Power Drills
Updated September 28, 2022
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Power Drill Buying Guide

Author Alex M
Published on April 29, 2022
by Alex M

So, you're looking for a power drill because you've got a screwdriver, but who's got the time? In this guide, we explore the different advantages and disadvantages of different power drills - which kind you should buy, and why.

Cordless vs Corded

Cordless vs Corded
Corded vs Cordless Power Drills
Corded power drills rely on an electrical cord for their source of power. Depending on the size of the job, they might also require an extension cord for the extra reach. Several benefits of a corded power drill are more power, durability, and lack of interruption in work in order to recharge the battery. For these reasons, corded power drills are preferred by professionals.

Cordless power drills, on the other hand, have *no* cord! They are powered entirely by batteries, thus giving you greater freedom of movement. However, one downside to cordless drills is that you are bound by the charge level of your battery. Different factors affect battery life, such as continuous use, the temperature, and the materials you are drilling into. One way to combat having to stop work to recharge the battery is to purchase a backup battery. This way, you can always be charging one, and switch them out as needed without having any downtime.

One awesome benefit of owning multiple batteries is that companies are starting to release more tools with the same battery housing, making the batteries interchangeable. That means, if you stick to buying all your tools from the same brand, you can use that same battery from your power drill, to your circular saw, to your reciprocating saw, and so forth. This way, you would only need two batteries at any given time to run a large variety of tools.

Drill Power

Cordless power drills have their power measured in voltage. With a higher voltage, you get more torque to help overcome any resistances. A good entry, home project power drill voltage is 12V. If you want more power, you can go up to 18V or 20V. Anything above 20V is starting to get into professional grade territory. One thing to keep in mind is that the higher the voltage, the greater the weight. A 9V cordless drill weighs about 3 pounds, but a 18V drill can be over 8 pounds. Depending on the size of the job, you will get more tired holding a heavier drill. You should decide whether that extra power is really necessary and worth the extra weight. You don’t need to buy a 24V power drill if you are just going to be hanging posters up around the house.

Chuch & Clutch

Chuch & Clutch
Other areas you have options in are the chuck and the clutch. The opening that accepts the drill bit is called the chuck. A 1/4 inch chuck is considered light duty, and are good for small home projects. Most power drills will come with a 3/8 inch chuck. This is a good middle ground, that has the widest range of drill bits available, and is most versatile. Some 18V+ power drills will come in a 1/2 inch chuck, which are for more heavy duty, professional work. One last thing to keep in mind is keyless vs keyed chucks. Keyless chucks allow you to switch out your drill bits by hand, without needing an extra tool. However, keyed chucks will allow you to exert more torque without fear of your drill bit slipping during heavier use applications.

Behind the chuck is the adjustable clutch. A good power drill will have at least 20+ different chuck settings. It lets you fine tune when the power drill disengages - the motor still runs, but the drill bit stops turning when it reaches a certain level of preset resistance. Using your power drill on the appropriate clutch setting will prevent you from stripping, or over-driving your screws. Lower numbers are used for smaller screws, larger numbers for larger screws. Different materials also require different settings. It varies if you are drilling into soft wood, hard wood, metal, or concrete. Harder materials require lower speed and more torque. Softer materials require higher speed and lower torque.

Which Power Drill to Buy

The power drill you need to buy comes down to the purpose of your purchase. Are you a homeowner who just need a power drill for handing up pictures and the occasional light project? Perhaps a lightweight, lower voltage, cordless power drill is all that you need. Or are you a contractor who builds decks all day and need a continuous source of power. Perhaps you’d need a corded power drill with many clutch settings, so you can fine tune your screws perfectly, every time. What should you buy is a question you should answer for yourself. What will you be using this drill for? Every job has the right tool, and after reading this guide, hopefully you now know what to look for when selecting the right power drill for you.