When you purchase a cordless drill, use technical specifications and design features to help narrow your selection. Whether you need a drill for simple household repairs or professional remodeling jobs, understanding key specifications can help you find what you’re looking for.
A cordless drill’s power is measured in volts. Available models range from compact 3.6 volt pocket drivers to powerful 28 volt drills. If you only need a cordless drill for light tasks, stick with one in the 3.6- to 15.6-volt range. Drills with that kind of voltage should give you the power you need to do minor tasks like hang curtain rods, attach cabinet handles and mount wall hangings. Heavy-duty projects, like remodeling a room or building a deck, would probably require a drill in the 18 to 28 volt range. Those more powerful types of drills can be expensive because of the higher voltage, torque, and speed they offer. Higher voltage drills also require larger batteries and tend to weigh more than small, cordless drivers.
RPM (Rotations Per Minute)
Speed in drills is measured in rotations per minute (RPM). Cordless drills with multiple speed settings are suitable for a wider range of tasks. If you want to tackle several different types of repairs and projects, choose a drill with more than one speed setting. There are many affordable cordless drills that have speed settings that go from 0-200 RPM to 0-600 RPM, perfect for a variety of light-duty tasks and projects. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need a cordless drill that reaches speeds surpassing 1,500 RPM—that is probably a bit excessive for simple tasks like replacing door hinges or putting up closet racks. Lots of smaller, more compact cordless drills offer one or two speed settings, perfect for lighter tasks.
Keep in mind that speed does not equate power. A little drill with a high RPM can swiftly drive fasteners into pre-drilled holes, and is perfect for quickly assembling furniture or handling minor repairs around the house. However, it will be useless at driving large screws into lumber. If you want to tackle more ambitious projects, ignore the drill’s speed and pick a model with high torque and power.
Grip is an important component of a cordless drill. Finding one with a comfortable grip makes all the difference when you’re working with it for a few hours. So before you purchase one, hold it if you can. Observe how your palm and fingers fit around it and pay attention to how it feels. Think about how you would feel after holding it an hour or longer working on a project.
With new design advances, several drill brands have created more comfortable, ergonomic grips to make holding them more comfortable. Some even have rubberized grips. Several manufacturers offer lines of ultra-compact drills. These tools are much smaller and lighter, making them even easier to use. Look for one with a good grip design. And if you are prone to wrist, elbow, or shoulder problems, opt for an ultra-compact model.