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Brushed vs Brushless Drill (4 Differences Explained)

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A drill is a power tool used for making round holes and for driving screws and fasteners. It is normally used for hanging items by homeowners and DIYers as well during metal works, woodworking, and construction.

There are many different types of drills available in the at your local hardware store and the power tools market in general.  Therefore, you might wonder what  sets them all apart.  Besides corded vs. cordless drills and regular rotary vs. hammer drills, another key difference is whether they are a brushed vs brushless drill.

When we talk about brushed vs. brushless drills, we refer to powering mechanism of the drills and how the motor transfers power to the drill shaft.  To get the drill shaft spinning, electricity must be converted to power, which will start the shaft movement, and keep it spinning.  Brushed drills use conventional brushes to transfer power while brushless drills use electronic switching.   

But is one design better than the other?  And are they tradeoffs between power, efficiency, longevity, and price?

To answer this question and many more we will go into details on both types of drills. 

What Is a Brushed Drill?

A Brushed Drill operates on a simple principle. Switching control using internal shaft feedback. It does this through its basic parts that include a ring of permanent magnets, an armature, a commutator, and carbon brushes.

The magnets are positively charged and negatively charged, both creating a powerful and permanent magnetic field. The armature is a series of coils that becomes electromagnetic when power is applied. These coils are usually made of copper. The commutators are fixed with the armature. They spin together.

The brushes and magnets are stationary while the commutator and armature rotate together on a motor shaft within the magnets.

Brushes are essential in the proper functioning of many motor tools like jackhammers, planers, and grinders. They are usually made up of carbon and installed on the fixed part of a motor to ensure optimal transmission of power to its rotating part. They conduct electrical charges between stationary wires and moving parts of the motor.

How does it work?

When power is applied to the drill. Current passes through the carbon brushes from the battery. This current produces torque at the desired speed. It enters into the commutator before going down to the armature.

The Current in the armature magnetizes the copper wire present and presses it against a ring of magnets. This leads to the spinning of the armature, which subsequently drives the motor. This series of events stops when the power is out.

The switching of battery polarity to the motor gives the ability to reverse the drill. Brushed drills are large, heavy, friction-driven, and inexpensive.

What Is a Brushless Drill?

A brushless drill lacks brushes in its powering system and it operates with a brushless motor. While brushless power tools were first created in the early 2000s these motors have been around since the 1960s.

At that time, the newfound brushless motors bore promises of better performance but were ineffective until some advancements were made much later. Therefore, if these drills lack brushes what then do they have as a replacement?

The answer to that lies in a stroke of electrical ingenuity. The role of brushes along with a commutator is to interact with magnets to get the shaft spinning. In a brushless drill, both are replaced with an electrical circuit that is accompanied by a sensor.

The shaft does not just spin on its own. It is surrounded by stationary copper windings that would receive the converted energy. With the circuit box now in the mix, the windings are directly in communication with electronics. This direct contact enables the drill to make adjustments according to what it is being used for.

You can think of it as a smart drill as it adjusts the amount of current it draws according to the toughness of the material it is being used on. With this type of drill accuracy and grip as well as efficiency during use is much better and so you are not drilling a wooden plank with the same force used with a brick wall. Just imagine how much of a difference that would make.

Along with its intuitive operation, a brushless drill also can generate a very high amount of power. It owes this to the positioning of its copper windings. The windings surround the motor setup on the outside so they can be made bigger to an extent. This leads to a rise in overall power generation.

Brushed vs. Brushless Drills: The Comparison


Brushless Drills

Brushed Drills

Motor Design

Uses brushless motor technology

Uses brushed motor technology


More energy-efficient, less heat generation

Less energy-efficient, more heat generated

Power Output

Higher power and torque output

Lower power and torque output


Minimal maintenance due to no brushes

Regular brush replacement and maintenance

Heat Generation

Less heat buildup

More heat buildup

Size and Weight

Compact design, lightweight

Bulkier design, heavier

Precision Control

Precise speed and torque control

Limited precision control

Noise Level

Quieter operations

Louder operations

Battery Life

Improved battery efficiency

Battery drains faster


Usually, higher initial cost

Lower initial cost

Suitable Applications

Versatile, suitable for various tasks

Limited to lighter tasks

Long-Term Value

Offers long-term value due to durability

May require more frequent replacements

Professional Use

Preferred for professional applications

Suitable for DIY and light use

Brushed vs Brushless Drill: Head to Head

Beginners or amateurs can think that there is little or no difference between the brushed and brushless drill. Especially since they do the same thing. The drills are different in many ways. Here are some of these differences:

Distinct Parts

The major difference between the brushed and brushless drill is the commutator and the brushes. These are replaced by an electronic controller in the brushless drill. This change has had an overall impact on the power usage, efficiency, and maintenance of the drills.

A lot of friction is generated in the brushes of a brushed drill. This is because they are in constant contact with the commutator. This friction leads to wear and tear and energy loss. A brushed drill often needs replacements to its parts.

In the case of the brushless drill, there is no brush to stay in contact with the rotating parts. This causes no friction leading to a much more efficient and long-lasting power tool.

Related Read — Drill vs Screw Gun


A brushed drill performs less effectively than a brushless drill because it loses torque as the brushes wear out while the brushless drill has high torque and power endlessly.

A brushed drill generates a lot of heat and always requires cooling a lot of time, especially when you are trying to work through a difficult material like concrete or hardwood. This leads to an increase in your operating time.

A brushless drill generates little heat and dissipates them quickly. This helps you run the tool for long hours with little or no stopping. The operating life of a brushed drill is short. Brushes need replacements between 50 to 60 hours of use, while brushless drills can go on working for thousands of hours.

Motor Size

Motor size is another difference between both drills. As you might have guessed, a brushless motor is smaller than a brushed one. This means that the build of a brushless drill would be more compact. The difference in weight can be as much as a pound while the size reduction is about an inch.

Brushed drills have more weight but in this case, it does not translate to more power. Brushless drills that are lighter can build up more speed and power.

This is because the absence of brushes eliminates friction, which would cause the drill to slow down. The performance of brushless drills ranges from 15-35% better in this aspect.

Difference Between Brushed and Brushless Motors in Power Tools

The main difference between brushed and brushless motors in power tools is that brushed motors use carbon brushes to transfer power to the rotor, while brushless motors use an electronic controller to do so. This difference in design leads to a number of other differences, including:

  • Efficiency: Brushless motors are more efficient than brushed motors because they do not have the friction losses associated with the brushes. This means that brushless motors can run longer on battery power and produce more power for a given amount of electricity.
  • Power: Brushless motors can produce more power than brushed motors because they can operate at higher speeds. This makes them better suited for high-performance applications such as impact drills and saws.
  • Torque: Brushless motors can produce more torque than brushed motors because they can operate at lower speeds. This makes them better suited for applications that require a lot of starting torque, such as impact wrenches.
  • Durability: Brushless motors are more durable than brushed motors because they have fewer moving parts. This means that they are less likely to wear out and need to be replaced.
  • Noise: Brushless motors are quieter than brushed motors because they do not have the same friction and vibration.
  • Price: Brushless motors are more expensive than brushed motors because they are more complex to manufacture.

Overall, brushless motors offer a number of advantages over brushed motors in power tools. They are more efficient, powerful, durable, and quiet. However, they are also more expensive. The best type of motor for a particular power tool will depend on the specific application and the budget.




Related Read — Drill Press vs Mill


Brushed Drills heavily depend on maintenance. The brushless drill maintenance requirement is minimal. This maintenance includes battery care and lubrication. The battery needs to be properly maintained as this helps against overheating.

Overheating of the battery could lead to a fry that might be beyond repair. It is also important to ensure the battery runs down completely before charging. Lubrication for the brushes to reduce friction, wear and tear. Lubrication also keeps it from overheating and corroding.

Should You Buy a Brushed or a Brushless Drill?

Starting this article, you had a high chance of not knowing a thing about the brush and brushless drills, but now you know what they are along with their differences and similarities. All that is great, but you still need to decide which one is worth spending your hard-earned money on.

It would be easy to pick the one that seems better but you also have to consider many other factors. Here is a list of things you should consider when choosing between a brushed drill and its brushless counterpart:


Drills are not the most expensive power tools available in the market but they still cost a tad bit much. A brushless drill climbs even higher on the price ladder especially when it is a cordless version.

It does not even have brushes so why should it cost more? Well, unlike in the brushed drill there is an extra cost for procuring the motor and electronics, which ensure the motor runs properly.

The bottom line is if you are not a professional who is ready to take out a lot of money for a drill then go for a brush one as it costs 30% less than a brushless drill.

Related Read — How to Drill into Metal?

Power Types

Drills are usually battery powered and brushed and brushless drills are no exception but there is one tiny hitch. They use different types of batteries. Brushed drills are powered by conventional batteries that can easily be accessed by anyone.

On the other hand, brushless drills are compatible with batteries that are not readily available. If you are a DIYer or perhaps new with power tools then save yourself the trouble and opt for a brushless drill.

Material Types

The type of materials you drill through is also worth considering. If you move from one material to the other often then a brushless drill that would adjust intuitively is the best fit. If you drill through just one kind of material instead, then just get the Brushed version and save yourself some money.

Durability and Maintenance

When making a purchase it is important to think about how long the tool you are buying would last and how to keep it working fine. You might also want to make sure that it is not a process that would seem too strenuous for you.

The brushless drill is very easy to maintain, as it does not require brush changes every 50-60 days like the brushed drill. It is also a very durable product owing to the lack of friction in it.

Without friction, wear and tear are greatly reduced as well as heat production that could damage the motor or battery. If you want a product that is durable and easy to keep in top shape then the brushless drill is the way to go.

Ease of Use

Tools that are a pain to use are hardly ever picked. No pain no gain, but some pains are not worth it. For this reason, you should consider how easy it would be for you to handle the tool.

If you cannot lift a heavy tool for an extended period or perhaps you have small hands then the brushless drill, which is much smaller and lighter is the one to purchase. Its low weight and small size also make it easy to fit into tight spaces.


The cost has been the major pushback that has kept people from purchasing brushless drills. However, the need to squeeze more power while increasing runtime and efficiency has made brushless drill a popular tool. It is the most optimal way to transfer battery power into drilling power.

A brushless tool lasts longer and investing in it would pay off. It is also much smaller, lighter, and able to operate without the hindrance of friction.

Brushed drills have been around for much longer and they are still a widely used option. It is much cheaper but has several drawbacks with use due to the effect of friction generated by the action of the brushes. It generates less power and needs much more maintenance due to wearing out brushes at intervals.

Nevertheless, it is still a better fit for drilling in many cases. For example, day-to-day fixes in a home or any other drilling task that is constant in terms of material strength and nature you would find that parts and accessories of brushed drills are much easier to procure.

If you run a small-scale company and you require a drilling tool for your everyday work, a brushless drilling tool is the best to opt for, as they are durable, convenient, and much smarter than the average drilling tool.

Now all the cards are laid out and you know the differences between a brushed vs brushless drill. Pick the best fit for you and start drilling today!

Again, here’s a summary of the differences between the drill motor types:


Brushed Motor

Brushless Motor





Less powerful

More powerful


Less torque

More torque


Less durable

More durable





Less expensive

More expensive

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We’re a team of engineers, contractors, technicians, and woodworking experts who use power tools daily and share fact-based information, tips, and recommendations. At thetoolgeeks.com, we debunk myths about power tools and share methods to use them effectively.

The Tool Geeks Team

We're a team of engineers, contractors, technicians, and woodworking experts who use power tools daily and share fact-based information, tips, and recommendations. At thetoolgeeks.com, we debunk myths about power tools and share methods to use them effectively.