questionscan anyone explain the difference between volt…

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The higher the voltage, the greater the power/torque available and generally the longer it will run on a charge. Generally the higher the voltage, the heavier the battery, though Li-ion batteries are lighter than Ni-Cads in the same volt range. The sweet spot seems to be 18V in terms of power, portability, and run-time. I hardly ever use my 24V tools except when I need the extra power - sometimes its just better use a corded tool, though that's pretty rare for me.

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@nortonsark: voltage doesn't equate to run time.

The capacity of the battery and the power consumption of the device are the deciding factors in how long a battery will last.

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@theoneill555: Yes, I am well aware of the physics involved, however from a practical standpoint, the higher voltage batteries come with more capacity and hence last longer. That's because they build them that way, not because higher voltage is by nature longer lasting.

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for sake of easy description the voltage is a general power rating. it is not an exact rating. for instance you can get a high torq 24 v drill as opposed to a high speed 24v drill. If you are using the drill for heavy driving in inexcessible areas often (concrete, brick, or hole saw use, ect...) a hammer drill or high torq drill may be right for you. You can compare the voltage of 14v or 18v or 24 v drills to one another. A B&D to a DeWalt to a Ridge to see drills in the same "class". If you are a home owner doing just the simple home owner stuff I mainly use a 4.4 volt li power driver. b4 i used a 14v NiCad for general use. For work stuff I use my 24V stuff because I have a series that includes multipule saws and I find the higher voltage is needed for them. with the onset of Li u get more torq for less voltage and gennerally better battery life.
Written but not read.

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@nortonsark: yeah, that is about it too.

to the OP, 18v is the standard one, what the real question is, is once you decide which you are going to buy (18, 12 etc) how do you tell the difference between those. the devil is in the details.

I always hate when someone says I got this $39 blah blah 18v drill and it has run for years. Sure it did, it was hardly used. I have been to so many construction sites and have never, ever seen a professional use a $39 drill daily. They do not hold up. The internal parts are what matter most, the torque and other variables can be debated.

I have a decent, not great, porter cable drill that has out lasted many of it's batteries. I keep it for odd jobs, that was one well built drill/driver and clutch. Now the impact/drill combos are just too good to pass up. I think that this is the best investment for your money. Impact for torque and drill/driver for anything else.

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Just to add to the above, more voltage is not always better.

First of all, greater voltage often means heavier batteries, and a heavier tool isn't necessarily a good thing.

Second, the build quality of the lesser voltage might be such that the lesser is still the overall better tool (e.g. comparing a Harbor Freight to a Makita, hypothetically).

Finally, you have differing battery chemistry's. I'd take a LiIon or NiMH battery of just about any voltage over a 18+V NiCad.

I'm into home improvements and woodworking. I'm putzing around building something all the time, and use the cordless drill virtually every day. My 14.4V Makita rarely lets me down. If I really do need to drill concrete or bore large holes with a spade bit (which will kill the battery quickly) I pull out my corded drill - but that happens maybe once a year, if even.

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Thanks to all who took time to answer. Servicey!