Best Cordless Polishers
Cordless polishers are making a big impact in the detailing industry. But similar to first-gen electric cars, cordless polishers are not perfect.
Having said, it has nothing to do with the machine itself. The best cordless polishers offer sufficient rotation speeds and torque similar to the corded variety.
The biggest negative of cordless polishers is the battery life, which is essentially the same deal with smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other battery-operated devices. Truth be told, existing battery technology needs to catch up with the ever-increasing power demands of wireless devices including the cordless buffers and polishers.
Despite this, I managed to round up a list of the best cordless polishers. There aren’t many right now, but this has to be one of the most exciting sectors for polishing machines and is almost certainly going to be the future of car detailing.
Best Cordless Polishers: Top 3
Here are what I think are the three best cordless polishers on the market right now:
There are many things I like about the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Cordless Polisher. For starters, the slim and compact design is a godsend for all-day polishing.
It means better portability so you can virtually polish, wax, or even compound your vehicle anywhere. This particular Milwaukee M18FAP180-0 is sold as a bare unit with no battery pack, but this also means a more affordable price.
Also, don’t forget the Milwaukee M18 Fuel is a rotary polisher. It comes with an 8-position variable-speed selection ranging from 360 to 2,200 rpm that gives you more than enough power to efficiently polish an entire vehicle in a single full charge.
I also like the fact that it weighs less than conventional rotary polishers. Tipping the scales at around 2.2 Kg (with the battery pack attached), this cordless rotary polisher is more than pleasant to work with.
The unit is equipped with a brushless POWERSTATE motor that offers a powerful and quiet operation. It has built-in overload protection to protect the polisher and batteries for added peace of mind. It even has a smooth start-up feature that I like.
Granted the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Cordless Polisher is not cheap. But if you’re fine with swapping batteries in the middle of an arduous polishing job, this tool is right for the picking.
Another one of my favourite cordless polishers is the Flex 418099. Unlike the Milwaukee M18 Fuel, this particular Flex unit is a DA polisher, making it perfect for beginners and experts alike.
However, the price is not for the faint-hearted!
Barring the exorbitant price tag, the Flex orbital polisher performs just as well as a corded polisher. It even has the same 15 mm orbit diameter as conventional orbital polishers. Admittedly, it is outclassed by the Rupes Deluxe Bigfoot orbital polisher with an impressive 21 mm orbit diameter, but Rupes has yet to release a cordless polisher of its own. Until then, the Flex 418099 is the best cordless DA polisher you can buy today, although it does come at a cost.
Even though the Flex cordless DA polisher is not as compact or ergonomic as the Milwaukee M18 Fuel, it manages to offer higher orbit speeds of 2,300 to 7,500 orbits-per-minute (opm).
Faults? It only weighs around 2.1 Kg without the battery pack, but the rugged design makes it seem more cumbersome than it really is.
Also, the battery life is fine but not excellent by any means. If you have a full-size luxury car or lumbering SUV, you’ll need two battery packs to get the job done – which are thankfully included in the kit.
If you’re pining for a cordless DA polisher but can’t stand the thought of spending big money for a Flex cordless unit, the Liquid Elements A4000 V4 could be right up your alley. It costs one-third of the price of the Flex, but you still get a great cordless DA polisher in return.
The kit includes the polishing machine and a pair of lithium-ion battery packs rated at 4 Ah each. According to Liquid Elements, each battery pack provides enough juice for approximately 45 minutes of constant polishing. Equipped with a 15 mm orbital diameter, you can polish an average sedan or hatchback faster without the need to swap batteries.
When it comes to tougher jobs, the Liquid Elements A4000 V2 Cordless falls short. Whereas the Flex cordless DA polisher has a maximum orbit speed of 7,500 rpm, the Liquid Elements can only muster 1,400 to 2,100 opm. This is not exactly a bad thing if you’ll mostly work on light scratches and swirls, but you’ll need more cutting power when working on severely neglected paint.
Again, this is not a big deal for the price, but it’s important to mention it, nevertheless.
Liquid Elements A4000 V2 Cordless Polisher Spec Sheet
What are the pros and cons of cordless polishers?
Of course, the primary benefit is working without wires. You have no fussy cable to drag all over the garage, and you can work on those off-angle and hard-to-reach areas of the vehicle (like the lower part of the bumpers and the roof) without thinking about tangling that pesky cord. Also, cordless polishers can perform just as well as corded models with powerful brushless motors and digital speed controls.
When it comes to drawbacks, I can think of two: battery life and price. Unlike corded polishers which you use non-stop, you’ll be lucky to get 30 to 45 minutes of battery life on a single charge, and this all depends on the speed or intensity of the job at hand.
But try looking at it from a different perspective, cordless polishers make a lot of sense for DIY users.
What is the best battery for cordless polishers?
Unless someone came up with a new generation of batteries that are lighter and more power-dense, you can’t go wrong with a lithium-ion battery pack.
Most cordless polishers are equipped with a 21V lithium-ion battery pack rated at 4.0Ah. This is good for about 45 minutes of continuous high-speed use.
Remember that larger battery packs with higher capacities may mean more minutes of polishing time, but this also equates to a higher cost and more weight.
How do cordless polishers compare to corded machines?
Honestly, cordless polishers are as efficient as corded machines in terms of cutting power. Cordless DA polishers are equipped with high-torque brushless electric motors, and most have the same 15 mm orbit diameter as conventional polishers, which means it covers the same surface area for each stroke.
The only caveat is battery life and the need to swap battery packs every now and then. As tech improves, this will be less of an issue.
Is cordless the future of auto detailing?
Most likely, yes. But certain issues need to be addressed like battery life, weight, and design.
I still prefer a corded dual-action or rotary polisher when pre-cleaning the paint, or when working on larger surface areas. But in terms of polishing, waxing, or finishing the paint surface, I sometimes switch to cordless DA polishers for better control and the freedom to move about.
Best Cordless Polishers FAQ
What is the best cordless car polisher/buffer?
The Flex 418099 is the best cordless polisher right now. It has great ergonomics, long battery life and cuts as well as any corded machine.
Is there a difference between a buffer and a polisher?
The terms are linked given that most people refer to their meaning as the same. In the strictest sense, a buffer is used for things like car wax and a polisher is used with car polish to remove scratches and swirls.
Are cordless electric car polishers any good?
Technology for these products is growing at a rapid pace. The only downside right now is the battery life. If you have several batteries at the ready, then cordless polishers are a game changer!
Are Dual Action polishers any good?
Dual Action polishers (DA polishers) are the best place to start when it comes to paint correction and polishing your car. Even if you are totally new to detailing, they will give you great results without the risk of damaging your car's paint.
Are cordless polishers expensive?
At the minute, they are more expensive than equivalent corded machines. As technology improves, the costs will start to drop and become more affordable.
Who is a cordless polisher best for?
Cordless polishers are best for professional detailers, allowing them to use the device in a range of different areas where corded machines may be limited.