Should You Buy Cordless Tools?

The question of whether to buy cordless tools or corded tools used to be a simple one. Cordless tools were expensive and under powered. People bought cordless tools because the low power was acceptable and the need for portability was high. The first cordless tools commonly found were power drills. Soon, other tools became cordless as well. Nowadays nearly every power tool comes in a cordless form, with some corded models disappearing. Good luck finding a high quality impact driver that is corded! The question remains, should you buy cordless tools over their corded counterparts? Hopefully this article will help you to be able to make this decision.

It is important to understand that this answer has been changing over time. Modern battery technology has advanced to the point where some cordless tools are being marketed as superior to their corded counterparts. Depending on when you are reading this, you may find that the facts have changed. In general the trend has been that product development has focused on improving the cordless tools while the corded tools remain unchanged. There have been advancements in the larger tools, demolition hammers and the like, but they are the outliers. The reciprocating saws you buy today are the same as they were 10 or 20 years ago if they are corded.

Determining whether to buy corded will vary with the type of tool. Bear in mind that price plays a big role in this decision. A quality cordless drill and driver set starts at $100, with sets going up to and beyond $300. There are improvements to overall quality, performance, durability, capabilities, and battery life as your budget increases. These are tools where mobility is highly valued, and there are not good corded alternatives. For most people involved in construction these cordless drills and drivers are the way to go. But that is not true for everyone. If you are drilling lots of small holes, a corded pneumatic or electric high speed drill will be inexpensive and offer better performance than these cordless drills. The need for portability is also lower in this circumstance.

What about reciprocating saws? These are almost always used in the field for demolition. Jobsite electricity is typically not very good or convenient to access so cordless tools are highly desirable here. Electrical cords run through a site going through demolition can be a recipe for disaster and a safety risk. As a point of contrast, we use a reciprocating saw occasionally in what we do and use a corded one. It matches well our controlled shop environment and our infrequent use.

What about miter saws? Nope, don’t recommend. Miter saws typically stay in one place and are focused on productivity. They need the power that so far only corded can provide. Similarly with table saws, just doesn’t make sense when you need to have a set aside work area for these tools anyway.

If past is prologue then battery operated tools will continue to improve and will soon become the standard across the board for most of the tools that we use. Each tool should be chosen on a case by case basis reflecting your budget and needs. As a general rule, jobsite users will want corded tools when possible. The cost of constant replacement of worn electrical cords, as well as safety and convenience lead to equal or lower costs with the heavy use of a construction worker. The cost of a tool includes the sticker price plus other factors that may be harder to measure. However, always remember that you should buy a more expensive tool only if it makes you more money. If you earn the same amount with the cheaper tool then you should hesitate before buying the more expensive tool.