Cordless Drill vs Corded Drill - Which is the Best Choice?

If you just had to buy one drill, then which type would it be? It is a very good question to ask, and of course the answer is not simple. Let's be honest, it seldom is.

However, I will give you the best information that I know, and you can then decide which one is the best, that will suit your own needs. There are advantages and disadvantages with both types.

You can get both corded and cordless hammer drills. The hammer function is of course a necessity if you plan on drilling through concrete. The main drill features such as variable speed, torque controls, an LED work light, keyless chucks etc exist on either a corded or a cordless drill.

Those are not what should decide which type to buy, as they exist on either type.

Let's start with the corded drill, and we can discuss what is good about owning one of these?

The Corded Drill - Advantages and Disadvantages

This is any type of drill that gets its power from an electrical socket. The advantage of that is that when you hit the trigger, the drill instantly kicks into action. These are often called power drills for that very reason.

The leads on these corded drills are usually not that long, and that usually means having to plug them into an extension lead of some kind. The clear advantage that offers is that you never have to worry about a battery running out, as they are permanently plugged into a main's electric socket.

They are ideal if you are working somewhere, that there will always be an electrical supply. Somewhere like a garage or workshop is a good place for a corded electric drill. Within your home there is also easy access to an electrical socket, usually with an extension lead.

Another key advantage is the constant source of power. You never have to worry about a battery starting to run out, or run at a lower power, than you may need to do a task. A cordless battery that is starting to run down, will also slow down the motor, and your drilling speed.

For me, the main advantage of a corded drill is that it is the most powerful. If I am drilling a lot of holes, or going through something like concrete, then I always reach for the corded drill.

I know that this will work, and I can live with the slight annoyance of a trailing lead, and maybe having to get the extension lead.

These do have trailing leads, and those can be dangerous in one of two ways:

  1. Easy to trip over the electric lead, especially when you are concentrating on the drilling activity
  2. The lead can get damaged over time and has the potential to give you an electric shock, if not checked for damage on a regular basis.

Pros & Cons Summary

ADVANTAGES

  • More power for the tougher drilling tasks
  • No need to worry about having to have a charged battery
  • Drilling power is always constant throughout the drilling task
  • Can quickly be plugged into an electrical socket

DISADVANTAGES

  • Absolutely needs an electrical power supply
  • Has a trailing electric lead, which can cause accidents
  • Consumes electrical power which does cost money
corded vs cordless drills

The Cordless Drill 

The cordless drill does of course runs off a battery. The batteries come in different sizes ranging from as low as 6 volts, and going all the way up to 24 Volts. The most popular choice is either the 12 volt, the 18 volt or the 20 volt batteries.

The advantage of using a cordless drill is that it is very portable. Because you don't have to rely on having an electrical socket, the cordless drill can be used virtually anywhere.

For contractors or trade's people, that is a very important thing. They regularly work out on remote sites, and are not always guaranteed an electrical supply.

For trade people such as plumbers, electricians etc, they can also use these as plugging into a customer's power supply, and using their electricity is not really the done thing.

The downside of this is of course that these batteries do run out. They will then need to be charged, and that of course takes time. They also require a charger. Thankfully today, the better drills come with a fast charger, which takes about an hour to deliver a full charge.

COST

When you combine the price of the drill, the battery and the charger your purchase can start to get really expensive. Most people working in the trade will have at least one of these types of drill. Almost always they will also have two batteries.

That means they can charge both batteries up, use one and then replace it, when the first one starts to run out. However, the collection of drill, two batteries and a charger does not come cheap.

For homeowners, I personally think that a good quality cordless drill/driver, is a fantastic tool to own, and have in your tool kit. If I was only to pick one drill to own, then it would be a cordless one.

Personally, the one I own and prefer is the Bosch PSB 1800. It is a powerful cordless hammer drill, that comes with a battery and charger.

With that you can do around 99% of all drilling and driving jobs around the home and garden, including masonry jobs.

Summary

ADVANTAGES

  • Portable so can be used anywhere
  • No need to have an electrical supply
  • Great for working in tight or confined spaces
  • No trailing leads that may cause accidents

DISADVANTAGES

  • Rely for power on a battery which may run out of charge
  • Although powerful, the tougher drilling jobs really use up the battery very quickly
  • Need to remember to charge the battery
corded drill

Corded Drill

cordless drill

Cordless Drill

So Which Drill Type Is Best For Your Needs?

I own a corded drill and also own two cordless drills. I am a keen DIY fan and do a lot of work around the house, and for other people as well. Most people however will not need to own 3 drills.

If possible and affordable, I would recommend that you own both a corded drill, and a cordless drill. That way you get the best of both worlds. I would estimate that for about 85% of my work, I use my cordless one.

Uses for My Corded Drill

I use my corded one for the heavier tasks or repetitive tasks, as it is just more powerful, and I want to get the job done. For example I would use this one to drill through fence posts, so as they can accommodate bolts. I also use it for almost all of my masonry drilling.

I also have a few drill attachments that I use such as a wire brush for removing rust. These I find run better on a corded drill as I am using the brush for extended periods of time. This would be for things like taking the rust of metal gates and fences.

Uses for My Cordless Drill

I use my cordless drill for all other types of drilling and driving. That can really be any task from putting up a shelf, hanging curtain rails, building flat packs etc. With the newer style Lithium-Ion batteries, cordless drills have really improved.

In days gone past the older style Ni-Cad and Ni-MH batteries would not hold their charge for much longer than about three days. This was referred to as "memory discharge."

With the Li-Ion batteries they will hold their charge for up to about 3 months. So if you are not a regular drill user, then at least you know the drill will still be charged if you happen to need it again in a few weeks.

Drills Matched to Work Requirements

Light User

If you only plan on doing the basic drilling jobs around the home, then a cheap cordless drill will do your job nicely. You can pick these up for around £35-45. The typical battery size for this type of drill, is really anything up to  about 12 volts.

I have done an article on the top 10 cordless drills under £50, which is worth a read.

Medium User

A drill that is under £50 allows you to do about 75% of all the normal household jobs. They would not be good for heavier drilling or driving. For that you need to go for the bigger battery sizes, typically 18-20 volts.

Those are more expensive, and you can check out my article on the top 10 cordless drills under £100, by clicking here.

Heavy User

The real high end cordless drills include what are called combination drills and drivers. With these you can buy a set of tools such as a high end, high featured cordless drill, along with an impact driver.

These can get expensive but are for the serious DIY person, who just wants to own the very best tools. Again you can check out my article on the best cordless drills under £200, by clicking here.

Summary of Corded vs Cordless

I hope this article has helped you out. You should at least know the pros and cons of each drill type. The most popular is now the cordless, and that is because they now use the Lithium Ion batteries.

These type of cordless drills can do just about any drilling or driving job that you need. A good mid priced cordless drill is what I would recommend.

cordy

I am a retired construction worker and I also happen to love power tools. I have used hundreds over the years and offer my opinions on them here.

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