Sub-Compact Cordless Tools – Worth Another Look

Sub-Compact Cordless Tools

Cordless tools continue to change and advance at warp speed leaving many users standing in the power tool isle overwhelmed with choices. Making things even more overwhelming is the extensive range of cordless tools from sub-compact up to high demand heavy duty tools. One of the categories that seems to generate questions and, in many cases, gets overlooked is the sub-compact cordless tool line. The focus of this article will be on the sub-compact cordless platform and why we think it’s worth another look.

Increased Productivity and Improved Ergonomics

While it may sound cliché, most contractors mention increased or improved productivity as an important factor in investing in a tool or product. After all, time is money and with smaller work forces, improved productivity can improve the bottom line. However, larger, faster, more powerful tools are not always the solution to improved productivity. In fact, improved ergonomics can often lead to improved productivity. Sub-compact cordless tools can offer several benefits including:

  • Lighten the load on your tool belt and tool boxes
  • Reduce fatigue related injuries
  • Can fit into smaller tool boxes, reducing overall storage needs
  • Can fit into tighter spaces where larger tools won’t fit

Sub-compact cordless tools are not meant to replace every full size or larger tool. The key to taking advantage of sub-compact cordless tools is selecting tools that match the application. For example, if you’re installing 1/4″ diameter TapCon screws over and over all day long a sub-compact hammerdrill is perfectly capable of drilling the required holes and it’s much lighter and smaller vs a full size hammerdrill or SDS drill.

Advanced Battery Technology

Recent developments in battery technology have drastically increased power and run-time to do high demand tasks like running table saws, mag drills and full size SDS-Max rotary hammers. Those same developments have also helped drastically improve power and run-time for smaller sub-compact cordless tools. New battery cells combined with brushless motors and advancements in electronics are allowing for more compact yet powerful tools to be designed within the sub-compact category. Some of the benefits from newer battery technology include:

  • Longer run-time
  • Better heat dissipation
  • More watt-hours
  • More power to do tasks that traditionally required full size tools

Ultimately, advanced battery technology means many of the sub-compact cordless tools can now perform tasks that previously could only be done using larger full-size cordless tools. An example would be installing deck screws with a sub-compact impact driver instead of a full-size drill, or using a sub-compact bandsaw for overhead cuts.

New Power Tools That Were Traditionally Hand Tools

Sub-compact cordless tools are increasingly adding more and more cordless solutions that previously only included hand tools. Recent sub-compact solutions that fit into this category include:

  • Cordless caulking guns
  • Cordless crown staplers
  • Cordless rivet tools
  • Cordless copper tubing cutters
  • Cordless digital torque wrenches

With continued advancements in battery technology and brushless motors the sub-compact cordless tool category will continue to develop new solutions to replace traditional hand tools. The benefit will clearly be improved efficiency and productivity along with reduced fatigue and injuries.

Sub-Compact Cordless Tools – Filling Gaps

The recent expansion of sub-compact cordless tools across most Brands shouldn’t come as a big surprise to users. Ultimately, these tools are not really meant to replace larger full-size tools but more importantly filling gaps in our tool arsenals allowing us to work more productively. These smaller more compact tools are not intended to replace larger tools, they are designed to provide more compact, ergonomic solutions for tasks that larger tools are not needed.

So when you’re in the market for a new cordless tool, don’t discount the sub-compact category as it may offer smaller more compact tools designed to get the task done without sacrificing the power and run-time needed.


About the author

Todd Fratzel

Todd Fratzel is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Tool Box Buzz, and the President of Front Steps Media, LLC, a web based media company focused on the Home Improvement and Construction Industry.He is also the Principal Engineer for United Construction Corp., located in Newport, NH. In his capacity at United he oversees the Residential and Commercial Building Division along with all Design-Build projects.He is also the editor of Home Construction & Improvement.

@tfratzelTodd Fratzel

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1 Comment

  1. Kyle Jones

    I honestly think these kinds of tools are underrated. I have a kit made up of Milwaukee M12 tools just for doing small house calls (adjusting cabinets/doors). I find myself reaching for that kit more often than not, even for larger jobs, just simply for the weight and size of the tools.

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