Best Cordless Lithium Drill Driver Hammer To Buy

by VitalBodies on April 19th, 2010

Best Cordless Lithium Drill Driver Hammer To Buy:

See Updates at the bottom…

We had received a Makita 18 volt drill driver as a gift. In the first few days of owning the drill the battery ran down (as expected) and we had to charge it.

This time when the battery ran down however, the battery was stuck on the drill and would not come off. We had basically babied this drill and were so careful with it so there was no reason it should have gotten stuck but there was no way the battery was going to come off either.

So we had to pick out the Best Cordless Lithium Drill Driver Hammer To Buy. We thought, “this should be fun!”

Wow, this was not easy. There are some pretty tough choices to make. We went around and round trying to decide.

MAKITA 18 VOLT:

Makita BDF452HW 18-Volt Compact Lithium-Ion Cordless 1/2-Inch Driver-Drill Kit

The Makita was light weight, had an LED light, charged fast and seemed like a dream drill – until the battery got stuck. Now that could have been a fluke but we decide to try a different drill just in case.

Having that drill was a learning experience and helped us decide. While building a custom cutting mat table that needed 42 holes drilled, each 1 3/4″ and drilled with a Milwaukee Forstner bit, the drill fully charged and brand new could not drill even one hole. We had to use our old corded Milwaukee 1/2″ Hole Shooter.

The other thing that stood out is the fan noise of the charger – is this thing going to blow up? No there is just a loud fan in there that seems to be always on.

Choosing A Drill:

Price, features, weight, warranty, power and reliability were key notes in making our selection. Also, we were looking for the latest and greatest.

Bosch_Lithium_Hammer_Drill_0.jpg

Price: For price you REALLY had to shop around. At full retail you really had to think about a $500 – $850 drill. Our new $850 drill was about $225 plus about $14 shipping. There is a huge price range for these drills which makes choosing a drill “a bit of a challenge”. To narrow down the field you might want to start with battery type and that is where most of the cost of the drill comes from. Lithium is the most expensive and the new choice in cordless tool as they are lighter, more powerful and do not suffer from memory effects. NiMH is the next best choice as they are less costly than Lithium and also do not suffer from the dreaded memory effect of Ni-Cad. We can not recommend Ni-cad at all. They are toxic, do not charge to there full capacity all that long and are out dated. Next up for price consideration is voltage. 9.6, 12 volt and and 14.4 volt are nice tools but are no longer the top of the line choice if you are looking for the latest and greatest. They are however more than adequate for many tasks and were the cordless to mainstay of years gone by.  You certainly do not need a $500 drill to drive short small screws into soft wood. Where the new cordless drill are breaking new ground is drilling larger holes in more kinds of materials, drilling more holes per charge in things like concrete and driving more fasteners like when you are doing decking or hanging pipes. You can reach for a cordless tool where you would have had to use a corded tool. 18 volts seemed to be the standard for most drill drivers of smaller tasks and 24 to 36 volts for the heavy duty tasks like drilling large holes. If you want a drill driver for most tasks and do not need to drill large holes then you might get by with an 18 volt model. We wanted to go all out and get a drill that handle anything the latest and greatest drill divers could handle.

Features: For features we went for the major stuff rather than getting lost in the smaller details. Torque matters, for example, if your using larger Forstner bits  or hole saws and that was high on our the priority list. Having a hammer drill to drill concrete was also a plus. A side handle that can turn 360 degrees matters to save your wrists and for overall safety. You can do some serious damage to yourself with one of these if you are using it one handed and the bit gets stuck sending all that torque your way. Some of these new drills deliver 600 pounds or more of torque which is something to fully consider. A fixed handle is not an option for tight places or getting that “just right position” so 360 degrees is the only way to go. To be a “driver” your drill must have a clutch and this is common on drill/drivers but not drills as is a soft start. Our old 1/2″ corded Milwaukee hole shooter will just snap the heads off screws “like they are nothing” because it is a drill not a driver. Lithium Batteries was another A list feature we just had to have. We have had cordless drill/drivers since the old 9.6 volt days of Nickel Cadmium. We would never buy a Nickel Cadmium again no matter what the price as the batteries are toxic, have memory issues and thus do not charge to their full capacity all that long. NiMH is your next best bet and Lithium is the hot new rage in cordless. We wanted to try out the new Lithium power tools. The other “must have” feature we wanted was hammer drill. Hammering can make all kinds of jobs easier and much much faster including drilling concrete and using wood paddle bits. You can drill wood so much faster with wood paddle (spade) bits in hammer mode!

Power: There have been 9.6 volt, 12 volts, 14.4 volts 18 volts, 24 volts and even 36 volts? You might get bragging rights if you go for the 36 volts but does that 36 volts matter? We thought so, we were looking for a real power house of a drill. You can buy very cheap drill drivers that are 18 volts in the $20 dollar range but the batteries tend to be Nickel Cadmium land fill. Lithium name brand drill/drivers cost a lot more and overall are a better value. Of course you can not throw out those old Ni-cad batteries, as they are super toxic hazardous waste and must be disposed of properly – and you owe it to all the other life forms to do so. 36 volts is the highest voltage we found and at over twice the current pro drills that weigh in at 18 volts the Bosch 36Volt tools are in a class by themselves.  36 volts would seem to mean Pro heavy duty and Bosch made their 36-volt offerings “Brute Tough” to withstand professional use and abuse – but are they really that powerful and that tough? We decided to take the bait and see, plus all the reviews by buyers seemed to agree for the most part – there are always a few flukes and you have to wonder about the odd reviewer too…

Weight: Depending on what you do, weight might be an issue. For us, we use the drill for EVERYTHING and wanted one drill for basically “all things considered”. We rarely do the same task over and over and over. If you do, you might want to really tailor your choice to exactly what you do – like assembly line work is much different than construction and remodeling. For us, we would rather take one heavier drill/driver up that ladder or across the yard and around the house knowing it will do the task and not cause two trips or cause us to drag two tools or get out that power cord.

Warranty: This was a tough one. If you read the reviews for the “Bare Tools” you can get swept up pretty easily this way or that. If you read the reviews for batteries, well, uhh, you know warranty matters. You also learn that a warranty that is honored is what matters most as some of these batteries cost over $100 and many are not warranted over one year and many reviewers claimed that the warranties were not being honored on some brands. For warranty we would have choose the Ridgid Lithium line of tools as they are said to have a lifetime warranty which some swear by and others swore at. Ridgid did not offer any 36volt tools and it was a hard call to make on if they would REALLY warrant batteries for the rest of our lives so we went with Bosch.

Reliability: We have had many name brand hand held plug in power tools. All in all, the Milwaukee and Bosch are still performing years later. All things considered, the Milwaukee seemed/looked/felt heavier duty but the Bosch were actually just as tough and usually lighter and more stream lined.  The “Brute Tough” claim on the Bosch claiming you could drop the tool from two stories up got us going- and the tool feels like that claim is real. A lot of reviewers said the Milwaukee could not handle a hole saw and would die. Having just completed a cutting mat table with 42 holes that had personal meaning to us.

In our searching within the Dewalt Lithium Line it turned out to be just out of our price range and seemed too high a price to pay for a battery operated tool. Really, how long do battery operated tools REALLY last? Only so many years then you have to swap them out. We figured “spend the big bucks on what lasts” unless your profession absolutely demands the top of the line cordless and even then, consider the real value you are getting for the money.

Details: We ditched the details but if we did not, we would have picked the best LED light like the Hitachi Lithium line with a aim-able LED and two year warranty on the batteries. Other details “of worth” are batteries that tell you how charged they are (Lithium Battery Condition Indicator) which the Bosch also had. This allows you to push a button and know how charged your battery is. This helps with Lithium as often times they hold out then die instantly at the end without warning. Other details are if the drill driver has one or two sizes of battery. Bosch had two sizes and many people raved about about how long the Fatpacks (the bigger batteries) lasted.

Investment: Another big factor is that now that you have invested in what really cost the big bucks - the batteries – what else can you power with them and what is that going to cost you? Once again I might have picked Hitachi Lithium line for this. Bosch tended to be expensive in some cases and cheaper in others but you really have to compare tool for tool as these are high quality tools and we were comparing 36 volt “Bare Tools” with 18 or even 24 volt tools. It was shocking how affordable some bare tools were (awesome $60 drill/drivers) and they are totally worth considering – if you have the batteries to run them. We even priced “parting out” some tool kits like buying batteries, the bare tool and the charger separately, but for all the kits we tried parting out, we found that it was better to buy the kit. The real deals are the Lithium Combo Kits if you can afford to buy multiple tools. At the current price of batteries you really have to choose your brand and stay with it or re-invest in batteries again.

OUR WINNER:

BOSCH 36 VOLT LITHEON 18636-02 1/2″ HAMMER DRILL/DRIVER:

Specs: http://www.boschtools.com/Products/Tools/Pages/BoschProductDetail.aspx?pid=18636-02

We got a chance to check this drill out today!

Wow, this drill is heavy duty.

It is heavier than the Makita.

This drill at first feel seems like twice the drill of the last one. Like you are holding a tool that is super heavy duty, built to last and can drill through most anything. Definitely a different class of drill. Not that the lighter 18 volt drills would not be perfect for some, we just want to say what the pictures can hardly show, this is power house drill.

You do feel like you could drop this Bosch over and over without the drill failing.

It also has two of the big batteries that people kept saying “last forever” – “all day on the job” and such and they are are heavier.

ADVERTISED FEATURES:

Handle grip with finger support provides maximum control. Up to one pound lighter than comparable 18-volt NiCad drills/drivers, the 36618-02 won’t weigh you down. It’s ideal for a wide range of drilling and fastening jobs, from hanging curtains to building a deck; from making automotive repairs to installing cabinetry.

Unique, Flexible Power System
Like all tools in Bosch’s 18-Volt line, this drill/driver can be used with either a 1.3-Ah BAT609 Slim Pack battery (two included) or a 2.6-Ah BAT318 Fat Pack. If you’re looking for a lighter-weight option, the Slim Pack is the perfect choice. If longer runtime is what you need, the Fat Pack will do the job. Bosch is the only power tool manufacturer that provides this option.

Fast Speeds, High Torque, and Durable Construction for Reliable Results
The 36618-02 works at speeds up to 1,600 RPM and provides 500 in./lbs. of torque. Durashield housing, unibody construction, and a steel-reinforced collar help you withstand real-world conditions, like temperature extremes, rain, dirt, debris, and drops.

The 36618-02′s Durashield Housing is constructed with ABS/Nylon composite, which makes the housing flexible and impenetrable. Unlike competitive tools, which use a conventional plastic housing, Durashield will not crack and can easily withstand 10-foot drops.

This tool also features unique unibody construction with three steel straps that keep the motor, gears, and clutch together. This ensures that the gears never separate from the motor, and it keeps the drill functioning even after drops.

Additionally, the 36618-02 boasts an exclusive steel-reinforced collar that protects the nose of the drill. It provides extra reinforcement in the event of drops on the chuck and prevents the chuck from bending or breaking off.

Easy Bit Changes and Balanced Design for Utmost Control
The 36618-02 comes complete with a single-sleeve 1/2-inch chuck for one-handed bit changes, as well as increased drill-bit capacity for versatility. And for maximum control, comfort, and balance, the tool boasts a newly designed handle-grip with finger support.

Smart Features for Easy Use
20 clutch settings and a variable-speed trigger help you match the best speed to the job, so you can achieve precise results. At the same time, the 36618-02′s ergonomic design provides optimum comfort and control. And for even greater convenience, LEDs provide illumination when you are working in dark or enclosed areas.

ProVantage Guarantee
The 36618-02 comes with the ProVantage three-year protection plan, which guarantees two years of battery protection and one year of tool protection. Under this plan, you can receive two years of free battery replacements, tool replacement for one year, and a free tool repair package for the second and third years.

Price: We found a NEW 36 volt for the same or less than many 14.4 or 18 volt drills. We searched quite a bit and found the best prices here: Bosch 18636-02 36-Volt Litheon Hammer Drill

Conclusion: We have one battery charging and the other will be next. Will be really fun to see what this drill can do. We went for the 36 volts and a drill you drop once in a while. These tools are expensive an so we wanted to invest in the future and what we might buy next like the 36 volt circular saw. We opted for the bigger batteries also.

Charging the battery is silent.

Updates:

There are some stumps on our property from one of the old owners and perhaps the last owner. We know we want these stumps out but they are not top priority so I thought I might help them break down a bit faster by drilling large deep holes that will fill with water and rot the stumps. I got out a contractor bit set and used a 1.75″ Forstner bit and drilled a number of holes 4-5 inched deep. Wow, this drill is smoother and easier to to use for drilling these large holes than the corded 1/2″ Milwaukee Hole Shooter and I did not need a cord! I drilled hole after hole with no problem at all. I also needed to move an outdoor electrical outlet and found that the drill can be used quite gently. I used the drill/driver to take the screws out of each outlet. Very, very impressive.

What we would like to see: A small AC/DC changer that can hang on the wall if needed. User serviceable batteries as often only one cell fails.

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