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12 Volt Vs 18 Volt Vs 20 Volt Cordless Drill | Differences & Comparison

Cordless drills come with batteries having different configurations. The voltage of the battery can be anything among 12V, 18V, and 20V. In this article, I am going to compare 12 volt vs 18 volt vs 20 volt cordless drill. It will be an important read for the persons who are in confusion regarding which variant will be suitable for them.

If you usually carry out simple projects at home, it is not wise to get a powerful heavy-duty tool. To ensure the maximum value out of your money, it is necessary to choose the tool rightly.

18 volt vs 20 volt power tool – are they any different?

Both of the power tools have batteries with the same arrangement. The battery has five unit cells having the nominal voltage of 3.6V each. Therefore, when you multiply 5 with this 3.6 volts, you get the total voltage of 18. This is the nominal voltage. But the maximum voltage that the unit cell can give is around 4 volts. Therefore, multiplying it with 5, we get 20 volts. It is the maximum voltage rating of the battery. Therefore, the construction of an 18 volt and a 20-volt battery is no different.

The voltage rating declaration may vary from location to location. For example, in the United States, you will find power tools with 20-volt max batteries. The manufacturers use to sell the same tool in Europe just changing the naming of voltage rating to 18 V. In Europe, the market trend is 18 volt, not 20-volt max.

Before I go into deep, I want to unveil a secret that many of you do not know.

12 volt vs 18 volt vs 20-volt comparison


It is generally equivalent to the voltage. More voltage will give you higher power if the motor amperage is the same. Therefore, a 12V cordless toll is the least and the 20V tool is the most powerful. Less power does not necessarily mean that drill can not perform regular jobs. Today’s lithium-ion technology will give you an output of 20-volt drill in a 12-volt compact tool. A light-duty technician or a carpenter should choose a 12-volt drill as the nature of the job needs a little to moderate power. For more powerful and heavy-duty projects, 18 or 20 volt machine is a better deal.


Speed and torque constitute the power of a drill. Therefore, it is not always true that a powerful drill has higher torque. But in general, if you want higher torque for heavy-duty operations, then a powerful tool is recommended. For example, wireless drills with 20-volt batteries usually have the highest torque. Therefore, these are more appropriate for objects like concrete and stone.

Size and weight

If we compare the size among the 12, 18, and 20-volt cordless drills, then the 12 volt one is the most compact. The size of an 18v and 20v drill is comparable. Therefore, if you are working with objects such as angular furniture, then a 12-volt drill is better for you.

As the size of a 20 volt drill is the most, therefore, it is the heaviest among the three. If you are a technician or electrician who needs to travel a lot, then a compact and the lightweight 12-volt tool will be suitable for you. However, if the power is your concern, then you can choose between 20v or 18v.

Other important features of a 12V, 18V and 20V cordless drill

Battery Capacity

There is no limitation that a battery with a lower voltage will necessarily be of lower capacity ( AH). But as the drill with 12 v battery is smaller, it has a battery with less juice (AH). Usually, you will find batteries of 12 volts with a capacity of around 2 AH. But 18 volt or 20-volt batteries have a wide range of capacity – from around 5 Ah to 9 AH. Capacity indicates the total charge. More capacity will allow the tool to run for a longer time. Therefore, if you want a longer run time, then you should choose a battery with a higher capacity.

Is the run time of a 12 V cordless drill lower than a 20 V drill? Not necessarily. Although the capacity of a 12 V battery is lower than that of a 20 V or 18 V one, the motor amperage is also lower for a 12-volt tool. Therefore, it will consume a lower current than that of a motor of a 20-volt drill. The runtime for a smaller drill will be lower but not proportionately lower than that of a 20-volt drill. If you are a professional, then I would suggest you keep a backup battery. When the main battery will get exhausted, you can continue working with the spare one.

Charging time

A power tool with 12-volt battery will charge faster than the tool having a battery of 18 V or 20 V. The reason is simple. Because of the higher capacity, larger batteries need a longer time to get fully charged. Therefore, when you are using multiple spare batteries for a long project, then this feature becomes vital.


A 12-volt drill contains a battery with the least capacity. It is the smallest as well. Therefore, as we expected, it will cost you the least. The other variants will cost you almost similar according to the AH rating of the battery.

12-Volt Cordless Drill – Appropriate application

If you do such a job where you need to hold the drill for a long period, then a 12-volt tool will be preferred choice as it is lighter. When you need to hold the drill above your head, it creates a lot of pressure on the shoulder. On the other hand, projects where you will have to work against angles, need a smaller and lighter cordless drill. In such cases, a 12-volt drill will be a perfect selection.


  1. Compactness is the prime advantage of a 12 volt cordless drill. Therefore, it is the preferred choice for mobile contractors and technicians.
  2. These are relatively inexpensive.
  3. A 12-volt drill is suitable for drilling or driving objects that are angular in shape.


  1. Less battery capacity is a constraint of a 12-volt drill. Therefore, you can not work for a longer time with it.
  2. These are less powerful. Therefore, these are not suitable for demolishing hard materials such as stones.

18-Volt or 20-volt Cordless Drill – Appropriate application

If you need power, then a 20-volt cordless drill is an obvious choice. Other than power, it will give you constant power supply for a long time. Therefore, projects where you need to work with the drill for long, need a drill with higher capacity like these.


  1. 18 or 20-volt cordless drills are powerful. These are capable of producing higher torque and rotation. Therefore, these are suitable for demolishing and heavy-duty projects.
  2. Higher battery capacity is a great advantage of a 20-volt tool. You will not go out of juice in a very short period like a 12-volt counterpart.
  3. Higher AH gives you a consistent torque.


  1. A 20 or 18-volt cordless drill is heavier compared to a 12-volt counterpart.
  2. These are relatively expensive.

Our recommended models

DEWALT 20V MAX Cordless Drill

DEWALT 20V MAX Cordless Drill

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It is one of the most popular 20-volt max cordless drills in the market. The weight of this unit is relatively lower than other comparable models. It weighs only 2.6 lbs. The brushless motor will give you longer battery life and runtime. Along with the main battery, you will get a spare battery with it. Therefore, there is no fear of running out of juice. The maximum torque of this unit is 500 inch-pound that is excellent. It has an in-built illumination system. Therefore, you can work conveniently in darker places.

Bosch PS32-02 12V Cordless Drill Driver

Bosch 12 volt PS32-02 Cordless Drill Driver

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A good example of a 12 volt compact and portable drill is Bosch PS32-02. It has a maximum speed of 1300 rpm. The weight of this unit is only 2 pounds. It includes 2 gear and 21 clutch settings. Therefore, there is a variety of options to customize the torque following the type of job. The maximum torque of this unit is 180 inch-pounds. Therefore, it is suitable for light-duty projects.

Bottom line

I think now you have gathered sufficient knowledge from the comparison among the 12 volt, 18 volt, and 20-volt cordless drills. Big numbers on the specification are not always good for you. Therefore, when you are choosing the right cordless drill for you, you should first study the kind of job you are going to use it. If you purchase a 20-volt drill for a light project, it will be a waste. Therefore, educate yourself and decide wisely.