As an electrician, a cordless drill is a tool I use everyday and I know there are certain things you should look for when selecting a cordless drill. Personally, I like small, light weight drills that won’t put to much fatigue in my shoulders when I am drilling above my head for long periods of time (like when I am screwing can lights to joists or 2 by 4 fixtures to T-bar ceiling grid) nor pull heavily on my pants when it is clipped to my belt. I also like cordless drills that have a clutch I can use when I don’t want to put to much torque into the application I am using it for (like when I am tapping screw holes and I don’t want to break my tap or screwing on m/c connectors and don’t want to short out the conductors by over tightening the screw). Here I will base my best cordless drill ratings on 4 different criteria; features, batteries, weight, warranty.
Features, just to list a few, are specifications like rpm’s, torque, ergonomics, LED work lights, and belt clips. These features should be important to you because they can provide a more enjoyable working experience. For instance, lots of times on a jobsite, the temporary lighting is somewhat sporadic and there are dark areas, I can save a lot of time and frustration when I can use the LED light on my drill to illuminate what I am drilling.
I always have a spare battery charging when using my cordless drill so I recommend buying a drill that comes with at least 2 batteries. I usually don’t worry about the battery I’m using running out before the spare has had time to charge because most cordless drill batteries have a fast charge time, 30 minutes is a more than acceptable time to charge new lithium ion batteries.
All things being equal, motor speed is proportional to voltage and torque is proportional to the amount of current being drawn from the battery so you might assume that a higher voltage battery will be more powerful. This isn’t always true because some cordless drill motors are more efficient than others and different batteries with the same voltage will limit the current to different amounts. This is just something to consider If you buy your drills based on the voltage of the battery alone.
Depending on the applications I am using my cordless drill for, a battery might last a few hours (like when I have to bore out a bunch of holes with a step up bit) or a few days if I am doing trim work.
A huge deal for me is whether the company that manufactures the drill also manufactures other tools that utilize the same battery. Almost everyday I need to use roto hammers, band saws, reciprocating saws, flash lights, and punch sets. I really value being able to swap the same battery for a variety of tools.
This might be the ultimate deciding factor for me. I do not want to use a big heavy drill all day long. I prefer my drills to not be heavier than 4 lbs. It is my own personal preference but I have seen too many electricians with bad shoulders at the end of their careers. We will always have to lift things above our head but if I can limit the weight then the better off I will be.
It’s nice knowing that if I’m going to spend upwards of $300 I have a guarantee the tool is going to work for a while. So different manufacturer’s have different warranties on their products. I like a 3 year warranty on drill.
Well There You Have It
These are the criteria I consider when buying a cordless drill. I hope this information proves to be useful to you. I would love to hear any comments that you may have regarding tools for electricians. I also would encourage you to suggest cordless drills that you would like to see reviewed.