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Which Cordless Tool Ecosystem is the Best?

What is the best cordless tool brand? The short answer you don’t want to hear: there isn’t one. Everyone will tell you that one is best (probably DeWalt or Milwaukee) but the top-tier manufacturers are so competitive and similar that there is not one that is clearly better than the other. However, there may be one that’s best for you depending on price and availability at the time that you’re in the market.

Here’s what mattered to me when I was researching which line of cordless tools to invest in:

  • Cost of tools and batteries
  • Number of compatible tools (note: the image above doesn’t reflect the number of tools for each company)
  • Build quality
  • Reliability/reviews/reputation
  • Warranty length/coverage

Cordless Tool Brands

  • DeWalt, Milwaukee, Bosch, and Makita are all used widely by professionals for good reason — their quality and reputations are top-tier
    • They are also the most expensive for these reasons
    • They all have similar warranties
    • To choose between these, I honestly just chose DeWalt because I found more of their compatible tools on sale when I was in the market, and also found some for sale on Facebook Marketplace that made it the cheaper option
  • I’m unclear on where the line is between mid-range and lower-tier brands so I don’t really want to put any other brand in those categories, but it seems to go by price. Although prices can be set arbitrarily, the market is fiercely competitive, so it’s in the company’s interest to make their products affordable. It seems that you do get what you pay for
    • I noticed a distinct improvement when I upgraded from cheaper Harbor Freight/used Ryobi tools to DeWalt
  • Ridgid has a unique “lifetime service agreement” that I was interested in. People mistake it for a lifetime warranty, but that’s not what it is — they’re basically saying that if it’s past the warranty they’ll repair it at some cost to you, but I’ve heard horror stories of people’s tools being stuck in service centers for weeks or months. It’s a convoluted and weird agreement that I didn’t want to deal with
  • Ryobi seems to have the largest range of compatible tools. Unfortunately they also sacrifice power and performance for affordability. You can’t win ’em all!

The Bottom Line

It depends on what tools you need/want to be cordless. First, determine which tools you need to be cordless, then find which top-tier brand has these tools most affordably and most readily available to you.

When I decided to get some cordless tools, I figured that I use my drill, orbital sander, and jigsaw the most frequently, then I looked for the most affordable/available high-quality brand that I could find nearby for each tool, and it happened to be DeWalt at the time. I think that’s a good way to go about it.

As for bundles: you can definitely save some money with cordless tool bundles, but be careful: they want you to think you need all your tools to be cordless so you buy the 15-tool bundle, but that’s just not realistic for almost anyone. The best power tool combo kit will depend on what tools you actually need to be cordless. Check out my article on corded vs. cordless tools for more info on determining which tools should be cordless.

For Occasional Use

If you use tools mostly for small things around the house occasionally, I think Ryobi is the way to go because of their huge selection of compatible tools and accessories. I also like Craftsman as a brand but haven’t used any of their newer products.

For Frequent Use

If you use tools frequently, I recommend investing in DeWalt, Milwaukee, Bosch, or Makita depending on which have the tools you need available nearby for the cheapest prices. Check out their range of compatible tools if you’re thinking you may want some of your other tools to be cordless down the road.

If you want me to pick for you, I’m happy with my DeWalt tools and recommend them! Check my reviews of my DeWalt tools for more info.

Now tell me you hate me in the comments!

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