Kobalt vs DeWalt: My Personal Opinion on Their Tools

by | Brands, Cozy DIY

Alright, so in the new instalment of our DIY series of posts I’ll be talking about Kobalt and DeWalt.

This is similar to my post about power carving tools here…with one exception:

There’s a slight imbalance in the case of Kobalt and DeWalt. And this imbalance is in favor of DeWalt.

How come? I’ll try to be as straightforward as possible.

By the way, usually the whole Kobalt vs DeWalt comparison is just a face up between Kobalt’s 24v tools and DeWalt’s huge 20v line.

It’s no rocket science: 24v is more than 20v. Also, Kobalt tools tend to be cheaper.

There’s a catch, though…

Kobalt vs DeWalt:
A Matter of Consistency & Tool Ecosystems

I want to talk about consistency.

Everyone knows DeWalt. They’re an established name with years upon years of history. You get a brushless compact drill from them – you can rely on finding replacement parts for years ahead.

You can also rely on compatibility between their present and future products. Interchangeability too.

This is a prime example of consistency. 5 years down the line, DeWalt will be DeWalt. What you have now will have the full support/servicing/choice of spare parts in the future too.

Kobalt is the seemingly cool new kid on the block. Hard to argue with that: the cost performance their tools put out is more than respectable.

Especially their 24v impact wrenches should be a staple for any DIY-loving home owner. In fact, that’s the only Kobalt tool I’d say fares better than Dewalt’s counterpart.

But they’re not consistent, and that just might be a problem you want to consider.

Kobalt is a store brand. It’s owned by Lowe’s and the manufacture of Kobalt tools gets handed down to various makers. Sometimes it can be hard to track down who exactly gets the job done.

Yes, this is where the consistency issues pop up.

How easy is to track down the repair parts you might need?

Who can guarantee you full compatibility between current and future models?

Also, say you buy a brand new tool. Now you want to build a whole set, but you’re tight on cash. Guess what second hand tools would be easier to find and more consistent?

You got that right: DeWalt. The DeWalt 20V Max portfolio has literally hundreds of tools that are consistent, sometimes include interchangeable parts…It’s a whole ecosystem, actually. And that makes things way easier.

Kobalt 24v vs DeWalt 20v:
The Impact Wrench Battle

One very important exception where Kobalt just astonishes are impact wrenches.

A typical DIY home owner with medium-workload projects will love them. Kobalt’s updated 24v line features affordable, solid, powerful tools.

There’s some serious cost/performance ratio skyrocketing here.

Summed up in short, 24v means you slap an additional battery on a 20v lithium-ion battery pack. Obviously this allows for more power.

It’s one step forward from the DIY enthusiast market to where the real professionals reside.

In fact, let’s compare the two brands’ cordless impact wrenches: 

DeWaltThumb1
  • DeWalt 20v 1/2" Impact Wrench
  • Torque:
    330 ft-lbs

    ★★★★
  • Speed:
    0-2000 RPM

    ★★★★★
  • Impact:
    2400 IPM

    ★★★★★
  • LED light:
    Yes.
  • Price
    $$$
KobaltThumb1
  • Kobalt 24v 1/2" Impact Wrench
  • Torque:
    Up to 650 ft-lbs

    ★★★★★
  • Speed:
    0-1900 RPM

    ★★★★★
  • Impact:
    2400 IPM

    ★★★★★
  • LED light:
    Yes.
  • Price
    $$

Crazy torque. Also yes, the other specifications look quite similar…But don’t forget how much more affordable Kobalt is. An easy choice here.

For other tools – including, but not limited to circular or reciprocating saws, I’d go with DeWalt. Easily.

A good example is this thread, where redditor /u/Im_A_Viking points out the problems he encountered with Kobalt miter saw design/performance.

In fact, DeWalt’s saws are the best if you’re shooting for a mid-range budget.

Sure, they’re not Bosch or Milwaukee with their high-end performance and legendary power. But other brands like Kobalt or Ryobi who happen to occupy the ‘mid-market’ space don’t provide much of a challenge.

Speaking of Ryobi, I do think they’re a decent choice for entry level projects. Check out my comparison between them and Ridgid – a brand I consider to be very near to DeWalt performance.

For not-that-demanding home projects, Dremel’s more modest saws are a good choice. Just keep in mind that their 3/4″ blade wheel depth really narrows down the material thickness you can work with.

That just about wraps up my opinion on this matter. DeWalt just seems to be the long-term bet. However, if you got bitten by the DIY bug, don’t want to spend much money and doubt whether you’ll be doing the same DIY projects in, say, 3 years time…Well, saving some bucks with Kobalt isn’t that bad of an idea.

If you enjoyed this DIY comparison of mine, check out our other posts on various DIY tools. Like our Hobart vs Miller welder comparison, or my quick guide to PEX clamps and crimps.

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