12V Cordless Drill Buying Guide

Cordless Drill

The 12V cordless drill is designed primarily for renters and homeowners. It has ample power to handle almost any apartment or home maintenance problem. The lighter weight is great for installing curtain rods, blinds, or bookshelves.


  • The average cost of a 12V cordless drill is $130, with prices generally ranging from $50 to $200.
  • Your goal is to buy a 12V drill with above-average capabilities for an average or below-average price.


  • More power allows you to drive larger screws into tougher materials.
  • The easiest way to judge a drill's power is to check its maximum torque rating.
  • The average 12V cordless drill generates up to 250 in.-lbs. of maximum torque.
  • Top of the line 12V drills can produce over 300 in.-lbs. of torque.


  • Higher speed helps you drill holes faster, cleaner, and easier.
  • The average 12V maximum speed is about 1,300 RPM.
  • The best 12V drills have top speeds around 1,800 RPM. That's more speed than the average 14.4V or 18V drill.


  • Drill weight is an important consideration. And just one-pound can make a big difference.
  • The average 12V cordless drill weighs about 3.5-lbs.
  • The lightest 12V drills are down around 2-pounds, and the heaviest are up at 4.5 pounds.


  • 12V drills use NiCd, NiMH, or Li-ion batteries.
  • Li-ion technology extends the battery life and reduces the weight of the drill. But it also makes the drill more expensive, and often doesn't extend the run-time between charges.
  • Run-time is a key factor, and it's indicated by the battery amp-hour (Ah) rating.
  • The average 12V drill battery is rated at 1.7 Ah.
  • Top-end 12V drill batteries are rated up to 3.5 Ah.


  • Chuck size: 3/8" is standard on most 12V drills, a few have 1/2".
  • Spindle-lock: Good feature that allows you to change drill bits with one hand. Standard on most 12V drills.
  • Integrated LED work light: Optional.
  • Belt-hook: Optional.
  • Fuel gauge: Great feature that's not available on most 12V drills.


  • If weight isn't a critical factor, look for an all-metal chuck. Plastic chuck sleeves weigh less, but they can sometimes crack if the drill is dropped or hit.
  • Some drills in this class have motor brushes that can be accessed externally, making it much easier to replace them.
  • If durability is really important to you, look for one of the few 12V drills with an all-metal gearbox.
  • The average warranty for an 12V cordless drill is about 3 years.
  • Panasonic's warranty is shortest, just one year. Hitachi has a 10-year warranty for Li-ion drills.

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