Cordless tools offer all sorts of benefits that make them easier to use. Portability, varying voltages, and the ability to switch out a battery whenever you need to are undeniably useful advantages. However, there are many different opinions when it comes to the voltage of battery-powered tools.
It depends on the task you’re using the tool for. If you want something with more torque for a tougher job, then a higher voltage is a better solution. However, lower voltage offers superb energy savings that you can’t get with higher voltage.
Throughout this article, you’ll find all of the answers that you’re looking for when it comes to the voltage of cordless power tools, including:
- Do you need high or low voltage tools?
- The pros and cons of both options
- How to define voltage, AH, and current
- How to get the most out of your cordless power tools
Do You Need a High Voltage for Your Cordless Tools?
High voltage in a power tool translates to higher torque. Torque makes it easier for you to use greater force without putting as much strain on the battery. When you’re using shears or any other power tool that needs plenty of torque, you’ll need a higher voltage to get the job done.
On the other hand, you don’t need as much power when you’re using a power drill for a small task. For example, drilling into softwood isn’t too challenging. You can take a 12V drill and get everything done without a problem.
The issue is that you might need a higher voltage for some jobs than you do with others. If you’re always working on various projects, it might be a good idea to get both. After all, what’s the point of using incredibly powerful torque to cut into a piece of plywood? You’d just be wasting battery life, and you might even slice through it too quickly.
The best way to know whether or not you need high voltage power tools is to figure out what you’ll be working with. People in the construction business or those who are always using tools around the house on durable materials might want to consider a set of high-voltage equipment.
On the other hand, if you want a cordless toolset to have on-hand if you ever happen to run into a repair situation, low-voltage tools are definitely worth looking at.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both options, so let’s dive into the details in the next section to determine which is meant for you.
The Pros and Cons of High/Low Voltage Battery-Powered Tools
Contrary to popular belief, bigger doesn’t always mean better. There’s no need to spend more money and charge a battery more often if you don’t need to.
Without further ado, here are the pros and cons of both choices:
Pros of High Voltage Cordless Tools
- More voltage means more torque. If you’re facing a variety of tough tasks, you’ll need the power that comes with high voltage tools (20V+).
- You can never get too big of a battery. If it’s too powerful, you can lower its output and use it to work on even the smallest jobs.
- Certain tools won’t even work without a high voltage. There’s no point in getting a tool if it can’t even perform its function!
Cons of High Voltage Cordless Tools
- Power tools that come with a high voltage typically cost a lot more money than tools with a low voltage.
- If weight is an issue for you, then you might not want to deal with the heavy nature of these types of cordless tools.
- Although it’s not always the case, batteries with a high voltage can be drain quicker, and they also take longer to charge.
Pros of Low Voltage Cordless Tools
- Low voltage cordless tools will almost always be cheaper. Spare batteries are also less expensive.
- The overall size of a tool with low voltage means that you can fit them into smaller spaces than you could with a higher voltage.
- You can quickly charge a cordless tool with a low voltage in under an hour, in most cases.
Cons of Low Voltage Cordless Tools
- Having a lower voltage means that you won’t be able to take on heavy-duty jobs. Unfortunately, they don’t have enough torque.
- If you’re using torque that’s too low without stopping, you can strip a screw.
- Removing screws and other errors is challenging when you’re using cordless tools that have a lower voltage.
Defining Voltage, Amperage, & Current
If you don’t know all of the terms used with electricity and power tools, then it’s time to learn the basics.
Voltage simply refers to the power that’s generated when you squeeze the trigger of the tool. You won’t always get 20 volts from a 20-volt tool, because the rating is set for optimal conditions. However, it’s safe to say that you’ll pull between 16 to 20 volts.
The electric current of a power tool is exactly what it sounds like: it’s the amount of electricity moving through the tool as it’s being used. As you use up the battery life in your tool, the current may or may not drop, depending on the make and model. The current directly impacts the torque, which is influenced by the voltage.
Finally, amperage is easiest to discuss by using the unit that it’s measured in Amp-hours (AH).
The AH of a power tool determines how long it’ll last while it’s being used. When the trigger is squeezed, and the current starts to flow, the AH slowly begin to drain. Knowing the AH of a tool (or any other piece of electrical equipment) will tell you how long it’ll last.
Getting the Most Out of Your Battery-Powered Cordless Tools
Battery-powered tools used to not be nearly as powerful and reliable as they are these days. Fortunately, many advancements have made them equally as useful as their corded counterparts. The only tether of a cordless tool is the battery.
Follow these three tips to get the most out of your cordless equipment:
- Buy a spare battery or two. Having an extra interchangeable battery that’s always charged will prevent you from having to stop in the middle of a task to recharge.
- Always charge the battery completely, and use it until it’s completely drained. Many batteries are subject to the battery memory effect, which uses each charging cycle as an indicator of how long the battery should last. If you charge it to 80% each time, the battery will start to “think” that 80% is a max charge.
- Change your batteries every two to three years. After that, they start to drain much quicker, and you won’t get much use out of them.
Cordless tools are undoubtedly convenient to have. Without a cord to drag around, you can use them wherever you go. Always remember to charge your batteries and have an extra ready to go.
Here are a few of the key takeaways from this post:
- Higher voltage isn’t always better. Refer to the guide to figure out what you need.
- Tools with a low voltage are lightweight, more affordable, and less powerful than high voltage tools.
- More voltage means more torque, which comes out to more power for challenging jobs.
- Voltage is the max possible power, the current is the power as it’s being used, and Amp-hours is how long a tool can last while it’s running.