Milwaukee Tool offers one of the most in-depth lines of cordless tools and we have been using and testing their tools since 2008. When it comes to Milwaukee M18 vs M18 FUEL tools, we understand the differences. This article describes the related technologies and why you might choose one over another based on your needs. Tip: You might just save some money!
At the most basic level, the difference between the Milwaukee M18 and M18 Fuel tools is that most M18 products have brushed motors, while all M18 Fuel tools have brushless motors. However, this is not the end of the disagreement.
We've written more about brushed and brushless motors. Here's the short version:
Brushed and brushless refer to the carbon brushes in DC motors used in brushed motors. Over time, they wear out and must be replaced. Brushless motors don't need them, but are controlled electronically.
The result of brushless technology is mainly three things: longer run time, higher performance and longer motor life.
There are some added benefits as well. Because these motors require electronic control, there is an opportunity to dial in more advanced controls such as extra speeds, assist modes, advanced thermal protection, and more.
Milwaukee M18 FUEL tools utilize brushless technology…but they're more than that.
The Milwaukee M18 range actually consists of several "families" of tools. All 200-plus use the company's M18 RedLithium batteries, but you may need a different tool depending on your intended use. Milwaukee offers the following services:
- M18 (Brush motor)
- M18 Brushless (Brushless motor)
- M18 FUEL (Brushless motor + RedLink technology)
Along the way, you might find a brushed hammer drill like the M18 compact 2607. You can also upgrade to the M18 Brushless 2902 Hammer Drill for more power and longer runtime. Finally, the M18 FUEL 2904 offers you smart functions such as AutoStop and the highest available torque and speed.
Let's review these tools in a quick table:
|motor technology||drawing||brushless||POWERSTATE Brushless|
|electronic product||not any||red link||red collar plus|
|Torque (Peak)||500 in-lbs||725 in-lbs||1,400 in-lbs|
|business process management||0-28.8k||0-28.8k||0-33k|
|length||7.8 inches||7.0 inches||6.95 inches|
|weight||3.0 lbs.||3.1 lbs.||3.3 lbs.|
Can I use the same battery in the Milwaukee M18 and M18 FUEL tools?
One of the great things about Milwaukee's M18 and M18 Fuel systems is that all tools use the same RedLithium M18 battery. So whether you use Milwaukee drawing tools, compact tools, or their flagship one-button models, all M18 tools and products run on the same 18V RedLithiuum battery.
Got a 2.0Ah M18 RedLithium battery? It works with Milwaukee M18 wire drawing drills and their M18 Fuel jigsaws.
Got one of the newer Milwaukee M18 high output batteries? It also works with the same drill and jigsaw. We just don't recommend using big 12Ah battery packs on Milwaukee's compact tools!
The point is, if the tool has M18 in its name and the battery pack says M18, they will work together. Power tools, lighting, lawn care equipment and more all run off the same battery.
You'll notice the difference when you use one of Milwaukee's premium M18 high output batteries. The electronics in the M18 Fuel tool are able to communicate with these batteries to drain more power. Due to the extra battery density and total capacity, brushed models may perform slightly better, but not at the same level as brushless tools.
How about the Milwaukee M18 Compact Brushless Tool?
Earlier we mentioned that most Milwaukee M18 tools have a brushed motor. Milwaukee introduced some M18 compact brushless tools a few years ago. Designed to sit between standard performance brush tools and high performance brushless tools, they offer the benefits of brushless tools at a more accessible price point. See the illustration above for an example using three different M18 drill bits.
These tools feature Milwaukee brushless motors and RedLink intelligence. However, these are not the same upgrades as advanced PowerState motors and RedLink Plus controls. Like all M18 and M18 Fuel tools, they can use any M18 RedLithium battery.
There are other exceptions. Milwaukee's M18 lighting products and radios don't need motors at all, but they still get the M18 designation because they use M18 batteries.
The Milwaukee M12 is the same story as the M12 FUEL. The M12 tool has a brushed motor and the M12 FUEL tool has a PowerState brushless motor and Redlink Plus intelligence. It's a different battery system, but the concept is the same.
Final Thoughts on Milwaukee M18 vs. M18 FUEL Tools
When you look at M18 FUEL products, you may notice a specific technology referenced by Milwaukee. PowerState is their name for their premium brushless motors. The RedLink Plus Smart is what they call an advanced electronic package that makes it work. RedLithium is the name of the battery technology that powers it all.
In the end, you want to buy the tools that will help you get the job done. Not everyone needs the best M18 FUEL power tool. If you're not going to run your tool all day, you probably don't need the high-end electronics offered by the RedLink Plus. The same goes for whether you need the absolute maximum performance. With so many options, we think most consumers—homeowners and professionals alike—will find something that meets their needs.