12V vs 18V Tools: Do We Need Both?

Susan Fernandez November 11 2021

Each year, we come across new tools, technologies, and innovations, but among the features, users look for are power, runtime, and tool longevity. As a whole, there are multiple circumstances that the primary tool manufacturers deliver. The performance of 18V tools runs ahead of the corded tools and has become an essential requirement for any workshop.

In this article, we'll talk about the key benefits of using 18V cordless tools and compare them with 12V tools. 

The innovation of tools spotlights the potentialities of both the 12V and the 18V tools. When we talk about the 12V vs 18V drill, both are a pleasure to work with, but it is worth noting that more power should never be a sole consideration. These tools serve the same functionalities, but which one of them is better depends on specific technical considerations when we compare both.

Power and Ergonomics of 12V vs 18V Drill

  • Power
    An 18V power tool is capable of delivering more power than the 12V tool, but it is not necessary that you need a high torque that the 18V tool delivers to get the job done. A 12V tool is excellent for the majority of woodworkers and professional installers to meet the requirement. All the credit goes to the lithium-ion technology that the current 12V power tool models perform, just like the 18V counterparts.

  • Size
    If the power tool's size is compact, you can easily take it to the critical area of work. A 12V category is mainly used in this regard, whether it is the circular saw, an impact drill, or a reciprocal saw, as it can easily be managed. The 18V toolset is bulkier and more extensive than 12V, and therefore, it cannot be carried easily everywhere.

  • Weight
    When we compare the 12V vs 18V drill, the 12V power tool is light in weight. Therefore, you can get numerous benefits when using the 12-volt tool because you can take it to the crawlspaces, attics and when working overheads with your arms extended. If you are planning to get a certain power level for the project, you must go for the 12V category tools.

Additional considerations for choosing between 12V and 18V tools

  • Charge time
    The 12V batteries can get charged much quickly because their instant charging technology reduces the gap on the 18V counterparts. It takes nearly 8 to 10 hours for a 12V battery and 12 to 16 hours for an 18V battery to get ultimately charged.

  • Run time
    The 18V models are obviously going to run for a much longer time than the 12V tools because the 12V features a smaller capacity, which is why it runs for a shorter time on each charge. Run time is a very crucial factor to consider, especially if you are looking for a continuous power supply to get the job done.

Advantages of Using 18V Cordless Tools:

  1. 18-volt drills are designed to deliver a better performance as compared to 12V models. The manufacturers pack more power in these advanced versions, which make them perfect for commercial use. These come with a runtime that is 2X to 3X higher than a 12v impact driver or drill. This means you can complete tasks much faster by using an 18v tool over a 16v-20v model. Also, due to the increased power, they do not bog down during heavy-duty tasks. Do note that these models will be bulkier and weigh more than a 16v, which isn't much of an issue if you have been using 12V tools.
  2. A number of companies have been working on lithium-ion batteries, and they have eventually managed to release these powerful batteries under the 18V platform. The performance of these batteries is way better as compared to NiCad batteries used in older tools. To add, they last 2X longer per charge, retain their power capacity even after years of usage, and can be recharged within half an hour!
  3. A modern cordless drill comes with a wide range of innovative features that make it suitable for any household or commercial use. They come packed with a keyless chuck, LED lights, brushless motors, etc., also most models are compatible with a wide range of rotary and impact accessories. On the contrary, these models come with multi-grip trigger designs that help you work for longer durations without straining your hands.
  4. Yes, 18V cordless tools are not cheap as compared to 12V models, but they deliver better performance and increased tool longevity. If you have been using 12v tools so far, stepping up to 18V won't be a bad idea!

Advantages of Using 12V Cordless Tools:

  1. One of the main reasons why people prefer 12V tools is because they start at a lower price point than their 18V counterparts. These tools also weigh less and come with an ergonomic design that makes them easier to hold. This means you can complete your drilling or driving tasks within a shorter timeframe without causing fatigue. With these tools, you can drill in tight spaces that are hard to reach with an 18v model. Do note that most 12v cordless drills do not have rechargeable batteries and require 2+ hours to recharge even when they are fully drained.
  2. Another advantage of using 12V tools is space efficiency. These models come with compact designs, which makes them portable enough to carry anywhere you want. 18V cordless drills are bulky and heavy, so you may not be able to work on small projects with these models. If portability is one of the key requirements for you, then opting for a 12V model would be the best choice!

If you are a professional, opting for an 18V cordless drill is a great idea. These tools deliver increased performance and tool life as compared to 12v drills, so they can handle any task thrown at them. If you have been using 12V tools so far, upgrading to 18V would be a smart move!

On the other hand, if you have been using corded tools all your life and recently started using cordless ones, using a 12V model won't be a bad choice. The lower price point makes these drills affordable even when on a tight budget and most of them come with powerful NiCad batteries that can last up to 3X longer per charge. So, if you are just starting out on your DIY journey, these models would be ideal for you!

Final Verdict

The 12V tools are the smaller ones that target two different types of consumers. First of all, they can be pretty appealing for those who want to do everything themselves and don't intend to buy anything other than a drill. When comparing the 12V vs 18V drill, the 18V platform is for experienced professionals. 

The majority of users prefer to keep both tools, as the 12V tools are used to supplement the 18V tools when they have to choose ergonomics over additional power.

Note: If you have been using cordless tools for years now, upgrading to an 18V model won't be a bad idea. These come with increased power and better torque delivery as compared to 12v models. On the other hand, if portability is what matters most for you, then opting for a 12V model will be the best choice!