Kobalt and DeWalt are two popular power tool brands in the USA, but relatively speaking, Kobalt is a new brand on the market. For decades, DeWalt has been a stalwart brand of power tools, with a dedicated market following among woodworkers. How does Kobalt compare to DeWalt, and which would be the better power tool choice?
Kobalt and DeWalt power tools are comparable in terms of quality, durability, and performance. Kobalt is consistently better priced than DeWalt, but the range of tools, distribution, and availability of DeWalt is better than Kobalt. Either brand will make for a reliable addition to your workshop.
Power tools are a long-term investment, so we want to ensure that we get a quality power tool when we shop for this gear. New brands are often viewed with some skepticism until their reputation becomes established. Is Kobalt a good brand that can compete with the established reputation of DeWalt?
Kobalt Vs. DeWalt – Background Check
Doing our due diligence on these two power tool brands revealed that both these power tool companies have roots in the USA.
DeWalt was established in 1923 by Raymond DeWalt to produce his own invention, the radial arm saw. The company was bought by another well-known power tool manufacturer, Black & Decker, in 1960. Black & Decker began re-branding their high-end, professional-quality power tools under the DeWalt label.
In 2013, DeWalt began building power tools with quality parts sourced from 7 countries around the world.
Kobalt was launched in 1998 as the house power tool range for Lowe’s, the home improvement chain store in the USA. Kobalt is the premium quality tool line for this store above their other cheaper ranges, Blue Hawk and Project Source, also sold in-store.
The components for Kobalt power tools are also sourced from nations worldwide before being assembled into the final product.
DeWalt has had the advantage of establishing a reputation for quality and reliability in the power tool market. Still, Kobalt has made an impact on the market in the comparatively short time since its launch.
These power tool brands are marketed as professional quality equipment, so we will compare the two to see if one has an advantage over the other.
Kobalt Vs. DeWalt – Quality
Kobalt and DeWalt both source the parts for their power tools from worldwide sources, but both ranges are marketed as professional quality tools.
When you hold both of these power tools in your hands, you will be hard-pressed to find fault in the quality of manufacture of either.
The ergonomics built into the designs and the quality of moving components in both ranges are solid and firm. It is obvious when using the tools that these ranges are built for the serious DIYer who uses their tools on a regular, if not daily, basis, and the tools are up to the task for this kind of work.
Certain features on each of the tools in these ranges could have been created or designed differently. Still, these differences are mostly down to personal user preferences rather than discrepancies in the tools’ quality.
From a quality perspective, I’d have to say that both DeWalt and Kobalt are of equal quality, with one range not outperforming the other in this category.
Kobalt Vs. DeWalt – Reliability
Reliability is generally a direct result of the quality of the product. In fact, there are two main spin-offs from a quality power tool; reliability and durability. However, reliability also requires a proven performance track record, which is where DeWalt has the advantage.
DeWalt has the advantage of a more long-standing brand that has established a reputation as a quality, reliable, hard-working tool brand, which is why it is one of the best-selling brands in the USA.
DeWalt has the public perception of being the more reliable and durable power tool brand, especially for professional use. However, in my experience, the Kobalt tools have performed equally admirably in the reliability department.
Kobalt Vs. DeWalt – Availability
Given that Kobalt is a Lowe’s store brand, you can only buy this product where you have access to a Lowe’s store. Lowe’s offers limited online sales, but only to the USA.
Consequently, if you do not have a Lowe’s in your neck-of-the-woods, you may have trouble accessing this range of power tools. Kobalt tools are starting to address this issue by making their products available on Amazon.
DeWalt, in contrast, has a much better distribution of tools, parts, and accessories. You can buy DeWalt equipment from practically any hardware, DIY, or home improvement store, even in a small backwater town.
DeWalt is considered an international brand and is available to woodworkers in many countries other than the USA, and is also available internationally via Amazon.
Availability also takes into consideration the range of tools on offer. DeWalt has the advantage in this department with a significantly wider range of tool types and variations than what Kobalt offers.
DeWalt comes out trumps in the availability category because of its superior range of tools available and its global distribution network.
Kobalt Vs. DeWalt – Cost
The prices of power tools vary from store to store and on whether specials are on offer on a brand or range or specific power tool.
On average, Kobalt tools are cheaper than DeWalt, but the price difference is not dramatic. You will often find only a 10 to 20% price difference between comparable tools of the two brands.
In cases where stores offer DeWalt tools on special deals, the price can be significantly lower than the full retail price of equivalent Kobalt tools.
Most woodworkers and other DIYers shop around for the best price on power tools and often wait for special deals to come around before making a purchase. This means the choice between DeWalt or Kobalt is often driven by which range of tools are on special at the time.
In the cost category, I give the advantage to Kobalt power tools because the price of these tools is consistently lower than for the DeWalt equivalent.
Kobalt Vs. DeWalt – Warranty
DeWalt generally offers a 3-year warranty on most of their power tool equipment. Kobalt offers different warranties on various tools, ranging from 3-years to 5-years and limited lifetime warranties.
While most power tool manufacturers offer warranties, if you have ever had to claim a warranty, you will know that it is often an unpleasant, drawn-out experience that leaves most customers with a bad taste in their mouth.
While I have never had to use the warranty on either of these products, reviews of other customers on both these manufacturers range from excellent to very poor. The level of customer service you get from these brands is local-dependant on where you purchased from rather than a reflection of the company policy.
For these reasons, I give the two brands an equal rating in terms of the warranty.
So, given the close comparison of these two power tool ranges, which ones should you purchase? The answer will depend mostly on personal preference and how price-driven your decision is.
For some, the wider range of tools available from DeWalt and resulting standardization on accessories such as batteries make this the best choice for their needs.
For others, the decision will be purely price-related, and they will buy whichever brand is on sale to get the best price.
Either way, DeWalt and Kobalt are both quality brands that will give you great service in your woodworking shop. You can buy either brand with confidence that you are getting quality equipment.