A Deep Dive Into Kobalt Power Tools
Kobalt is the in-house brand of power tools for American DIY chain store Lowe’s. The brand has several product lines that include hand tools, air tools, compressors, outdoor power equipment, and storage and organization solutions as well.
Most importantly, Kobalt also has a line of power tools, and that’s what we’re going to be looking at closely in this article. When it comes to Kobalt power tools, you can find high-quality drills and drivers, saws, impact wrenches, and also batteries and accessories.
Surprisingly, Kobalt doesn’t manufacture these power tools themselves. After all, Lowes only started the Kobalt brand in 1999 to compete against similar in-house brands of other chain stores like Sears and The Home Depot.
Instead, Kobalt power tools come from several hardware manufacturers. For instance, their cordless power tools come from a manufacturer known as Chevron, though they carry the Kobalt brand name.
No matter where they come from, Kobalt power tools are very popular with household users and tradespeople alike. The combination of their affordability with high-performance and quality makes these tools a must-have, whether you’re doing light repairs around the house or if you’re working on a construction job site.
In the rest of this Kobalt power tools review, we’re going to explore the Kobalt brand of power tools much deeper to see how and where it can offer you great value.
Who’s It For?
When it comes to in-house power tool brands, people often assume that they’re of inferior quality. That belief is even stronger when they find out that brands like Kobalt source their tools from third-party manufacturers.
That might be true for other brands, but that’s definitely not the case with Kobalt power tools. These tools are excellent for both professionals and casual users alike.
Kobalt power tools are highly sought-after by professional tradespeople. In this case, we’re talking about people like builders who work on construction job sites on a daily basis.
You see, most of Kobalt’s power tools are cordless, though there are a few of them that are still corded. That makes the tools portable and easy to carry around the job site, giving workers much more flexibility.
But for cordless tools to be of value to a professional, the battery platform that the devices use must also be able to supply it with a constant and robust supply of power.
Thankfully, that’s exactly what you get with Kobalt’s power tool batteries. All of the batteries for Kobalt’s power tools are 24 V max, but they come in options as low as 1.5, and as high as whopping 6 Amp-hours!
Why does that matter? It matters because professionals can use them around the job site for much longer without having to stop and replace or recharge their batteries. Less frequent battery changes also mean you won’t need to keep as many spare batteries on standby; even more so if you’re using Kobalt’s Extended Run batteries.
Kobalt power tools aren’t just suitable for professionals, but they’re also perfect for casual users as well. By that, we’re referring to people who are looking to keep a basic set of power tools around the house.
What makes Kobalt power tools so perfect for casual users? It’s simple. You get contractor-grade tools of high quality that are affordable to the Average Joe. That’s what makes Kobalt power tools so fantastic.
Let’s not forget that Kobalt is just the brand name under Lowe’s. The companies that actually manufacture these tools have been in the business for a very long time, so they’ve got a track record that proves that they build high-quality power tools.
So, when casual users opt for Kobalt over other specialized brands, they’re getting the same high quality for a fraction of the cost. They’re not paying a premium just for the brand name.
Whether you’re a professional mechanic or just someone tinkering around in your garage, you’ll also find Kobalt power tools handy for automotive use. Among Kobalt’s many power tools, a large number of them are high-performing impact wrenches.
As with all types of Kobalt power tools, most of their impact wrenches are cordless and battery-operated with brushless motors. Still, they also offer a powerful corded option, the Kobalt 8-Amp Drive Corded Impact Wrench.
Who’s It Not For
As great as the Kobalt Power Tools might be, they’re not for everyone. If you’re looking for some tools to do very light work or to perform tasks that require precision and finesse (like arts and crafts), these tools might not be for you.
While they are excellent for household tasks, they are definitely overpowered for anything lighter than that. Plus, some people are sure to find their tools a little heavy for their liking.
Just to put things into perspective for you, the Kobalt 24-Volt Max 1/2-in Brushless Cordless Drill weighs about four pounds. But don’t forget; cordless tools also require batteries! So, add another pound-and-a-half or two for the Kobalt 24-volt Max 4-Amp-Hours Lithium Power Tool Battery.
That might sound like much at first, but a hefty, powerful cordless drill at that weight will be hard to manage for some people. That’s especially true when you pull the trigger, and the tool starts working, which makes it difficult to do tasks that require precision.
So, if you’re looking for tools to do lighter jobs that require a softer touch, you might be better off with Kobalt’s hand tools instead of their power tools.
What We Like About Kobalt Power Tools
Kobalt’s line up of power tools is pretty straightforward, which offers plenty of reasons to love them. Here are a few of those reasons.
Firstly, all of Kobalt’s power tools are powered by brushless motors (as opposed to regular motors which are ‘brushed’). These days, brushless motors are a standard feature when it comes to high-end power tools.
But what’s so good about them? Put merely, brushless motors perform much better than their predecessors. They’re more efficient, leading to less heat and noise. Plus, power tools with brushless motors don’t need maintenance as much as their brushed counterparts.
Very Wide Selection of Saws
Among Kobalt’s power tools is an extensive selection of saws. These include table saws (both fixed and portable ones), jigsaws, tile saws, and even reciprocating saws.
You could say that Kobalt has a saw for every possible need!
Some of these saws are corded, but there are also plenty of cordless battery-operated ones among their lineup as well.
Shared Battery System with Independent Power Indicators
One of the main things we love about Kobalt power tools is the battery system. For starters, it’s a shared battery system, meaning you can use any Kobalt battery on any compatible Kobalt power tool. Aside from regular batteries, you also have the option for Extended Run batteries as well.
Besides that, every Kobalt battery has independent power indicators on them. Whether or not the batteries are fitted into the tool, you can use their power indicators to see how much charge is left in those batteries.
That’s a very thoughtful feature for Kobalt to include with their batteries because it will help you save loads of time. Never again will you mistakenly pack a flat battery or charge one that’s already full.
Universal Battery Charger
The best part of having a shared battery system? That means you’ll also have a universal battery charger. You can use Kobalt’s battery charger with any of their batteries, making things much easier for you and your team (if you’re working on a job site).
Think about it. If you’re on a job site and you forgot a charger, you can just share one with your teammates and vice versa. That means fewer disruptions to the job, and lord knows how much time saved overall.
Lots of Combo Kits
Kobalt also offers loads of combo kits that include commonly-used tools plus a few added accessories.
The combination of tools in each kit makes perfect sense. For example, they have the Automotive Combo Kit, which includes impact wrenches, batteries, a charger, and a neat little Kobalt outdoor portable speaker.
Many of the combo kits include other useful value-add accessories like LED work lights, Kobalt bags, and even hard carrying cases. One of those combo kits even consists of a Kobalt storage shelf!
So, you’re looking to invest in a starter kit of tools or buy one as a Christmas gift, Kobalt’s combo kits will make shopping such a breeze!
What We Don’t Like About Kobalt Power Tools
Unfortunately, there are a few things that we feel Kobalt could have done better with its power tools.
Limited Selection of Drills and Drivers
Kobalt has an impressive line-up of power tools across several categories, including saws and impact wrenches. But their drills and drivers category offers pretty limited options compared to the others.
At the time of preparing this Kobalt power tools review, there are only three cordless drills and drivers plus one corded version as well. That pales in comparison to the dozens of other options when it comes to other power tools that Kobalt has on offer.
Very Few Corded Power Tools
Don’t get us wrong; we love cordless tools just as much as the next guy. Still, let’s not forget that corded power tools also have their benefits. They tend to be more powerful, plus you’d never have to worry about charging batteries just to use them. Corded power tools are literally ‘plug and play’.
Looking at the Kobalt lineup of tools, it’s clear that they’re very biased towards cordless power tools instead of corded ones. Typically, there’s only one corded option for each category of power tools, so you have a corded drill and driver, and one corded impact wrench.
Kobalt offers more corded options when it comes to saws, at least.
No Drill Bits or Saw Blades Included
Also, many if not most Kobalt power tools don’t include drill bits or even saw blades. Those accessories are sold separately.
This isn’t a deal-breaker, but it is a bit disappointing. You see, if you already have drill bits or saw blades, then it won’t be a problem. You’ll just need to fit them into your new Kobalt power tools, and you’re ready to go.
Unfortunately, not everyone has them. For those people, they’d have to pay to buy the Kobalt power tool and then pay some more to buy the necessary bits or blades they need. In the end, that becomes a hidden cost that they may not have expected to spend after paying for the tools.
- Suitable for professional or home use.
- Most use brushless motors.
- A wide selection of cordless tools from all categories.
- Shared battery system with power indicators across all tools.
- A limited selection of drills and drivers.
- A limited selection of corded tools.
- Drill bits and saw blades not included.
When you shop for Kobalt power tools, you’ll find that what’s included in the package can be very different from each other. Most of the time, it depends on the type of tool that you’re buying, as Kobalt seems to have packaged each category differently.
What’s Included with Kobalt Drills or Drivers
Suppose you buy a Kobalt cordless drill or driver. Power tools in this category typically come with a battery and charger. However, some choices like the Kobalt 24-Volt Max 1/2-in Brushless Cordless Drill will also include a soft Kobalt carry bag for you to take the drill around wherever you go.
However, the opposite is true if you’re choosing from among Kobalt’s impact drivers.
What’s Included with Kobalt Impact Drivers
For impact drivers, the battery and charger are the exceptions, not the norm. Kobalt sells most impact drivers as bare tools. However, they do offer some combos with a battery, charger, and soft carry bag like the Kobalt 24-Volt Max Variable Speed Brushless Drive Cordless Impact Wrench.
What’s Included with Kobalt Saws
If you’re looking for saws instead, you’ll find that a lot of them don’t come with saw blades. The cordless saws, like the Kobalt 24-Volt Max Variable Speed Brushless Cordless Reciprocating Saw, also do not come with any accessories, not even a battery or charger.
What’s Included with Kobalt Power Tool Batteries and Accessories
Kobalt power tool batteries and accessories are ‘no-frills’, as there is nothing extra included in the packages. If you ordered a battery and/or charger, that’s all you’re going to get; albeit they do package it nicely to protect it from damage during shipping.
Overview Of Features
Here’s an overview of the features that you will find on Kobalt power tools:
24 Volt Max Cordless Power Tools
Let’s start with what is arguably the most important feature of them all: power. After all, they’re not called power tools for nothing!
All Kobalt cordless power tools have a standard 24 Volt maximum output. That’s a great deal of power, which is why Kobalt power tools are suitable for use around the house just as much as on a professional job site.
Kobalt seems to have gone with brushless motors across the board in most if not all of their power tools. That was a smart move because brushless motors are much more efficient and they generate less heat and noise.
Better yet, having a power tool with a brushless motor means you won’t have to worry too much about maintaining the tool itself. So, you can spend more time focusing on the task at hand.
Brushless tools are usually a feature of high-end power tools because they’re an upgrade from regular brushed electric motors which aren’t as efficient.
Throughout this Kobalt power tools review, you’ll notice that we’ve mentioned batteries quite often. That’s because Kobalt’s batteries are quite impressive. Plus, they’re a significant factor behind why their power tools work so well.
Kobalt power tool batteries come in several amperages, namely 1.5, 2, 4, and 6 amp-hours. You also have the option of choosing between standard batteries and Extended Run batteries which hold a much larger capacity. With those, you can continue working for more extended periods without having to stop to recharge or replace batteries.
Lastly, the batteries also feature power meters that work whether or not the batteries are loaded onto the power tools. That will offer you convenience and peace of mind each time you prepare to start working with your devices.
Don’t forget: these batteries are universal and interchangeable. So as long as you have one working Kobalt power tool battery, you can use it to power any of the other Kobalt power tools you have in your collection.
When it comes to power tools, one of the most overlooked features is speed control. Thankfully, Kobalt power tools all have variable speeds, giving you much more control over the work you’re doing.
Variable speed is a feature that’s easy to understand and use. Suppose you’re using a handheld cordless drill. The speed of the drill will depend on how hard you pull down on the trigger. Quite literally, more refined control over the tool speeds is right at your fingertips!
Aside from giving you more control, you could also view this as a safety feature. That’s because you won’t damage anything with a tool that goes at full speed even when you don’t want it to do that.
At the end of this Kobalt power tools review, we have to say that this is quite an impressive lineup of power tools. Suppose you don’t already own these tools in your collection at home. In that case, you should definitely consider the Kobalt brand the next time you’re in the market for a new power tool.
Don’t let the brand name fool you. People who avoid in-house brands like Kobalt (being a brand from Lowe’s) don’t know what they’re missing out on. Remember, Lowe’s sources the tools for the Kobalt brand from reputable, experienced power tool manufacturers.
What does that mean for the everyday power tool user like you? It means that you get no-frills, high-quality tools at a fraction of the cost of those from more prominent brand names. They’ll work just as well (if not better) and last just as long, too.
Kobalt has a well-rounded selection of power tools, so you’ll find whatever you need for most work tasks. That also includes automotive jobs, like if you’re working on your car in the garage. Above all, they’re an excellent choice if you’re looking for cordless power tools in particular.
As mentioned before, most of their selections are cordless, with very few corded options. Based on this, it seems clear that Kobalt values portability more than anything else. That’s not a bad thing unless you’re looking for heavier-duty corded power tools for your workshop or business.
If corded tools are your thing, then you can always choose from Kobalt’s line of saws. In that category, you have plenty of corded power tools to choose from.
Still, corded power tools are only as useful as the batteries that power them. That’s just another area where Kobalt has proven to be exceptional, as well. As we have said, again and again, their batteries are universal and interchangeable, so you don’t have to buy batteries for each of your Kobalt power tools.
Plus, you do have quite a few choices when it comes to the capacities of those batteries. Choose among different amperages for higher output. Or, just choose an Extended Run battery if you’re looking for something with more endurance to fuel your long work periods.
And if you don’t know which Kobalt power tool to start with, don’t worry. Kobalt has already put some of their best together in several combo kits that you can pick up for yourself, or as a gift for someone else.