What is the best homeowners drill? That is one of the questions I get all the time. I know everyone always expects a straight forward answer to this questions, but it’s not that easy. There is so much to picking out a drill then just saying get brand “X”. You have to ask yourself some very important questions. I did an article about Top 10 Homeowners Tools and one of the items was a drill, so let’s cover it and find the best homeowners drill.
What type of user are you? What will you be doing? What experience do you have? What other tools do you want down the road? So before I give you my opinion on what drills are best for each situation, it’s important you fully understand what the differences are between drills, manufacturers, types of tools, voltages, rotations per minute, hammer drill and more. However if you just want to see my picks and don’t care why they may or may not be right for you, you can scroll to the bottom of this article and find out the best homeowners drill.
However if you just want to see my picks and don’t care why they may or may not be right for you, you can scroll to the bottom of this article and find out the best homeowners drill.
Before we get started, we should know and understand the jargon or terminology of a drill.
Best Homeowners Drill – Drill Terminology
I am jumping ahead of myself, but you will see volts and amps when looking at cordless tools. Think of it this way. Volts is the size of the gas tank and amps are how much gas is in the tank. So volts is roughly the workload and how much power the battery has, while amps are how long it will perform that work. The bigger both the numbers, the more power and longer it will run, in theory.
As you shop around for drills, you will see cordless drill that shows how many volts the drill has. You will see all sorts of things like 10.8V, 12V, 18V, 20V, 22V, 36V, 40V, 56V, 58V, 60V and more.
Looking around and seeing all these numbers can be confusing, but it doesn’ have to be if you understand a couple ideas about volts. A lot of volts has to do with marketing. A 10.8v and 12V are identical. They have the same amount of cells. 18v and 20V are identical. The list goes on. So don’t get caught up in all the figures. The bigger volts are for outdoor power equipment like mowers etc and high demand tools like cordless table saws, miters saws, and other high demand tools.
For a homeowner, the only ones you really need to pay attention for is the 10.8/12V and the 18/20V tools. You will be buying either one of these.
I went over amps above, but this is an important number to look at. The higher the number, the longer the drill will work before you need to recharge it. If you are looking at 12V drills, you will want a drill that offers at least a 2Ah battery. If you are looking at 18V drills, you will want at least a 4 Ah battery.
You are starting to see more and more tools that offer brushless motors. So what are brushless motors? Without getting too in depth, a brushless motor doesn’t have brushless that make contact with the copper motor.
This means a brushless motor has a ton of advantages, but one a homeowner might never experience and use. I would still get a brushless motor, but it’s not a deal breaker.
A brushless motor offers more power since it’s not using brushes and taking up power. The brushless motor also offers longer life since the motor doesn’t get as hot. A brushless motor also offers less maintenance since you don’t have to swap brushless when they go bad.
There are a lot of advantages to a brushless motor, but as a homeowner, it something you may not get the full benefit of.
Lithium is just the type of battery chemistry that powers the battery. Pretty much all the power tool batteries you see today will be Lithium. Back in the day, there were different types of batteries. Now that the technology has advanced and prices have come down, every manufacturer is using this technology.
Lithium is a very unstable battery chemistry but offers a ton of advantages over the older chemistry. One big advantage is with older batteries, the power of the battery would slowly die down as the battery drained. With Lithium, you get full workload until the battery is actually fully drained.
This is a measurement you have to be a little careful of since there is no universal way to measure torque. When it come to torque, it’s more of a wild wild west and people can figure out numbers differently. As a homeowner doing small jobs, you don’t have to worry about torque numbers as much.
So what is torque? Torque is the power. The bigger the number, the more power the drill has. The bigger the number, the more work it can do such as driving bigger screws or drilling bigger holes. Also the bigger the number, the shorter the run time of the drill. So don’t get caught up with the torque number unless you will be driving large screws or drilling big holes.
The clutch is a setting located on the front of the drill. This allows the user to set the torque level. Say your drill has 500 in-lbs of torque. Let’s assume you are going to use a 1.5″ screw into pine, this is a small screw into a soft wood. If you just put your drill on full mode, you will rip right through the pine and ruin your work.
Instead, you can set the clutch setting (usually between 1-20), to what every number is best. This way when the drill sense that torque number, a clutch will kick in and prevent the drill from engaing and ruining your work. A clutch is great for more delicate work.
The clutch isn’t necessary in a drill, but it does make work easier. If your drill doesn’t have a clutch, you will just have to be more careful and pay more attention.
The speed is just how fast the drill head will spin. A drill usually has two-speed settings, 1 and 2 which is high (2) and low (1). The faster the rotation, the less power the drill has. The slower the rotation the more torque.
This really has to do with the work you are performing. If I don’t need a lot of torque, I am usually in hi or speed 2. As a homeowner, most of the time you won’t be requiring a lot of torque. You might be drilling some small holes or fastening some screws.
Once you start shopping around you will see two drills that look identical except for the price. As you look closer, you will see one says “Hammer Drill”. So what is a hammer drill?
A hammer drill is used for drilling into concrete. A hammer drill uses a hammering mechanism in the head of the tool to be able to perform drilling into concrete.
Unless you will be drilling into concrete, I wouldn’t get a hammer drill. They are more expensive and tend to be heavier.
This is one that gets confused with a drill all the time. They look the same and are roughly the same price. However, there is a difference.
Without getting into too much detail on how they work, an impact driver is designed for fastening applications such as screws. An impact driver can be loud because of the way it’s designed to work efficiently for screwing applications. While you can drill holes with an impact, it’s not really meant for that and is never recommended.
A drill, on the other hand, is designed for drilling and fastening.
So why would you want an impact? There are lots of trades out there who don’t drill holes but do a ton of fastening. A framer who is driving drywall screws would use an impact. an HVAC guy working on duct work would be driving fasteners.
As a homeowner, you want the capabilities to drill and fasten, which a drill will perform.
This is what you want, a drill/driver. A drill /driver just means you can drill holes and drive fasteners such as screws. Basically the Drill/Driver is more versatile than the impact driver. Here is a good article by Popular Mechanics.
When you are shopping around, if you see something that says drill/driver, you are in the right place. Don’t worry about just looking for a drill that says drill.
Items to Consider when Buying a Drill
So now that you know and understand the terminology of the drill world, you have to consider a few things before you make your drill purchase. I understand you want the best homeowners drill, but it’s different for everyone.
Just because your neighbor is using brand “A”, doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you. You have to figure out two important questions.
Use – You have to ask yourself what will you be using this drill for? Is it a matter of just drilling a couple of holes a year to hang a picture or are you going to be installing a deck?
If you will be drilling a couple holes a year or installing some curtain rods, you don’t need an expensive or powerful drill. After all, it will be sitting on the shelf for most of its life. Also since you don’t need a powerful drill, why deal with all the extra weight.
On the other hand, if you will be doing some decking, installing a fence or more of a serious DIY, you might want that extra power. You will need that extra power as some homeowner applications will require you to drive bigger fasteners and drill bigger holes. When you are using a hole saw, that require a lot of power.
So you have, to be honest, and ask yourself, what are you really going to use the drill for and what type of user are you. This will save you money, time and frustration down the road.
Future Purchases – Another item you have to consider is what future projects will you be doing. Maybe today you are looking for a drill, but you know in a couple of years you will be doing more such as a deck or anything else. Maybe you want to get into more projects down the road and learn and try new things. So why is this important? If you plan on doing more projects down the road, you will have to look at the full line of tools a manufacturer offers.
Why there are a lot of good drills on the market, what other tools does that manufacturer offer in their line up? Maybe you want a cordless circular saw in a couple of years. These are things you will have to consider before jumping into a line of tools. What if you buy a drill and two years down the road you want a circular saw? When you buy a drill you will pretty much have to stay with that line of tools as you won’t want two different battery platforms.
It’s hard enough to know what you will be doing tomorrow so I understand if you don’t know what you will be doing in three years from. However, some people do know they want to expand their line of tools. If you do, then you will need to look at more than just the drill, take a look at other tools in their line up.
Power Tool Manufacturers
Professional Level – Tier 1 – Bosch, Hilti, Metabo
Professional Level – Tier 2 -Dewalt, Makita, Milwaukee, Ridgid
Homeowner Level – Tier 1 -Ryobi, Kobalt
Homeowner level – Tier 1 -Black & Decker
What Should You Go With
Just when you thought all the decisions were done. Well, there is still more, but now I am going to start giving you my opinion.
Cord vs Corded
I think the way to go is cordless. Yes, you have to worry about charging a battery or even being half way done and the battery dies. However, Lithium-Ion technology has come a long way. The battery can sit on the shelf for months and you don’t have to worry about it loosing its charge.
It’s so nice when you are working and you don’t have to deal with a cord. Cordless tools have come such a long way over the years. They are powerful, small and will last a long time.
For me, I would go cordless, it’s the only way to go.
If you are only getting a drill, go with the 12V. 12V drill have come a long way. They are very powerful, but they don’t have the weight or price tag of an 18V drill.
If you are going to expand and are looking to get into saws, impacts or other tools, go with an 18V tool.
Both of these tools have their advantages and disadvantages and that’s why it’s important to know what you will be using your tools for around your home.
DIY vs Professional
If you are just getting a drill and that’s all, I would go with a professional brand since they are the only ones who offer a 12V tool.
If you are going to expand your tool line, either one will work. If you are going to be an occasional weekend warrior, go with a Homeowners brand as it won;t break your bank and you don’t need all the protection a professional tool will give. What I mean by protection, i am mean from dust, rain and other elements tools are exposed to on job sites.
If you are going hardcore, i would suggest investing in a pro brand. The pro brand will cost you more, but they have some features and offer a lot of power for the work you will be getting into. I am not saying a homeowners brand can’t, but you will feel the difference between the professional and homeowners brand.
Buy Online or Store
I would shop around and see where you can get the best bang for your buck. The nice thing about buying at a home center is you can pick up the tool and feel it. Lot’s of time they have demos spots at the home center where you can try the tool out.
If you know what tool you want, you might be able to find a better deal online. I tend to look at Amazon for certain tools.
Best Homeowners Drill – Best All Around Drill
My top pick is the Bosch PS32. I will be doing a review of this drill and get down and dirty with it. So here is the deal with the Bosch PS32, the drill is expensive. You get the drill plus two batteries. If you are shopping and it’s around the holidays, you might find a good deal on this drill.
This is a professional drill, but as I said before, you can’t get a 12V drill in a homeowners brand.
First and fore most, this drill is compact and lightweight. This means your arm won’t get tired, it’s easy to handle and you can get into tight sports. Bosch is one of the premier tool manufacturers in the world. This drill will last you a lifetime.
The drill has a very smooth variable speed trigger, plus a clutch setting. There are two speed selections which is located on the top of the tool. This tool is perfect for drilling and fastening applications are around your home. In fact i know a ton of cabinet guys who use this all day, every day and they swear by it.
If you look on Amazon, you will see how much people love this drill.
Best Homeowners Drill – Best 18V Drill
Maybe you want something more than a 12V, you want a professional drill that will allow you to expand into other tools that offer portability and power. If so you have a lot to pick from. My top three favorite and top picks would be:
Now I am not against Dewalt, but they are a little slow about putting new tools out and their line is shrinking.
My top three lines have a great line of tools that will allow you to expand and grow into to. Each one has serious tools that will allow you to get anything done around your house without batting an eye.
What I like about these three is they offer a full size drill and compact drill in their 18V line up. So if you aren’t mixing concrete or drilling huge holes, the compact drill are awesome. In fact some of them even have the size of a 12V drill.
Best Homeowners Drill – Best Budget Drill
My top pick is Ryobi. Ryobi is such an undervalued brand, but it’s the perfect solution for the homeowner and here is why.
First the tools are quality. While they aren’t deigned for the professional, I know a ton of contractors who use these tools. They hold up and aren’t cheaply built.
Second, Ryobi has a large line. They have one of the largest 18V line of tools which means you can always expand down the road. They have a ton of tools geared towards the homeowner like myself. I have the inflator which i use all the time. The portable fan. I even have their garage door opener which is cool. The one thing I can say about Ryobi is they keep pushing the envelope and coming out with new tools.
Third, Ryobi won’t break the bank. The tools are high quality tools, but they don’t try and rip you off and charge a lot. The best thing is that most of their tools yo can buy as a bare tool. A bare tool means it’s just the tool and no batteries. So if you have a couple of batteries, why buy more batteries and pay the extra money when all you want is the tool.
I think Ryobi is the best homeowners brand of tool by far. They are quality tools, they offer a large line up of tools and they don’t charge and arm and a leg.