Best Electric Screwdrivers: Our 2017 Consumer Guide
Last Updated 30th January 2017
The best electric screwdriver should be able to save you a ton of work and aching forearms by quickly and easily spinning screws into place. This can be incredibly handy if you’re someone who enjoys a lot of home improvement but it’s also very useful for anyone else. All of us occasionally find ourselves building flatpack furniture, or having to deconstruct old bed frames. So unless you have a grip of steel, then using a power tool is often going to be a good idea and save you some time.
The only question: what’s a good electric screwdriver to buy? This buyers’ guide will tell you everything you need to know and help you to find the best tool for your specific needs.
We’ll start by briefly going over the different types of electric screwdrivers and what they involve. We’ll then look at the top picks we recommend for all types of users. Below that, we’ll dive more deeply into the different options and specifications when choosing a driver to help you make the best choice.
When choosing an electric screwdriver, there are a lot of options you can take into account. Ultimately though, they can largely be divided into two broad categories. These are smaller, more portable electric screwdrivers that are designed for odd jobs around the house and the bigger, more industrial electric screwdrivers (impact drivers) that are used by professional handymen and in industrial settings. While larger and more powerful devices will be up to the most tasks (including being able to remove screws that are rusty, broken or jammed) they will also be heavier, more expensive and less practical. Thus, it is important to think about the specific types of scenarios you are likely to be using your driver in and what you need your drill to be able to handle as a result. You can then buy the cheapest model that will still be fit for purpose!
That said, it’s always important to think as well about the brand and the reviews. Is this a reliable product? Is it something that will stand the test of time and not break on you? Does it use a thoughtful design that makes it practical for regular use?
Below we’ve reviewed some of our top choices for screwdrivers, each of which should cater to a slightly different audience. Read on and find the option that best suits your requirements!
Table of contents
Our Top Choices
Dewalt DW920K-2 ¼ Inch 7.2-Volt Cordless Two-Position Screwdriver Kit
This is an affordable, portable and powerful screwdriver that’s affordable but nevertheless powerful enough to be used in a large variety of scenarios. This should be more that up to most household tasks with 80 inch-pounds of maximum torque running on a 7.2volt battery pack. It’s also thoughtfully designed, with a clever adjustable handle that lets you switch from an in-line grip to a pistol grip (meaning it goes from being shaped like a torch, to being shaped like a gun). This is very useful for reaching particularly difficult corners while working and this kind of smart design makes for a much more pleasant usage across a variety of situations. This is a cordless device and that too helps to make this is a practical option for a range of tasks. The variable speed setting and easy reverse switch only make the device more versatile.
This is one of the more expensive options on the best electric screwdriver list but for that you’re getting more power and features, while still maintaining a convenient and portable form factor. It’s well made, solid and a good investment for any family or even hobbyist. You also get a carry case and various accessories.
Hitachi DB3DL2 3.6V Lithium Ion Dual-Position Cordless Screwdriver
This is a very similar product that features several of the same benefits. That includes the easy forward/reverse switch for changing bit direction, as well as the ability to switch from a pistol to a straight form factor. This might seem like a small issue but keep in mind that certain screws are impossible to reach with the regular gun shape if they’re hidden away in small spaces.
Something else you get with this Hitachi offering is a built-in LED light for illuminating your work surface. There are also 21 different clutch settings, so you get a lot of precision. Where this is a slightly less compelling offering is in the power department. As a 3.6-volt cordless screw driver, this option isn’t going to be quite as powerful for removing rusted or heavy screws. For the vast majority of situations though, it should be fine. And once again, this is a well-made product that should last you a good amount of time before you need to find a replacement.
If you liked the last Dewalt in our best electric screwdriver list, then you should be impressed by this offering that beefs out the specs. Now you get an 8V max battery pack which is able to offer even more longevity 430RPM. It has 15 clutch position settings, the same transforming handle and the same reversing control. What’s new though is the ‘gyroscopic function’ which lets you alter the direction of the driver as well as the speed. The trigger is only used to power on and off the device. It’s a feature that takes a couple of seconds to get used to but once you have, life becomes much simpler!
The power of this model makes it capable of driving nails into wood, plastic and even light gauge metal. That covers just about every use that the average customer is going to have for their electric screwdriver and the two batteries are also very handy meaning you’ll never be caught out and have to wait. This comes with a carry case as well as the extra battery and all the usual extras.
That said, this model is only capable of outputting about 40lbs inch-pounds, as opposed to the DW920-K’s 80 inch. This is despite a slightly higher price, so you’re paying for that extra battery power and the gyroscopic function.
Both are more than capable of handling a variety of situations, so this will come down to person requirements and preference.
This is another powerful-yet-compact electric drill, this time capable of delivering 44 in.lbs of max torque, despite having a very slim and compact design. It also comes with an auto-stop clutch, which shuts the tool off when the clutch disengages to prevent overdriving. 21 clutch settings and drill mode also make this another very versatile tool. There’s 2-speed gear selection and a 3 year warranty, which is slightly better than the one or two years you’ll often get. The device has that switching handle for multiple uses, a low battery indicator and a cordless 7.2 lithium-ion battery supply.This is a slightly more expensive model and on the whole, the Dewalts perhaps offer better value for money. But that said, this is still a solid choice with some nice, unique features.
Apollo Precision Tools, DT1036 Cordless Rechargeable Screwdriver 4.8V, Red
Now we’re in the ‘budget’ territory. This device costs under $20 and yet will handle a wide range of different jobs around the house. There’s no plastic carry case, no shoulder bag and just a selection of bits and a power cable. The battery is only 4.8volts and there’s no mention of the RPM or the torque. That said, it’s probably safe to assume that neither number is massive…
But then again, most people don’t need massive amounts of torque or RPMs. Instead, this is an electric screwdriver that has placed the emphasis on portability and affordability and it does that very well. It also features the two-point pivoting handle, which is excellent in a device this affordable. It has a forward and reverse setting and has 12 different screw heads. All in all, this is one of the very best electric screwdrivers at a budget on the market. If that’s what you’re looking for, then look no further!
Worx WX252L XTD Extended Reach Screwdriver
This is another electric screwdriver aimed at the budget-minded. What this one has going for it though, is the ability to reach into further corners thanks to an extending shaft. This will certainly come in handy in select situations but of course it will still work as a normal screwdriver too. It will work with any ¼ inch insert bit, though doesn’t come with a selection.
It’s not quite as cheap as the Apollo but if you’re interested in that extending shaft, then really it’s the only option for such a low price.
Milwaukee 2101-21 M4 ¼ Hex Screwdriver Kit W/1 Bat
Now we’re back at the more costly end of thigs. This product is easy to use and handle and is highly durable. It comes with the folding handle and two batteries, as well as a charging stand for convenience.
There is also adjustable torque and the price is good. The highest torque is 44in/lbs and the reviews are very positive. The battery is four volt and it only weighs one pound, which is extremely light for the amount of power you’re getting.
It’s not the most feature packed option but overall, it’s another solid choice for more of a mid-range purchase.
SKIL 2354-07 iXO 4V Max Lithium-Ion Palm Sized Cordless
This isn’t as cheap as the extreme budget options but with the SKIL, you’re getting something that is truly portable. The device can even be charged through a laptop or a car charger and it fits very neatly into the palm of the hand with a curved, ergonomic design. Features include a battery gauge and a site-light. It’s not the very cheapest but it’s still highly affordable and the best bet for pure portability.
Hammerhead 4V Lithium Rechargeable Screwdriver With Patented Circuit Sensor Technology and 9-Piece Bit Kit
With the torch-like design being the only configuration, this is a screwdriver that is clearly designed for drilling components and reaching into dark corners. It’s for this reason that the unique feature – an ability to detect currents an inch away – comes in so handy. When this happens, you’ll be warned with sound and a red light which will prevent you from getting too close. It also has convenient charging via USB and 2LED lights for illumination.
Another low cost electric drill, this Black and Decker option sports a magnetic bit holder, LED lights, pivot and ergonomic grip. It is 4 volts and weighs under a pound. Torque nor RPM are included in the description but a lot of the reviews seem pleasantly surprise at the power output. And like all the products we feature, this is just a very well made tool for the money.
knowing your options
To begin with, it’s important to know your options when choosing an electric screwdriver. The right tool will very often depend on how much you’re likely to be using it and the kinds of scenarios you’re likely to be using it in.
One big factor for example will be how powerful your tool is. If you’re going to be using it a lot and in a wide range of different materials, then you’ll need something with the capability to handle that. But if you’re only really going to be using this for flat pack furniture and basic DIY, then there’s no need to spend over the odds for something overpowered.
Another factor here is the voltage. Smaller screwdrivers for example will likely use just 3-4v of power, which will usually mean they’re weaker. The most powerful drivers are sometimes called ‘impact drivers’ and these tend to be a lot bigger – designed for removing rusty, damaged or very large screws.
So how do you know how powerful an electric screwdriver is? Largely, this is going to come down to the revolutions per minute (RPM) which will usually correlate with the motor speed. The higher the RPM, the quicker and more easily you’ll be able to carry out tasks even with harder materials.
You should also think about the different features that electric screwdrivers come with. For example: do you want a combi drill? A combi drill is a power drill that also doubles up as an electric screwdriver. Sometimes it can do other things too, like hammering. This might also go by the name ‘drill driver’.
You can also look for screwdrivers that come with torque control. This means you can alter how powerful the rotating force will be, which gives you greater control over the speed of the implement. This is useful seeing as a smaller screw will usually require less torque than a bigger or heavier one. This can also be useful for gently driving screws in at the end to make them flush with the surface around them.
A spindle lock is another nice option, which lets you lock the mechanism in place to use it as a manual tool. Then there are things like lights and adjustable handles.
You also need to think about the basic practicality and portability of your driver. Impact drivers will often use a cord and/or be very heavy, which might not be what you ideally want when you just need something that’s easy to grab hold of for the odd job. Likewise, if you plan on taking your electric screwdriver with you on jobs, then you might again need something a bit more portable.
Different drivers will include different additional items too. You might get a charging stand, a case, or different drill heads. Sometimes you’ll get an additional battery. While you shouldn’t make your decision based purely on these features, they are certainly useful to have and may make one purchase the better value over the other when everything is accounted for.
branding and review
Finally, think about the quality of the product itself. That means looking at whether the brand is reliable and is well known for making high quality tools and it means reading the reviews to see how other users fair. Ultimately, your objective is to buy a tool that will last you for a long time and that won’t need replacing down the line. You also need one that really is capable of generating the kind of power that it advertises. Buy from a known brand where possible and be sure to check the reviews. Likewise, try to find a driver that has a good warranty. Not only will the warranty protect you against your device failing but it also shows that the manufacturer is confident that their product will stand the test of time.
And with that, you should have a very good idea of how to go about picking the right electrical screwdriver for you. Go back and read through our top offerings and you should find something that’s perfect for your specific needs and that will help you build, take apart and adjust any number of shelves and cupboards!