Last Updated on November 23, 2022 by Barry Gray
When selecting a circular saw, one of the first things you need to contemplate is whether you want a cordless or corded version. Clearly, this refers to how the power is delivered to the saw part, and I do admit that both versions have their own benefits and disadvantages.
So that’s what I’m going to focus on here because I do believe that being aware of the differences between corded and cordless power tools is important. By the end of this, I think you will find yourself in a better position to determine which version appeals to you.
Which One is Best?
I prefer the cordless version, but I do admit to keeping hold of my older DeWalt corded circular saw for those times when I fear the cordless version may struggle.
And that is the crux of the matter right there. You must think carefully about how you intend to use your circular saw to determine which option is right for you. Take into account the cost as well because even though cordless versions are no longer exceptionally more expensive, there is still often a price difference.
Ultimately, you want the best tool for your needs, which applies regardless of whether you end up with the corded or cordless model. As long as you know it’s capable of doing the job, then you have the best circular saw, in my opinion.
Should You Choose Corded or Cordless Circular Saw?
I know this is a tricky question, but I feel you have to consider several things before making up your mind.
It would be best if you thought about your own individual needs, but I have some advice. If you know you will be using your circular saw a lot and also pushing it to its limits regularly, then I’d opt for a corded model.
By doing so, you know it has that consistent power and performance level you need to complete your project, and that’s a huge deal.
But if you know it’s highly unlikely you will be working your saw in this manner, then it provides you with the opportunity to contemplate using corded or cordless versions.
Where Will You Use it?
You also need to think about where you will use the tool. If you already know you carry out projects in different spots, then having the ability to move around freely with a cordless version may appeal. I know that’s what I do with my own projects.
But if you only use a circular saw in the same spot, and there’s a power supply to hand, that does change things.
However, a cordless version would be best for anybody who wants the freedom to work anywhere they like.
Power and Features
Regarding features, you tend to find the same things on both corded and cordless, so that’s not something to think about. However, the power aspect is something you do need to look at in more detail.
For easy jobs, then there’s not much difference between corded and cordless versions. I’d certainly not sit there stressing about power outputs if all I’m doing is cutting the occasional small board or the odd 2×4.
But I do recommend opting for the corded version if you intend to work on tough materials and larger projects. At least you can trust that the tool will not stop working in the middle of everything.
The Corded Circular Saw
First, let me walk you through the corded circular saw. All of the big brands on the market offer at least one corded circular saw, and they are, of course, the oldest version. So, if you have been using power tools for a number of years, there’s every chance that you may have even started off with a corded saw.
The Key Features of a Corded Circular Saw
If you intend to purchase a corded circular saw, then I think you should know more about the different key features before you spend any cash.
Clearly, the main thing to consider is that the circular saw is powered by connecting it to a power outlet. That in itself offers several advantages, as I will mention later, but there’s a whole lot more to a corded circular saw than just how it is powered.
When you check out the motor and power capabilities of a corded circular saw, you will tend to see it measured in Amps. A corded circular saw can come with up to 15Amps, and that’s a whole lot of power at your disposal.
But not every corded version will be like that. A corded circular saw for your average home DIY’er may come in lower than 15Amps. However, I would not recommend dropping below 12Amps for most people. It’s just not worth the hassle and stress.
The speed relates to the number of times the circular saw blade will spin in a minute. You may find some models offering speeds of over 5,000 RPM, which makes a difference when cutting through more challenging materials.
However, I do love it when a model offers you a variable speed option. There are just times when you need a bit more control, which means less speed, and that 5,000 RPM is just too high for your needs.
Blades on both corded and cordless circular saws are pretty standard, but it’s still worth knowing what to expect.
The number of teeth on a blade can vary from a low of 24 to a high of 80. The higher the number, the smoother the cut. However, if you intend to use your corded circular saw for basic construction work, then something around 24 to 32 teeth will work well for producing rough cuts that will do the job.
A corded circular saw is lighter in weight than a cordless version, which is all down to the fact that it doesn’t come with a battery. In general, a corded circular saw will weigh anywhere from 7lbs up to around 12lbs.
But let me take you through the advantages of using a corded version before I turn the tables and walk you through the disadvantages.
The Advantages of a Corded Circular Saw
In my opinion, a corded circular saw has several advantages over the cordless version.
Consistent Power Supply
I need to start by discussing the power supply, as this is the most significant advantage linked to a corded circular saw.
As you are plugged into the main power supply, you never have to worry about power drops. It’s a constant supply, and that consistency allows you to just get on with making those cuts knowing your saw has your back at all times.
They Work Well With Tougher Jobs
This advantage is closely linked to the consistent power supply mentioned above. As you know, your circular saw is not about to run out of power. You can use it effectively with larger projects or where the saw is being pushed to its limit.
If you need to constantly push your circular saw, I would opt for a corded circular saw.
They Don’t Burn Through Components the Same
It’s also accepted that circular saws do not burn through different components to the same extent as cordless versions. This is thanks to the power and how it is pushed through the tool, and once again, this fits into the idea that it’s best to use a corded version for more demanding projects.
It’s obvious why this is such an advantage. It certainly saves you money when it comes to getting your circular saw repaired when it doesn’t even have to happen too often.
Corded circular saws tend to come with a lower price tag than cordless versions, which means they are the perfect solution for anyone on a budget. But don’t think that they are inferior in any way because they do not cost as much. It’s all connected to the price of the battery and the slightly different technology in cordless versions to allow them to work.
A corded circular saw is lighter than the cordless version, but I admit the weight difference has been closing in size in recent years. However, if you plan on using your circular saw for an extended period, then the fact it’s lighter may mean you suffer from less fatigue.
The Disadvantages of a Corded Circular Saw
The advantages listed above are huge, but I’ll tell you that corded circular saws also have some disadvantages.
While circular saws come with several safety features, there is one aspect of a corded circular saw you cannot fail to miss: the cable.
The problem with cables in a workshop is they tend to get in the way. That means they translate into a trip hazard, which is never a good thing. Also, these cables can be pretty long, and you always need to know where they are to stop you from falling over them and pulling out the plug.
If you work in a tight space, then this may become even more of an issue, and it’s certainly something I would take into consideration.
You Always Need a Power Supply
As this version is powered by a cable, it means you always need to be within reach of a power supply. While that may not be much of an issue in your workshop, it does mean you have restrictions on where you can work.
Think about this for a second.
You are working out in your yard in nice weather. You are doing this because you are working on a larger-than-usual project. You need to cut some boards, but you only have a corded circular saw, and you are nowhere near an outlet.
You now have two options. You either get an extension to effectively bring the power to you, or you carry everything back to another spot leading to an extended interruption in your project.
Neither option is satisfactory, but it’s easily something that could happen.
Introducing the Cordless Circular Saw
If I move onto the cordless circular saw, I find that there are times when not having that cord holding you back is important. However, there are a whole host of advantages linked to using a cordless version.
The Key Features of a Cordless Circular Saw
A cordless circular saw does come with several key features to be aware of. Admittedly, they share some features with their corded cousins, but they also have some of their own differences.
The Power Supply
Let me get the obvious thing out of the way: the power supply. Typically powered by a lithium-ion battery, the modern version is far superior in its power and the length of time it lasts before you need to charge it once more.
Also, the voltage differs depending on the brand and model. The power will generally range from 12V to Makita circular saws powered by a 40V battery. However, most brands will come in at either 18V or 20V.
Battery longevity is something that varies quite considerably. You should be looking at a battery lasting for anywhere from 4 to 8 hours before it needs to be charged. That generally equates to hundreds of cuts produced on a single charge. So if you thought it would lose power in less than 30 minutes, then think again.
Speed is no longer an area where the cordless version trails behind its corded counterpart. Now, you will find some brands capable of producing speeds of up to 5,200 RPM, and that’s an area where they have certainly improved in recent years.
That does mean I would not generally look at speed as an area you should focus on when deciding between the two options.
You will also find cordless circular saws to not be lacking in features. Bevel stops, dust blowers, lights, lasers, the list is endless, and even though it includes features you find in corded versions, at least nothing is missing regarding cordless models.
The Advantages of Cordless Circular Saws
But now, let me take you through some undeniable advantages associated with cordless circular saws.
A cordless version is clearly safer to use regarding a possible trip hazard. You don’t have to worry about a cord getting in the way of things, so you can effectively focus on the job in question.
If you work in tight spaces, then this may become even more important to you.
This is another huge advantage, but you clearly are not restricted by a cable when it comes to where you can use your circular saw. It works well if you are on a job site or where you would need to bring out various extension cables to get an outlet.
But I also find that portability helps you when it comes to working in areas with little space. You sometimes feel you can only work in one way because of where the power outlet is located, and that’s not always best. At least with a cordless tool, you don’t have to worry about that and can get on with the task of making those cuts.
Quick to Set it Up
One thing I appreciate about a cordless circular saw is that you can take the tool out of storage, attach the battery, and cut those boards in seconds. The ease with which you can set up these tools is impressive, and it’s certainly faster than the corded version.
This is thanks to never having to look for a power source. As long as you have the battery charged and installed, then you are good to go.
The Power is Competitive
The power of a cordless circular saw has seen some real improvement in recent years, which means there’s no longer the same gap between corded and cordless versions.
Batteries have also improved in recent years. Now, a typical 20V lithium-ion battery will last between 4 and 8 hours before recharging, which is a considerable improvement compared to older models.
I feel modern cordless circular saws can compete better with corded models allowing you to work on tougher materials than ever before.
The Possibility of Real Precision
While this is not entirely limited to cordless circular saws, you tend to find that most come with additional features to help deliver precise cuts. I’m talking about LED lights, lasers, and blowing the dust out of your way. They also manage to do all of this without these additional features draining the battery, which is impressive.
Disadvantages of a Cordless Circular Saw
But just as I did with the corded version, I’ve found some disadvantages linked to a cordless circular saw that I need to share with you.
The problem with cordless tools of any type is that the battery will lose power the more you use it. A battery only has so much charge in it, and that’s going to mean you can only produce a number of cuts before it runs out.
But that’s not the only problem.
A drop in battery power then leads to a decline in performance. Also, not every brand produces cordless circular saws that ensure there’s no sudden drop in performance mid-cut. That means you could find yourself halfway through a project and have no power to finish the job.
That is certainly not something you will ever find happening with a corded circular saw.
Typically, a cordless circular saw will come with a higher price tag when compared to the corded version. If you are on a budget, it may mean your hand is forced, and you need to look at the corded version, as this one may prove too expensive.
It used to be the case that cordless power tools would be heavier than corded versions, and while that is still often the case, modern cordless circular saws are lighter now than ever before.
Now, I know some models out on the market weigh around 7 lbs, which is lighter than most corded models, but most will be slightly heavier than this. It’s all thanks to the battery, but I would push to purchase a modern version as those batteries tend to be lighter than older models.