If you have a DIY project that calls for a lot of manual screwdriving into places too tight for your trusty drill, an electric screwdriver may be just the tool for you. Electric screwdrivers work similarly to drills but are more compact, allowing you to get into tighter locations, like under the basement stairs or behind the furnace.
The best electric screwdrivers have powerful torque and an ergonomic gun-trigger shape that fits easily in your hand for a firm grip and precise control. Their motorized torque prevents the wrist strain and hand fatigue that comes with using a manual screwdriver, making them an ideal option for many projects.
Use this buying guide to navigate the best cordless screwdrivers on the market, and find out what goes into their performance, power, and build quality.
- BEST OVERALL: BLACK+DECKER Electric Screwdriver with Screwholder
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Black+DECKER 4V MAX Electric Screwdriver
- BEST COMPACT: WORX WX255L SD Semi-Automatic Power Screw Driver
- BEST INLINE: DEWALT 8V MAX Electric Screwdriver
- BEST FOR ELECTRONICS: SKIL 4V Cordless Screwdriver with Circuit Sensor
Before You Buy an Electric Screwdriver
Before you buy an electric screwdriver, you have to be sure it’s the tool you need. To that end, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Manual screwdrivers are less expensive than electric screwdrivers and don’t require a battery source for use. You have to rely on your own power to achieve sufficient torque from a manual screwdriver, which can be difficult when working with harder materials, like oak, mahogany, or ebony wood.
An electric screwdriver offers more power and does the work for you. With large projects that require driving many screws in a short time frame, an electric screwdriver is a great option. If you need a high torque for driving large screws deep into concrete or metal, then a drill or impact driver may be more suitable.
Electric screwdrivers fill the gap between a manual screwdriver and a drill to provide a more balanced driving experience that won’t strip screws or wear you out. If that sounds like the tool you need, read on.
Features to Look for in the Best Electric Screwdriver
Don’t invest in a new product without educating yourself on the most important features. The considerations below will help find the best cordless screwdriver for you.
Electric screwdrivers bring motorized power to your screwdriving experience, replacing manual screwdrivers for all but the most basic jobs. However, not everyone needs a heavy-duty electric screwdriver, so be sure to decide what you will use it for before you buy one.
The power output of an electric screwdriver is measured in volts.
- Lighter models average about 3 to 7 volts of power. These lower voltage screwdrivers are great for light- to medium- duty applications, like assembling furniture, hanging wall decorations, or other simple tasks with low- to medium-density material.
- Heavy-duty electric screwdrivers are best for high-density material like some metals or hardwoods. Consider a heavy-duty option with voltages that fall between 8 to 15 volts if you are expecting to do a lot of work with your electric screwdriver that would be too demanding for a lighter model.
Ultimately, pairing a light- to a medium-duty electric screwdriver with a powerful cordless driver is likely your best option for a cost-effective solution to just about any screw driving problem.
Torque is a measurement of how much force an electric screwdriver is capable of exerting on a screw in either the clockwise or counterclockwise direction. The higher the amount of torque, the more force is used to turn the screw.
Torque is measured in Newton Meters or N.m. Electric screwdrivers can have a torque between 1 N.m on the lighter side and up to 27 N.m for heavy-duty models. However, 27 N.m is quite high for an electric screwdriver, with most options falling between 3 N.m and 10 N.m, which is more than enough force for the majority of DIY projects. If you are concerned about regularly working with high-density material, opt for a higher torque option.
The speed of an electric screwdriver is measured in rounds per minute, or RPM. Lighter electric screwdrivers will have an average speed of 150 RPMs to 300 RPMs, but they can exceed this number.
Keep in mind that while a higher speed will mean that the screwdriver rotates faster, this can cause the screwdriver bit to slip and strip the screw if you are not able to control the tool. This is a good consideration for any increase in power, speed, or torque for an electric screwdriver. The best electric screwdrivers have variable speed control to suit different tasks.
For most people, a constant rate of 150 RPMs is already more than what is used to drive screws manually, so any of these speed options will help get the job done quickly and without fatigue.
Electric screwdrivers come in several different forms for maneuverability including fixed pistol grip, variable grip, and inline.
- Fixed pistol grip electric screwdrivers have a pistol shape, hence the name. The small handle and finger trigger allow you to hold the screwdriver during use without slipping, regardless of the speed and torque being exerted.
- Variable grip electric screwdrivers have an adjustable grip you can bend, rotate, and reposition for the best access and maneuverability. These adjustable grips are great if you are concerned about space restrictions or if you can’t decide between a fixed pistol grip and an inline screwdriver.
- Inline electric screwdrivers resemble manual screwdrivers but function the same as any other electric model. Due to their straight grip, they can slip through your hands if the speed or torque is too high, or if your hands or the grip of the screwdriver is wet or slippery. This option is great if you want to make the switch to a powered screwdriver, but prefer the feel of a manual screwdriver.
The battery power for an electric screwdriver is measured using milliAmp hours (mAh) for small batteries, or Amp-hours (Ah) for larger batteries, with 1000 mAh equalling 1 Ah. A one-amp hour (Ah) battery is capable of producing one amp of energy for one hour of time.
Alternatively, a 1-Ah battery can produce ten amps of energy, but can only do so for six minutes. Keep in mind that you use cordless screwdrivers only intermittently on projects, and a 1-Ah battery loses power only when the screwdriver is in use. Lithium battery options are the most common.
The average Ah rating for electric screwdriver batteries is between 0.5 Ah and 2.5 Ah. Your battery life needs should take into consideration the availability of electric power for recharging, the average length of use, and the power, torque, and speed requirements of the screwdriver, as higher energy output will drain a battery faster.
The size of the electric screwdriver is important to remember because size ultimately indicates the power of the tool. A larger tool has a more powerful motor, but keep in mind that it will be heavier as well.
Electric screwdrivers tend to weigh between one to three pounds, though some heavy-duty exceptions can weigh up to five pounds. One or two pounds may not seem like a lot of weight to manage, but if you plan on using the screwdriver for a long period of time, expect some hand, arm, and shoulder fatigue.
Electric screwdrivers, like most common power tools, come with various features intended to make your job easier and set them apart from other models.
- A magnetic screw holder extends from the front of the tool, so you don’t need to hold the screw while using the screwdriver with the other hand.
- A torque adjustment system allows users to raise or lower torque levels based on application requirements.
- An instant stop feature prevents the tool from driving if the screw jams or is fully screwed in. This stops the transmission of torque from the tool to your hand and arm, saving you some aches and pains.
- LED lights provide extra visibility when working in dimly lit spaces.
- Kits come with electric screwdriver accessories like multiple bits and a carrying case. More advanced sets include add-on tools such as a manual screwdriver or cutting wheel.
Our Top Picks
No matter what type of electric screwdriver you purchase, you want it to be a high-quality product. These models are among the best cordless screwdrivers available, based on the above buying factors, price, effectiveness, and reputation.
The six-position clutch of this model allows the torque to be set according to the application, to a maximum of 8 N.m, using Black+Decker’s exclusive SmartSelect technology. This dial uses screw length to determine the necessary driving force for optimal results.
The fixed pistol grip screwdriver allows you to maintain a firm grasp on the tool while in use without slipping, and it also has a magnetic screwdriver holder that makes it easy to precisely align the screw without holding it with your hands.
This model isn’t lightweight, but at just 2-pounds it isn’t too heavy either, making it a great choice for reducing hand and arm fatigue. The 4V, 1.5 Ah battery provides up to 180 RPMs during use and is ideal for common screwdriving applications, such as replacing a door handle.
This variable grip electric screwdriver can be adjusted from inline at zero degrees to a pistol grip at 90-degrees for enhanced maneuverability. The 4V, 1.5 Ah battery provides ample power to tackle the most common DIY applications, such as hanging new light fixtures or replacing home signage.
With up to 4 N.m of torque, the Black+Decker 4V Max Electric Screwdriver is a bargain selection that won’t leave your wallet too light after purchase. It also includes an independent flashlight that you can use separately or attach to the screwdriver for light-guided use, and at just 1 pound, it won’t leave your arms aching.
This small cordless screwdriver can easily manage tight spaces. Lightweight at 1.5 pounds, the fixed pistol grip makes screwdriving applications simple. Remove the screwdriver bit cartridge and load it with six common screwdriver bits. Once replaced in the screwdriver, the cartridge can be rotated from one bit to the next with the top-mounted slide, so you can quickly access the correct bit for the job.
The built-in screw holder clamps onto screws, holding them in place without risking your fingers. With a 4V, 1.5 Ah battery, this convenient model can produce 3 N.m of torque and up to 230 RPMs of speed, making it suitable for most DIY applications.
If you are looking for a powerful cordless screwdriver to replace a manual model, but the pistol grip doesn’t appeal to you, then the inline design of the DeWalt 8V Max Electric Screwdriver is perfect for you. You can charge the 8V, 1 Ah battery with the included docking station and monitor the battery with the power indicator on the side of this lightweight 1pound screwdriver.
The inline design can be difficult to use in tight spaces, but this model boasts several helpful features, including a built-in LED light, a smaller size battery pack that can be charged in just one hour, and a variable speed setting of up to 430 RPMs and a torque of 4.5 N.m.
If your DIY projects have you working with outlets or wiring, this tool is the way to go. The cordless screwdriver features patented Circuit Sensor technology, alerting users when it detects electrical current in a box or outlet—saving you from a potential zap when you shut off the wrong breaker.
This cordless screwdriver can access tight spaces, thanks to its small build. The device boasts an LED light, nine changeable bits, a bit holder, and a USB charging cable. The chuck accepts any ¼-inch drive bit and also functions as a ¼-inch nut driver. It has both forward and reverse motion but no adjustable clutch or speed settings.
FAQs About Your New Electric Screwdriver
If you still aren’t completely confident about which kind of electric screwdriver you need, take a look at these popular questions and their answers below.
Q. Is an impact driver the same as an electric screwdriver?
Impact drivers and electric screwdrivers share some similarities, but they are different tools. Think of an electric screwdriver as a smaller, lighter, and less powerful version of an impact driver. An electric screwdriver is designed for occasional use, while an impact driver can withstand frequent, prolonged usage. An impact driver is built for heavier-duty tasks—basically a mid-point between an electric screwdriver and a power drill.
Q. How do I choose the right electric screwdriver?
Think of the tasks you’ll take on with the screwdriver. For light- to medium-duty tasks, like assembling furniture and hanging wall decorations, 3 to 7 volts are sufficient. Heavy-duty jobs involving high-density material like hardwood require 8 volts or more. The force produced by an electric screwdriver, or torque, ranges from 1 N.m on the lighter side up to 27 N.m for heavy-duty models.
Battery life for electric screwdrivers varies from 0.5 Ah and 2.5 Ah, with higher values amounting to longer run times. Consider which of the following forms you prefer: fixed pistol grip, featuring a small handle and trigger operation; variable grip, allowing you to bend, rotate, and reposition the grip for enhanced maneuverability; and inline, featuring a straight grip that more closely resembles a manual screwdriver.
Beyond these essential considerations, there are additional features you may prefer, such as variable speed, torque adjustment, built-in LED lights, and included screwdriver bits.
Q. What is the difference between mAh and Ah ratings in batteries?
1000 MilliAmp hours (mAh) is equal to 1 Amp-hour (Ah) and both are measurements of how much electrical current is discharged from a battery over a period of one hour. Higher numbers equate to a longer battery runtime for electric screwdrivers, with shorter lifespans being measured in mAh and longer lifespans measured in Ah.
Q. How can you make the battery life last longer in electric screwdrivers?
To make the battery life last longer in your electric screwdriver, always ensure that you charge the battery to full then use the screwdriver until the battery runs out. Don’t leave the battery charging longer than necessary and do not remove the battery from the charger if it only has a partial charge.
When storing the electric screwdriver, store away from high heat or freezing temperatures. Also avoid storing the battery near magnetic objects and metals, as these materials can seep power from the battery.
For furniture assembly, home repairs, and other DIY jobs, electric screwdrivers are the Goldilocks of power tools. They’re more powerful and convenient than a manual screwdriver, yet lighter-duty compared to impact drivers and drills. Electric screwdrivers offer more precision and cost efficiency than impact drivers and drills. As such, they’re just right for many household applications.
Electric screwdrivers vary in power, torque, battery life, and speed to suit different applications. With features like variable speed, adjustable grip, LED lights, built-in screw holders, and more, these tools are quite easy to use. By paying attention to these nuances, users can find their ideal tool and get the most out of it.