Once you’ve gone cordless, you won’t want to go back. The same can be said for switching to lithium-ion batteries. These two popular Hitachi driver kits come with 18-volts of cordless power. You’ll be thinking up new projects just to have an excuse to use them again. Even if you only need them infrequently, the Li-ion technology has stamina for storage. Let’s look at both kits and see which one is best for you.
Hitachi DS18DSAL 18-Volt 1/2-Inch Lithium-Ion Cordless Drill/Driver (Includes 2 Batteries + Flashlight)
Consumer Reports rated the DS18DSAL as a “Best Buy” in December 2012. They praised it as light and comfortable to use. It was deemed almost “contractor-worthy” because of its speed and power.
Specifically, the DS18DSAL has 460 inch-pounds of torque. This allows it to drive large fasteners and drill into hardwoods, plastics, and some metals. There are two speed settings, ranging from 0-350rpm and 0-1500rpm, with a clearly-marked selector on top of the drill. The speed varies according to pressure on the trigger. There is also a switch to reverse direction.
The clutch has a drill option as well as 22 settings to get just the right amount of torque. It’s quick to change bits one-handed with the metal ratcheting chuck. Small bits come out with a little twist. Grip the chuck and hit the trigger to spin it all the way open to change large-diameter bits.
Right above the trigger is an LED light to help when working in dimly-lit places. Even with the battery mounted, the drill weighs only 3-1/2 pounds. It’s also just 7.7 inches long. And to help cut back on maintenance cost, the carbon brushes for the motor are externally accessible. That means a user can change them without taking the drill into a shop.
But wait, there’s more to this kit than just the DS18DSAL drill/driver. There are two Li-ion rechargeable batteries rated for 1.5Ah. The included charger fills a battery in just 40 minutes. There is also a stand-alone flashlight. Due to the flatness of the batteries, the flashlight can rest on its foot without any other support. Its head adjusts to five different angles which makes it very handy when no one else is there to help. It runs off the same batteries that are already in the kit.
More features of the Hitachi DS18DSAL
- Hitachi offers a lifetime warranty on the drill/driver and 2 years’ warranty on the batteries
- The flashlight has a low battery indicator
- Also included are a hard plastic carrying case with strap, a metal belt hook for the driver, and a Phillips-tip bit
Hitachi DS18DGL 18-Volt 1/2-Inch Lithium-Ion Cordless Drill/Driver (Lifetime Tool Warranty)
The Hitachi DS18DGL has also been a best-seller in the do-it-yourself market. It’s a small step down in power and features from the DS18DSAL, so it’s better suited for occasional use at home.
The DS18DGL has 400 inch-pounds of torque, which is still plenty for most driving and light drilling jobs around the house. The gear selector switch on top gives a choice between 0-450rpm and 0-1250rpm. The speed is then determined by pressure on the trigger.
Like the drill above, there are 22 driver settings and one drill setting. That way the user can set screws without stripping or over-sinking them.
Also like the DS18DSAL, this kit comes with two lithium-ion batteries and a rapid charger. This charger finishes refilling the batteries a little more quickly in just 35 minutes. That may be because they are 1.3Ah batteries instead of the slightly larger capacity ones in the previous kit.
The DS18DGL is slightly larger and heavier at 3.7 pounds, but it feels nicely balanced when held. Its LED work-light is built into the foot of the drill, and some users prefer this placement as it eliminates shadows cast by fingers and gloves.
More features of the Hitachi DS18DGL
- Hitachi offers a lifetime warranty on the tool, 2 years’ warranty on the batteries, and one year on the charger
- The kit also includes a hard plastic case and a Phillips-tip bit
- There are no user serviceable parts on this tool
If you have a lot of driving and drilling to do, consider getting the DS18DSAL, the one that was called “almost contractor-worthy” by Consumer Reports. It’s got speed and power approaching a pro-level tool, and it’s small and light. The included flashlight is handy if you’re working alone in dimly-lit places. The fact that the user can replace the carbon brushes themselves is a bonus.
If you want a comfortable drill with 18-volt Li-ion power, something for occasional jobs, consider getting the DS18GL.