Friday, December 11, 2009

Cordless Drill-Drivers

I recently wore out the battery on my old 12v Black & Decker Drill/Driver. It wouldn't hold charge and after 5 years good service it was no surprise and was pleased that it lasted so long!

The search for a replacement was pretty urgent as I had a few bit's of flat-pack furniture to put together and wanted a pretty fast decision after some basic research on the choices.

I briefly considered buying a replacement battery for the drill, a quick search found one on Amazon for £32. Though I did have to ponder briefly if the drill had the life left in it to justify this, when for not much more I could buy a new drill/driver. add this to the fact the last few times I'd used the drill it was starting to smell a little like the brushes were burning out, so my decision for a new toy was made a bit easier!

When deciding on a budget I was allowing myself about double the cost of a replacement battery. Considering whether I'd really be using it often enough for me to consider buying the higher quality, more professional models or stay within a reasonable budget. I don't tend to do a lot of DIY, and powertools scare me a little after having accidentally drilled right through my finger once! (full story)

So my spec was really for the qualities of a driver, over that of a drill as I didn't intend to be doing too much drilling. Also, I was quite keen to look at battery options, as I essentially fried the battery in my previous Black & Decker by leaving it on charge for too long, too often so ideally looking for a fast charge time.

I compared the specs of the following Bosch PSR 960 & 300LI, Draper 71385, Dewalt DC740KA, RYOBI LSD1202PB which were all within my price range.

Bosch PSR 960- current price £44.99 from Amazon or £41.83 from
Rated 9.6v, 5 torque settings, drill spec of 14mm wood, 8mm steel, max rpm 550, charge time 3 hours.

This does seem to be much more of a casual cordless driver than a drill. The capacity of a 9.6v battery and a 3hour charge time makes it pretty impractical for any extended work. Though perhaps worth considering due to it's relatively small size and weight, but not the best out there if this is what you want in a cordless drill/driver.

Bosch PSR 300LI - Current price £35.88 from Amazon or £55.71 from Tooled-Up
Rated 10.8v, 10 torque settings, drill 10mm wood, 6mm steel, max rpm 400, charge time 5hours!

Again, much more of a casual cordless driver than a drill.
Surprisingly lower drilling specifications than the PSR960. Though for casual use the Lithium Ion* battery is a distinct advantage over the PSR960, although charge times may be longer, the battery is far lighter and suffers from no memory effect and minimal self-discharge.

Draper 71385 - Current price £25.17 from Amazon, £26.95 from Tooled-Up
Rated 14.4v, 17torque settings, drill 10mm steel, 20mm wood, max rpm 550, charge time 3-5hours.

You may think with a higher voltage you'd get something with more ability to drill, though the spec's seem better, try drilling steel with a top speed of 550RPM and you'll get bored pretty quickly. The torque settings seem impressive for a cordless driver, but for a cordless drill the max rpm is a little woeful. Add that to the long charge time, it's definitely a no for me. And that's without even taking into account the colour & style of this drill, it looks more like an accessory for a fancy dress Bob the Builder outfit than a serious tool!

Dewalt DC740KA - Current price £71.90 from Amazon, £99.90 & £74.99 from Tooled-Up*
(* 2 prices from tooled-up as 2 items have same name/spec, but slightly different looks, the £99 one is identical to the amazon offering)
Rated 12v, 14 torque settings, drill wood 25mm, steel 10mm, max rpm 1200, charge time 1hour, 2x batteries.
This model is definitely getting nearer to a pro model, though the above prices are heavily discounted from the RRP of about £200, this is quite a bargain currently. The other huge advantage this has over the previous drill/drivers reviewed is it comes with 2 battery packs, meaning you can use it quite intensively and with a 1 hour charge time you could quite possibly use it all day! Along with the much higher drill speed this is also a true Drill/Driver combo and will perform drilling tasks with relative ease in comparison to previous cordless models reviewed.

RYOBI LSD 1202PB - Current Price £79.95 from Amazon, £59.95 from Tooled-Up
Rated 12v (lithium ion), no torque settings!, drill wood 20mm, steel 10mm, max rpm 500, charge time 45mins, 2x batteries.

Now this floated my boat for a number of reasons, the 2 Lithium Ion batteries and 45minute charge time makes this a great choice for light household tasks that only need doing every couple of months to spending all day assembling flatpack furniture due to the fast recharge time, charge retention in storage and two battery packs.

So after a bit of deliberation I decided the 2 choices were the Dewalt or the RYOBI. As I don't really intend to do much drilling and if I do, I can always fall back on the trusty 240v B&D hammer drill if needed I was swinging more towards the RYOBI. The Lithium Ion* battery on the RYOBI was the final thing to swing me, as earlier mentioned, LI batteries are the dogs
gonads, and in a few years they will be the standard replacement for most devices currently using NiCad.

The order from Tooled-Up arrived within 48hours, and I was pretty happy with the compactness of the driver, and it's comfort.
The only drawback I have found with it is - the lack of a variable torque control, why it doesn't have one is a slight mystery, but it hasn't presented me with any problems and I suppose I don't actually need this feature too badly either.

It's been a while since I've had any new 'toys' to review, though hopefully this will change in the near future and I'll be able to share more views, reviews and opinions on a wide range of gadgets.

*Lithium Ion is definitely one of the specifications I personally require as I want to be able to get the drill out of the cupboard and be able to use it straightaway without having to put it on charge. Also the lack of 'memory' means it can be fully charged each time,
a problem I did find my old B&D suffered after time.

Also, I'd be quite happy to recommend Tooled-Up if you were looking for DIY or Pro power tools. I received an excellent service, got a great bargain, and their website was a breeze to navigate and order from.