Review of Hitachi DV18DBL Brushless Hammer Drill

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Brushes?? We don’t need no stinking brushes! Aside from being the motto of the Telly Savalas Admiration Society, that’s the trend in cordless tools—brushless tools are entering the marketplace in increasing numbers. One of the latest additions is the Hitachi DV18DBL (BL for BrushLess—clever, eh?). It’s an 18 volt Lithium-ion unit in standard Hitachi green that Hitachi recently sent us to review.

The Spec’s (from Hitachi):

• Features Brushless Motor Technology for up to 50% more run time, increased power and extended durability with essentially no maintenance
• Powered by a 3.0Ah Lithium Ion slide-type battery for fade free power, less weight and 3x the total battery life of a traditional battery
• Professional grade motor produces 654 in/lbs of turning torque, 27,000 BPM and up to 1,800 RPM to power through the toughest jobs
• Four-way electronic speed toggle and two-way speed switch allows for 8 different speed/power calibrations which gives the user the ability to set the hammer drill depending on the application
• Ratcheting 1/2″ keyless all metal chuck with carbide inserts for maximum holding power and durability under tough working conditions
• 22-stage keyless clutch delivers 22 torque settings, a hammer setting and a drill setting all controlled by a single aluminum clutch ring for ultimate precision and control
• Optical trigger switch provides a more responsive variable speed actuation and wear resistant trigger assembly
• Base mounted LED light maximizes efficiency in low-light work areas without casting a shadow from the chuck
• Battery level indicator light displays the amount of power remaining in the battery pack to avoid downtime
• Metal belt hook so the tool is always close at hand
• Ergonomic and lightweight at 4.8 lbs to reduce fatigue during extended or elevated use

Large case leaves room for lots of odds and ends

• (2) 3.0Ah 18V Lithium Ion Slide-Type Batteries (330067)
• 14.4-18V Lithium Ion Slide-Type Battery Rapid Charger (UC18YRSL)
• 2-Sided #2 Phillips Driver Bit (983006)
• Side Handle
• Carrying Case

Why Brushless?

So what’s the advantage of going brushless? Efficiency and durability (two advantages for the price of one!). In a traditional cordless drill, current must flow through a mechanical switch, then through brushes which contact the motor, to complete the circuit and power that bad boy up. Every point of contact causes loss of some electrical power, as well as generating heat via friction, which further reduces power. This also causes wear on the brushes, which eventually wear out and must be replaced.

High-tech brushless technology means full employment for graphic artists

In a brushless tool, everything is controlled via microprocessors, substantially reducing the amount of heat generated while increasing the efficiency of the motor. The trigger controls an optical plunger, which provides further reduction in wear and tear, while providing smoother control as it bosses the microprocessors around. Hitachi claims the combined increased efficiency improves run time by 50%; that’s a lot of drillin’! For more on the benefits of brushless, do a search on our site for “brushless” and you’ll see it’s a trend we’ve been covering for a while. Also, check out this video from Hitachi:

The Hitachi held its own against the corded drill

Can It Get The Job Done?

So, all well and good…now how well does it do what it’s supposed to? I did some side-by-side comparison with my corded Ridgid hammer drill to see how it would stack up.

Putting a half-inch hole into the concrete

Using a half-inch masonry bit, I drilled some holes in an old brick. Both drills ripped completely through in about three seconds. Drilling through three inches of concrete took quite a bit longer, but the drills finished within two seconds of each other, and the Hitachi didn’t bog down at all; 654 in-lbs of torque + 27,000 beats per minute = a mean, green, hole-making machine!

Since this drill will very likely be put to use as a standard drill/driver, as well as a hammer drill, I drilled some holes with a 7/8” spade bit through a 4X4. With the tool set on the LOW range, the bit tore right through. On the HIGH range, it quit ¾ of the way through, stopped by its microprocessor brain; this is likely due to the fact that in the higher range, RPM is increased at the expense of torque. I also drove some decking screws into the same 4X4; the drill will bury a 3” decking screw in high or low with no problem.

A quick check of the battery gauge saves grumbling at the top of the ladder

Little Touches Complete the Package

The tool incorporates a nice bright LED light in the base, angled up toward the tip; this is an improvement over the amber light found on some older drills. The slide-type battery is much easier to install and remove than the older double-sided push button batteries, which could get a little balky when they got dirty. It also incorporates a gauge to let you know how much juice remains, a nice feature for those about to ascend a 28’ ladder…The locking chuck is very sturdy and easy to use one-handed, and the fact that it has carbide inserts should help it hold up well under hard use. The rubber overmold grip is somewhat thinner than on my Hitachi DS18DL reviewed here, but the drill still fits my hand comfortably.

Who IS that masked drill??

Hitachi includes their standard roomy case, which provides quite a bit of useful space for tossing in extra bits, screws, Skittles, etc. Hitachi’s signature comic-book-green graphics adorn the exterior, although the Statue-of-Liberty look has been replaced by a vaguely menacing Fu-Manchu motif. The charger makes use of the same obtuse charging indicators as their previous models. No bit holder is incorporated, a minor inconvenience.

My new daily-use drill driver
And so to the bottom line…Brushless technology is gaining prevalence, seemingly with good reason. Its benefits make it likely that most higher-end tools will incorporate it in the near future. The Hitachi DV18DBL has a quality feel, and the features and capability of the drill make it very likely that it will replace my trusty DS18DL as my daily use drill driver. The extended battery life, loads of torque, and ability to leap into action as a hammer drill when needed make it a versatile replacement. (But no, you CAN’T have my old drill!). Besides, the Fu-Manchu graphic adds a touch of badass you can always use on the job site…this one’s a keeper!

You can find the
Hitachi DV18DBL 18V Cordless HXP Lithium-Ion 1/2-in Brushless Hammer Drill Kit
for around $289 from our sponsor, Tyler Tool.

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About Phil

Phil’s path to the pinnacle of success as HomeFixated’s Senior Writer was long and twisted. At various stages of his life, he worked as a framing carpenter, attended motorcycle mechanics school, served as an Army MP, did a hot and itchy stint installing insulation in Phoenix, owned and operated a small contracting firm doing residential renovations, and worked as an employee of a major airline (Motto: We’re not happy ‘til YOU’RE not happy). He is currently semi-retired, but continues to take on little projects, such as the total renovation of an old farmhouse. Yes, he is a slow learner. Future projects include a teardown restoration of his 1965 BMW motorcycle, and designing and building a kick-ass playhouse for his grandsons. Phil loves spending time outdoors, hanging out with family and friends, cool tools, and a cold IPA when beer o'clock rolls around.

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