Cordless tools have been around for decades, but the technology is constantly evolving. They offer portability, convenience, and access to a wide ranges of devices to make any project go smoothly.
The DeWalt line of tools has been a long-time favorite of many contractors for decades. They offer a wide range of tools from precision 8-14.4v screwdrivers and drills to the well-known 18v cordless tools. Their flagship family of tools is the new 20vMAX line of brush and brushless drills, impact drivers, saws, and grinders. With over 100 tools, from miter saws and band saws to framing nailers and rotary hammer drills, any contractor can find the perfect tool. DeWalt also makes a battery powered heated jacket with 7-hour run-time and two USB power ports. It is ideal for working outdoors in cold conditions.
The newest development from DeWalt is the Flexvolt battery system designed to power a new line of 60v and 120v cordless tools. In addition, it’s also backwards compatible with 20v tools. While the selection is limited to a 120v miter saw and a few 60v tools, the potential for growth makes this new system a worthwhile investment.
Where DeWalt has chosen to offer higher voltage battery packs, Milwaukee has created a larger range of tools that all take advantage of a single battery style. Their m18 RedLithium batteries are available in 2, 4, or 9 amp-hour sizes and can power any of the brush or brushless tools. In addition, Milwaukee offers an industry-leading selection of m18 Fuel brushless tools. The Fuel line of tools is consistently rated as the best performing and longest lasting brand of cordless tools.
Milwaukee has also recently launched a line of smart tools that feature One-Key technology. These tools connect wirelessly to a smartphone or computer and allow the user to essentially reprogram the tool. Through the phone app, you can create and save up to four custom profiles per tool. This allows the user to adjust maximum torque, run speed, and even ramp-up and mid-cut settings.
The One-Key system is designed for tool security and tracking. Each connected tool can be tracked and assigned to projects or locations. The app will keep a record of the last time the tool was within 100ft of the connected smartphone. It can even remotely lock the trigger and battery bay. Additionally, the app can generate usage reports, which are especially helpful to electricians using the M18 Brushless Crimper. These reports can display a log of every crimp made, as well as the pressure applied, to ensure thorough crimping quality.
Sometimes considered a third choice by contractors, Makita is still a contender in the cordless tool arms race. Similar to Milwaukee, they have stuck to the same form-factor of battery for years. Therefore, their entire library of tools is cross-compatible. Makita offers a larger selection of tools than DeWalt or Milwaukee, with many of them brushless. They boast the fastest battery charge times thanks to their unique air-cooled Rapid Optimum Charger. In addition, some Makita tools feature X2 Technology, which allows two 18v batteries to be used simultaneously in the same tool, bringing heavy-duty 36v power to cordless chainsaws, miter saws, and even robot vacuum cleaners.
Best Cordless Tools
Overall, Milwaukee stands out as having the highest quality tools, but at a much bigger cost. DeWalt offers reasonable quality at a good price, while Makita features truly unique options. If you already own a certain brand of tools, the best advice is to stick with that brand. DeWalt tools are generally the best value per dollar, while Milwaukee is best for heavy-duty or high-demand applications. Many professionals simply try these tools out till they find the brand they prefer, then stick with that brand for all their tool needs.