Milwaukee M18 Non-Fuel vs. M18 Fuel: What is the Difference

Milwaukee was established in 1924. So far, you can see that it is one of the oldest power tools companies in America and the world too.

Ever since its establishment, the company has grown over the years to be a sweetheart among professionals.

They love it since the manufacturer makes high-quality and dependable power tools in different categories.

Right now, the company has multiple power tools in its arsenal and one of them is the M18 power tools.

The other flagship cordless tools from the company include M4, M12, and M28. You will find that all these power tools are mostly built for professional applications.

So, which professions mostly use the Milwaukee M18 power tools? We have the plumbing sector, mechanical, construction, electrical, HVAC, and more.

That is why we had to go in-depth on the M18 power tools to understand them better.

The M18 power tools get the name because of the lithium-ion battery they use in their system. From the name, you can tell that it is an 18-volt battery.

If it were an M12 model, you would know it uses a 12-volt battery.

As much as they can use the same battery, you can still find other differences between the M18 power tools. This is where you find some models are FUEL while others are Non-FUEL.

Understanding the differences between these two helps you pick the right power tool for the job.

That is what this guide is all about. So, keep reading to get an idea of how these two differ and which you would buy for yourself.

Milwaukee M18 Non-Fuel

The M18 Non-Fuel or regular power tools are among the most resilient cordless power tools you can get for yourself. They are also known for being lightweight.

You would not have to worry about portability since they can be carried to different job sites with ease all the time.

The M18 cordless tools were introduced in 2008 as an upgrade to the existing M12 system.

This line of power tools uses a newer and upgraded 18-volt battery system. Because of the versatility of the battery, more than 200 products can use the same battery. You should then have no trouble using the batteries in different M18 tools.

Even when you put the tools through their paces, you will see that they can deliver extreme performance. Being Milwaukee, that is not a surprise.

The company always takes its time to come up with amazing tools.

We cannot forget to mention the superior ergonomics too. This allows you to work on a project for longer without feeling too tired.

When you combine ergonomics and being lightweight, you should end up with good performance.

The M18 power tools can either be brushed or brushless. You can get either option when you decide to get yourself such a tool.

Since more people want newer technology, more would now choose a brushless M18 Non-Fuel power tool whenever possible.

Even it is brushed, you will find it also durable and can handle various projects.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel

So, after the introduction of the M18 line of tools, Milwaukee started improving them almost immediately. It was until 2012 that the company introduced the M18 FUEL cordless power tools.

The aim of introducing this new line of cordless power tools is to make them handle their jobs even better.

That is why you would see many contractors using the M18 FUEL models rather than the regular M18 tools.

The M18 Fuel models come with better power performance, durability, and run time. This is because they are paired with a Power state brushless motor. More on that later.

Read More:  How To Set A Torque Wrench In Inch Pounds

For most contractors, having more run time and a tool that can handle the construction hazards better makes the M18 Fuel models worth buying.

Other than the Power state brushless motors, the Redlithium batteries and Redlink Plus system generally make the whole thing great.

There are other differences between these two types of tools. We will look at them below so that the next time you are buying one, you know exactly what you are getting.

What is the Difference Between the M18 and M18 FUEL Tools?

Most people who want to buy an M18 power tool might think the difference between these two power tools is that one has a brushless motor while the other has a brushed motor.

All the M18 Fuel power tools have three main technology factors that make them different.

First, they all equipped with a  Powerstate  brushless motor. Secound, they have a more efficient  Redlithium  battery, and lastly, they have a  Redlink Plus  hardware and software system.

Although it is yet to be confirmed, many people say that the term FUEL means Find Ultimate Energy Levels.

If that is the case, you can be sure to get some impressive performance out of the FUEL models.

As much as the Non-fuel models can also have a brushless motor, the Fuel Powerstate brushless motor is better.

It is made to be more powerful, durable, and works efficiently to ensure you end up with a better battery life generally too.

Another noticeable difference is that the M18 Fuel will have a compact design. The redesigned motor is more compact making the tool also smaller.

Most demanding professionals would love the fact that they can now work in tight spaces without a problem.

The Redlink Plus software together with the hardware can work together to ensure efficient power supply from the tool’s battery.

So, the battery would last longer while at the same the tool can be used in tight spaces.

Now you should know the difference. In case you have always thought that the term FUEL means brushless, now you know better.

Do not go around calling a brushless DeWalt power tool FUEL also.

Milwaukee in the past had to publish a release explaining the differences between their models to help avoid the confusion even more.

The Benefits Of Milwaukee Powerstate Tools

When you first look at Milwaukee tools, you will come across the M18 fuel models and the non-fuel M18 models.

The manufacturer made sure that  all the M18 FUEL models have brushless motors . The regular M18 tools can still have brushless motors, but not all of them.

Now, they can both have brushless motors, but the FUEL models will have a newer version with is called the Powerstate brushless motor and hence the name.

The manufacturer claims that the Powerstate tools are 4 times powerful compared to the regular M18 tools. It is why some people would feel comfortable spending more just to access the Powerstate tools.

Most people who have tested and compared the two tools found that the M18 FUEL models with the Powerstate brushless motor are better by 30 to 50%.

Whenever you start to compare with other brands, you can quickly notice that the M18 FUEL models are quite powerful.

The Powerstate tools are also known for having better control. Those who have used other models before claim vibrations can be an issue.

However, with streamlined brushless motors, the vibrations are kept to a minimum.

Considering these tools are also powerful, you can generally handle more work a lot faster compared to using a non-FUEL model.

Milwaukee Compact Brushless Tool vs FUEL Power Tools? 

YouTube video

This is a common question that people might have at the back of their minds since they will come across different types of Milwaukee power tools.

The compact brushless tool series will have the normal brushless motor. That is how even the regular non-fuel M18 models would also contain brushless tools.

However, all the FUEL tools will have brushless motors with no exceptions.

The FUEL tools also use an updated Powerstate brushless motor. This motor is expected to perform 4 times better than the other motor types.

Read More:  Hitachi 18V vs. Dewalt 18V Cordless Drill [Full, Must-Read Comparison]

So, in case you want more power, you can always opt for the Powerstate brushless motor models.  

M18 vs M18 Fuel: Is the 40% Price Increase for the Fuel Line Worth It?

A quick comparison between the M18 and M18 fuel shows that the two differ a lot in prices. There is a 40% increase in the price when you opt for the M18 Fuel package.

Why is that the case? Here are the reasons you would find opting for such a model is better.

YouTube video
  1. Higher Speed

The M18 Fuel models are generally known for having higher speeds of operation. The brushless design makes it possible to accomplish faster speeds because there is not much in their way.

Being able to work at higher speeds makes the tool more versatile. You can always adjust the speed based on what you need to handle at the moment. Some applications might need more speed while others could use slower speeds.

  1. Lower Energy Requirements

Those power tools running off a battery will need every way possible to keep the power use to a minimum. It is why we have the brushless motors in the M18 Fuel models.

The brushless motors will draw less power than a brushed motor would do. As a result, the battery should be able to last even longer. You will not have to keep recharging it all the time to complete a task.

Generally, brushed motors need more power to get going. There is less friction in a brushless motor, thus the reason it would mostly help keep energy use low.

  1. Lower Heat Levels

If you have ever worked with a power tool for a long time, it is always possible to end up with a hot tool. This is normal because of friction in the parts.

The brushless motor does not get as hot as the brushed motor. If there is less heat, then the power tool will not wear easily as compared to the brushed motor.

Of course, if the heat is maintained low, then you can operate the M18 Fuel power tool for longer periods.

  1. Safety

A brushless motor design generally makes it hard to generate sparks. This will largely improve the overall safety of the power tools.

This is possible since there will be no physical contact with other different parts when the motor is working. As such, no sparks. In case the power tool is working around flammable material, it will not lead to possible fire breakout.

  1. Better Control

Everyone desires to have better control when working with any power tool. Sometimes the brushed motors make it hard to control them due to the vibrations.

When the brushes vibrate too much, the control is not there. You would also get less precision in most cases. Thus, the reason you should opt for the M18 Fuel model.

The brushless motor in the M18 Fuel model makes it possible for you to have better control since the vibrations are highly minimized.

  1. Lower Maintenance

Brushless motors make it easier for you to maintain them. Since they do not have many moving parts, you will always have an easy time pinpointing a problem. Also, not many parts can wear and need replacements more often. It is why you would get more people opting for such M18 Fuel power tools.

  1. Fewer Parts

In most cases, brushless motors mean fewer parts. If you have fewer parts, then there is less that can easily go wrong. It is true for any motor design that you might have to deal with in the future.

You are likely to notice that an M18 fuel model does not need replacing of core parts more often compared to the non-Fuel models.

A Complete Guide to Milwaukee Tool’s M18 Battery Lineup

Buying your next Milwaukee power tool is likely to include the M18 battery. It is best to understand everything about this battery lineup so that you can make the right decision when buying.

We will start with the acronyms you are likely to find on the M18 batteries. These acronyms will help you know which battery you are buying.

  • CP: Compact
  • XC: Extended Capacity
  • HD: High Demand
  • HO: High Output
Read More:  Arbored vs. Non-Arbored Hole Saw [Which Is Better?]

In recent times, Milwaukee announced the release of a 12.0aH battery. Such a battery can easily be classified as High Demand and High Output.

There is also the CP3.0 battery that can be both Compact and High Output. So, it is expected to have some overlaps of acronyms here and there.

The Battery Cell Technology

The battery cell technology can make a huge difference especially on the runtime, lifespan, heat production, and power output. So, understanding the basic terminology can go a long way in helping you pick the right battery for the job.

The most common battery cell technologies include the 21700 cells and the 18650 cells.

The numbers you see above represent the size of the battery cell. For example, the 18650 battery cell measures 18mm by 65mm while the 21700 cells will be 21mm by 70mm.

The 2700 cells are newer in the market. As expected, they are more powerful and would also be larger. It is expected that your battery pack will also be larger than when using a 18650-battery technology.

Compared to other brands, you will quickly notice that it is only Milwaukee’s HO that uses the 21700 cells. Others are still using the 18650 cells.

  1. Compact Batteries (CP)

The models available are the 1.5 ah and the CP2.0. They use the 18650-battery cell technology.

Such batteries are commonly used in the small Milwaukee tools that are used for repetitive tasks. It can be an impact driver, nailer, or PEX Expanders.

The benefits of such batteries are that they are small, lightweight, have a faster charge time, etc. However, they can also have a few drawbacks. Such include the least runtime and also provide less power.

  1. Extended Capacity (XC) Batteries

You are likely to come across them labeled as XC3.0, XC5.0, and XC6.0. They also have the 18650-battery cell type.

In case you have slightly larger power tools, this is the right battery for you. It offers more runtime and has moderate power. It is why such a battery is used for drills, small lighting, hammer drills, and similar tools.

You should however not rely on them when using larger tools. Their runtime will be relatively short.

  1. High Demand (HD) Batteries

You can get models such as HD9.0. It is still a 18650-battery type. This one would be great if you have to power larger power tools. They also offer increased runtime so that you can work longer without recharging all the time.

As much as it uses old battery cell technology, it would have better power delivery and runtime than the CP and XC battery types.

  1. High Output (HO) Batteries

The models currently in the market are HO CP3.0, HO XC6.0, HO XC8.0, and HO HD12.0. Such models use the 21700-battery cell technology.

This battery type is seen as a great option for the M18 tool lineup. So long as it is something you need, you can always go for it.

This battery type has the latest battery cell technology. The new technology increases the runtime, produces less heat, and also improves power delivery.

In case you have a power tool that draws a lot of power at once, you can always opt for this model.

The capacity ranges from 3.0ah to 12.0ah. So, you can always pick the right size of tool depending on your needs overall.

New to Milwaukee – Need Buying Advice?

In case you are new to buying Milwaukee tools, you might not be sure why people like the brand so much. Here are some things to help you understand the brand better.

  • The first reason you pick Milwaukee is because of its reputation. The brand is known worldwide for delivering high-quality power tools for different applications. As such, you would know that your money is well spent.
  • The support team at Milwaukee can also help you get the best tool you have always wanted. This is vital so that you end up with a powerful tool while at the same time help you accomplish your tasks.
  • Quality is not an issue with the brand. All the tools have to go through different quality checks to ensure they live up to the brand’s name.
  • There is also value for money. The last thing a person wants is to have a power tool that easily breaks down. You will not have to worry about that when using Milwaukee tools since they are strong and durable thus offering value for money.
  • There are a variety of tools for you to choose from. This means whichever task you want to accomplish; Milwaukee might have the tools for you.
  • The company still has a generous warranty on different tools. Always confirm the warranty of each tool before settling for a model. It helps you know what you are getting for the model.
Read More:  How Long Does a Wood Filler Take to Dry? [It Depends On THIS]

Milwaukee is known for its innovative power tools that are durable and ideal for professional and home use. Since it started in 1924, the company has committed to delivering advanced and trade-specific products that offer safety and productivity in every job site.

Let us find out more about their two most popular M18 devices below.

Milwaukee 2697-22 M18 Two-Tool Combo Kit

The Milwaukee 2697-22 is a two-in-one tool that combines the M18 1/2-inch hammer drill-driver and the 1/4-inch hex drive impact driver. The kit comes with two Lithium-Ion batteries, a charger, and a bag.

Highly Durable and Powerful

This M18 tool has digital power management-overload protection that prevents damage to the machine and battery even if frequently used.

The Milwaukee tool, made of steel and plastic, is a combo kit with a 1/2-inch hammer drill driver and a 1/4-inch hex compact impact driver.

Its four-pole frameless motor can deliver a peak torque of 525 inch-pounds, zero to 550 and zero to 1,700 RPM, up to 29,000 BPM, and zero to 3,200 IPM.

Easy to Use and Handle

The M18 impact driver uses a 1/4-inch hex quick-change chuck. It allows you to easily change bits, added with a variable speed trigger for higher functionality.

You can utilize the built-in LED when working in dark areas and corners for better illumination.

YouTube video

Five-Year Warranty

Most power tools offer a one or two-year warranty period. This two-tool combo kit from Milwaukee comes with a five-year warranty.

Milwaukee 2999-22 M18 Fuel Impact and Hammer Drill Combo Kit

Milwaukee’s M18 FUEL 18-Volt Brushless Cordless Surge Impact and Hammer Drill Combo Kit is an upgraded kit from its M18 product line. It also features an improved speed bump for your impact driver needs that comes in a much more compact and smaller package.

Prevents Machine Overload

The REDLINK Plus Intelligence system guarantees maximum performance while protecting the device from overload. It ensures that the tool and battery will not get damaged easily during heavy use. With this important feature, you will be able to use your device daily for longer years.


This hammer drill-driver is one of the best in its class with an all-metal ratcheting chuck. The tool is made of materials that are corrosion-resistant while providing an increased bit’s grip strength. These helpful features provide the most advanced cutting, drilling, and fastening capabilities.

Brushless Motor

The tool’s POWERSTATE Brushless Motor is built explicitly for the M18 FUEL which can provide up to 60% more power than any other power drill. The 18-volt REDLITHIUM battery gives longer running time and more ability to handle a variety of applications.

The combo kit comes with two M18 lithium-ion batteries, a multi-voltage charger, three belt clips, two-bit holders, a side handle, and a heavy-duty bag.

YouTube video

Milwaukee M28 vs M18 Fuel

If you have been reading this whole guide, you already have an idea of what is an M18 Fuel. To recap, this is a line of cordless power tools that uses a Powerstate brushless motor and runs on an 18-volt battery system.

The M28 on the other hand also uses the latest and powerful brushless motor from Milwaukee. However, this time around the power tools run on a 28-volt battery system.

These tools are mostly used in specific professional applications. Also, you will notice the tools that use this system are not as many as the M18 platform.

Most people find the power delivered by the M18 to be plenty enough for them to handle their needs.

Read More:  Where Are Moog Parts Made? You Should Know (Explained)

The M28 battery is also improved in terms of high-power output. In case you need to use a tool that might draw more power continuously, then the M28 platform is what you need.

Also, the charge time is largely improved. You can always be sure to enjoy using this platform with its reduced charge time.

As much as it might offer good performance in terms of charge time, you may find the M28 bulky and heavy. That is why the M18 tools are still popular since they are compact and lightweight.

YouTube video


If you are still having some doubts about which power tool to buy, here are some questions and answers to help you make that crucial final decision.

Can you use m18 batteries on m12 tools?

No. The M18 batteries can only fit in the M18 tools. The same goes for the M12 tools. You can only use the M12 batteries.

How Long Do Milwaukee M18 Batteries Last?

Each battery will have a specific lifespan you can get with it. The lifespan is based on the number of charges the battery can take before it no longer holds the charge well. So, the lifespan largely depends on how often you will use the battery and if you will store it right.

To get an idea of the lifespan of an M18 battery, look at its warranty period.

Should I get a brushed or brushless drill?

Brushed motors utilize small metal brushes that work with magnets to spin the drill shaft. Meanwhile, brushless drill models have an electronic circuit board and a sensor to trigger the shaft spinning. Brushless motors have the following advantages:

  • Energy-efficient with batteries that can run 50% longer than other tools.
  • Responsive to the task at hand that it adjusts its power depending on the material you are working on.
  • Smaller and more lightweight.
  • Easy maintenance since you will not have to replace any brushes.

However, brushless drills cost more than brushed models. Additionally, you will be able to find brushless motors on heavy-duty power tools. Finally, brushed motors offer a high torque or inertia ratio.

Can I interchange the batteries of M18 with M18 Fuel?

One of the best features of Milwaukee’s M18 cordless tool line is that you can use any M18 battery with it. It makes any user’s life a lot easier without needing to look for one specific battery to make the tool work. You can even use M18 batteries with M18 FUEL tools and vice versa.

How do I store Milwaukee M18 batteries?

Never let your Milwaukee M18 batteries get wet or expose them to rain and water. When cleaning or lubricating a battery pack, do not use any oil or solvent to avoid the casing from becoming brittle and cracking.

Keep your Milwaukee batteries away from moisture at room temperature. Never store it in a damp location or with high temperatures of over 49°C.

Never let your battery pack get immersed in water or any liquid to avoid short circuits or the risk of fire. Finally, dispose of your lithium-ion battery packs following federal, state, and local regulations.

It is most prudent to get in touch with your local recycling agency for recycling locations. You can cover the battery terminals with electric tape before disposal.


Milwaukee M18 products are reliable tools that came from a famous and top-quality product line. Whatever device you choose, whether the M18 brushed drill or the M18 FUEL brushless model, you are guaranteed durable and longer-running equipment.

Leave a Comment