A cordless drill driver is one of the staple power tools in tool bags everywhere. Whether you’re a handyman, homeowner, carpenter, crafts-person, electrician, maintenance technician, mechanic, plumber, or work in any of the many other trades, a cordless drill driver has become the go-to tool that saves you time and money on any project.
When choosing a cordless drill driver, there are several factors to consider:
Standard chuck sizes include ¼, 3/8, and ½ inch. The most popular for home and hobby use is 3/8 inch. Contractors and professionals need the extra strength and durability of a 1/2-inch chuck and its associated ½-inch electric drill bits and drivers.
Most drill driver manufacturers have converted over from keyed chucks to keyless. In fact, I just had to buy a new key for one of my drills because I lost it. Keyless chucks allow you to rotate the chuck to loosen or tighten it and eliminate lost keys. Some are also capable of being operated with one hand, which can be handy in many situations.
With the advent of modern lithium-ion batteries, cordless drill driver power and torque is rapidly approaching that of corded models. The modern way to measure maximum power is to take into account speed and torque to arrive at an overall power for the drill driver.
Interested in learning about other cordless power tools? Be sure and see our other articles about some of the best!
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By using that method, manufacturers are effectively rating how long it will take their drill to complete an application. The rating is measured in Units Watts Out (UWO) which is defined as the point where the drill’s combined speed and torque output are at maximum. By choosing a cordless drill driver with a higher UWO, you are choosing a model that should complete tasks faster.
As you might expect, a higher UWO usually means a higher price, but it may also mean shorter run times between charges.
Variable Speed Transmission
Another important factor in the life of your drill driver is its transmission. The transmission takes a beating converting the motor’s power into usable torque and so a more durable, all-metal transmission will provide longer life.
You would be hard-pressed to find a cordless drill driver that has been released in the past few years that doesn’t have variable speed capability. Variable speeds allow you to tailor your drill speed to the task at hand.
How many speeds do you need? Cordless drill driver speeds are published as no-load speeds. Each speed range is designed for a different type of task. With variable speed power drill drivers, there will be at least one speed range, but some models have three or more. For example, a cordless drill driver from DEWALT that has three speed ranges may have RPMs in the ranges 0-450, 0-1,300, and 0-2,000. Each of those ranges targets materials for which that the speed range is effective. VikingDrill.com has published a very handy chart called Recommended Speeds for Standard Materials with High Speed Steel Drills.
A cordless drill driver has built-in adjustable torque control or clutch operated through a collar usually located behind the chuck. It allows you to tailor the torque applied to screws and bolt heads. Drill drivers vary in the number of clutch settings that are available. More clutch settings allow more precise control over the torque. Drill drivers provide numbers on their clutch collar with higher numbers meaning that higher torque is applied.
Not all cordless drill drivers use lithium batteries, but all newer models do and for good reason. Lithium-ion batteries are lighter and produce more fade-free power longer than previous battery technology. Their advancement has also not ended as about every year or so a higher voltage round of batteries seems to be released. The cordless drill driver from DEWALT we are looking at in this article is a 20-volt model. 20 volts seems to be the sweet spot for lithium-ion drill drivers right now, although that is changing rapidly.
Manufacturers were ingenious when they came up with the interchangeable battery systems. When I say interchangeable, I mean interchangeable with their own cordless tools, not any other manufacturer’s tools. That means, as soon as you choose a brand, you’re stuck buying other tools from that brand that use the same battery system if you want to add other tools to your tool bag. This may be a good thing or a bad thing.
Not all 20-volt lithium-ion battery packs are created equal. One characteristic that separates them is charge capacity. For a cordless drill driver, its lithium-ion battery capacity is measured in amp-hours. All things being equal, a battery with a higher amp-hour rating should run longer. Batteries are not cheap, so if you buy a drill driver kit, and it seems to be very comparable, but with a significantly different price, its battery capacity may be the reason.
If the lithium-ion battery pack is the soul of a cordless drill driver, its motor is the heart. You can recharge the battery over and over again, but when the motor fails, it’s over. Plus, the motor’s efficiency is a factor in battery life and its performance. A high-quality motor with the new brushless technology will be in service for you longer than older brushed design motors.
Length Front to Back
When it comes to a cordless drill driver, size does matter. Size usually is a big factor in weight and combined they control how maneuverable the tool is and how fatiguing it is to use on the job. Two important specifications are usually published with respect to each tool including length front to back and weight.
A shorter length front to back, more compact, cordless drill driver is usually lighter and easier to maneuver in tight spaces. If you normally work in tight spaces, consider one of the more compact models.
A heavier weight tool may not be noticeable at the beginning of the project, but by the end, you may wish it was lighter, particularly if you do a lot of overhead work. Lighter tools reduce fatigue and are also more maneuverable.
Almost all drill drivers have LED lights to illuminate the work area. An LED light integrated into the tool not only makes it easier to see your work area more clearly in a low light situation, since there is nothing between the light and the work surface, the light is also shadowless.
You could buy a bare tool, and if you already own other tools that use the same battery system, that would make sense. Otherwise, buying a kit with a charger, at least one battery, and a carrying case or bag is a money-saving way to go.
When you buy a kit, in addition to at least one battery and a battery charger, you usually get one or two accessories to go with your tool. Some common cordless drill driver accessories include a handle to help apply force when drilling or driving, a clip to attach the drill driver to your belt, and handy drivers that can be attached to the drill itself.
Manufacturers that have faith in their materials and workmanship generally provide a longer warranty than those who don’t. Particularly if you work in the trades, you need to work with high-quality tools that have a long warranty.
We searched tool forums, handyman forums, customer review sites, manufacturer sites, social media sites, retail sites, and consumer sites to find the most popular and highly rated new cordless drill driver kit.
Take a look at our choice and see if this DEWALT drill/driver is the best cordless drill driver kit for your needs!
The DEWALT DCD991P2 20V MAX XR Lithium Ion Brushless 3-Speed Drill/Driver Kit checks all the boxes for what you would want in a cordless drill driver. It features 20V power, a 3-speed, all metal high-performance transmission, a high-efficiency brushless motor, a heavy-duty ½-inch ratcheting nitro-carbonized metal chuck with carbide inserts for superior gripping strength, and a handy 3-mode LED light with a Spotlight Mode.
- Powerful 820 UWO ½-inch 20V MAX XR Lithium-Ion drill/driver kit
- DEWALT-built high power, high-efficiency brushless motor delivers up to 57% more run time over brushed
- Heavy-duty ½-inch ratcheting nitro-carburized metal chuck with carbide inserts for superior bit gripping strength
- 3-speed, all metal, high-performance transmission allows you to tailor speeds to the task at hand while shortening application time and improving runtime
- 0-38,250 BPM for fast drilling in masonry materials
- 3-Mode LED light provides illumination in dark or confined spaces, is up to 20X brighter than the previous model, and has a Spotlight Mode that features a 20-minute shutoff function allowing for extended work time in dark or confined spaces
- Durability features include a nitro-carburized metal ratcheting chucks an all-metal transmission, and coated and sealed switches that help to resist moisture and dust contamination
- A comfortable handle grip reduces fatigue
- Made in the USA with globally sourced materials
- 1 – DCD991 Drill/Driver
- 2 – DCB205 20V MAX HR high-capacity 5.0Ah Li-Ion batteries
- 1 – Li-Ion battery charger
- 1 – Belt hook
- 1 – 360-degree side handle
- 2 – 9/16-inch self-feed bits
- 1 – Kit box
- Three-speed design greatly improves performance
- 360-degree handle is an advantage over other brands
- Tight chuck does not loosen with heavy vibration
- 20-minute mode is very handy in a variety of situations
- Some complaints of loose-fitting battery packs
- No integrated bit holders
Cordless Drill Driver: DEWALT 20V Comparison Chart
|Chuck Size (Inches)||1/2||1/2||1/2||1/2||1/2||1/2|
|Chuck Type||Heavy-duty ratcheting nitro-carbonized metal with carbide inserts||Heavy-duty ratcheting nitro-carbonized metal with carbide inserts||Heavy-duty ratcheting nitro-carbonized metal with carbide inserts||Metal ratcheting||Heavy-duty ratcheting nitro-carbonized||Single sleeve ratcheting|
|Max Power||820 UWO||650 UWO||535 UWO||460 UWO||350 UWO||300 UWO|
|# of Speed Settings||3||3||3||2||2||2|
|No Load Speed (RPM)||0-450/0-1300/0-2000||0-450/0-1300/0-2000||0-600/0-2000||0-550/0-2000||0-600/0-2000||0-450/1500|
|System||20V MAX||20V MAX XR||20V MAX||20V MAX||20V MAX||20V MAX|
|Power Tool Type||Cordless||Cordless||Cordless||Cordless||Cordless||Cordless|
|Motor||High power, high-efficiency brushless motor||High power, high-efficiency brushless motor||High power, high-efficiency motor||Brushless||Brushed||High performance|
|Transmission||All-metal high performance||3-speed, all-metal high performance||High-speed|
|Front To Back (Inches)||7.9||9.375||6.9||7.5||8.7|
|LED Light Modes||3 modes including spotlight Mode||20-Second Delay after trigger release||20-Second Delay after trigger release||3 modes including Spotlight|
|Charger||Yes||Yes (Fast)||1 Hour||Yes||Yes (Fast 30 minute)||Yes (Compact with hot/cold delay feature)|
|Number of Batteries||2||2||2||2|
|Side Handle||360 Degree||360 Degree||360 Degree|
|On Board Bit Holder||Yes||Yes (Magnetic)|
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We sincerely hope that the information in this article has helped you! A cordless drill driver is a must-have tool for everyone from the handyman to the trade professional!