Milwaukee M18 vs M18 Fuel: What’s The Difference?

Milwaukee is one of the most popular names in power tools. Since 2012, they’ve launched a new line of power tools called FUEL, which are slightly different from their regular set of products. Milwaukee’s M18 line of tools uses 18V batteries instead of 12V batteries for greater power and longevity. So what’s the difference between M18 vs M18 FUEL?

That’s what we’ll be looking at in this post.

Milwaukee M18 vs M18 Fuel

The main difference between Milwaukee M18 and M18 FUEL is that all M18 FUEL models have brushless motors, whereas only some M18 models have brushless motors. The rest have brushed motors.

M18 FUEL tools have three main benefits:

  • PowerState brushless motor for superior power and performance
  • REDLITHIUM batteries for greater efficiency
  • Smart REDLINK Plus system that communicates between hardware and software to control how much power is drawn from the battery

The PowerState brushless motors are designed to work with the REDLithium batteries to eke out every last ounce of performance.

This combination of features makes the FUEL line have a lot more torque and drive compared to the other tools made by Milwaukee.

Milwaukee also upgraded the FUEL line in terms of design and ergonomics. The overall design is very compact and much easier to maneuver in tight spaces.

That’s not to say that the regular M18 lineup isn’t any good. Those tools still hold their own and are superb for the job, but if you’re a professional looking for that small extra bit of performance, the FUEL line will not disappoint.

M18 FUEL D-HANDLE JIG SAW BARE TOOL

Is it possible to use M18 batteries in M18 FUEL?

M18 batteries can be used in both M18 and M18 FUEL models. However, M18 FUEL’s special REDLithium battery packs will give far greater longevity and life than the regular M18 batteries.

What’s so special about brushless motors?

We mentioned above that Milwaukee M18 FUEL uses only brushless motors. So what makes brushless motors so special, and what’s all the hullaballoo?

There are two main types of motors: brushed and brushless. Brushed motors have little brushes that make contact with the core of the motor and provide alternating forces to keep the motor spinning. Brushed motors work fine, but because the brushes are always in contact, it generates a lot of friction.

Friction will eventually wear the brushes down, reducing the efficiency of the motor. It also generates a lot of heat.

Brushless motors have a separate inner ring and outer ring. The inner ring has multiple coils of wire to create a magnetic field when a current passes through them. The bell(outer ring) of the motor has magnets on the inside which are repelled by the magnetic field and turn. There’s no friction or heat in a brushless motor, and it can run on and on at cool temperatures.

As we mentioned above, all the M18 FUEL models have brushless motors, and only some M18 only models have brushless motors. Even then, the M18 FUEL models have four times more powerful brushless motors than the regular M18 models.

We found this figure to be quite consistent in our tests as well, especially in tools such as impact drivers, impact wrenches, circular saws, and hackzalls.

Advantages of brushless motors

Less maintenance

Because brushless motors have fewer overall parts, there is less maintenance required on a brushless motor. In a brushed motor, you have a lot of friction and heat, which results in parts quickly wearing down and needing maintenance and replacement.

Fewer vibrations

Another advantage of brushless motors is that there are fewer vibrations at all speeds, which means your arm won’t get tired as quickly and you’ll have greater control over the work you’re doing.

Capacity for greater speed

Since there is no friction to lose energy with, brushless motors are able to spin much faster than brushed motors. So if you need more power and more speed, brushless motors will always outperform their brushed counterparts.

Less heat

We mentioned above that brushless motors can spin on and on without generating heat, but that was only if there is no load. As you increase the load on a motor, there will be some heat generated due to the added electrical energy pulled by the motor. However, brushless motors will heat up significantly less than brushed motors under the same load.

Less hazardous

If you remember old-school drills, you may have seen sparks fly out of the motor as the drill turned. This was caused by the friction generated between the brushes and the core of the motor. Although sparks were minimal, they still pose a safety hazard if there’s a lot of sawdust or easily flammable things nearby.

Milwaukee M18 Overview

Milwaukee’s M18 line is a newer version of their original M12 line. The main difference was the larger 18V lithium-ion battery in the M18 series over the 12V battery in the M12 series.

Overall, Milwaukee tools are quite durable and professional-grade.

Milwaukee M18 FUEL Overview

Milwaukee’s M18 FUEL line are a step above the M18 line and offer greater performance, vibration reduction, and protection from the elements.

You can use the same batteries as the M18 in your M18 FUEL tools, but if you can pick up the dedicated REDLITHIUM packs that are designed especially for the M18 FUEL tools, you’ll get even better performance.

Related: Milwaukee vs DeWalt

Fuel vs Non-Fuel: Final thoughts

If you have the added budget, definitely consider getting the FUEL line instead of the regular M18 tools. The added features give you that extra edge to make your work much easier.

Bestseller No. 1
Milwaukee 2457-20 M12 Cordless 3/8" Sub-Compact 35 ft-Lbs 250 RPM Ratchet w/ Variable Speed Trigger
  • RECESSED FORWARD - BACKWARD SWITCH on the back of the head prevents you from accidental actuations in the middle of an important job
  • LOW PROFILE HEAD DESIGN allows you to work in an engine bay without issue
  • ONBOARD FUEL GAUGE: Lights on the side of the unit will let you know how much power you have left
  • LED LIGHTING on the front of the unit allows you to see your job in dimly lit conditions
  • REDLINK INTELLIGENCE: A smart chip in this unit allows it to communicate with the M12 battery plugged into it. This prevents it from receiving too much power and overheating, saving it from unnecessary damage
SaleBestseller No. 2
Milwaukee 48-11-1850 M18 Redlithium 5.0Ah Bat Pack
  • REDLINK Intelligence: Provides optimized performance and overload protection using total system communication between tool, battery and charger
  • Fuel gauge onboard: Displays remaining runtime for less downtime on the job
  • M18 red Lithium 5.0Ah Bat pack
  • The product is easy to use and easy to handle
  • The product is highly durable

This is especially true if you’re working in a professional or semi-professional environment.

If your budget is tight, then the M18 line will also deliver solid results.

SaleBestseller No. 1
PECHAM 24PCS Universal Wood Metal Oscillating Multitool Quick Release Saw Blades Fit Porter Cable Black & Decker Rockwell Ridgid Ryobi Milwaukee Chicago Craftsman
  • 【High Quality Saw Blades】 - PECHAM 24pcs oscillating saw blades are made of High Carbon Steel and Stainless Steel, Tougher and thicker than most. The saw blades are coated with electrophoretic black finish which protects against corrosion. It's featured high heat resistant material, wear resistance, tough and long-lasting, easy cutting and long service life. Enjoy saw blades incredible cutting experience
  • 【Widely Use Range】- Contain 7 different types of standard & precision saw blades. Standard tooth, Japanese tooth and precision tooth saw blades. Each type of saw blade is specific for a particular purpose. Ideal for fit for cutting wood, plastics, metals, sawing, cutting, scraping, sanding, shaping, polishing and removing grout and so. It also can meet a variety of needs, which could be used for workshop, household or other place
  • 【Precision Cutting Design】- Built-in length markers on two sides, one side is inch and other is centimeter, ensure you can get accurate cuts easy and fast while you working with it. 6 kinds of special design precision saw blades have longer wavy tooth that is specifically designed to provide faster, cleaner cuts in wood and plastic
  • 【Universal Compatible System】-Our 24pcs quick release saw blades are compatible with many oscillating tools on the market such as Fein Multimaster, Ryobi, Milwaukee, Hitachi, Black & Decker, Chicago, Craftsman and others. (Not suitable for Dremel MM40, MM45, Dremel Multi Max 6300, Bosch MX30).
  • 【User-friendly Design】-This saw blades kit is includes two C-clip adapter. Apply to Rockwell & Worx (except Hyperlock), Fein Supercut, Dremel MM40 & MM45. (Do not compatible with Fein Starlock, Bosch MX30, Bosch Quick Release tools )
Bestseller No. 2
Milwaukee 2457-20 M12 Cordless 3/8" Sub-Compact 35 ft-Lbs 250 RPM Ratchet w/ Variable Speed Trigger
  • RECESSED FORWARD - BACKWARD SWITCH on the back of the head prevents you from accidental actuations in the middle of an important job
  • LOW PROFILE HEAD DESIGN allows you to work in an engine bay without issue
  • ONBOARD FUEL GAUGE: Lights on the side of the unit will let you know how much power you have left
  • LED LIGHTING on the front of the unit allows you to see your job in dimly lit conditions
  • REDLINK INTELLIGENCE: A smart chip in this unit allows it to communicate with the M12 battery plugged into it. This prevents it from receiving too much power and overheating, saving it from unnecessary damage