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M12 vs M18: Batteries, Chargers, Fuel, and More

Looking to purchase a Milwaukee Cordless product and don’t know where to start? No worries, here is everything you need to know to make the right decision.

M12 vs M18

Milwaukee tools has two different cordless tools lines. One of the hardest decisions to make is deciding between the M18 and M12 series. We are going to lay out the difference to help you make the right decision.


The M12 and M18 get their name from their voltage. M12 uses 12 volt batteries, while M18 uses 18 volt batteries.

In 2010 Milwaukee Tools replaced lithium-ion batteries with REDLITHIUM batteries. The switch basically created “smart” batteries that help the tools perform longer, faster, and better in harsher conditions.

M12 Batteries 

The M12 batteries come in two different variations. The compact, and the high capacity.

Compact Batteries

These batteries come in 3 different sizes:


High Capacity Batteries

These batteries also come in 3 different sizes:  

Three different High Capacity M12 battery sizes.


M18 Batteries

There are seven different sizes of M18 Batteries. Those batteries come in three different variations: regular, XC, and High Demand. Even though they are named differently, they all correlate to amp hours.

All 6 compatible M18 batteries.




The M12 and M18 have many charging options. There are M12 Chargers, M18 Chargers, and Combo Chargers (These have charging slots for both the M12 and M18 batteries).


M12 Chargers

There are 6 different types of M12 chargers (3 of which are Combo Chargers):

Three different M12 battery chargers.


M18 Chargers

The M18 model has 5 different kinds of chargers (again, 3 of those being Combo Chargers):

Two different M18 battery chargers.


Combo Chargers

There are currently 3 different types of Combo Chargers:

Three different M18 combo chargers.

The M18 & M12 Multi-Voltage Charger sequentially charges both batteries, whichever battery was plugged in second will not start charging until the first battery is fully charged. Battery charges take anywhere from 30-60 minutes.

The M18 & M12 Rapid Charger works the same as the Multi-Voltage Charger, except the batteries charge 40% faster. This charger also indicates when a battery reaches 80% of its charge.

The M18 & M12 Rapid Charge Station is equal to having 3 Rapid Charger stations rolled into one. This station will also charge 3 batteries at the same time.



Purchasing a cordless combo kit, is a great way to save money on tools. One of the easiest ways to help decide on the kit that’s right for you is to know your MUST HAVE tools. You don’t necessarily need your MUST HAVES in the combo kit, but it’s very easy to buy a bare tool that is already compatible with your combo kit setup.

Currently there are over 50 M12 tools on the market, and over 125 M18 tools.


Brushed vs. Brushless Tools

Brushless tools are all the craze nowadays, and ToolGuyd does an amazing job explaining the difference in brushed vs brushless tools in his article.

Long story short, brushless motors produce no frictional energy loss. Therefore this tool design requires less maintenance, produces more power, runs longer, and has a longer lifespan.

Milwaukee Tools has created top of the line brushless tools for both the M12 and M18 tools series. All tools apart of the FUEL series are brushless. The FUEL tools still use and are compatible with their same batteries and chargers as well.

Milwaukee Tools FUEL logo, with tagline 'Driven to Outperform'.


One Key

One Key is Milwaukee Tools digital platform that integrates with certain tools.

With One Key you can lock or disable any of your tools, track the tools location, digitally customize the tools performance, and view reporting on tool usage. All of this can be done on a free app that you can download straight your phone.

While shopping, all One Key products will also have the One Key Icon next to the product.


Thanks for checking out M12 vs M18, let us know if you have any questions in the comments below.

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