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How to choose the right voltage for a cordless drill driver?

How to choose the right voltage for
a cordless drill driver

Shop for Cordless Drill Drivers

Voltage symbol - yellow and black lightning blot in a triangle The power of your cordless drill driver largely depends on the voltage. For power tools, voltage ranges from around 3 to 48 volts.

The higher the voltage, the more powerful the tool will be, and generally, the more expensive.

Voltage labelled on the side of a yellow cordless drill driver 18 volts The voltage of a cordless drill driver will usually be printed on the side of the tool’s battery. Cordless drill drivers range from 10v to 24v.

Consider the following when selecting your tool to ensure you choose a voltage that’s right for you:

What will you be using the cordless drill driver for?

Softwood, plasterboard and white sheets of plastic

Light duty jobs

Drilling small holes or driving  screws into materials such as soft and hardwood, plasterboard/drywall, and plastic is considered light duty and will not require too much power.

Red and grey cordless drill driver with a lower voltage For light duty work, consider a cordless drill driver with a lower voltage: 12v or less
Softwood, plasterboard and white sheets of plastic

Heavy duty jobs

Driving screws and drilling into materials such as soft and hardwood, plastic, and plasterboard…

…as well as…

metal and ceramic, is considered heavy duty and will require more power.

Yellow cordless drill driver with a higher voltage For heavy duty work, select a cordless drill driver with a higher voltage: 14v or more

How important is the tool’s weight?

Scales with two cordless drill drivers with different voltages and weights
Typically, higher voltage tools weigh more than lower voltage ones.

If you are only going to use the tool occasionally, then its weight may not be an issue. However, if you’re planning on working for long periods of time, a heavy tool can put excess strain on your arm and wrist.

Man drilling a steel air vent above his head You should also consider the kind of work you are going to be doing with the tool.

Screwdriving or drilling in awkward spaces such as in the rafters of a roof, where the tool will most likely be held above your head, will also become extremely tiring if working with a heavy tool.

How much are you looking to spend?

Pile of gold coins Keep in mind that the higher the battery’s voltage, the more expensive it is likely to be.

12 or 14 volt tools are very popular with users because they provide a considerable amount of power without the price tag of an 18 volt tool.

A man laying decking with a cordless drill driver Think about how you may wish to use the tool in the future. If you buy a low-voltage tool just to save money, you may have problems in the long run when trying to complete more heavy-duty tasks.

Do you have any other cordless tools?

14.4v impact driver and a 14.4v drill driver and a battery Tools of the same brand and voltage are usually able to share batteries. So, for example, if you already have a 14.4v cordless DeWALT impact driver and you want to purchase a drill driver, choosing a 14.4v model by DeWALT will mean you’ll have more batteries to share between the tools.
Wonkee Donkee says "If you’re planning on sharing batteries between tools, double check with the manufacturer before you purchase to ensure they are suitable, as there are some exceptions"

Voltage summary

Red cordless drill driver drilling a hole with the user holding it with two hands A higher voltage tool will generally be more powerful and will allow you to work with tougher materials and larger screws.

However, typically, it will also be larger, heavier and more expensive than a lower voltage one.

Wonkee Donkee Tools