Cordless Drills: Ratings of Sources
Doug Mahoney, a former carpenter and seasoned tool reviewer, tests 12-volt and 18-volt cordless drills for DIY use. After searching reviews to find the best-rated tools under $100, he spends two days testing the top 16 drills, sinking over 3-inch drywall screws and 345 1-inch holes. He considers their performance and handling, along with how much they can do on a charge, to name his top picks for both general use and tougher jobs.
Testers at Popular Mechanics subject 10 cordless drills, all with lithium-ion batteries, to a triathlon test designed to measure real-world performance. They start by boring 24 holes with a 1-inch spade bit, then drive 12 2-inch lag screws into pilot holes in a pressure-treated beam, and finish by driving 3-inch screws until the battery gives out. Berendsohn's write-up gives pros and cons for each drill, based on performance, features, and ease of use.
Popular Mechanics tests nine 12-volt impact drivers by driving lag screws into a 4 x 4 board until the power gives out -- a good test of both battery life and total power. Each model gets a rating from one to five stars and a summary of what the testers liked and disliked about it, including power, handling, features, and ease of use.
Pro Tool Reviews subjects eleven 18-volt cordless impact drivers to a series of tests. Testers measure performance by driving a series of different types of screws into plywood. They also try to get a measure of reliability by measuring the heat each tool builds up during testing. Ergonomics and value are also assessed, and tools are ranked both overall and on performance alone. You can also find numerous other single-tool reviews and multi-tool roundup at this site.
Popular Mechanics turns its attention to 20-volt electric drill drivers. Testers bored 1-inch holes in Douglas fir 2-by-8s and drove 3-inch lag screws into pine 4-by-4s, then left all the drills in an unheated garage for several days and checked their performance again. Each drill gets a star rating and a summary of likes and dislikes. Roy Berendsohn says all six of the test drills "met or exceeded our expectations for performance and value."
ConsumerReports.org tests, rates and ranks 90 cordless drills and tool kits, including models for general use and light use, cordless screwdrivers, and cordless impact drivers. Testers drive four screws through a 4x4 pine beam with the same battery to test speed and power, then use a dynamometer to test run time under light and heavy loads. Each drill gets an overall rating based on speed, power, run time, charging time, handling, and noise. Buying guide information is free to read, but ratings and rankings are only available to paid subscribers.
Contractor Greg DiBernardo tests 18 cordless 18-volt drills by using them himself and sending them out with crews to jobsites. He then briefly sums up each tool's pros and cons, including form factor, speed and power, and features. He names two favorite compact model and two heavy-duty models, but both of those are discontinued. In a separate test, editor David Frane checks the battery run time of all 18 tools.
Lowes.com sells about 70 cordless drills and 35 cordless impact drivers from popular brands like Worx, Hitachi, DeWalt, and Porter-Cable. It's easy to sort the reviews to find top-rated products, but difficult to identify them, since the site doesn't list model numbers on the main page. Many of the individual reviews are picked up from the manufacturers' sites.
Amazon.com sells cordless drills, impact drivers, and combo kits from several major brands, and some of the top models have hundreds of reviews from users. We found three drills with high overall ratings from 1,000 users or more, and one cordless screwdriver with positive feedback from over 650 users. Impact driver and combo kits, covered on separate pages, receive fewer reviews, but two highly rated models have 500 or more. All reviews appear to be unique to the site.
HomeDepot.com sells nearly 400 cordless drills on its website, and separate pages offer nearly 125 cordless impact drivers and over 300 combo kits. Across all the pages, we found several products with strong overall feedback from 250 users or more. Most of the individual reviews are quite short, but they include ratings for quality and value along with an overall star rating. As with Lowes.com, some reviews were originally published on the manufacturers' web sites.
Sears is the only retailer that sells Craftsman brand cordless tools, and most of the top-rated products here are from that brand. We found three cordless drills, four cordless impact drivers, and two combo kits here with ratings of at least 4.5 stars overall from 150 users or more, and all of them are Craftsman products. Sears sells many other national brands as well, including Bosch, DeWalt, and Makita, but they don't get nearly as many reviews.
Retail site NorthernTool.com is a good place to see owners' ratings and reviews of pro-level cordless drills, impact drivers and combo kits across a wide range of prices and sizes, including subcompact models. However, it doesn't have as wide a selection as some other sites, and the top-rated models don't get as many reviews.