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12V vs. 20V Drills

12V vs. 20V Drills

When it comes to power tools, choosing the right one for your needs can be quite a challenge. Among the most commonly used tools are drills, particularly the 12V and 20V models. To make an informed decision on which to choose, it's crucial to understand their differences, advantages, and drawbacks. With that in mind, let's delve into an in-depth comparison between 12V and 20V drills.

What Do 12V and 20V Mean?

First, let's clarify what 12V and 20V represent. These numbers refer to the voltage of the drill's battery, which, in essence, is the power source of the drill. The voltage determines how much power the battery can deliver to the tool. Generally, a higher voltage means more power and potentially more torque, but it also often means a larger, heavier battery.

Power and Performance

When it comes to power, 20V drills have an edge. They're designed to handle heavy-duty tasks, such as drilling through hard materials like concrete or thick metal. These drills can deliver higher torque, which in turn allows them to drive screws into tough materials more efficiently.

On the other hand, 12V drills might not pack as much power, but they're more than adequate for most household tasks. They're perfect for drilling into wood, plastic, light metal, and for most screw-driving tasks. Most DIY enthusiasts find that a 12V drill meets their needs perfectly.

Size and Weight

One of the main advantages of 12V drills is their compact size and lighter weight. This makes them ideal for tasks in cramped spaces or for extended use where a heavier drill could cause fatigue. They're also more comfortable to handle, especially for individuals with smaller hands.

20V drills, due to their larger batteries and more powerful motors, tend to be heavier and bulkier. This might not be an issue for short, intense bursts of work, but it could become a problem during long periods of use.

Battery Life and Charging Time

20V drills often have larger batteries, which can deliver more power and typically have a longer lifespan between charges. However, these batteries also commonly take longer to charge, given their larger capacity.

12V drills, with their smaller batteries, might not last as long under heavy use, but they recharge more quickly. For sporadic use throughout the day, or for lighter tasks, a 12V drill can often be more convenient.


In general, 20V drills are more expensive than their 12V counterparts. The price difference can be attributed to the more powerful motor, larger battery, and often more robust build quality. However, it's important to remember that a higher price doesn't always mean better value. If a 12V drill can accomplish all the tasks you need, then it might be a more cost-effective choice.

Best 12v Drills for 2023:

12v Drills
  • DeWalt DCD791D2 - This is a compact and powerful 12v Max drill/driver from DeWalt. It has a 1/2 inch metal chuck, an all-metal transmission and an ergonomic handle design. It's a good option for homeowners, DIYers and light duty use.
  • Makita XT269M - Makita's 12v lithium-ion drill/driver is compact yet powerful. It has a slim handle design, an 18 position clutch and can deliver up to 326 in-lbs of torque. It's lightweight at only 2.4 lbs.
  • Milwaukee M12 Fuel - The Milwaukee M12 Fuel compact drill/driver lives up to its name with powerful performance in a small package. It has an all-metal transmission, a 1/2 inch ratcheting chuck and delivers up to 450 in-lbs of torque. Great for tight spaces and detailed work.
  • Bosch PS31-2A - Bosch's 12v drill/driver has a slim, ergonomic design and delivers up to 300 in-lbs of torque. It comes with a 1/2 inch metal chuck, a 13 position clutch and LED light to illuminate work area. It's lightweight at just 2.3 lbs.
  • Ridgid R8612 - This 12v drill/driver from Ridgid is compact and affordable while delivering solid performance and up to 250 in-lbs of torque. It comes with a 1/2 inch metal chuck, an LED work light and brushless motor for efficiency. Weighs just 2.3 lbs.

Best 20v Drills for 2023:

20v Drills

  • DeWalt DCD996 - This is DeWalt's flagship 20v Max drill/driver and for good reason. It delivers an impressive 0-2,000 RPM and 0-550 in-lbs of torque. It has a 1/2 inch metal chuck, an ergonomic handle design and an LED light.
  • Milwaukee M18 Fuel - The Milwaukee M18 Fuel drill/driver lineup is hard to beat for power and performance. This particular model delivers 0-2,000 RPM and up to 550 in-lbs of torque. It has a ported hammer drill design that provides 30% more power than previous models.
  • Makita XPH012 - Makita's 20v LXT lithium-ion drill/driver offers a powerful 0-2,000 RPM and 0-520 in-lbs. It has an all-metal transmission, one-handedderless chuck and an LED light with 4 brightness modes. Weighs only 4.4 lbs.
  • Ridgid R87012 - Ridgid's 20v MAX drill/driver is compact and budget-friendly while still offering quite a lot of power. It delivers 0-2,300 RPM and 0-450 in-lbs of torque. Comes with 1/2" ratcheting chuck, LED light, and brushless motor.
  • Bosch PS31-2C - Bosch's 20v drill/driver features a brushed motor that provides 0-2,000 RPM and up to 550 in-lbs of torque. It has an ergonomic handle design, a metal chuck, an LED light and an 18 position clutch. Weighs just 4.5 lbs.


In the end, whether you choose a 12V or 20V drill depends largely on your specific requirements. For heavy-duty tasks, a 20V drill with its superior power and performance is the better choice. However, for general home use and DIY projects, a 12V drill often provides ample power, is easier to handle, charges faster, and comes at a lower cost.

Choosing a drill is not about simply picking the one with the highest voltage. It's about finding the balance between power, weight, battery life, and cost that best meet your needs. It's always recommended to identify your requirements first, then choose the tool that fits those needs best.

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