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Home ยป Power tools: Corded vs. Cordless

Power tools: Corded vs. Cordless

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The debate rages on: are corded or cordless power tools “better”? The answer: it’s different depending on what you use most often.

Here are the pros and cons of corded and cordless power tools.

Corded Tools

Pros:

  • Full access to power – not limited by battery voltage/capacity
  • Cheaper than cordless

Cons:

  • Bulkier and more cumbersome to maneuver
  • Need to be close to a power source
  • If the cord is damaged, you need to get the tool repaired somewhere or buy a new one

Cordless Tools

Pros:

  • Can be used away from a power source
  • Easier to maneuver, and usually smaller
  • Batteries are compatible with other tools in the same brand/product line, so batteries are mostly an upfront cost

Cons:

  • Power/usage time is limited by battery voltage/capacity; almost always less powerful/capable than corded
  • Batteries and cordless tools are usually more expensive than corded
  • Batteries wear out over time (though recent technology has improved this)
  • Brand can decide to release a new line that is not compatible with the batteries you’ve invested in
  • Batteries not cross-compatible with the products of other brands; once you’ve invested in batteries and a charger for one brand, you’d need to do the same if you want to switch brands

I think that at this point in time there are more cons for cordless. Then why do I have cordless tools, you beg to know?

Convenience. Although plugging something in is easy, there are times when I would need to get out an extension cord to drill something into a tall corner of a wall, etc. Also if I’m using multiple tools for one project, which I normally am, it’s very relieving to not have a mess of cords to trip over.

The Solution

A combination of both. I have a cordless drill, orbital sander, and jigsaw that all use the same batteries/charger because those are the 3 tools that I use most frequently, and I decided it makes sense for them to be cordless. They’re also small tools that are easy to maneuver, and the cords used to get in the way or limit my ability all the time when I had corded versions.

I don’t think cordless makes sense for other tools unless you’re a contractor or in construction and may not have access to power on the jobsite, or need to use a router in an attic or something weird. I don’t want to worry about my battery dying for larger/more power-hungry tools that I don’t use as often, like a belt sander or router. Also there is no reason for a stationary tool, like a drill press, router table, miter saw, or band saw, to be battery-powered, again unless you’re on a jobsite with limited power. For something in the middle like a circular saw, it depends on how often you use it. I use a handsaw, miter saw, or band saw when I can, so I don’t use my circular saw much.

The Bottom Line

For corded vs. cordless, it depends on how often you use the tool and how you use it. Here’s some ideas:

  • If you’re an average person doing small things around the house, a cordless drill is nice to have
  • If you’re a hobbyist/woodworker type, several cordless tools are nice to have
    • If you plan on getting more cordless tools in the future, go with a nicer brand. You’ll thank me later
  • If you’re a professional who would benefit from as few corded tools as possible, go for it and get the biggest bundle you can for the most savings

Some tips:

  • Multi-tool bundles are very cost-effective
  • Cordless tools are very discounted during the holidays. Some people even buy a handful of tool bundles during the holidays and then resell them individually the rest of the year
  • Because of the point above, you can usually find these tools for sale on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist for cheaper than in-store
    • However, if you have any issues and need to use the warranty, you’ll need to get a copy of the receipt from the seller, so this is a little more risky. But it’s how I saved like $100 on tools, and the guy gave me a copy of the receipt and I had no issues, so it’s doable

So there ya go! Sound off in the comments if you have any other thoughts.

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