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If you want a cordless drill to hang some shelves or fix a wobbly door hinge, there’s no reason to spend more than $100.
At Consumer Reports we’ve tested dozens of cordless drills, using a machine called a dynamometer to help us calculate run time, power, and speed. And though we do find that the very best drills tend to be the most expensive, for most folks a lesser drill will be just fine.
"The trick is to know when and where to compromise," says John Banta, who oversees cordless drill testing for Consumer Reports.
Banta's first tip if you're on a tight budget is to choose a drill that rates high in our speed and/or power tests but maybe not as well for run time.
"For any drill that comes with two batteries, as many do, run time isn't critical because you can always charge one battery while you're using the other," he says. An inexpensive drill that scores well in power and speed tests can do most of the same tasks as a pricier model, just for a shorter period of time between battery charges.
Here, three of the best cordless drills from our ratings, listed in alphabetical order, that typically retail for $100 or less.
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CR's take: This simple model from Craftsman is both quick to drill and powerful enough for most tasks. Though it has only a single battery, it earns a rating of Very Good for recharge time, meaning that you won't need to wait too long as the battery charges if it runs dead in the middle of a project.
CR's take: This Porter-Cable offers a lot for the money, including the power to drive larger fasteners. It's pretty average when it comes to both run time and charge time, but that's okay; it comes with two batteries, so you can always keep one charging while you work. And because Porter-Cable tools tend to be a good value, starting with this drill would be a smart way to build up a collection. It has a three-year warranty.
CR's take: This unique drill falls in our light-duty category because of the limitations of its fixed ¼-inch chuck. But it blurs the lines because it’s powered by a 20-volt battery, which would otherwise place it in the heavy-duty class. It’s a one-off design with two chucks, allowing you to load two bits at once and easily switch from drilling to driving by rotating the wheel at the business end of the tool. The dual chuck might be more of a liability than an asset for some. The mechanism makes the tool a little unwieldy and difficult to maneuver in tight spaces—say, inside a sink cabinet—which might be why you’d want a light-duty drill in the first place.
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