Whether you’re a trade professional, an avid DIY’er, or just like a well-equipped toolbox lying around the house, everyone needs a good cordless drill. The problem is, there’s never been more choice than there is in today’s market, which can really make it difficult to choose the right drill - one that’s not only fit for purpose, but is also reliable and good value for money. This is why we’re here to help, making sure we give you the information you need, so you can quickly and easily decide which cordless drill is the best for you.
When it comes to cordless drills, there are three main choices available, the Impact Driver, Combi Drill and Drill Driver. We’ve covered these in further detail below - plus plenty of information on what they’re used for - so keep reading to find out more.
The ‘Mr All-rounder’ of the power tool world, a Combi Drill (Combination Drill) can perform many different functions. These range from the ‘Hammer Feature’, which is perfect for drilling holes for the Brown and Red plugs into Masonry, to ‘Drilling’, which allows you to make holes with HSS Drill Bits and Wood Bits. Another function this versatile drill can perform is ‘Screw Driving’ with adjustable torque, which allows you to insert large and small screws. Don't forget Speed 1 gives you the highest torque which is perfect for those long screws!
The Combi Drill is the first choice for any newcomer to the world of power tools, as it offers everything you need to get started - and it usually comes with a 10mm or 13mm keyless chuck. Although Combi Drills are usually more expensive than a traditional drill, if this is the first drill for your home, it really is a must-have tool.
These were the first machines to be produced cordlessly, and are usually lighter and more compact than Combi Drills. Drill Drivers are usually priced lower than a Combi Drill, and if you’re just looking for a machine that allows you to drill into metal and wood, plus the ability to drive screws, then this is a great fit. The Drill Driver usually comes with a 10mm or 13mm keyless chuck too.
Remember, if you buy into a certain brand you can always use the same batteries across most of their cordless range, so you can make sure you’re getting the best value for money!
Impact Drivers take the effort out of screw driving, as this style of machine produces a much higher torque than the Drill Driver and Combi Drill. This is achieved by a strong rotational and downward force - if you imagine a hammer hitting the back of a screwdriver whilst you are turning the screw, and another hammer tapping the side of the bit you are using, this will give you a good idea of how the Impact Driver takes the effort away from a user – and allows them to drive much larger screws and bolts.
It is recommended that you use Impact Driver Bits in these machines, as conventional bits are not designed to take the punishment these machines produce. Unlike the Combi Drill and Drill Driver, this particular style of machine doesn’t come with a conventional chuck, as they are designed to take 1/4” Hex Bits.
Thanks to its speed and ability to avoid user fatigue, the Impact Driver has become a popular drill on construction sites, where these are key operational requirements. So remember, if you’ve got a project coming up that requires driving a lot of screws - particularly large or long ones - then an Impact Driver should be your first choice!
There are also a couple of other things that are worth bearing in mind when choosing a drill:
Drill Bit: This is what creates the holes in the material whilst drilling. They come in all shapes and sizes, and it is crucial that the correct Drill Bit is used in order to create a satisfactory hole. High-speed Steel (HSS) Bits are the most commonly used Drill Bit types, ideal for every day drilling through wood, plastics and metals. If you’re drilling into something more heavy duty such as concrete and stone, then Masonry Bits are the ones to use.
Volts: You’ll typically find the higher the volts, the more powerful the drill. The most common voltage on drills is 18V, but other voltages are available and may weigh less.
Torque: Torque is the twisting power of the drill and is measured in Nm - the more torque a drill produces, the more powerful it is.
Batteries: The Amp hour rating will give you a rough guide to the storage capacity of a specific battery. Just to make things simple, a 1.5Ah battery will run 1.5 miles before it stops - and a 3Ah battery will run 3 miles - these are the fuel tanks so the more the batteries will take, the further you will go!
So, just to recap what we’ve covered, here’s a quick overview of some of the different cordless drills and their uses:
Combi Drill: A good all-round drill for multiple applications.
Drill Driver: Ideal for all your screwing needs, and for drilling into wood and metal.
Impact Driver: Designed for high torque applications mainly for screws and bolts.