Little, Yellow, Different (Dewalt DCF885 20Volt Max* 1/4″ Impact Driver)

21 May

First off, Dewalt, you ain’t foolin’ me! The 20Volt Max* name is strictly marketing, in fact this same item, DCF885, is sold as the 18Volt in other countries; there’s a reason there’s a big * next to “Max” and it’s because the battery is rated for its max charged voltage, while the previous generation 18Volt was rated for its nominal voltage.

So, why am I writing this, anyway? What has driven me (bad pun?) to buy yet another power tool? Well, in working on the deck this weekend we ran into an issue that I thought me might run into. We kept killing batteries. I have a kit with an 18Volt drill and driver, which comes with 2 Lithium-Ion batteries and a charger. If you’re only using one of the tools it’s perfect, but as soon as you try to use both for an extended time you wind up having a dead battery and your spare is on the other tool. The efficiency of having a dedicated tool for drilling and one for driving screws is negated when you can’t use one of them because one of the batteries is on the charger. The clear solution was simple, an extra battery… or so it would seem. It turns out that the 20Volt Max* series is not an upgrade from the 18 volt, it is the next generation, and so it would seem the classic Dewalt battery mounting system that has been in use for, I’d guess, 15 years or so is being phased out slowly.

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Old vs. New Battery Mounting system

I found that replacement batteries were a little hard to come by, and expensive if you did find them. So expensive that for the price of two 18 Volt replacement batteries I realized I could get two 20Volt batteries as part of a kit with a charger and the new version of my beloved 1/4 impact driver. Now, granted I DO have a total of four tools that use the old 18Volt system, the aforementioned Drill and Driver, a jigsaw and a circular saw, all of which are great tools. But sometimes I rationalize my way into making a new purchase that seems redundant and in the end, I now have two 1/4″ impact drivers.

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What is an impact driver and why do you want one?

An impact driver differs from a drill in that it is specialized mainly for driving screws and bolts. An impact driver is much like an impact wrench that many people will equate with a NASCAR pit stop. The impact driver functions by repeatedly hammering a rotating shaft at a very fast rate, which translates into the bit turning quickly and with lots of torque. This torque is much higher than what you’d get with a standard drill with a screw bit but puts much less strain on your wrist. With a regular drill if the bit encounters resistance there is a strong twisting action that can really take you for a ride and possibly twist your arm or jam your hand into something. With the impact driver you simply pull the trigger and push down, there is very little twist feel. A regular drill will strip out most screws over 3″ or bog down before they are driven in, meanwhile an impact driver can drive in an 8″ lag bolt without pre-drilling and no wrist strain. An impact driver with a Lithium Ion Battery is significantly lighter than a comparable drill causing less fatigue, and the body is also a lot smaller, making it possible to get in much tighter spots.

One drawback is that impact drivers are LOUD, that has actually caused us to call it a day earlier than we might like because we’re afraid we’re disturbing the neighbors. An impact driver is NOT a drill, it doesn’t have a drill chuck, it only has a bit holder. Impact drivers are also very fast and strong so if you’re doing delicate work like woodworking or furniture assembly you should either use a different tool or have a very good feel for the impact driver or you will tear the wood apart. I could countersink a #10 screw all the way through the mahogany decking if I tried, it’s that strong. On that topic, there is no adjustable clutch like a drill would have, so again, not over-driving is a serious consideration when deciding whether this is the right tool for the job you’re doing.

Differences between the DCF885 (20Volt Max*) and DCF826 (18Volt)

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DCF826 Weight: 3Lbs,1.5oz

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DCF885 Weight: 2Lbs,14.5oz

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18Volt Li-ion Battery Weight: 14.75oz

20Volt Max* Battery Weight: 12.625oz

As you can see, the new version of the driver is lighter, as is its battery. At the same time the 885 spins at 2800 RPM vs the 826’s 2400 and the 885 impacts at 3200 IPM vs the 826’s 2800. Driving torque is also bumped up a bit from 1330 for the 826 to 1400 for the 885.

The battery on the 885 I have is rated at 1.5 AmpHours while the one on the 826 is rated at 1.1 AmpHours, theoretically this should translate into longer run times. It should be noted that higher capacity batteries are available for both the 826 and the 885, but at significant weight penalty in both cases.

The 826 has a single LED light under the bit that is on with the trigger, the 885 has three LEDs surrounding the bit holder that stay on for 20 seconds after you release the trigger, a neat function but it would also be nice to be able to disable that delay.

The 885 has a new bit holder that you can now just push the bit in with one hand, you still need to release the collar with your other hand to release the bit, but it is a small improvement.

There is a belt clip included with the 885, this apparently was an accessory you could add on to the 826 as I can see the threaded hole for it where the clip would go.

One thing I will miss on the 885 that the 826 featured was a spare bit holder. I would usually keep a torx bit in the chuck and a philips in the spare holder and always have the other readily on hand. This is not available on the 885, though one video showed a magnet on the side opposite of the belt clip on a European version.

So, what’s the verdict? Is newer better?

I don’t know, it’s raining and I haven’t tried it yet, and really only some solid use will show if this new version is an improvement or if they cut corners. I’ve dropped my old 12 Volt Dewalt drill off ladders numerous times and it’s still in one piece and kicking, I can only hope they are still built to the same standards as that drill while adding all this new technology. I assume any improvements over the 826 will be incremental; the slight reduction in weight and size is nice, and I’m hoping I’ll get a little more battery life out of the new one. I do like how I can keep the charger in the case and plug it in, where the old one sat sideways and had to be removed from the case to be used. Obviously this new case is just for one tool where the old one was for two, so the new case is considerably smaller.

If I run into any problems with the DCF885, you can be sure I’ll sound off about them here, until then we’ll be putting this thing through the wringer finishing off the last 1200 or so linear feet of decking we have yet to install.

Click here for update post!

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One Response to “Little, Yellow, Different (Dewalt DCF885 20Volt Max* 1/4″ Impact Driver)”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Dewalt DCF885 Impact Driver update « Titus Road - July 24, 2012

    […] a few days using the new “20volt” DeWalt impact driver I’m able to report some feedback on it. I do believe that the new driver is stronger and […]

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