Milwaukee M12 vs. M18: What is the Difference [Updated]

Whenever doing DIY home construction, it is often difficult to find long-lasting and reliable power tools. Owning a quality battery that can power your devices, such as ones from Milwaukee, with ease can make work a lot easier.

Milwaukee has long been in the electric and power tool industry for decades now, making it a reliable source for construction needs. Milwaukee batteries, as such, have a variety of systems that differ in voltage and size.


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In this article, you will read a product comparison of two of Milwaukee’s best batteries: M12 and M18. You will get a brief overview of their usage, composition, and differences.

Milwaukee M12 

The Milwaukee M12 cordless system comprises power tools, chargers, and relatively handier batteries because of its smaller size. Since it is lighter, it has a more portable package that can benefit on-the-go construction repairs.

Its cordless system makes it more convenient for users to move around the construction site. However, its handiness balances out the length of time it can work before changing its batteries.

You can commonly see M12 in small construction works that need minimal adjustments. Most tools in Milwaukee M12 are light-duty because it does not have a long-running battery and heavy sizes.

Although there are similarities in design in M12 and M18, significant differences appear in their sizes.

Milwaukee M12 Batteries

Milwaukee M12 batteries are made explicitly for M12 tools only. Meaning to say you can use an M12 battery for any M12 device regardless of function.

Although M12 batteries are compact, they come from lithium-ion, making their running time longer than past Milwaukee batteries. You have the option to choose between two types of M12 batteries: high-capacity or compact batteries.

The two varieties differ in run time, power, and size, with compact batteries targeted towards short and high-capacity batteries for extended ones. These battery types can function in any weather condition with ease, from extreme heat or coldness.

M12 compact batteries come in three variants: 1.5, 2, and 3 amps, while high-capacity batteries have 3,4,5 amps. You could see here that the number of amps in the battery signifies the amount of time it can last.

Is the Milwaukee M12 Worth It?

If you would like to buy an easy, portable, and reliable battery or tool for your home, M12 would work just fine for you. It is worth it to only do minimal home construction repairs since its batteries only last five hours maximum.

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However, if you plan to buy a tool from Milwaukee M12, keep in mind that their Milwaukee batteries will only work for them. Investing in the system will mean you would have to buy a succession of tools from the M12 series as well.

Some Milwaukee M12 tools cannot sustain long-lasting hours of work. If you have a construction job that needs extensive, day-long hours of using power tools, it might be better to opt for a different Milwaukee system.

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Overall, M12 is still worth it, but it would work best for short and minimal construction repairs. If you want to own tools you can use in short and long repairs, then M12 is not for you.

Milwaukee M18 

The Milwaukee M18 is a performance-driven tool, charger, and battery system known for its long run time and durability. It is also a cordless system which saves you the worry of looking for a charging port near your site.

The M18 system leans toward heavy-duty, long-running construction work, unlike other Milwaukee systems. Its tools are engineered uniquely for compatibility and optimized function when attached or connected to other M18 parts.

Most construction professionals use the Milwaukee M18 because of its flexible utility. It can make heavy-duty adjustments, and it can also make small-scale adjustments.

Milwaukee M18 Batteries

The Milwaukee M18 batteries are lithium ion-based waterproof batteries that are effective in long-day construction. It has a weatherproof composition which makes it durable in all types of weather conditions.

There are three variations of M18 batteries that make up eight different M18 battery sizes. The three variations are Redlithium CP, Redlithium XC, and Redlithium High Demand.

Redlithium CPs are the compact variant as they only have two sizes: 1.5 and 2 amp, corresponding to their runtime hours, respectively. As for its purpose, since it only has a small amp time, it would work best for quick and easy home repairs.

Redlithium XC variants come in four sizes which are 3, 4, 5, 6 amps that can last for an extended time without any problem. Because of its longer amp, time can power tools such as drills and electric saws that need intensive power to cut through more challenging materials.

Lastly, the Redlithium High Demand variant is the ideal battery for high-power and long-running power equipment because of its nine and 12-amp hours. Its powerful battery makes it easier for miters and table saws to cut through thick wood without overworking the equipment.

Are M18 Milwaukee Tools Good?

The advanced electronic communication technology in M18 tools makes it convenient to use any equipment in this system. Their optimized performance that delivers fast and quality results make the M18 Milwaukee tools reliable to homeowners and professional construction workers.

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Over 200 tools are part of the M18 system. Choosing which ones to mix and match is easy because of their compatibility with each other. From wrenches, pipes, drills to nailers, whichever M18 Milwaukee tool you choose, will surely be a durable one.

M18 vs. M12 Platform. Which Do You Prefer and Why? 

With various tools, batteries, and chargers in both the M18 and M12 systems, choosing which one to buy can be overwhelming. It may seem that M18 has the upper hand in the flexibility of equipment, but you will also see below the advantages of the M12 platform.

When it comes to fast construction work, M12 has the upper hand because of its compatible and portable tool sizes. Moreso, some Milwaukee tools such as the FUEL Generation 2 have even lessened by one inch.

Its 12-volt tools come in handy for homeowners who do not have heavy-duty work but want to do it themselves. If you are one of those DIY repair homeowners, the M12 system will work best for you.

However, if you would like to have a heavy, reliable, powerful tool to work with when doing serious work, you would prefer to get the M18. The long-running capacity of M19 tools and batteries makes it a reliable choice for experienced construction workers.

The differences between the two platforms boil down to their amp hours and usage. The medium you will use, whichever tool will dictate which platform you should buy from Milwaukee.

M12 or M18 Standard Suggestion For A New Homeowner

Both Milwaukee systems have different areas where they perform best, so it depends on the purpose you will use them. For new homeowners with zero to little experience handling construction tools, the M12 FUEL would be a good start.

Although it only has 12 volts, it is an easy-to-handle tool powerful enough to finish your repair task. It may not be as fast as an M18 tool, but it is sufficient to give you the right amount of help to get your work done.

Since you only need minimal amp hours for your home, beginning with an M12 FUEL tool will help you get the feel of how to handle it. After you get accustomed to the tool usage, if you think it is still not enough, you can upgrade to an M18 tool.

However, one downside of an M12 FUEL tool is that it may not ultimately give you the desired results. For example, if you want to drill a hole in your house, an M12 drill may not provide a clean finish compared to an M18.

In addition, if you want an M18 tool but do not want something that is too heavy-duty, you can opt for an M18 tool with a 1.5 or 2-amp-hour battery. In this way, you do not need to carry heavy equipment all around your home.

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Overall, the standard suggestion for a new homeowner is to buy starting equipment from the M12 system. It can give you a starting feel on how to handle construction tools in that you can see if it works for you first before upgrading to a higher voltage one.

Milwaukee M12 vs. M18: Great Product Comparison

Milwaukee M12 vs. M18 Multi-Tool

When choosing which system to use, always consider for what purpose you are using the Milwaukee variant.

Some homeowners opt for M12 since it is lighter to carry, and it can do it just for minimal construction at home. It has also reduced vibrations and drilling noise than the past multi-tools.

M18 brings the auto start where it ramps up oscillations slowly while starting a cut before getting to full speed, reducing any jumping or skittering before a kerf stops. But; more unwieldy, and heavier.

On the other hand, the M12 multi-tool generates the fastest 12-volt cut speed, and lowest full-tool vibration, and delivers tool-free blade change for speedier accessory changes and no misplaced tools.

The M12 multi-tool has a brushless motor that features 10,000 to 20,000 OPM in its speed and size. You can also carry it on the go because of its smaller and lighter size than the M18 multi-tool.

You will never get a fully “finished” result from a multi-tool for woodworking situations where you typically use a chisel. However, if you use the M18 Multi-Tool, it would assure a quality finish quickly.

Milwaukee M12 vs. M18 Impact Driver

The M18 impact driver is one of the most powerful impact drivers in the industry. It gives three times longer motor life, more than half more runtime, and faster speed.

Compared to the Milwaukee M12, its lower voltage is the reason for its slower drilling power. Although it can still effectively do its work, it cannot do it as fast and efficiently when used with an M18 impact driver.

Milwaukee M12 vs. M18 Impact Wrench

The M18 impact wrench is the world’s first cordless impact wrench with a brushless motor that delivers up to 1,900 to 2,000 ft-lbs of torque. It is a reliable wrench, especially for those who need to lose or tighten heavy fasteners without the help of construction professionals.

The M18 appears to be the world’s most powerful cordless impact wrench, enabling you to complete the most demanding applications. It doesn’t require much maintenance when it comes to tool replacement, and it only needs occasional cleaning with the use of water.

It has a run time capable of installing up to 200 bolts on a single battery, which is already impressive in itself. This portable impact wrench provides unmatched performance when compared to the Milwaukee M12.

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In contrast, the Milwaukee M12 can still give sufficient tightening and support, but you can only do it with small torque. Its portable size makes it easy to reach through small torques such as in cars and tables that more giant impact wrenches can’t reach.

The Milwaukee M12 can handle 240-ft. -lbs. Despite its 4.8-inch length. Further, it has a fastening bolt application with three modes (Option 1, 2, 3) to give the user an option to adjust the turning speed.

M12 Fuel Hackzall vs M18 Hackzall

M12 Fuel has a longer stroke and more power than the regular M12, which is adequate for PVC usage. The M12 Fuel doesn’t have a pivoting shoe, although some homeowners may not look for this feature.

If you don’t have a full-size Sawzall and are looking for more of a do-anything Hackzall, the M18 Fuel will be a good alternative. It is much closer to duplicate a Sawzall and would work effectively as a replacement.

Likewise, if any of your cuts are more petite or in confined spaces, the better tool would be an M12. Since M12 is more petite and handier, it can help you navigate how you want to adjust your angle.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can M12 tools use M18 batteries?

No, it can’t. Milwaukee M18 batteries are specifically designed for M18 tools only, so it won’t work if you try it on M12 devices. Remember that M18 batteries have more amp hours in them, so if you force to insert it into an M12 tool, you might end up destroying your equipment.

The product description of Milwaukee says that M12 tools are made to work well with each other, including the tools and chargers. If you want to save less in price, it would be better to choose the M12 tool.

What is the Difference Between Milwaukee M18 and M12 Fuel?

The Milwaukee M12 Generation 2 tools have brushless motors and significant size reduction. As mentioned earlier, the M12 Fuel drills reduced their length by 1 inch but did not change their power and amp-hours.

M12 also has a fast cutting speed which is a relative improvement from the previous reviews regarding its slow drill speed. Compared to the Milwaukee M12, the M12 Fuel has a more powerful drill that can drill faster than older models.

Generally, the M12 Fuel is the improved version of the Milwaukee 12. M12 has faster drilling performance, more extended durability, and a more robust feel when used.

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Are Milwaukee M12 and M12 Fuel Batteries Interchangeable?

Yes. Regardless if it is an M12 FUEL or Milwaukee 12, the batteries can be interchangeable. Since both are made from lithium-ion batteries and are the same size, they function the same as they are both M12.

However, interchanging any M12 with an M18 battery cannot be possible. Despite Milwaukee’s advanced electrical communication optimization in their tools, the batteries can only interchange when it is in the same system.

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Since both Milwaukee and FUEL are part of the M12 system, it is possible. This design by Milwaukee has made it relatively more accessible for users to stock up on batteries for different tools of the same system.

What is the Difference Between Milwaukee M12 Fuel and M18 Fuel?

The main difference between Milwaukee M12 FUEL and M18 FUEL is their voltage and power. M18 has a voltage of 18 that can power more effective tools, while M12 has a voltage of 12 that can power smaller and more portable devices.

Both M12 and M18 Fuels are improved versions of their previous models. These fuels have significantly improved in terms of performance speed and durability when being used.

M18 batteries offer help in long-running, powerful construction work because of their bigger battery capacity. However, M12 batteries cannot function the same way as M18 due to their limited amp hours and voltage.

M12 batteries work best in small-scale homes. The outdoor construction needs minimal drilling. If you attempt to use an M12 tool in heavy-duty work, chances are it can overwork and work and ruin its parts.

In addition, although both function relatively faster than Milwaukee 12 and 18, their voltages still differ. For quicker and more accurate work, choose M18 Fuel, and for more accessible to handle work, choose M12.


Milwaukee is a reliable source of quality construction equipment at a reasonable price. The M12 and M18 systems are at the top of the best construction tools class because of their significant performance.

If you want better equipment at home for quick repairs, buy the Milwaukee M12. However, if you plan on using these tools for heavy-duty construction and repair, it would be better to choose the Milwaukee M18.

There are significant differences in their performance, such as speed of implementation, run time, and power. However, despite the differences in specs, their effectiveness in construction tools with their cordless features makes it a worthy investment.

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