This is the review of Hitachi’s “Triple Hammer” Impact driver (WH18DDL2) also known in the U.S. as the WH18DBDL2 or the best impact driver ever made. Please note that the only difference between the Japanese version and the US version is the battery sizes and the variation of colors this mighty power tool can be purchased for in Japan. In Japan, they have a variety of colors (i.e. black yellow, white, red, blue, and etc.) To keep things less confusing, I ended up buying a green WH18DDL2. I chose to buy a Hitachi impact driver in Japan for its reasonable price, two 6 amp batteries, and IP56 rating! If you buy this tool in the U.S., you get a lifetime tool warranty! Talk about EXTREME!!!
But first, understand that I accidentally stumbled on this compact beast while looking for a new impact driver after my 12 volt gave out. I’m really more of a Makita fan but the features and the new concepts of the Hitachi WH18DBDL2 make this tool a very powerful and reliable tool.
So why did I choose the Hitachi over Makita’s flagship impact driver?
From extensive research among the top reliable Impact Drivers on the market, all I can say is that Hitachi did it right with this impact driver. In one word: WOW!!!
The engineers at Hitachi not only improved the concepts of the impact driver, they pioneered and innovated it with triple anvils (hammers) for the goal of increasing torque and producing more impacts per minute. More impacts not only mean more tightening torques but a more fluid operation for the user. This Impact driver is very powerful but also SMOOTH!
Along with its top class power, it’s lightweight body ( just 3 lbs!!! ), and compact size, this tool can easily be underestimated. I will personally share that after screwing in around a hundred of 5 inch coarse threaded screws in 2X4s, I definitely felt that compared to older impact drivers, I had lesser fatigue all the while working efficiently with speed!
One reason I had lesser fatigue is that alongside the lightweight body, the balance is centered quite well on this tool. This impact driver is so well balanced, I can actually balance this tool with just my middle finger.
Most Advanced Impact Driver?
As of now, the Hitachi wh18dbdl2 impact driver is the only impact driver in the market with three impact hammers. Add that with its 30~38 minute fast charging Lithium ion battery packs, and 4 very useful speed modes for a variety of uses, the Hitachi WH18DBDL2 (18 volt and 14 volt) is the most cutting edge impact driver for 2015~2016.
“WHEN IT COMES TO GOOD IMPACT DRIVERS, IT’S NOT PRIMARILY ABOUT SPEED (RPM)! IT’S ABOUT THE TORQUE PRODUCED BY IMPACTS. THAT’S WHY IT’S CALLED AN IMPACT DRIVER!”
I wonder what’s next? Four hammers?
The WH18DBDL2 is very reliable!
Let’s first start that it’s a brushless 18 volt impact driver. Having a brushless motor helps significantly in decreasing weight of motors. Brushless motors also increase run time per charge because it uses power more efficiently than its brushed counterparts. Finally, brushless motors are also known to improve the overall lifespan of the tool as it doesn’t utilize brushes that will normally wear and tear.
Moreover, this impact driver is 18 volts! 18 volts especially for a cordless power tool is a lot of power than most would ever need. However, having more power increases your working flexibility. For example, if I needed to drill some bolts through concrete or if have to screw hundreds of fastening screws on a wooden deck, this 18 volt Hitachi Impact Driver will do the job with ease!
I dropped the screw in the end because it was pretty damn hot!
However, the secret weapon that makes this impact driver unique and so powerful is not how many RPMs (rounds per minute) it can turn a screw but how strong the tightening torque is! When it comes to good impact drivers, it’s not primarily about speed (RPMs)! It’s about TORQUE produced by impacts. That’s why you need an IMPACT Driver!
THE TRIPLE HAMMER TECHNOLOGY REALLY WORKS!!!
The triple hammer concept is not a marketing gimmick! Hitachi is the first company to bring this triple hammer technology and although it is a very new concept for the impact driving industry, the triple hammer on the Hitachi WH18DBDL2 really works! The hammer makes 3 impacts per rotation instead of the conventional two. This actually results with reduced vibrations, greater comfort for the user, and lesser cam-outs!
To understand the difference below is an image of a standard impact driver and the triple hammer.
Add some basic physics in operating this powerful tool, it would be a no-brainer that the more impacts you have, you get stronger torques, more speed, and lesser vibrations for more ease and control in operating this mighty power tool!
This mighty power tool is able to give you 1,832 in/lbs of torque and up to 4,000 IPMs (impact/minute). No other impact drills can match the torque of this beast! This is why the WH18DBDL2 can take on heavy applications such as the tightening and loosening of carriage bolts with little effort. Furthermore, it can drill into wood, metal, and CONCRETE!!! With four different speed settings, this single tool can take on many types of jobs making it a very reliable tool not only for professionals but for DIYers too!
“the only con that I can think of is that this IMPact driver might be “too powerful” for the amateur… But then again, this tool was made for professionals…”
For comparison, here are the basic specs of Hitachi and other competitors:
- Hitachi WH18DBDL2: 1832 in-lb, 2900 RPM, 4000 IPM
- Makita TD170: 1549 in-lb, 3,600 RPM, 3,800 IPM
- Milwaukee M18 Fuel: 1800 in-lb, 3000 RPM, 3700 IPM
- Dewalt DCF887: 1825 in-lb 3250 RPM, 3600 IPM
- Ryobi: 1600 in-lb, 3200 RPM ??
RPM stands for Rounds Per Minute; IPM stands for impacts per minute (BPMs or beats per minute can also be used in conjunction with IPMs)
How Hitachi’s Triple Hammer system works?
In the first scene you can see the driver utilizing all three hammers. This is in normal mode. In the second scene (around 30 secs), the impact driver is put into power mode and you will notice the hammers skipping every other hammer. That means more time for the motor to speed up and build momentum to produce stronger impacts while at the same time running at higher speeds. Although the RPMs maybe lower than Makita’s top of the line impact driver (2900 RPMs vs 3600RPMs), the skips allows the driver to utilize the momentum gained for the sole purpose of increasing tightening torque! GENIUS!!!!!!!
The triple hammer concept was actually one of a few important factors that made me choose Hitachi’s WH18DBDL2 over Makita’s flagship impact driver.
Besides, in terms of vanity and the usage of this powerful tool, I just have to admit that this triple hammer makes it sound like you are operating a muffled rapid fire machine gun. It just feels good to be loud and proud (and fast) with a badass power tool on the job site! If you care enough, people will notice how cool this tool looks while the pros will hear and feel the difference!
Speed and Endurance
Working fast and efficient is always desirable than working slow and inefficient. I have no doubt that with the Hitachi Impact Driver, you will work faster, save time, and make money!
Apologies if the Japanese brochure for the triple hammer impact driver here may not be readable so I’ll focus on the numbers in red. Hitachi claims here that as of 7/2015, the 18 volt triple hammer is 25 percent faster compared to the older model (WH18DDL or the mark 1) while the 14 volt is 20% faster than than it’s predecessor.
However, for some reason there is a bit of disparity with torque between Japan and the U.S.:
Also, regardless of how powerful this impact driver is, the operational usage is long!!!
Check out how many fastening screws this monster can screw on one charge!!! When used with the 18 volt model with a 6 amp battery, you can screw in up to 4,070 screws or about 1.2 X more than the 18 volt 5 amp battery.
As with the 14.4 version, you can screw in 3,000 screws with the 18 volt 6 amp battery. In short, it’s highly likely that you can finish up most jobs with just one fully charged battery.
The batteries probably make up the most of the expense for this beast. Although expensive, the 6.0 amp batteries are under a two year warranty and expected to last 1,500 charge cycles.
The Hitachi WH18DBDL2 is one die-hard tool! Just like its predecessor, it is an IP56 rated power tool. This means that this particular impact driver is very dust and water resistant! You can get it wet in the rain, can dunk it in a bucket of water, spray it with a water blaster, cover it in sand, and it will still operate.
For those who do not know, IP56 is an international standard that the power tool industry uses to rate the durability of tools. The IP stand for Ingress Protection, while the first numeral digit is the level of protection against solid matter, and the second numeric digit is the level of protection against liquids.
Looking at the scale, an I P 5 6 rating is up there! This means this tool can take some serious abuse and still remain operational. In my humble opinion, this impact driver can probably last you a decade with some tough daily usage! If you take care of it well, it should last a lifetime! In fact, this tool is backed with a LIFETIME Warranty!!!!
BTW, here is how Hitachi tests their products. (Note: this video is of the WH18DBDL2’s older brother, the WH18DBDL or the mark 1) Please also understand that the Hitachi’s Impact Driver will have a similar name but won’t be exact according to country. The building concepts of the two models are the same. The only difference is the triple hammer system and a better smaller power pack!
This tool fits well for both manly and feminine hands. With its rubber gripping and center balance, the impact driver feels really good to hold. Not to mention, the forward/reverse switch to drive in and drive out can be easily controlled with your index finger and thumb with either your left hand or right hand.
The trigger is touch sensitive so you can control as if it were a throttle.
The LED and battery check buttons are also easily accessible.
The only downside with the ergonomics is that if you hold the impact driver with your left hand (I’m a southpaw btw), you have to switch hands or invert the impact driver to select the 4 power modes.
Also, the belt clip which is positioned by default on the left side of the tool is great for right handed people. However, for left handed people, we would have to position it to the right side of the tool as seen in the pic on the left. Positioning the clip to the right can be a minor problem when putting it back in its case because it will not allow the impact driver to lay flat in the case.
Again, the problems stated above only affect left hand users but it is very minor.
The price of the Hitachi WH18DBDL2 reasonable. Check out the latest price here. For what you pay for, you get the impact driver with a lifetime warranty, two lithium batteries with a 2 year warranty, a rapid fan cooled battery charger that comes with a 1 year warranty, one double headed phillips screw bit, a tough double compartment case that allows you to store everything (your impact driver, 2 batteries, charger) and other bits and screws together!
The two high capacity lithium ion batteries I believe are what cost the most in this entire package. I think this is so because the batteries have multiple protection circuits that provide long run time while protecting the battery and the impact driver tool from overheating and electrical dishcharge. One Hitachi branded 18v 6amp battery by itself cost around $150. The impact driver by itself cost about $180. The battery charger costs around $90. All in all, its cheaper to get the whole package instead of buying it piece by piece.
By the way, I thought the rapid battery charger with its color changing LEDs USB charging port for your phone is cool but it can be a little noisy when the cooling system engages. However, because it charges your batteries within 30~35 minutes, why complain about the noise?
A nice double-decker case!
What I thought was really convenient was the case I get with the WH18DBDL2!!! Check out the double decker case which is part of the package! You can carry everything you need in a small package!
As funny as this may sound, the only con that I can think of is that this impact driver might be “too powerful” for the amateur. Why? Inexperienced users usually have higher rates of cam outs (slipping of the bits off the screw head) especially while using the power mode. Cam outs can cause damage to the bit, the screw head, and the working area.
But aren’t impact drills supposed to prevent cam outs compared to power drills? Here are the reasons inexperienced users cam out with impact drivers!
- Poor handling technique
- not enough pressure applied when driving the screw head
- poor fitting screw
- screw bit or screw head is worn out
Luckily, these are all easy to fix! Cam outs can easily be solved with lots of PRACTICE. For beginners who purchased this powerful tool you have four power modes. I suggest to start out with soft mode while learning how to line up the bit as perpendicularly as possible. All you need to do now is apply enough pressure, press on the trigger, and let the screw drive itself in. Do the same when driving the screw out. Rinse and repeat! The pros have done it so many times they can innately feel the screw bit “fit-locking” with the screw head every time they drive it in!
Remember that screw bits will wear out so it would be handy to have several quality screw bits. A magnet will also help prevent cam outs.
Likewise, the screw bit that comes in stock with the impact driver is quite durable but can most likely get damage from poor usage by an amateur from the first couple of tries on a very strong power mode!
Fortunately, this is the only con I can think of in regards to using this power tool. Then again, this tool was made for the professionals so I wouldn’t even count this as a con.
This tool is awesome! It won’t hurt to get this even if you’re an amateur. This tool will provide professionals the power and flexibility they need while giving any amateur (DIYer) a very reliable and versatile tool for many types of applications at home or in the garage. The quality of this tool is no doubt top notch and I believe this tool is an investment as it can help save you money and time (or make you more money) in the long run. With the WH18DBDL’s speed, versatility, a lifetime warranty on the tool, and a 2 year warranty on the batts, I don’t understand what’s holding people back from Hitachi.
What I Learned?
Don’t stick with brands. Brand loyalty can be convenient but having an open mind to other brands can help utilize the best of what is available in the market. Hitachi Power Tools may not be as popular as Makita or Milwaukee but I definitely would have missed out on this mighty power tool if stayed with only one brand!