The lower speed is used for drilling large holes

  • Cordless drills have changed dramatically in the last two years and the newest generation features small size, powerful motors and fast charging lithium-ion batteries. Many of today's drills are half the weight and size of the same power drill 2 years ago. Don't let your husband or father tell you otherwise, these new cordless drills will do the work you need them to do. Today's drill/drivers put enough muscle into your hand to tame even the largest jobs without wearing you out from handling them all day. Five important measures of a quality cordless drill/driver are size, torque, speed, batteries, and clutch.
    Expect to pay $80 to $100 for a quality 180 inch/lb sub compact cordless drill/driver. $150 to $220 for a quality 320 -400 inch/lb compact drill/driver and $250 and more for a quality 500 inch/lb full size cordless drill.
    SIZE - The physical size of the newest cordless drills is a lot smaller than the drills of just a year ago. The new sub-compact lithium drill/drivers weigh in at 2 lbs. The equivalent nicad powered cordless drill of just two years ago weighs in at 5.2 lbs. These new drills are easier to hold and allow you to Countersunk screws Manufacturers get into tight places. All the new drills have lights to help you see inside of closets and work in normal household lighting situations. In fact many of the newest drills will easily fit in your kitchen drawer.
    TORQUE - When I talk about a cordless drill's power, I'm really talking about how much rotational force, or torque, it produces. I am not talking about the battery voltage. This rating, in inch-pounds will help you compare one drill to the other and decide if the drill is big enough for the tasks you want it to do. 180 inch/lbs is enough power for most drilling, screwing and repair tasks around the home, 320 inch/lbs is enough for most home construction and remodeling tasks. Only consider a higher torque full size drill if you have a lot of lag bolts to set when building a deck, holes to drill in concrete, or using a large specialty attachment like a bulb auger (for planting tulip bulbs) When you're shopping for a cordless drill, read the box or go to the manufacturer's web site and look for the torque numbers on the specification page. 
    SPEED - Today's new lithium powered drills will have two or more variable speed settings. Usually a 0-600 rpm (revolutions per minute) and 1-1600 rpm. The lower speed is used for drilling large holes, driving large screws and precision tasks. The higher speed is used for drilling small holes, countersinking, and setting large numbers of smaller screws. When using your drill always start on the low speed setting and only switch to the higher speed when you get used to the task and find you can work accurately with the higher speed. Don't buy a cordless drill/driver with just one speed. The one speed is usually too slow for most tasks and many times is an indication of a cheap, low quality drill.
    BATTERIES AND CHARGERS - A few years ago, environmentally friendly nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries began replacing the popular nickel-cadmium (NiCd) cells that powered most cordless tools. Those batteries have now been replaced with the same type of battery found in your cell phone, the lithium-ion (LiIon) battery. The new lithium-ion batteries have equal or better run time, half the weight, no memory issues, and the ability to hold a full charge for more than a year while sitting in your kitchen drawer. Prices have dropped on the lithium powered tools so much that buying a NiCad is no longer worthwhile choice. You can now purchase a good, lightweight homeowner drill with a lithium-ion battery for as little as $79.00.
    Today's latest chargers are energy-star rated and are very efficient. The new chargers will also charge the batteries much faster than before. The newest chargers will charge a battery in 30 to 50 minutes. In most home repair projects one battery is all you need. With the new lithium batteries and chargers you can keep the battery fully charged and it will always be ready to work for you. For larger tasks, if you start a project with two fully-charged batteries, and always keep one on the charger, you'll be able to work constantly as the new chargers can "fill up" a depleted battery as fast as you can drain the one on the drill. You're probably not going to have wait for a battery unless you're driving screws nonstop. In my experience, when building outdoor furniture I use one drill for the pilot holes and one for putting in screws. The new chargers will charge batteries fast enough that I only have to keep one extra battery on charge and I can work constantly without having to wait on the charger.
    The cordless drill manufactures have yet to figure out that it would be beneficial to have the battery connect to the drill the same way so you could use the batteries on more than one brand, but a few retailers have developed lines of cordless tools that all work off the same battery. One manufacture has over 35 home repair and lawn and garden tools that use the same lithium battery. I personally would not even consider buying a NiMH or NiCd battery powered cordless drill anymore. Make sure you can remove the battery from the drill. There are a few cordless drills out there that have the batteries permanently attached to drill. This does not allow you to charge a battery while using the drill. This is another sign of a cheap drill.
    CLUTCH CONSISTENCY - All of the quality cordless drill/drivers will have an adjustable clutch (A set of numbers between the chuck and the body of the drill.) A clutch stops the chuck from turning when it encounters a set amount of resistance. This prevents the drill/driver from destroying the screw-head, breaking the screw, or driving it too deeply into wood. Most quality drills today have from 16 to 25 clutch settings so you can fine-tune it and set your screws to the proper depth.