Munich. Your daughter is moving into a flatshare with other students; you're finally getting round to showing off your holiday photos on the wall; you're embracing a return to vinyl and have bought a shelf to hold your records. All of these situations require a reliable and handy multi-tool – a cordless drill driver. TÜV SÜD's product pros reveal what to look out for when choosing and using a cordless drill driver.
With or without? Cordless tools can be operated without power outlets and extension cords, but deliver less power than their corded counterparts. Before choosing a tool you should therefore think about what you will use the drill driver for. If you intend to use it mainly for light work in your home or garden, a cordless drill driver designed for DIYers may well meet all your requirements. However, DIYers working frequently on materials such as metal will be better served by a mains drill driver. The mains power supply unit can feed in more current, ensuring the drill driver has always enough power. Drill drivers powered by rechargeable batteries, by contrast, are less powerful. Do you plan to build a new house or extensively renovate your flat in the near future? In this case, consider buying a semi-professional or professional tool.
Powerful or more powerful? Drill drivers with independent power units are available in various classes – from 3.6 to 18 volt. The 3.6-volt models are ideal for DIYers that want to drive small screws – up to 4x40mm – or put together furniture. However, many of these models have drill chuck adapters with a square drive, making it impossible to fasten a drill bit. 7.2-volt and 10.8-volt models are starter tools suitable for light DIY jobs. Due to their compact design they can be used for work even in hard-to-reach areas. 18-volt models can handle all types of work from screwdriving to drilling.
Heavier or lighter? Ergonomic aspects also play a role in the purchase decision. The ideal cordless drill driver is not too heavy, with good weight distribution. Before buying a drill driver check whether the tool feels light and comfortable to hold. For maximum flexibility, the tool should be suitable for a broad range of drill diameters – ideally from 1 to 13 millimetres. A quick-change chuck is imperative, as is a variety of torque settings that can be preselected to drive a range of different screws into various types of wood. For drilling and driving at different speeds on various types of materials, the tool must come with a gear selector
Large or larger? No deep discharge, little deterioration in capacity even after longer periods, ready to use immediately after unpacking and first charging, and longer life spans in general – lithium-ion batteries offer various advantages. However, the battery must offer not only the right technology, but also the right capacity. Depending on the size of the tool, the capacity should be 1100 to 1300 mAh (milliamp-hour).
Good or not good? Even the best lithium-ion battery is useless if the motor and the transmission are not aligned to each other. However, this is next to impossible for users to find out – like the typical combination of defects featuring poor motor, poor gear ratio plus poor battery. TÜV SÜD's experts advise consumers to look out for branded products and products with certification marks instead of going for low-price products.
Octagon or GS mark? Safety, sustainability, power and good usability are some of the features indicated by the GS mark (Tested Safety) and the TÜV SÜD Octagon, which provide guidance on the often complex market of cordless drill drivers.
More or less? Power, ergonomics and labels are all in order – what else needs to be considered? As a minimum, the drill driver should come in a case in which the tool, charger and drill bits can be safely stowed and transported together. For longer working periods, a second battery is advisable. After use, the drill driver should always be cleaned in accordance with the manufacturer's specifications. This is best done with a damp cloth. Spray water might damage the electronics, while compressed air may force dust inside the machinery.