Drills 12v vs 14.4v


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Established Member
27 Jul 2003
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Nottingham, England
Hi all

When Popular Woodworking did a recent review of drill/drivers http://www.popularwoodworking.com/featu ... s.0203.pdf they reinforced their opinion that 12 volts is more than enough power for every task in a woodshop.

Is 12v enough for you or do you use 14.4 or 18v?

Let's start you off, I use 14.4v having jumped from 9.6v missing out 12v. So I can't really compare 12v to 14.4v.

VOLTAGE IS NOT A MEASURE OF POWER. In electrical terms power is measured by multiplying the voltage by the current. The voltage ratings of cordless drills says nothing about the power they are able to produce. The test would be to measure the current while the machine is under load. Even then one would know little about the power that was actually being produced at the business end.

Quick test of whether voltage alone means anything, consider the voltage of the starter motor in a Bentley Turbo- 12volts. Would an 18v DeWalt (or any other make) turn over that engine, no

I'm a full time professional woodworker (kitchens) and my 12v Metabo copes easily with my requirements

Ah - I've just posted under "The Winner" thread. Didn't see this. If anyone wants to have a look there for my query I'd be much obliged...

Curently I use two drills for everyday work - the Bosch 9.6V for driving (which I HIGHLY recommend at around £100 - an excellent drill that has lasted me well for over 10 years) and a Richmond 14.4v for driving which I'm can't say anything particulary prasieworthy about - it does the job but isn't an especially good drill IMO.

I definitely notice the difference in power between the two - the Bosch won't stand up to most of my everyday drilling jobs and I reckon I need at least 14.4v.
My brother recently bought the Dewalt 18v drill, unadvised, and based moslty on it being yellow and 18v as far as I can tell. It certainly has a lot of power, but any more than a 14.4v???? Hard to tell.

Hey John - got your keyboard stuck on Caps there!

Voltage may not be power technically, but my 14.4v can drive screws into hardwood all day and my 9.6v can't. So for the sake of this forum, I'll carry on using the word *power* to indicate a drill with more driving force. If that's OK with you!

Aragorn":ecv5wof2 said:
If that's OK with you!


I can't stop you, if I could, maybe I would. Trying to measure power by reference only to voltage is like trying to measure area from just the length. It may well be that a 12 foot room is bigger than a 10 foot room, but maybe it isn't. If you were to measure the width as well then you would know for sure.

I was in a tool shop the other day and saw a 24v drill for about £40. Do you really believe that that drill is going to be more powerful than my 12v Metabo at (Axminster special offer) £110?

Even if the voltage did indicate the power, which would be the case if everything else was equal, including the Ah of the batteries, then there would still be the efficiency of the motor, gearbox and electronics to be taken into consideration.

My advice to anybody about to purchase a cordless drill- choose a brand where the manufacturer has a reputation to protect, consider the weight and balance, consider the angles at which it will be used, (maybe overhead) consider the working room (maybe used inside a cabinet), consider the price, consider the advice received from other users. All the above are far more important than the voltage

Thanks John. And I do agree with your advice.
FWIW I wasn't choosing a drill based on voltage, otherwise I'd just buy a 18v Dewalt!
I really wanted to know about the Panasonic and why it is receiving such good review.
I'm pretty set on the Festool because I will use this in confined spaces (kitchens) and will make good use of the offset chuck.
I also would like a new more "powerful" drill for all day drilling of hard and soft woods (be it 12v, 14.4v, 18v or whatever)!
Any personal recommendations appreciated.

Hi Aragorn

The Panasonic 15.6 has won every "head to head" review that I have seen where it was included. The 12v also won the Popular Woodworking review and the link is http://www.popularwoodworking.com/features/12vdrills.0203.pdf

I have used the Panny and found it to be excellent. Noel has the Panny and I quote, "Got the Panasonic 15.6v about a year ago and it just doesn't put the Dewally in the shade, it stuffs it in a pitch dark hole in the ground. There is just no comparison. The sheer ergonomics and the dynamics (ie it feels like....no - public forum).....you get the picture, I like the Panasonic."

When buying a new drill, about 9 months ago, the Panny was about 230 pounds and I just couldn't justify it to myself. I have seen it recently at about 200. I'll find the link and let you know where it is.

I looked at a lot of drills and discounted the 18v ones as too heavy and decided to go for one at 14.4. I took the yellow route as I thought it was the most competitively priced. I bought the DW957K2 and my review is

The cheapest place now for the DW957K2 is Screwfix at 135.

Thanks Neil. The panny is looking more tempting.
I agree that the 18v are too heavy and awkward.

Aragorn":3i4dgogy said:
I really wanted to know about the Panasonic and why it is receiving such good review..


I think that this is because it has a 3.2AH Nickel Metal Hydride battery rather than a 1.5-2Ah NiCad which most drills seem to have.

NiMH have many advantages over NiCad but cost quite a lot more

Also the panasonic probably has a highly developed, more efficient drive combination to allow them to blow the competition away - for a price.

Lower losses in drive system results in higher torque and longer battery life and this is coupled to a battery that has a higher energy density. I want one but they cost too much.

I strongly suspect that all battery drills could be significantly improved very easily; but the costs would shoot up which is bad business as most people do not want a suddent price hike for improved performance, they want sustained improvement for less money!!!. Improvements will be incremental but they will come.

Wait until the first Lithium Ion batteireis are used (expensive!!) and then hydrogen fuel cells which are already the emerging technology for battery replacement and already power some laptops for 4-5 times as long as an equivalent sized lithium ion battery. There has recently been a major breakthrough with this technology- so watch this space.

Thanks for the info Tony.
I ordered the Festool yesterday. I'll see how I get on with that before forking out for the Panasonic.

Hi Aragorn

This is the Rutlands write up of the Panasonic: -

"If we had to recommend a cordless drill driver , it would have to be the New Panasonic EY6431.This compact 15.6 volt drill driver with it's new ergonomic design is outstanding, and will drive over 550 x 21/2" long No 12 woodscrews on one battery charge. It now comes with two 3.5 amp hour nickel metal hydride batteries.The amp hours relate to the actual running time of the drill & 3.5 amp hours is exceptional, giving 75% more running time than the normal 2 amp hour batteries.You can ,unlike with NiCad batteries, recharge the battery even when it is not fully discharged, without risk of ruining the battery's memory.Panasonic's intelligent charges are specifically designed to maximize the life of the batteries.If the battery is too warm when you try and recharge , the charger waits until it has cooled down before charging.When fully charged the unit automatically switches off to avoid heat build up.You also have a fast 55 minute re charge period.Being one of the most compact drills at only 208mm in length & weighing only 2.2kg you can comfortable work overhead & in confined locations.The torque capacity of 44.1Nm has been tested to be stronger than 18v drills from other leading brands.The planetary gearing ensures smooth rotation & a prolonged working life.Fitted with an 18 stage clutch plus drill position, variable speed trigger control , two speed ranges and a 13mm one handed quick release chuck this is without doubt one of our finest examples of a premium quality power tool.Our choice in cordless drills.

Supplied with an intelligent charge,13mm keyless chuck,2 x 15.6V 3.5amp hour NiMh batteries,carry case"

Hi John

johnelliott":3pcrupo3 said:
You missed out the price! :roll:

On purpose. The Rutlands price is 229.95 but I'm sure that I have seen it at under 200, which would make it identical to the Festool.

Hi Aragorn

I'm sure you won't be disappointed with the Festool, their equipment is just a delight to use.

I think I saw the 12v panny at around £160+VAT at a local builders merchant (Ridgeons), but couldn't justify the price to myself, even though it came with a free electric shaver and rugby shirt. If I hadn't bought a shaver a month earlier I would probably have been tempted.

Anyway I bought a the Bosch 12v (1.3Ah batteries) pro drill for £80 from Axminster and am very happy with it. It's not much more powerful than my 9.6v Metabo, but much faster for drilling and doesn't have a broken gearbox (which may be me overloading it).

Both are far better than, and almost as powerful as the 24v Ferm I returned to Screwfix because it couldn't keep it's charge. To be fair to Screwfix, they offered a refund without me asking some 8 months after original purchase.

If I need to drill holes they can't cope with then I can use my mains drill, although that's probably heresy !!
The Festool CDD12 arrived today.
Lovely little thing! The removeable chuck is going to be really useful for getting into tight spaces, and the offset driver chuck is a god-send.

It's all solidly made and looks very robust, slightly heavier than I was expecting, but not unmanageable. I expect to get a good 10 years of heavy use out of it.


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