18V vs 20V Cordless Drills (Find Out The Differences)

18 V cordless drills have provided outstanding performance for many years. They are a common and standard measure of power used for tools for a long time. Recently, however, 20 V tools are becoming more popular.

With the discrepancy in the prices, this often has many people wondering, what’s the difference between 18v vs 20v cordless drills?

Actually, there no difference in power between an 18 V and a 20 V cordless drill. People are very confused with this concept. Usually, we want what gives us more power, and with a difference of two volts, you may think that the 20 V cordless drill has more power. But, it doesn’t, it’s just a marketing trick. Both the 18 V and 20 V cordless drills have the same battery.

If choosing one tool over the other, we need to consider more than just their battery power. We listed weight, size, charge and run time, brand, torque, usability, accessories, and costs as some elements to evaluate before shopping. 

Read on to learn more about what the drills are, their differences, and which one you should choose!

What is an 18 V Cordless Drill?

The 18 volt cordless drill is one of the most widely used and popular types of drills. It has a weight to power ratio that most people prefer. That means you get the best power for its weight. This is a dependable and staple drill choice.

What is a 20 V Cordless Drill?

20 V cordless drills are slowly becoming more and more popular. They are usually a bit heavier and pricier compared to the 18 V, but many people assume that they are worth the price for the power that they give. 

18V vs 20V Cordless Drills

First of all, if you notice carefully, any tool that says 20 V typically says “max” and or has an asterisk after it. For example, it will say “20 MAX*.” The 18 V will never say max after it.

To entirely understand this battery power business, we need to discuss the details of the battery first. This can seem a bit puzzling, but when it makes sense, it becomes easier to understand why 18 V and 20 V Max are the same. 

Batteries

Basically, both the 18 V and the 20V batteries are designed very similarly. They consist of individual battery cells, which are grouped together in clusters of fives. That arrangement is then wired to another parallel group of five to accumulate more amp hours. These collections of battery cells increase the watt capacity of the battery. 

Each battery cell has two voltage capacity ratings, the nominal rating, and the maximum rating. The nominal rating is how much charge the battery can handle consistently. The battery cell is made to be used according to the nominal rating. The maximum rating is self-explanatory; it is the maximum charge the battery cell can reach without damaging the circuit or tool. 

Nominal Rating

Now, this is where both 18V and 20 V batteries are the same. In 18 V and 20 V batteries, the nominal rating for the individual battery cell is 3.6 volts.

For five cells, that is a total of 18 volts. The maximum rating is 4 volts for a battery cell. Together, that is 20 volts max. Tools that are 18 volts are the same as tools that display 20 v MAX.

18 V and 20 V Max are the same, but one is the nominal rating, and the other is the maximum rating. This is more a marketing ploy than anything else. People pay attention to numbers, and 20 just sounds more powerful than 18. 20 is higher than 18.

Marketing Trick

Therefore the 20 v MAX tool must be better than the 18 v tool. This is the line of thinking that marketers are aiming for. But after researching and learning a bit, you can understand that they are, in fact, the same and shouldn’t be fooled by these marketing tactics.

It’s possible that some people may claim they really can feel a difference. They may say their 20 v max cordless drill is more powerful. How can that be if the battery power is the same? It’s because different brands offer various technologies and better designs.

The tool’s output is not just the battery power alone. The electronics, the motor, and the technological advances of the tool all have an effect. Basically, the better drill isn’t necessarily one that is 20 v max; it could be the 18 v drill that has better features.

Depends On The Brand

For instance, some brands add stronger motors. Without getting too much into physics, it isn’t just the battery itself. Power is volts times amps, so if something can draw more amps, then it can be more powerful. The battery has volts.

If the motor can draw more amps, then the tool overall will become more powerful. The motor could be heavier, works better, and overall makes the tool “beefier.” This can often give people the impression that it is a more powerful tool. But the 20-volt drill isn’t working any harder or any more powerful than the 18V. They both offer the same voltages.

Related Read — Best Electric Drills

Should You Buy an 18V or 20V Cordless Drill?

If the batteries are the same, then what should I consider when planning to purchase a cordless drill?

The 20v and 18v cordless drills might not have the same power, it all depends on the brand. So, it's the brand that makes the difference, not the voltage.

Had the conversion been a comparison of 12 v or 18 v, then we could discuss a difference in the battery power. 12 v is a set of 3 battery cells, whereas 18v is a set of 5. 18 v and 20 v should just be grouped together.

They’re both a set of 5 battery cells. Since both an 18 volt and a 20 volt are the same power, then how do you choose a drill? Here are some other things that you should check.

Weight

Manufacturers may want the 20 v cordless drill to look and feel stronger. So they may add more muscle in the form of a stronger motor, or maybe some useless superficial addition that doesn’t apply much to power, but it looks good, so it must be good, right? Not necessarily.

All the unneeded buttons and extras can add weight. A 20 v drill can be heavier. This is a drawback when you’re holding up the drill for extended periods of time.

It will tire your arm. For the same power, an 18 v cordless drill will be much lighter. You won’t get tired of holding it up or moving it around. 

Size

Likewise, the 20 v cordless drill will be bigger in size. This may look mighty, but when it comes to using it in a narrow space, you’ll want to use something smaller. An 18 v cordless drill is smaller than a 20-volt tool. Let’s say you need to drill something in a crawlspace; then the 18v drill will the better option in terms of both weight and size. 

Related Read — How to Drill Into a Stud?

Charge and Run Time 

By this time, you should just stop thinking about 18 v and 20 v tools as two separate categories. Since they are essentially the same, their respective charge time and run times are also similar.

If we were discussing 12 V tools, then we could comparatively say that it has less power, less capacity, so it takes less time to charge but subsequently also has a lower run-time. For 18 V and 20 V tools, the charge and run times are similar. 

Brand

Another factor to consider is the brand—research well known, trustworthy, and top-rated brands that have a reputable history. Do your research. Check and review their best cordless drills.

After making a couple of comparisons, you’ll notice that an 18v cordless drill from a distinguished brand is much better and more powerful than a 20 v drill from a cheaper unknown brand. Brands make a difference. 

There are four large leading brands of high-quality drills and tools, Bosch, Makita, Milwaukee, and Dewalt. These brands have separate lines of tools for homemakers and professional use.

The professional tools are usually more expensive. In addition to these four, there are also higher-end companies, such as Hilti and Festool, which are usually very expensive, and not the top choice for most consumers. Moreover, there are numerous other brands like Hitachi, Black & Decker, Ryobi, etc., that are dependable and affordable. 

All in all, you’ll have to do a lot of research to find the drill that is right for you. 

Torque

A better torque means better drilling results. The higher the torque, the easier it is to penetrate harder surfaces. A 20 v max cordless doesn’t necessarily mean it will have more torque than an 18 v. It depends on the motor, the engineering. It is possible that an 18v from the right brand has a higher torque than a 20 v max cordless drill. 

Usability

When considering a cordless drill, you’ll want to research the additional features the drill comes with. These could be sound notifications, light indicators, or even the convenience of various setting options.

For example, some drills have different lights that display an assortment of information, such as about the charge status or the power, etc.

Some handy functions are being able to control torque and speed. There are numerous nifty features that make the tool more interactive, convenient, and even more fun.

Related Read — Corded vs Cordless Drills

Accessories

On top of that, you can also review accessories. Some drills can be used with extra attachable heads that help with projects. They can speed up completion time or help with better accuracy.

Some examples of attachments are angle adapters, scrubbing brushes, scrubbing pads, and even paint roller cleaner. There are countless varieties to choose from.

When shopping for a cordless drill, instead of focusing on whether or not it’s 18 v or 20 v, it’s more beneficial to look at this feature. An 18 v drill that has more accessorizing options is the better deal than a 20 v cordless drill with limited usability. 

Cost 

Once again, it’s crucial to make an evaluation based on research and review. It may be commonplace to believe that something is more expensive; therefore, it must be better. That’s not always the case. The 20 V max might cost more but don’t just buy it because of that.

Check the brand, check the features, check if the price tag is actually worth it. We advise that you compare various makes and models and then choose a reasonable cost based on what’s given.

You may find that an 18-volt cordless tool from an excellent brand is a great price, but the 20 V is overpriced. All in all, you can’t blindly choose a drill based on price alone. You need to factor in everything and make the right decision. 

Bottom line

The 18 V and 20 V cordless drills are both the same battery power. The marketing ploys choose to display them in this different manner. It’s similar to saying something is half a dozen verses saying there are six.

Since the power is the same, we should consider various other factors when choosing which drill to buy. We described weight, size, charge and run time, brand, torque, usability, accessories, and cost as a couple of ideas of what should be evaluated and compared before making a final decision. 

Ultimately, a 20-volt cordless drill will be more expensive than an 18-volt cordless drill, but that doesn’t immediately mean it’s better. After researching all the qualities of various drills and taking into consideration the numerous attributes, it is possible to find a more affordable 18 v tool that works just as well, if not better, than a 20 v drill.

Related Read — Boring vs Drilling

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