When Dana and I got married, our tool boxes got married as well. We suddenly had duplicates of several things I'd purchased for myself and then helped her pick out for her own house. So when the battery charger on one of our two Craftsman 18v drills burned out, it wasn't that big of a deal; we had another handy. And after two of the four batteries started holding a charge for less than a week and/or only 10 minutes worth of use, it was OK because we had two more to fall back on.
Late last fall, at just about the same time, the other two batteries started failing and the second charger died. It was time to re-assess our drill/driver situation.
Let's be honest - most of my drill/driver work involves hanging curtain rods, screwing in drywall, building jigs, and general home maintenance and repair. In retrospect, 18 volts is a whole lot of wasted power.It's also a whole lot of weight to lug around.
I did my research and read all of the reviews. I made an honest assessment of what we needed around the house and for use in a hobby woodworking shop. With everything taken into consideration, I finally decided upon the Panasonic 12-Volt NiMH 1/2" drill/driver.
I could not be happier with my choice!
When the drill arrived (from Amazon, for about $190 with free shipping), I immediately charged both batteries. I then put the charger and the spare battery back in the case and left the drill out on my workbench.
Over the next six months, I would pull it out for anything from hanging curtain rods to installing new hinges, from drilling 3/8" holes in wood to driving 100+ drywall screws. Just the other day, while working in the new workshop to tighten up the last of the drywall, I finally killed the first charge on my first battery. I wasn't so impressed with the amount of work the battery had performed as I was with the amount of time it held the charge! My last drill wouldn't hold a charge for five weeks, much less five months!
I pulled the dead battery out and popped the new one in and went right back to work with the second battery as fresh as the day it was charged.
I was also impressed with the weight of the drill. Most of the screws I was driving were in the ceiling, so I ended up holding it above my head for extended periods of time. That's when the 3.5 lb weight difference between the Panasonic and my old Craftsman really came into play. Even after an hour of work, I was far from fatigued.
If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't change my decision to go with the 12-volt model (vs. the 15.6- or the 18-volt models), either. It is more than enough power for the likes of what I do and the lighter weight is a nice change.
So if you find yourself in the market for a new drill in the near future, the Panasonic 12-volt NiMH 1/2" drill/driver comes highly recommended from this amateur woodworker and average DIY-enthusiast.