corded power tools vs cordless power tools

A Guide to Choosing Corded and Cordless Power Tools

Choosing power tools can be quite daunting, especially if funds are limited or you’re not quite sure what to get. Having to choose between corded or cordless only adds to the difficulty, so I made a simple guide to help you choose between corded and cordless power tools.

One of the first and most important things many ask is about price, so we’ll let you determine that for yourself as you know better than I do what your budget is, or what you’re willing to spend to get the results you need.

Should I Buy a Corded or Cordless Power Tool?

Whether you choose to buy a corded or cordless power tool really depends on a few different factors, so getting those sorted out first will definitely help you determine which option best suits your needs. Some of these considerations are:

  • How frequently you will use the power tool
  • How long you need the power tool to last during each use
  • The portability you need from the tool
  • The cost involved for both the tool and any extra needed components and/or accessories
  • The performance of the power tool type

At my old cabinet shop, we had a variety of both types of tools. For some tasks, using a corded tool was either impossible or downright annoying or impractical, such as when I would hang cabinet doors, screw together face frames, or actually set cabinets on-site. Using a battery-powered, portable tool was definitely the way to go in these situations.

Other times however, having the nonstop, ever-on readiness and power of the corded tools was more than convenient. I most often used these tools where long hours of continuous work was needed, such as nailing cabinets together, sanding surfaces, or ripping large pieces of plywood or particle board.

I decided to focus on a few key power tools which you might be considering and then you can decide which you believe will best suit your tastes. I will also briefly cover air compressor choices and batteries. The points are:

  1. The corded or cordless power drill
  2. The corded or cordless impact wrench
  3. The corded or cordless nail gun
  4. The corded or cordless circular saw
  5. Electric air compressors vs. gas air compressors
  6. Cordless power tool batteries

Corded or Cordless Power Drill?

In buying a drill, you want to consider that there are corded and cordless power drills. A corded power drill of course provides a more reliable and consistent power supply; you would not have to stop in the middle of the work to charge a battery.

The trade-off is lack of mobility. A cordless power drill, on the other hand, provides more mobility by not restricting you to the length of a cord. Interestingly enough, a corded drill tends to be lighter because it has no internal battery.

You would also want to consider the power you need. Are you a mechanic or an occasional handyman? Also, a higher voltage cordless drill would almost always mean a bigger and heavier battery.

Corded or Cordless Impact Wrench?

While drills are a more common tool, any experienced DIYer knows that having an impact wrench in the shed is a wise idea. Also known as impactors, impact guns, air guns and torque guns, the impact wrench is incredibly versatile.

Suitable for a wide range of tasks, buying an impact wrench is a sure fire way to speed up your work. They are perfect for quickly swapping a tire, or loosening rusted nuts and bolts.

When it comes to types, it really depends on your needs. If most of the work you do is in the garage, then a corded impact wrench is fine. If you tend to be out and about, then a cordless impact wrench is a must.

Corded or Cordless Nail Gun?

The type of nail guns can vary with their power source. The kind of work you’ll do, whether it be heavy duty or continuous, will affect the kind of nail gun you’ll require.

A pneumatic nail gun utilizes air pressure from an air compressor to drive nails into walls. The pressure coming from the air compressor can be lessened if you use the nail gun in conjunction with other pneumatic power tools.

Make sure that the air compressor can handle the combined load. If it can’t, that will result in less pressure and less effective equipment. Further, the mobility of the pneumatic nail gun is limited by the fact that it needs both an air hose and an air compressor to work.

There is also the cordless, fuel-driven nail gun. As its name suggests, it uses combustion to drive nails into place. This type of nail gun does not rely as much in battery power like its electrically powered cousins. It has a gas chamber and a battery that provides the spark to ignite the gas.

It is best not to use this continuously as to avoid overheating and accidental burning. You should also make sure that the gas chamber is not leaking, especially when your equipment is old and worn out.

No cords are required, giving the user mobility. A gas-powered nail gun can be powerful enough to for heavy duty jobs, unlike electrically-powered nail guns.

Lastly, there is the battery powered nail gun. It has no cord but of course relies on charging more than the gas powered nail gun does. It also tends to be less powerful than pneumatic nail guns. It is best for non-continuous, light to medium work.

Corded or Cordless Circular Saw?

You should choose corded circular saws over cordless ones for tough jobs like cutting steel or masonry. They are also better than cordless cutting saws for long and continuous cutting.

Cordless circular saws are, of course, more convenient – especially if you work in areas where the use of a cord presents a difficulty. They also tend to be smaller and more compact than their corded counterparts.

Cordless circular saws can also cut through metal, but that is an extra effort for the equipment and for the battery, causing the battery to drain faster. Thus, cordless circular saws are best for intermittent or short-term wood cutting.

Corded Electric or Gas Air Compressor?

Air compressors, like nail guns, are either electrically powered or gas powered type. The place where you will most likely use them is a good factor in determining what type of air compressor you might want.

Electric compressors are more common and require less maintenance than their gasoline powered cousins. They are more commonly used indoors. A portable electric compressor needs an extension cord, which limits mobility.

Gas-powered air compressors are a better choice for doing outdoor work, and they tend to have more power and generate more PSI than electric ones.

Cordless Power Tool Batteries

In buying cordless power tools, one of the main things to consider is the battery that comes along with them – or the batteries that you have to buy separately to be able to use these tools.

Lithium-ion batteries are a good start. They are expensive, but you can get the most charge for your money provided you do the following:

  1. Do not let the battery drain completely; charge it frequently.
  2. Avoid storing them in extremely cold or extremely hot places, as this shortens their life span.
  3. Use them frequently, as letting them sit for long periods will also shorten their lifespan.

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