Which Is Better, 12V or 18V Cordless Tools?

Michael Susong

Today's world is powered by convenience. We have cut the cord on everything from the computer to the phone. Personal power tools are no exception. Cordless tools, while having less power than their corded counterparts, offer the user more convenience. Choosing between 12-volt and 18-volt can be an important decision, so it is a good idea to understand the differences before charging ahead.


Knowing the differences will help you decide which cordless tool is right for you.

The first thing to consider when buying a cordless tool is power. Lower voltage tools generally produce less torque than higher voltage tools. Consider the size and scale of the job you are undertaking, and the density of the material you are cutting or drilling into to help you choose the tool that is correct for you. For small jobs around the house, such as drilling into drywall or small woodworking projects, 12-volt tools are a good choice; 18-volt tools are better for larger jobs with denser materials, such as the building of a deck or spare room. For those looking to do light repairs from time to time, a quality 12-volt tool is sufficient.


There is no way around it: Giving up the cord means dealing with battery packs. Both 12-volt and 18-volt cordless tools use rechargeable battery packs, which have to be replaced over time. In general, 12-volt cordless tools have smaller battery packs that charge more quickly and provide longer usage times than those for an 18-volt cordless tool. One battery charge on a 12-volt cordless tool is sufficient for most small household projects. However, multiple charges or battery packs may be necessary to work continuously with an 18-volt tool.

Weight and Portability

In most cases, 18-volt cordless tools are heavier and have larger battery packs than 12-volt tools. For small jobs around the house or in tight corners, the smaller 12-volt cordless tool may be the ideal fit, whereas the 18-volt tool might be bulky or awkward.


Which tool is the better deal depends on how you plan to use it -- and how often.

Choosing the cordless tool that is right for you can save money in the long run. Overall, 12-volt tools are usually less expensive than their 18-volt counterparts, and they use less electricity to charge. Battery packs tend to last longer on 12-volt cordless tools, and the replacements are also less expensive.