Cordless drill driver purchasing advice: how to choose the right product

  • What You Need to Know
  • Cordless screwdrivers combine a drill and a screwdriver in one device.
  • The most common models have a voltage of 3.6 to 24 volts.
  • For home use, devices with ten to twelve volts are sufficient; professionals should rely on at least 18 volts.
  • Devices with lithium-ion batteries are considered the most powerful.

Cordless drill and screwdriver: The popular all-rounders

These are situations that happen again and again in everyday life: You have finally found a picture for the living room wall and need to drill holes to hang it up. In these moments, the cordless drill is the right tool. It combines a cordless screwdriver and a drill in one device. It is very popular because of its many uses. Discounters, for example, often offer extremely inexpensive models. Top brands offer expensive high-end versions.

Cordless screwdrivers differ in size, performance, range of functions, accessories and running time. It is particularly difficult for beginners to find their way through the thicket of these offers. This guide is intended to help. First, we will introduce the device in general and explain how it works. Then we will look at the different types of cordless drill and show the advantages and disadvantages of each. After that, you will find a comprehensive buying guide that goes into the details that need to be considered when choosing a device. Finally, we look at some frequently asked questions about cordless drill drivers.

cordless drill driver with charging station

What is a cordless drill?

Besides the fact that this class of device combines a drill and a cordless screwdriver, the battery is also of central importance. Such a device does not need a cable. Users can therefore also use it to reach places that are difficult to access. For example, if you want to drill into the ceiling and screw in a lamp, the cordless screwdriver comes in handy.

How does a cordless drill work?

A cordless drill basically consists of the following four elements:

  • Battery for power supply
  • Motor
  • Screw and drill tip
  • Operating elements

The motor of the screwdriver draws its energy from the battery. As a rule, the drive unit has two gears. The first gear is somewhat weaker and is used for screwing. The second gear with a higher power is used for drilling. You can switch between the two gears using the controls. Most cordless drill drivers are shaped like a pistol. The screwdriver is operated via the switch, which is located on the position of the trigger. The switch between the two gears is located directly in front of it. The purpose of this is to allow the user to make all adjustments with one hand. Often, the second hand is used for support.

The motor moves the screw and drill tip. Almost all models have a forward and reverse run, also known as clockwise and counterclockwise rotation. These two runs are used to insert and remove screws. The cordless drill is thus not only an important aid when assembling furniture, but also when disassembling it.

Bits, tips and drill chucks: these are the terms you need to know

If you research a cordless drill online, you will quickly come across three technical terms that you should know in order to make a competent purchase decision: Bits, tips and drill chuck.

Bits are attachments for the screwdrivers that fit the different screw heads. For example, there are Phillips screws and a whole range of different Torx screws.

Tips are the counterpart to the bits for the drill. Often we simply talk about drill bits. These tips are of different lengths and thicknesses. Longer and thicker versions are used to drill through harder materials. In the case of top models, the material from which the tips are made can also differ. For example, to be able to drill through stone, some tips are made of ultra-hard titanium.

The drill chuck, also called the chuck, is the device on the screwdriver that holds the tips and bits. Usually, the diameter of the drill chuck can be widened or narrowed by a rotating device. The standard drill chuck has a diameter of one to ten millimetres. However, there are also models that have significantly larger diameters. These reach 15 millimetres and more.

No matter which cordless drill you choose: An appropriate selection of bits and tips should always be part of the package as accessories. Most users buy high-quality tips and bits later, but a starter set is standard.

The different types of cordless screwdrivers

Basically, there are three types of cordless drilldrivers. These are:

  • Mini cordless drill screwdrivers
  • Cordless drill/driver
  • Cordless drill with impact

The fourth closely related device is the classic cordless screwdriver. Its motor is not powerful enough to be able to drill. The battery is also permanently installed. If it is defective, the entire device has to be replaced. Since there is not much difference in price between this and cordless screwdrivers, it does not make sense to buy a simple cordless screwdriver.

Mini cordless drill

The name already suggests it: It is a very small model that is cheap and does not take up much space. The voltage of the motor starts at 3.6 volts and ranges up to six volts, depending on the model. The battery is permanently installed. The adjustment options are very limited. This applies in particular to the torque, which determines the power with which the machine works.

Advantages and disadvantages of mini cordless screwdrivers:

Pro Points

  • Inexpensive
  • Handy
  • Easy to use
  • Reliably performs simple tasks such as assembling furniture
  • Comparatively harmless: due to the lower power, the risk of injury is significantly lower than with the larger models.
  • Easy to find: Many discounters and DIY stores often stock mini models


  • Battery cannot be changed
  • Battery life is comparatively short
  • Build quality often leaves much to be desired
  • The motor power is too weak for more demanding tasks.
  • There is only one drill chuck with a size that cannot be changed on many mini cordless drill drivers
  • Spare parts are difficult to obtain. In the event of a defect, a completely new purchase is usually the better option.
For whom are mini cordless screwdrivers suitable?

This variant is particularly suitable for users who only use their cordless drill very rarely. If you work with a cordless drill on a regular basis, you will be annoyed by the low motor power.

Cordless drill driver

Classic cordless drill drivers are devices that are specially designed for do-it-yourselfers. On average, they work with a voltage of 10 to 15 volts and have various torque settings. In this way, you can both screw and drill with reasonable power.

Advantages and disadvantages of classic cordless drill drivers:

Pro Points

  • The battery can be changed
  • The tool is sufficient for the vast majority of jobs that do-it-yourselfers do every day
  • Easy to use
  • Spare parts are readily available for models of well-known brands
    Variants with lithium-ion batteries are environmentally friendly


  • The quality of the individual components varies greatly depending on the device (this applies especially to the batteries, the drill chuck and the drill tips)
  • More expensive than a mini cordless drill/driver
  • The price range is very wide, which complicates the choice
Who is the full-size cordless drill suitable for?

This model is intended for the vast majority of users. If you need a tool for relatively regular home use, this is the right choice. In principle, quality comes before price. If you work with the screwdriver frequently and have professional requirements, you should invest more.

Cordless drill with impact

The cordless drill with impact is largely identical to the normal-sized model, except that it has the additional option of exerting a pulsating force in the direction of the axis (i.e. in the direction of the tip of the tool). This is called “impact”. The advantages and disadvantages are largely identical to those of the classic screwdriver. In the following, we will therefore only mention the advantages and disadvantages that are specifically related to the impact.

Advantages and disadvantages of a cordless drill with impact:

Pro Points

  • More power
  • Often more adjustment possibilities
  • Even particularly hard materials such as concrete or stone can be penetrated during drilling


  • Higher weight
  • Higher price
  • Relatively difficult handling for beginners due to impact
Who is the cordless drill with impact suitable for?

In principle, this device is only intended for users with particularly high demands. If you are looking for a truly universal cordless drill, you should opt for the impact version. The tool is too powerful for simple home use. Those who have no experience with impact tools are often surprised by the pulsating power and have difficulty handling it correctly.

A cordless drill with impact cannot compete with a drill with impact

At one point, however, no user should give in to deceptive hope: The power of a cordless drill with impact is also severely limited. The voltage with which the machine works is 18 to 20 volts. Compared to a drill with impact, the motor can only develop significantly less power. Particularly hard materials such as metals cannot be penetrated. The cordless drill with impact is therefore not sufficient for professional use.

Buying advice: These points are important

The battery

The quality of a cordless drill stands and falls with the battery. Its runtime determines how long the tool can be used at a stretch. In addition, older batteries in particular are heavier, making the tool more unwieldy. In general, there are three different types of batteries:

  • The lithium-ion (LI-ion) battery, which has already been mentioned a few times.
  • Nickel-metal hydride battery (NiHM)
  • Nickel-cadmium battery (NiCd)

Prospective buyers should always opt for a screwdriver with a Li-ion battery. Although these batteries are somewhat more expensive in comparison, they otherwise offer only advantages. For example, they are significantly lighter (around 40 percent) and more durable. They do not have the so-called memory effect that the other two variants have to contend with. This is the phenomenon that damages the battery if charging is interrupted or if charging is started before the battery has completely discharged.

Lithium-ion batteries, which are also used in smartphones, for example, have a negligible self-discharge rate. The charge is reduced by one to two percent per month when not in use. The screwdriver can therefore lie in the toolbox for months and still be ready for immediate use.

cordless drill driver in use

The other battery types, on the other hand, offer hardly any advantages. Nickel-metal hydride batteries are said to have certain all-round qualities. However, they cannot compete with lithium-ion batteries, apart from the price. Nickel-cadmium batteries are considered to be extremely robust. However, most of these batteries have been banned since 2009. The only exceptions are the batteries used in cordless tools such as the cordless drill. The heavy metal cadmium is toxic and therefore extremely harmful to the environment.

Battery life

The battery life is given in ampere hours (Ah). The lower minimum is 1.5 Ah. Two to six ampere hours are common. If you rarely need the screwdriver and would rather have it for emergencies, you can choose a weaker battery. If you have higher demands, you should look for a longer battery life.

Replaceable battery – yes or no?

A replaceable battery is always preferable. This is because, in the event of a defect, the entire device does not have to be replaced. Instead, it is sufficient to purchase a new battery. Professional craftsmen have a second and sometimes even a third battery. One is always in the charger. This ensures that they do not have to interrupt their work if the battery in use runs out of “juice”.

Torque settings

Torque refers to the turning effect of the force applied by the screwdriver to the screw. What many beginners do not know: Depending on the screw, a different torque is recommended. For wide screws, it is better to have as strong a turning action as possible. A good cordless drill should therefore offer several torque settings. At least three corresponding options should be available. Professional devices have up to ten different torque settings.

The voltage

Infrequent users can get by with 3.6 to 6 volts. Regular users with higher demands need tools with a voltage of ten to twelve volts. Very demanding users should rely on at least 18 volts.

The abbreviation Nm

Occasionally, the abbreviation Nm can be found on the packaging or on the screwdriver itself. This stands for Newton metres and refers to the pure force with which the tool can act. The higher the Nm value, the more power the screwdriver has.

The maximum diameter of the drill chuck

As already mentioned, most models have a drill chuck diameter of one to ten millimetres. This is quite sufficient for most tasks. The only exception is when the screwdriver needs to be able to drill into metals or other particularly hard materials. The corresponding tips have an average diameter of thirteen to fifteen millimetres. The drill chuck has to take this into account.

The noise level

Some power tools can be extremely loud. However, it is rare for home tools to make a lot of noise. Good cordless drills have a volume of 70 to 80 decibels. This is about the same as the noise level produced by a domestic hoover.

The weight

Cordless screwdrivers can weigh very different amounts. The mini models, for example, weigh less than one kilogram. The larger models weigh one and a half to two kilograms. Units that do not have a lithium-ion battery weigh even more.

The weight has a significant influence on handling. This fact is often underestimated. As a rule, you hold the screwdriver aloft, and after a while, two kilograms feel quite heavy. It is therefore advisable to choose a rather light model. Most men manage best with up to one and a half kilograms.

The necessary accessories

As mentioned above, tips and bits should already be included in the package with the screwdriver. However, that is by no means all the accessories you might need. The following other items are worthwhile purchases:

  • Second (and perhaps third) battery pack
  • Quick charger
  • Case for safe transport
  • High-quality bits and tips

Frequently asked questions about cordless drills

There are many common questions about cordless drills that are frequently asked. We answer three of them to give you a quick overview.

What does a cordless drill cost?

Basically, there are four price levels:

  • Up to 20 euros: This price segment is reserved for mini screwdrivers.
  • 20 to 60 euros: This price segment is reserved for the basic class. Most screwdrivers are sufficient for simple home use. However, especially in the price range between 20 and 30 euros, the quality is often only average. Moreover, since these are unknown brands, spare parts are difficult to obtain.
  • 60 to 100 euros: Tools in this price range are also suitable for higher demands. Demanding do-it-yourselfers should shop in this price segment.
  • More than 100 euros: Cordless drill screwdrivers in this price segment are suitable for professional users. These are high-quality models from well-known manufacturers, such as Bosch or Makita. Craftsmen reach for these devices. If you are looking for the best and are willing to make an investment in the three-digit range, you should choose a model from this price range.

Where can I find cordless screwdrivers?

In the offline world, screwdrivers are usually offered by DIY stores as well as special tool shops. Large supermarket chains often carry some models as well. These are usually low-priced devices.

The selection on the Internet is considerably larger. The internet also offers the advantage that prospective buyers can compare prices and read testimonials and guide articles. As a result, they are much more informed in their purchasing decisions. However, if you buy online, you have to plan for delivery time. If you need an appropriate tool immediately, you have to go to a specialist shop.

What is the best cordless drill?

There is no general answer to this question. If you have high demands, the best cordless drill is rather expensive. If you only occasionally need to tighten a screw or drill a hole in plaster, you will find the best cordless drill for a reasonable price. In general, however, if you value good quality, you should be prepared to invest more than just a few euros.