12v vs 18v Drill | What is the Difference?

At a first glance, it may appear that 12-volt and 18-volt cordless drills are basically identical. They work in pretty much the same way and handle most projects with ease.

But when you look more closely at these two tools there are some significant differences to consider, especially if you’re in the market for a new drill or just want to know more about what’s available today.

For this reason, we’re going to take a long hard look at both these choices so that you can make an informed buying decision and really get the drill that best suits your needs. You’ll see how people who use their drills regularly or work on heavy-duty projects find much greater benefit in using the higher voltage.

What is a Cordless Drill?

A cordless drill is a battery-powered handheld tool that rotates a bit much like an electric screwdriver or a power ratchet. These tools make work easier by eliminating the need for wire connectors and making it possible to work anywhere there’s an outlet available.

Both 12v and 18v drills operate on direct current (DC) also known as single-phase alternating current (AC). This means that electricity flows back and forth between two poles rather than reversing direction continuously, as with other varieties of AC such as three-phase power supply systems used in motors.

The main benefit of this type of current is that it transfers electricity more efficiently from the wall plug to your drill’s motor, which makes these kinds of drills very lightweight.

Differences Between 12v and 18v Drills

While they may both look similar, there are significant differences in their construction and operation, especially when it comes to their voltages or “power ratings”.

A 12-volt drill delivers a maximum torque of 0.1-foot-pounds while a much better 18-volt drill can achieve up to 3-foot pounds of torque, which means it’s able to handle bigger projects and tougher materials.


This higher voltage power supply also allows for longer battery life, which is really going to come in handy if you use your cordless tool regularly or work on heavy-duty projects.

But the thing that most people overlook when making their final decision is the number of amps available with each type of drill. This isn’t something easily discernible from looking at drill specifications and this is because it’s directly related to the voltage.

You see, amps are literally just another term for current flow. In other words, how much electricity your drill can handle before you need to recharge its battery or swap out a depleted one with a fresh one.

Thus if we look at the facts, it becomes clear that even though both types of drills have similar torque ratings they actually offer very different levels of performance when used by someone who works with them regularly or tends to work on larger projects.

A heavy-duty 18-volt drill will let you drive even large diameter screws into tough decking material without bogging down while its 12-volt drill would leave them sticking halfway through the wood. This leads us to our consideration of the other characteristics these drills have that can affect performance, which include their weight and size.

If you find yourself doing large-scale outdoor work regularly, then go for a heavy-duty 18-volt drill. However, if you’re going to use your drill mostly for small indoor projects then a cheaper 12-volt drill will suffice.

The good news is that there are many types of the same drills available on the market and both sets offer different features so it’s easy to find one which fits your needs and works with your budget as well.

Battery Pack

Even though they have much more power at their disposal, 18v drills tend to come along with bigger and heavier battery packs than 12v drills. If you don’t mind handling such a device all day while working hard then getting one shouldn’t be a problem.

But if you prefer something lighter in weight, there are still many suitable options available that will work just as well without putting too much strain on your wrists and shoulders.

This is yet another area where we need to remind ourselves that just like with any type of tool, the heavier the part that will be made or operated by it, then naturally so would be the weight of both its motor and battery.

This is particularly important to consider if you plan on using your drill for extended periods at a time while still being able to bring it up from the floor without huffing and puffing.

In addition to this, most 18-volt drills have motors that are 2 times more powerful than those in 12v drills. This allows them to handle larger projects with ease without slowing down their user’s progress and leaving them frustrated due to slower drilling speeds or having to recharge too often during use.


Therefore, if you regularly work on huge outdoor projects with power tools then the extra wattage you will get from choosing a model with 18v battery packs and motors will come in handy, allowing you to finish your work faster while still maintaining a quick pace of progress.

So, if you plan on doing such undertakings regularly then look for models which offer strong motors at higher voltage ratings.

This would ensure that even though they are heavier than 12-volt drills, their weight is justified by increased strength and endurance. If we’re talking about indoor projects instead, however, then this doesn’t apply so much as long as the tool itself isn’t too heavy for you.

Since most indoor tasks involve drilling holes or driving screws into light materials like wood or plastic, high voltage drills aren’t needed because the torque which is transmitted from the motor to your hands will be mostly enough to get things done.

This means that if you prefer to use your drill for indoor projects only then a lightweight 12-volt drill would be good enough. This also keeps the cost of the overall purchase low because with lower voltage ratings and less powerful motors, cheaper batteries are needed as well which in turn reduces their weight even further.

In fact, some of today’s models come in at just over 5 pounds without having to worry about sacrificing any performance due to increased power output or bulkier designs.