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Kobalt vs. Ridgid Cordless Power Tools in 2023 is a Tough Choice

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The cordless power tool battle has been heating up!

On one side of the ring we have Kobalt 24V Max, which is exclusive to Lowe’s stores. On the other side we have Ridgid 18V, which is exclusive to Home Depot.

Home Depot and Lowe’s are fierce competitors – they’re both big box home centers focused on home improvement supplies, construction products, tools, equipment, and more.

Kobalt and Ridgid are also long-time competitors, representing the mid-range of their respective retailers’ cordless power tool offerings.

Kobalt launched all-new next-gen 24V Max cordless power tools in late-2022.

Ridgid New Cordless Power Tools Spring 2023 Hero

Ridgid has 23 new cordless power tools launching in 2023, including 10 “all-new solutions never before offered.”

The newest Kobalt cordless power tools were advertised as being up to 30% more compact and lighter than previous generation tools, and sported a new overmold grip.

Ridgid is adding brushless and subcompact brushless cordless power tools.

A search of Lowe’s website turns up more new and recent Kobalt tools, such as a modular power head for outdoor tool attachments, a tripod-style LED worklight, and a 6-inch cordless chainsaw that somehow costs less as a kit than as a bare tool.

Which brand would you choose in 2023? Kobalt or Ridgid?

Ridgid is expanding into the cordless outdoor space, where Kobalt already exists.

Both brands have unique offerings. For example, Ridgid is coming out with a hole-digging auger, while Kobalt has a cordless drain cleaning auger. Ridgid has a track saw on the way, Kobalt recently launched cordless wet tile saws – both tabletop and handheld versions.

Both brands are committed to high-efficiency brushless motors and modern Li-ion battery tech.

Some of Ridgid’s new offerings seem to be replacements for older ones, such as their new cordless router. Ridgid already has an older 18V router from when the Octane lineup was still around.

It’s harder follow Kobalt cordless tool developments, as their PR efforts are practically non-existent these days. Their social media efforts are also far behind those from Ridgid. But, they have been consistently launching new 24V Max products, or at least it seems that way; every once in a while I check Lowe’s pages, and there are often new Kobalt tools I have never seen before.

Ridgid, I would say, is more consistently positioned in Home Depot’s power tools department. At Lowe’s, Kobalt has to share mid-range space with Craftsman V20 and Brushless RP lines, as well as Skil. Or is Craftsman more of a direct competitor to Home Depot’s Ryobi brand?

I have the same hesitations about both brands. Both have many high-performing solutions for my present needs. If I were to buy into either system, would they suit my needs five years from now?

Two years ago, Lowe’s launched a Kobalt cordless vacuum. Now, if you check Lowe’s website, you’re met with a message that says “this item is no longer sold on”

A few years ago, Home Depot launched a Ridgid cordless miter saw. It went on clearance a few months later, and readers contacted us for years asking why it was never in stock. Two years ago they relaunched it as a “new” cordless miter saw.

With both brands, tools available today might not be available when you want them at a later date. This can happen with any brand, but it seems to happen much more frequently with Kobalt and Ridgid.

To put it frankly, I’m not sure either is better than the other right now. Kobalt’s higher voltage 24V max batteries can deliver more power. Ridgid’s 18V batteries allow for smaller and lighter subcompact tools.

I haven’t tested any of the new Ridgid tools, but I did test Kobalt’s, which I prefer to both brands’ previous generation core tools.

Considering everything that’s out now, I would lean closer towards favoring Kobalt. Looking at the tools that are coming out later this year, I might lean closer towards Ridgid.

You really can’t go wrong either way.

Some might point to Ridgid’s lifetime service agreement policy as an important factor, but I have heard so many complaints about readers’ experiences with this that I wouldn’t factor it into my own purchasing decisions.

Which brand would you choose in 2023? Kobalt or Ridgid?