Bosch DDS181-02 Review

Bosch DDS181-02 drill is capable of the most basic tasks, all the way up to drilling through steel angle iron. A higher-end tool such as a hammer drill will of course give you more functionality and power, but it will not have the ultra-portable, compact and lightweight qualities of the Bosch DDS181-02. It is these qualities that make this drill ‘best in class’ in our opinion, and in many ways it has edged out a class of its own.

Bosch DDS181-02 Review

Bosch DDS181-02 18-Volt Lithium-Ion 1/2-Inch Compact Tough Drill/Driver Kit

Let’s first, quickly clear up any confusion you may have with the different model numbers you probably see all over the internet. First, DDS vs HDS; the HDS is the hammer drill version. Second, 180 vs 181; refers to the battery type, and the 181 includes the new HC (high capacity) batteries. Third, 181-01 vs 181-02 vs 181-03; -01 comes with two 3.0ah HC batteries, -02 comes with two 1.5ah HC batteries, and -03 comes with one 3.0ah HC battery and one 1.5ah HC battery.

The DDS181-02 impressed us first by its compactness compared to previous generation models. It is essentially the same as the DDS180, but is quite new compared to the older 36618. This compactness results in better balance, and an easier to control drill. It is also able to fit into tighter spaces. This is covenient and lets you get into spots where you would otherwise resort to flex-shaft adapter.

Bosch DDS181-02 Performance Test Results:

Our performance test of the Bosch DDS181-02 is a straight up comparison to the older model 36618. Both drills using slim-pack batteries, however the newer model includes the HC high capacity batteries which are 1.5 amp hour vs the older 1.3 amp hour slim packs.

We compared the two drills by drilling holes into 2x4s with a 5/16″ titanium coated bit made by DeWalt. We drilled the holes side by side in ‘lanes’. The lanes were staggered between the older and newer model to ensure the drills were up against wood of the same hardness etc. We also drilled the holes 10 at a time, using the same drill bit, but switching between the drills. This all but eliminates the bit wear variable, as well as gives the drill motors and battery packs a chance to cool down. This allows the test to be more like real life conditions, and keeps it from being a test that’s simply measuring how quickly the batteries can heat up and go into protection mode!

The test went well, neither drill or battery pack got hotter than one would get in normal use. The battery packs were warm to the touch but only slightly. In the end, the Bosch DDS181-02 drilled 194 holes, vs the 36618 which came in with 170. This is just over a 14% increase. Coincidentally, if you look at the difference in battery capacity, 1.5ah is 15% more than 1.3ah…

We also ran the same performance test on a 5 year old Craftsman C3 19.2V drill, which finished the test with 36 holes drilled. This is a old, used drill, and it’s battery is in pretty rough shape. However, as we explain in the video, this is the kind of drill many people in the ‘new cordless drill market’ might have. We thought it was important to display what these people would be getting by upgrading to a top of the line lithium-ion drill like the Bosch DDS181-02.

There are a couple of variables we could not do away with in this test. First, since the 36618 in the test is about a year and a half old, its batteries have been used (but not abused), and therefore should have less capacity than brand new. This being said, however, our DDS181-02 has brand new batteries, and it is often said that lithium-ion batteries can improve in performance after ‘breaking in’. These two variables may be balancing out then somewhat, but we cannot say for sure as to what degree. As stated this is a simple comparison, and not exactly a real-life type scenario. In the end, the new drill performed as expected and as promised with the new HC batteries.

Bosch DDS181-02 Battery Recharging Time:

After our performance test we put the batteries from each drill in their respective charger at the same time and started a timer. Neither battery went into slow-charge mode, apparently our test did not get the batteries hot enough for this to happen. Both started with flashing green lights, indicating both were in fast-charge mode.

  • The 1.3ah battery from the Bosch 36618 finished charging in 39 minutes
  • The 1.5ah HC battery from the Bosch DDS181-02 finished in 47 minutes

Both of them took longer to charge than the 30 minutes quoted by Bosch. This could be because we drained the batteries further than Bosch does in their tests. In our eyes it makes sense that the bigger battery took longer to charge. It’s 15% higher capacity took 20% more time to charge. In the end, this isn’t very long to wait, and chances are your second battery will keep you going while the first is re-charging. Theoretically, in a pinch you could throw your battery on the charger for 20 minutes and half about half capacity if that’s all you need.

Bosch DDS181-02 Cordless Drill Review

Buy Bosch DDS181-02 18-Volt Lithium-Ion 1/2-Inch Compact Tough Drill/Driver Kit


Features:Specs:What's in the Box:Warranty:
  • Powered by Bosch 18-volt lithium-ion batteries
  • Maximum runtime from 1.5 Ah Slim Pack HC battery (two included)
  • Two speed settings (0-500 RPM and 0-1,700 RPM)
  • Maximum of 600 inch-pounds of torque
  • 18+1 clutch settings and a variable-speed trigger
  • Battery Chemistry: Lithium Ion
  • Width: 3.5-Inch
  • Battery Voltage: 18-Volt
  • Battery/Charger: Fast Charger
  • Chuck Capacity: 1/2-Inch Keyless Chuck
  • Chuck Design: Keyless
  • Chuck Size: 1/2-Inch
  • Length: 7.0-Inch
  • No Load RPM: 0-500 / 0-1,700
  • Torque (Inch. Lbs.): 600
  • Weight: 3.4 Lbs
  • One Bosch DDS181-02 Compact Tough drill/driver kit
  • Two 18-volt lithium-ion Slim Pack batteries
  • One 30-minute charger
  • One carrying case
  • Bits, and Operating instructions
  • Three-year ProVantage protection plan

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