Drills & Drivers

12V vs. 18V Drill: Which is Right for Your Project?

12V vs. 18V Drill

Photo: Bosch

Drill machines are constantly undergoing upgrades, and so there are now almost countless options in the market. However, many seasoned and beginner woodworkers and DIYers often choose between the 12V and 18V models. While both can handle a wide variety of applications, it is essential to know how they differ to make an informed choice.

Overall Findings

12V Drill

18V Drill

  • A little underpowered
  • Suitable for light tasks
  • Smaller capacity means short runtime
  • Faster charging
  • Lightweight & more compact
  • Inexpensive, price starts at $25
  • Higher torque/power
  • Very ideal for heavy-duty applications
  • Longer runtime
  • Takes longer to recharge
  • Relatively heavier & bulkier
  • Pricier, starting from $50

12V Drill

  • A little underpowered
  • Suitable for light tasks
  • Smaller capacity means short runtime
  • Faster charging
  • Lightweight & more compact
  • Inexpensive, price starts at $25

18V Drill

  • Higher torque/power
  • Very ideal for heavy-duty applications
  • Longer runtime
  • Takes longer to recharge
  • Relatively heavier & bulkier
  • Pricier, starting from $50

12V vs. 18V Drill

1. Power: 18V is Often More Powerful

The 18-volt drills draw more power than the 12-volt models, which indicates they are a more powerful tool than the latter. Hence, when you want something that provides more torque for tackling demanding projects or drilling through harder materials go for the 18V drill.

However, it is not always about the maximum torque your drill can deliver. Modern 12V drills that utilize advanced technologies like lithium-ion technology can do almost as much if not more than what you can do with an old model 18V drill.

2. Application: 12V for Light Tasks and 18V for Heavy-Duty Use

12V and 18V drills are meant for quite similar jobs, and both can handle most of the tasks the other can do. However, if most of the jobs entail a lot of heavy drilling or the tool is exposed to high stress, the 18V drill will serve you better.

For typical jobs that require a drill in a workshop, whether you are building furniture or other low-stress DIY tasks, the 12V drill is good enough. The tool produces adequate power and works efficiently enough for such applications.

3. Weight and Size: 18V Drills are Bulkier

The 12V drills have a clear advantage when it comes to size and weight. These are often smaller tools that weigh much less, making them more portable and hence great for carrying to different work locations.

Besides portability, the lightweight and compact design of the 12V drills makes them more ideal for use in confined spaces. If you are looking for a tool you can use in areas without much room for maneuvering, such as crawlspaces, attics, or even working overhead, the 12V drills are always more preferable.

While the 18V drills are considerably heavier and larger, it is essential to note that most are still highly portable and come with some excellent carry cases to make them easy to carry around.

4. Charge and Run Time: Longer Run Time vs. Faster Charge Time

When it comes to the charge and run times, it is almost a tie for these tools. However, it is also vital to note that for both 12V and 18V drills, the actual run and charge times largely depend on the battery type or size the manufacturer uses.

With that said, the 12V drill uses a relatively smaller capacity battery, meaning it typically provides a shorter runtime than the 18V models. However, the smaller capacity battery charges much faster than the 18V battery, meaning you get minimal downtimes when using these drills.

It is important to note that for drills with advanced fast charging technologies, the difference in the charging time for the 12V and 18V drills might not be significant.

5. Cost: Actual Cost Largely Depends on the Brand

Ultimately, what you pay for your 12V or 18V drill depends on the brand. 12V drill from premium or top-tier brands often cost as much or more than 18V ones from regular and budget brands.

However, since the 18V models are more powerful and provide longer runtime than the 12V drills, they often cost much more than the latter. You can expect to pay as little as $25 for a basic 12V drill, but prices for 18V ones start at around $50 for the budget models.

Conclusion

When you have to pick between 12V and 18V, the kind of projects you intend to do should always guide you. With that in mind, the 12V is the perfect tool for simple tasks, which do not require a lot of power, while the 18V is the best choice for heavy-duty and high-stress jobs.

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