18V Drill Buying Guide
An 18V drill is primarily for serious do-it-yourselfers and professionals. They generate very high levels of power, but are heavier and more costly than the lower voltage drills. If you're looking for durability, the 18-volt class is generally tough and rugged. The best of these drills can take a lot of jobsite punishment.
- The average 18V cordless drill costs about $200, with prices ranging from $100 to $400.
- Your goal is to choose an 18V drill with above average capabilities for an average or below-average price.
- We all want more power, but don't forget to balance it against weight and cost.
- The average 18V cordless drill can generate maximum torque levels of about 470 in-lbs.
- Top-end 18V cordless drills can deliver up to 650 in-lbs.
- Be aware that you won't find torque specs on DeWalt drills. Since power is technically a function of torque and RPM, they only provide Unit Watts Out (UWO).
- Faster is better, but it usually comes at the expense of larger motors and heavier weights.
- The average 18V cordless drill has a maximum drill speed of about 1,525 RPM.
- The best 18V drills have top speeds around 2,000 RPM.
- Lighter weight reduces fatigue, and is especially important for overhead drilling. A pound or two can make a big difference.
- The average 18V cordless drill weighs about 5-lbs, a little more than a half-gallon of milk.
- The lightest 18V drills only weigh about 3.5-lbs.
- Battery run-time is never long enough. Some 18V cordless drills have 2-3 times the run-time of others, so this is a key area to watch for.
- The majority of 18V drills have Lithium-Ion batteries. They help reduce the weight of the drill, but often drive up the price.
- The most important measure is the battery amp-hour (Ah) rating. The average 18V cordless drill has a rating of 2.0 Ah, while the best drills run up to 3.5 Ah.
- Chuck size: 1/2" is standard on most 18V power drills.
- Spindle-lock: Auto locks the chuck so you can change bits with one hand. Standard on this class of drill.
- Integrated LED work light: Optional.
- Belt-hook: Optional.
- Side-handle: Good option when you're trying to control high levels of torque.
- Fuel gauge: Great feature that's only available on a few drills. It greatly reduces the frustration of running out of power at the worst of times.
- Consider an all-metal gearbox. Gear teeth moving at high speeds wear-out over time, and metal is certainly preferable to nylon. The trade-off is higher weight, so if weight is critical to you, than a non-metal gearbox is acceptable.
- Look for a an all-metal chuck. Plastic chuck sleeves are lighter weight, but they can crack over time.
- Can you access the motor brushes externally? Internal brushes are sometimes difficult to replace.
- Check the warranty. The average for an 18V cordless drill is about 3-years, with Panasonic having the shortest, and Milwaukee and Hitachi having the longest.
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