Brushless motor technology has been the big trend in cordless power tools for the last couple of years. Every major manufacturer now sells a brushless lineup of tools, but is it worth it for you?
Brushless motors aren't new to power tools, but after Makita, DeWalt and Milwaukee launched full lineups of tools with powerful battery platforms to match, the race was on.
The ToolGuyd has a great primer on the structural difference between a brushed and brushless motor. In a tool with a brushless motor, the motor adjusts according to the task. The more resistance a drill or saw senses, the more power it draws, and conversely a lack of resistance lessens the pull. This is a huge advancement when it comes managing battery life, improving runtime for cordless power tools. A standard brushed motor will always max out on whatever speed it's set at.
A brushless motor also does not have the friction or voltage drop that a standard motor deals with, which will increase the life of the motor and overall performance.
With so many benefits, why don't all cordless tools switch to brushless motors? Cost.
There is currently an added cost to the design and construction of the tool due to motor size and advanced electronics that are required to manage the motor properly. Brushless tools are roughly 30% more expensive than standard lithium-ion cordless tools, which make them more appealing to tradies who work with their tools everyday than to weekend renovators.
There are many solid standard brushed cordless tools available, and it's unlikely you'll notice a difference between them and a brushless tool when it comes to jobs around the home. But stick to a lithium-ion battery as opposed to NiCd. The smaller size and lighter weight of lithium-ion batteries is well worth the higher cost.