We get questions through email, social media and our power tool forum about what is our favorite brand or what is the best power tool brand to buy into. So we figure we might as well put something in writing because I don’t think this question is ever going to go away.
As a consumer, you want to make the right choice. Investing in a tool platform is expensive and if you start down the path, it’s not like you can just jump into a new platform easily. Who really wants to spend extra money, have different batteries, different chargers and all the other hassles that go into buying into a new platform. Over the years I have talked to so many different professionals and homeowners and I always ask them what made you buy into that brand? I get things from that is what my dad owned, it was on sale, a friend told me about it, I read a review online or something else. With that said, I hear a lot of people say I wish I went into a different brand or I would love to jump into another brand but I am so invested into their brand, it’s hard to make the change.
But believe it or not, there are a lot of people who are making the jump into different brands and again for a variety of reasons. So today we wanted to give our two cents on the power tool brands and what is the best brand.
So before we jump into what is the best power tool brand, I have some bad news. There isn’t a simple answer to this question. There isn’t one brand that suits every user. Also, there isn’t one brand that has all the best power tools. Each brand excels at different tools and different users. So what might be the best brand for you, might not be the best brand for the person next door.
Instead, you have to look at what will you be using these tools for? Are you a professional or a homeowner? Are you going to use them for general work or are you jumping into specific work like HVAC? Are you a homeowner who just needs a drill or are you a homeowner looking to expand beyond power tools and want a battery platform that will also power radios, inflators, garage doors, and more?
Once you find out what you will be using the tools for and what type of user you are, then it becomes more clear what the best power tool brand will be to suit you and your tasks.
Levels of Power Tools
When you step back and take a look at the industry there are different levels of power tools which we will get to in a moment. What you have to understand that the levels do overlap. Some of the companies that are professional also make tools that are good for the homeowner. Also, I have seen some homeowner tools on job sites. So these levels are not set in stone and there is plenty of overlap.
Professional Power Tools
Professional power tools incorporate brands that not only have tools for these heavy-duty jobs, but they have the backing by salespeople, fasteners, and not just the tools, but solutions to help get the job done.
When it comes to solutions, no other power tool company can compete. You won’t find Hilti in your local box store. Hilti has a large sales force that is designed to help the end-user. The Hilti people don’t just sell one of the highest quality tools but they help the end-user with their jobs by supporting them with accessories, fasteners, anchors, software, and more.
Hilti is made to be used in the harshest conditions and made for extreme uses like bridges, skyscrapers, and more. While they don’t offer a ton of tools, the tools they offer are high quality and they offer big tools like jackhammers and more and all the way down to smaller drills and impacts. Hilti also shines because their large sale force can visit job sites, get tools there the same day and provide some of the industries best support
Bosch is a German company that prides itself on quality. When it comes to concrete, they have a solution for the user. Bosch doesn’t offer all the adhesive and fasteners that Hilti offers but they easily have far more tools in their line up and the tools are just as high quality as Hilti.
Bosch is also designed for big jobs like bridges and skyscrapers but they also offer tools for the professional trades that are working from the start of the project to the end of the project. So if you need to break up concrete, frame a building, install drywall or finish the job with trim and tile, Bosch will deliver.
Milwaukee is the most well known for their cordless tools. In fact, they have one of the largest lines of power tools.
Milwaukee is also one of the leading companies to come out with new innovations and they are very fast to market with this technology.
Milwaukee is also known for its large line of M12 tools. The 12V platform is dedicated to trade specific tools that no one can compete with. They have tools specifically for electricians, HVAC, plumbers and more.
Ever since TTI bought out Milwaukee, they have grown by leaps and bounds. I have to admit, it has been fun to see them grow over the years from a 1 or 2% market share to now seeing them on every job site. We have used their tools for years and they perform awesomely, we love the innovation and how you can expand into so many other tools with a single battery.
When it comes to a number of tools in their line up, only one other company can compete with Milwaukee and that is Makita.
Makita also has a huge number of tools in their SKU. Makita is a little different. Instead of having a couple of different battery platforms like Milwaukee, Makita is trying to do it with a single battery platform so the user doesn’t have to invest in different batteries.
If Makita designs a high demand tool, that tool is designed around the 18V battery and will use two 18V batteries to give it the power and run time. Instead of having a 12V platform, Makita is designing smaller tools called subcompact and they are used with smaller 18V batteries such as 2Ah. So you still get the same feel as a 12V but you have more power and run time and are still able to have a single battery platform.
Makita is also a leader in innovation and they do release a lot of tools. For us, we have used some of Makita over the years and love the brand. They have lasted under the harshes conditions.
Dewalt is another solid company. When it comes to tools, they are very solid tools and we haven’t seen a ton of failure with them. For woodworking tools, they are great for the professional contractor. They offer a great drill/driver and impact driver along with one of the best miter saws, table saws, sanders, and other professional woodworking tools. You will see a ton of Dewalt tools in a GC arsenal.
Ridgid is a line that offers the best warranty in the market. Their tools are solid and build to last. Their line isn’t the biggest line in the industry but their quality speaks for itself. So if you are looking to into a brand that will back you for life, Ridgid is the brand to go with.
Homeowner Power Tools
Tools for the homeowners, they don’t need the high build quality, the advance features as the professional power tools. The homeowner needs more budget-friendly tools and tools that offer a wide range of SKU’s and the batteries can be used in other household items such as blowers, mowers, garage doors, and more.
Ryobi is the house brand for the Home Depot. Ryobi is one of the most well-known power tool companies that are designed for the homeowner. There is a lot to love about this brand. First, since it’s the house brand for The Home Depot, they are easy to get. Just go to the store and not only can you pick them up and see how they feel but you can buy them on the spot. Second, they have a huge line of tools. Not just power tools but other tools for the household such as speakers, inflators and more. Third, they offer professional features but at a homeowner price point.
We have had a lot of experience with them and they have always performed. In fact, you will even see some professionals using these tools for small one-man outfits.
Kobalt is the house brand for Lowes. When it comes to quality, I feel like they have a better quality than Ryobi for about the same price point. The downside is that Ryobi has been in the game much longer and has a lot more tools in their line up.
I would love to see Kobalt rev up other tools in their line up and compete with Ryobi because they can give them a run for their money. With that said, as a homeowner, you can easily get these tools and build a great collection. They offer enough tools in their line up where you can get any home project done on this single platform.
Hart is new to the scene but they are hitting the road hard. Hart is sold through Walmart. In fact, TTI is the name behind Hart which is the same name behind Milwaukee tools and Ryobi tools, so you know they are good tools.
What you get with Hart is a good tool for the money. You also get the convenience of going into any Walmart and buying it right away and not waiting for shipping. You also get a wide range of tools. Even though Hart is newer, they already offer a wide range of tools for the 20V platform and I don’t see them slowing down.
Skil is a name that has been around for a while and they recently were bought out by a company called Chervon. Chervon has been making tools for some of the names above (Professional & Homeowner) and they are known for their quality. Skil just started releasing some new tools and I am sure there are a bunch more on the horizon.
When it comes to batteries, Chervon is one of the best and I am sure that experience is being put into the Skil line of power tools.
Yes, there are a lot of other brands on the market for professionals and homeowners’ tools. We are only covering some of the biggest and most well-known names on the market that really give the consumer a wide range of choices for their applications.
Best Power Tool Brand Wrap Up
In the end, you really have to know what you demand in a power tool and what tasks you will be performing. Yes, I know you probably wanted a definitive answer but there isn’t a one solution fits all. Each brand has it’s advantages and disadvantages.
Let us know your thoughts on this list and what brands you like and don’t like. Let us know about your experiences.
I must disagree. After 30 years in both light and heavy construction, and having extensively used both Bosch and Makita, I can say that Makita regularly outlast Bosch. And while Hilti offers the best fastening solutions, their other tools are no better that what’s offered by other professional brands.
Good points and well taken. Makita is awesome, I am a huge fan of them. Yes with Hilti fastening solutions and systems.
Just a note of clarification: Ryobi is NOT a house-brand. They’re an HD exclusive, which is different. They’re sold elsewhere around the world. However, Kobalt IS a house-brand since they’re made only for Lowe’s.
I’ve been doing auto glass for almost 2 and a half years. Most of our techs use Ryobi. We need a 10 oz power caulk gun for shooting urethane. The Ryobi is available in the store for $49.99. The Makita, Dewalt, and Milwaukee power caulk guns are not available in the store and range for $209.00 to $225.00 in price. They may last a little longer, but when you go to buy that second one you have now spend over $400 on caulk guns. You’ll get about 2 years out of a Ryobi. We’ve had techs only get 2 years out of their Milwaukee though.
We also need a drill for occasionally drilling a hole, using a wire wheel to remove rust, or screwing/unscrewing bolts/screws. The Ryobi works fine since it doesn’t get abused too much.
I have the Ryobi dirt devil style hand vacuum. That works great for vacuuming up a little glass dust on a car seat, or dash. You’ll still need a real vacuum that plugs in and has a long hose for vacuuming up tempered glass when it covers the entire inside of the vehicle.
I have the Ryobi cordless heat gun because I do a lot of work on semi trucks. Most of them have cameras that attach to windshields that can’t be removed from the vehicle since they are connected to a cord. Sometimes the 3M tape that is used to attach them won’t stick under certain weather conditions. Melting it with a heat gun will cause it to stick to the windshield. It was worth the $89 because I hate dragging out my cord just to plug in my hotter and more powerful Wagner ($24) for 30 seconds. It does take longer to melt the tape with the Ryobi, but it is convenient.
My conclusion is if you are looking to do auto glass for a career then go with Ryobi for your power tool needs. Their tools work great for the few seconds you’ll need them each day. Plus their power caulk gun is available in the store.
I should add that Milwaukee, Dewalt, and Makita do offer a 20 oz sausage pack power caulk gun, but Ryobi doesn’t. There are two specialty auto glass tool companies (Equalizer, GT Tool). They make modified Milwaukee and Dewalt sawzalls that are called express cutters. They are used to cut out windshields that are attached with urethane. There is a battery powered version for both that use the same batteries as those companies other cordless tools. Hart, Bosch, Ridgid, Skil, Porter Cable, Craftsman, and Kobalt don’t have a 10 oz power caulk gun, so they are pretty much useless to anyone who does auto glass, or auto body. If they would make a 10 oz power caulk gun at a good price a lot of glass and auto body techs would probably consider them.
Bosh should be added to the list as it’s a big enough brand above most DIY brands.
KajunFramer is right Makita lasts longer, Bosch is great mostly for their angle grinders tough.
It is really hard to find out what type of user you are, special for a person with no prior experience. As far as I have experienced Makita works best for home tasks.