The Best Battery Powered Drills for DIY at Home

Battery Powered Drills

When rechargeable NiCad (nickel cadmium) batteries became relatively affordable in the 1980's, their marriage to the power drill suddenly meant we had practical cordless drills and the market for them grew so rapidly that few DIY'ers exclusively use drills which take their electricity from mains power anymore.

Since the 1990's an increasing number of cordless drill manufacturers have switched to using Li-ion (lithium-ion) batteries instead. Although they're a little more expensive, they offer many benefits including faster charging, longer life, and less weight - which can be very important when using your drill to work in tricky spaces and drilling or screwing into surfaces above your head.

Here are what I recommend as the best cordless drills for use around the home - I've based my selection on price-performance, reliability, and the feedback owners have provided on various forums around the web.

Ryobi 18-Volt One+ ½ inch Cordless Lithium-Ion Drill Kit - P817

The Ryobi 18-Volt One+ Kit is my top pick due to its overall performance when the total cost of ownership is taken into account. Ryobi like to boast that this drill provides "lithium-ion performance at Ni-Cd prices" and I tend to agree.

The 2-speed gearbox and 24-position clutch give you all the control you need for almost any job around the home. The grip has been well designed resulting in a tool that sits comfortably and well balanced in your hand, and it only weighs 3.1 lbs.

Ryobi have also paid attention to the small but important details by doing things such as placing a bubble level on the top of the drill so you know when you're holding it exactly at a right angle to the wall, and giving it a magnetic holding tray so you don't drop your screws while working.

The complete kit includes:

  • The P271 Drill with Screwdriver Bit
  • P118 Dual Chemistry Charger (it can charge both Li-ion & Ni-Cd batteries)
  • 2 of the P102 18V One+ Lithium-ion Batteries which can be used with any of the other Ryobi One+ range of tools
  • A basic tool bag

Here's a video from Ryobi which provides a good overview - it also mentions their One+Impact Driver which can be bought separately or both together in a kit:

This one shows you all the different tools you can use the batteries in:

Although the MSRP is $159.99 you can get the P817 kit from your local Home Depot for just $99.

Hitachi ½ inch Driver Drill - DS18DSDL

Hitachi DS18DSDL

The DS18DSDL provides up to 814 in-lbs of torque but is a little heavier than the Ryobi P817 weighing in at 4.6 lbs. That extra weight comes from its solid construction sporting an aluminum gear case.

It is equipped with a single sleeve ratcheting all-metal keyless ½” chuck for maximum bit grip and quick bit changes. It has a 22-position clutch with drill mode so the torque can be properly matched to the application.

Its dual speed gearing operates at a low speed of 0-350 RPM (ideal for driving fasteners) and in high speed at 0-1,600 RPM (ideal for drilling applications). It also comes with a side handle for 360° leverage when needed.

The 2 Lithium Ion 3.0Ah Slide Type Batteries that come with it also have a 2 year manufacturer backed warranty.

One feature I quite like is the bright LED light which makes it much easier to see what you're doing in dark enclosed work spaces.

Because it's been built for professional use it does cost quite a bit more with an MSRP of $489, but you can find it online for around $280 if you shop around.

Milwaukee 2603-22CT M18 FUEL ½ inch Drill/Driver Kit

Milwaukee 2603-22CT M18 FUEL Lithium-Ion ½ inch Drill/Driver Kit

Milwaukee build tools that last and the 2603-22CT is no exception coming with a 5 year manufacturer warranty.

As well as the M18 Fuel 1/2" Drill/Driver (2603-20), the kit includes 2 Redlithium 2.0 batteries (48-11-1820), a duel 18V & 12V charger (48-59-1812) as well as the carry case in the picture to the left.

Many DIY'ers say that the claims Milwaukee make about the advantages of their brushless motor are true - customer reviews consistently talk about how this drill delivers more power than most of the others in this class and the motor is extremely durable lasting much longer than some of its cheaper rivals. It delivers a peak torque of 725 in-lbs of torque with speeds of 0-550/0-1,850 RPM

It doesn't come with additional accessories, so if you just want a battery powered drill that keeps on going and you don't need the accessories, then this is the drill for you.

The MSRP is $279.99 but usually sells for under $250.

DeWalt DC970K-2 18-Volt Drill/Driver Kit

DeWalt DC970K-2 18-Volt Drill/Driver Kit

DeWalt are famous for their lines of professional powered tools, but they also make some budget models and the DC970K-2 is a sturdy little workhorse well suited to work around the home thanks to its compact design and it weighs in at 5.2 lbs.

The DC970K-2 kit includes 2 batteries, a charger and a soft storage bag.

Its dual speed motor has settings for 0 - 450 RPM and 0 - 1,500 RPM. Where DeWalt have kept the price down is with a clutch with only 17 settings (although that's usually enough at home) and by using the older style NiCad batteries.

I've read quite a few customer reviews and most DIY'ers are happy with the torque produced and the amount of charge the batteries hold.

The MSRP is $189.00 but I've seen it selling at Home Depot for under $90.

Black & Decker BDC120VA100

Black & Decker BDC120VA100 20-Volt MAX Lithium-Ion Drill Kit

I wouldn't take this onto a commercial construction site, but it does offer excellent value for those who just need to do the occasional job around the home.

One of the ways Black & Decker keeps the cost down is by providing only a single 20V Lithium-Ion battery. With the money saved they provide you with a 100-piece accessory kit (full list here) which contains just about every type of bit head you need at home.

Although you can't see it in the picture to the left, it does come with a battery charger, It's heavier than some of the other models featured here weighing in at 8.82 lbs.

So after reading this you might be wondering why I included it in the list - the answer is simple: it's cheap with an MSRP of $139 but you'll find it for less than $100 if you shop around - it's also the top selling battery powered drill in the Home Improvement section on Amazon.

Summary

Although I could have made this list 20 products long and included models from brands like Bosch, Rockwell, Skil and many others, this is a pretty good roundup of cordless drills suitable for home use. If you have any suggestions on models you really think should be included, please drop me a line via the contact form.