Brushed vs. Brushless Drill: Which Drill is Best for Your Needs?

If you’re just starting to get in the woodworking or DIY home repair game, then you’ll undoubtedly need to invest in a power drill. Finding the right drill can be challenging due to the high number of manufacturers producing an infinite number of different drill models with various specs. One such spec you need to consider is whether the drill comes with a brushed or brushless motor.

Brushed motors have been around for centuries, but just what are brushless motors? If you didn’t know better, it’d probably seem like some marketing trick companies use to trick the consumer into paying more for nothing. You can rest assured that that is undoubtedly NOT the case. When you pay a premium price for a brushless power drill, you’re going to get what you pay for.

So, what exactly are brushless motors? How do they differ from brushed motors? Are they worth the investment? Do you need a brushless power drill, or will a regular brushed motor suit you fine? Don’t worry, dear reader. We’ll answer all of these questions for you in this article.


What are Brushed Motors?

Brushed motors have been around since the 1800s, so it’s fair to say that this is quite an old piece of technology. From a technical standpoint, brushed motors consist of a rotor, brushed, a commutator, an axle, and a magnet. The brushes work to charge the commutator, causing the rotor to spin, either clockwise or counterclockwise depending on the polarity of the brushes.

Pros

Since brushed motors are quite old, they sell for relatively cheap. For the average handyman, any tool with a brushed motor can be more cost-effective compared to brushless. The price of a brushed drill is only a fraction of that of a brushless one.

Furthermore, there really is no difference in performance when comparing brushed and brushless motors. The amperage or HP rating of a brushed motor works just the same as a brushless motor at the same level.

Cons

The biggest problem with brushed motors is the number of different components that are constantly in close proximity to one another. It’s not uncommon for brushed motors to experience severe maintenance problems over time, which can end up completely ruining the tool or requiring extensive repairs. So basically, any savings you made by opting for a brushed tool may end up being used to pay for repairs.

One of the leading factors that contribute to a brushed motor’s premature death is heat – something that brushed motors produce a ton of and have difficulties dissipating. In order to get the most out of a brushed motor, you need to give it ample time to rest between sessions. When talking about drills, this means giving it 15 minutes of rest for every 10 to 15 minutes of usage. However, this should only be taken into account if time is a factor in your work.

What are Brushless Motors?

Brushless motors have been around for quite some time, but it’s still a relatively new technology, meaning that it can cost quite a bit to get. As the name suggests, this motor doesn’t come with brushes, but its design is far more complicated than its brushed counterparts.

A brushless motor has at least four magnets mounted around the rotor in a cross pattern. Since the rotor is the only component bearing the weight of the magnets, brushless motors don’t require commutators or connections to produce a magnetic spin. This results in a highly efficient motor that produces hardly any heat, even when used for long periods at a time.

Pros

Efficiency is the primary selling factor of brushless motors. They don’t produce nearly as much heat as their brushed counterparts, meaning that you can drill more holes and drive more screws. If you’re a pro contractor and need to reduce downtime as much as possible, opt for brushless tools.

In addition to fewer breaks, you’ll also spend less money in the long run on repairs. Brushless motors don’t require replacement brushes. This should be obvious since brushless motors are, you know, brushless.

Cons

However, there is the matter of price to take into consideration. Brushless tools, including drills, are much costlier than their brushed counterparts. On average, you can get two brushed drills at the price of a single brushless one. Of course, you probably don’t want or need multiples of the same tool, and brushless motors are an investment.

You’ll save money on repairs in the long run. However, as we see further advancements in production technology, it’s not unrealistic to expect the price of brushless tools to drop significantly. This, of course, means that the discounted price of brushed tools will fall even further, so you should keep that in mind as well.

Basically, brushless motors and drills are only a requirement if you plan on working for long periods at a time. If you’re a simple DIY-er who rarely does home renovation or woodworking projects, brushed tools are more cost-effective.

Do I need a Brushless Drill?

After learning about the benefits that brushless motors have over brushed motors, it’s time to decide whether brushless really that much better than brushed.

The short answer to this question is a resounding yes, brushless motors in power drills are absolutely much more preferred to brushed. However, there are several things you need to consider before purchasing one.

First of which is the frequency of using your power drill. Brushless motors are better in the long run and much better when used in high frequency. Their lack of replaceable components paired with better heat dissipation means fewer, if any, maintenance problems. However, if you’re a sporadic home repairman, then going brushless may be overkill since the tool may never even actually get the chance to heat up.

The second thing is dealing with maintenance problems. You could take a brushed drill to a pro to get it tuned up, or you can play close attention DIY brush replacement videos on the internet. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it by yourself, then we recommend paying the price to get it professionally done.

All in all, brushless drills are far superior to their brushed counterparts, but only if your line of work requires using a drill constantly.