Different Types of Cordless Drills - Which One Do I Need?

cordless drill driver

Drill Drivers, Impact Drill, and Hammer Drill

Whether you are looking to learn the basics of home maintenance or want to engage in more detailed and complex jobs, a good drill is certainly a worthy investment. And if you have a cordless drill, you can perform driving and drilling tasks in and around your home without having to worry about getting a power outlet near the work area.

The great news is that there are numerous types of drills available in the market. However, it is not always easy to identify which drill you should consider owning. This guide outlines the different types of cordless drills available, their features and applications to help you find out what type of drill you need.

Different Types of Drills – What You Should Know?

Driver Drills– The most common type of cordless drills available in the market, driver drills are ideal for common household jobs, light construction work and common maintenance. These drills come with a 3/8 or ½ inch chuck and cater to any home improvement project. Drivers with 3/8 inch chuck suit beginners handling smaller projects and general home maintenance while the drills with ½ inch chuck provide more torque, making it versatile and suitable for bigger jobs.

Impact Drill– An impact drill is the perfect tool for automobile technicians and is generally used for driving bolts and nuts. This makes this type of cordless drill ideal for working on brakes and changing tires. This tool is designed to be more suitable for driving and does not serve applications like drilling holes or boring wood. However, there are various models of impact drills available with different torque settings, variable transmissions and clutch settings, making this tool versatile enough to suit driving as well as drilling applications.

Hammer Drills– Known as the ‘Big Boy’ of cordless drills, Hammer Drills are meant to handle the toughest of jobs including concrete applications, boring holes and masonry job. Largely used for construction jobs, this tool is designed to provide a lot of power and torque. As this type of drill handles some of the hardest projects, some models are created to resemble tethered tools to offer lot more durability and power.

Cordless Drill Impact

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Features of Cordless Drills

Now you know the different types of drills, there are numerous features to consider when selecting a cordless drill. Once you identify the type of tool that best suits your drilling applications, you can consider these aspects to make a decision about the model you want to purchase.


Power, in case of cordless drills, is measured in voltage. A higher value means more strength to overcome resistance. The maximum power has increased to 18V in the past decade. Higher-voltage drills available today have sufficient power to bore holes in flooring.


While less expensive cordless drills operate at one speed, most feature two fixed speeds – 300rpm and 800rpm. You can find a slide switch that lets you choose between high and low speed. Such drills are meant for light-duty projects. Low speed suits driving screws while high speed can handle drilling holes. If you want to engage more in drilling, look for greater speed like 1000rpm or higher.


This is the feature that makes cordless drills different. Situated behind the chuck, clutch disengages the drive shaft and makes a clicking sound whenever a preset resistance level is achieved. A clutch gives you control so that you don’t overdrive once it is done. Good drills come with 24 clutch settings to allow fine-tuning the power you get from the tool.

Batteries – AH

Cordless drills are as powerful as their batteries. They are available in 4V to 28V with the most common rating being 18V. AH or Amp Hours is a measurement of the battery’s energy capacity. Higher the AH number, longer is the operating time.

Motor – Brushed or Brushless

The motor of a cordless drill converts the electrical power into mechanical motion. The two most common types of motors are – brushed and brushless. While brushless motor is more popular among beginners and professionals and uses magnets for power generation, brushed variants contain carbon. Brushless motors are better preferred as they generate less heat, no friction and provide better performance. Brushless motors need less maintenance as there is no need to replace worn brushes as in brushed motor.


Chuck is a clamp holding and rotating the driving or drilling bit. The size of the chuckjaw decides the maximum diameter of the drill bit for the particular tool and provides a great knowledge about the power of the tool. General-use drills mostly have chuck size of 3/8 inch to be able to serve most drill bits. On the other hand, powerful cordless models have chuck size of ½-inch to suit heavy duty applications. Light-duty models come with a fixed ¼-inch chuck size. While most drills have keyless chucks, some need a key to set the clamp.


When it comes to deciding on a cordless drill, see that you get one with a grip that feels comfortable in hands though it might not be the most powerful tool available. Most drills feature an ergonomic pistol handgrip with a flat battery pack towards the base of the handle. Some drill models also feature a pivoting handle to allow operation in restricted space. There are hammer drill models with extra side handle to give better leverage when handling masonry and other applications.

Finding the Right Cordless Drill for the Right Job

With such a great variety of cordless drills available in the market, it is often possible to get confused. The solution is to purchase a drill based on what job you want it to handle. Here are the most common types of jobs and the type of drills that work perfectly for them.

Small Maintenance and Repair

Regular repair and maintenance jobs may range from assembling a bunk bed, drilling for drywall repair and installing brackets for window treatments to making a barbecue grill, replacing door hinges and installing handles on drawers and cabinets. Such projects require a quick tool with battery. A Driver Drill with two fixed speeds will work. You can look for variable speed and adjustable clutch.


General repair and remodeling tasks include drilling holes and driving screws into plywood or hardwood, hanging drywall, making furniture, replacing fences and deck railings, building a storage rack. Such tasks demand variable speed, T-handle and clutch. Getting a second battery is also advisable. An Impact Drill with at least 9.6V is a good choice for Remodeling projects. You can go for more power but it will bring additional weight and size.

Heavy Duty Construction

You may want to address jobs like drilling holes for spikes and bolts in wood and landscape timbers. It also involves drilling into steel, installing decking and drilling holes in masonry walls. These projects, particularly those involving drilling big holes require a high-voltage tool. A Hammer Drill is the most suitable drill type for these types of tasks. Consider a drill with a minimum of 12V or 14.4V.

hammer drills wall

Conclusions: Cordless Drills

Cordless Drill Hammer

When looking for the right cordless drill for you, make sure to consider the different types of drills out there on the market. There are a few types, Driver, Impact or Hammer and each have different options and the features for you to consider. We hope this guide helps you find the most suitable cordless drill to handle your everyday jobs. If you are wanting more information on how to choose a cordless drill check out this other article on Choosing a Cordless Drill

If you are in the need of other tools, whether it be a miter saw, miter saw stand, or a chain saw check out my other post here.

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