Believe it or not, Wahl developed the first cordless clippers all the way back in 1967. They were a huge (and popular) breakthrough, and a lot of people jumped at the chance to use them.
Still, limits on battery technology and capacity kept them from really catching on until recently. Now, lithium-ion technology and other features have made cordless clippers competitive with corded models.
In fact, depending on your needs, cordless clippers have a number of advantages over standard corded models. Here we’ll compare corded vs cordless clippers head-to-head so you can choose correctly for your home or business.
Cordless Clippers: The Good and the Bad
Of course, the main draw of cordless clippers is the convenience of not having to plug them in. This means you can use them just about anywhere regardless of whether you have an outlet nearby. This could mean outside or in the bathtub where cleanup is a lot easier. Plus, if you’re a professional, you can be a lot more flexible with where you put your chairs.
The cordless design has another big perk, too. It means you don’t have to worry about accidentally pulling the cord out of the wall and cutting the power. Cutting the power like that can lead to sudden and painful snag, so battery power minimizes that risk.
Similarly, a cordless design is a lot easier to manipulate because you don’t have to deal with the cord getting caught on things or keeping the clippers from moving at certain angles. You can move the clippers exactly how and exactly where you want them, and that means it’s easier for amateurs to cut their own hair at home, and it’s easier for professionals to give their clients the haircuts they want.
That said, cordless clippers have their disadvantages as well. The most obvious is that you have to charge the battery. Battery lives keep getting longer, but still, you’ll run out of juice eventually. This means you’ll have a certain amount of downtime during which you have to keep the clippers on the charger.
Another big downside is that cordless clippers rarely have the power of corded models. The motors just can’t draw as much from the batteries as they can from the grid. As a result, they may not handle thick hair quite as well.
Alright! Next up in our corded vs cordless clippers debate:
Corded Clippers: The Good and the Bad
The main reason people choose corded clippers over cordless models is the higher power. For dealing with thick, knotty, or curly hair, the motors on corded models can usually cut through it a lot better.
The other main advantage of corded clippers is that they can work nonstop. They never run out of power assuming they’re plugged into a functioning electrical grid. This is especially important for professional barbers and hairdressers who may need to use their clippers for hours a day.
However, the big downside to the corded design is, well, the cord. It can get in the way and come out of the wall. Plus, it limits where you can use the clippers. You always need an outlet a few feet away.
What About Dual-Use Models?
Luckily, these days, there’s a way to get the best of both worlds. Some of the best cordless men’s hair clippers out there can be used plugged in or cordless.
These are great for both at-home and professional use because you get the advantages of cordless clippers like versatility and flexibility without having to worry about running out of juice. Plus, if you find that the motor isn’t powerful enough running off the battery, some boost the power once plugged into the wall.
Who Should Use Cordless Clippers?
Many people, both professionals and private individuals, can benefit from cordless clippers. In fact, anyone who wants the freedom and versatility of the cordless design should consider them. That said, we particularly recommend them in the following situations.
Traveling barbers have become a lot more common in recent years. If you’re an independent hairdresser and make house calls, a set of cordless clippers can definitely be helpful since you might not always have an easily accessible outlet. Just make sure you keep them charged!
If you’re looking to do at-home haircuts for your family, a cordless model is a good choice, especially if you have numerous young children.
For one thing, the cordless design gives you a lot more options when it comes to the location of your haircuts. If you’re giving haircuts to children, you might want to do it in front of the TV to keep them in the chair and entertained. You might also want to do it outside so that cleanup is easier. Regardless, you aren’t restricted by the location of your outlets.
Similarly, having a lot of kids running around is going to increase the chance of accidents. You definitely don’t want one of them tripping over the cord, which would cause them to fall and cut the power to the clippers which would mean a snag for whoever’s in the chair.
Last of all, the cordless design just makes it easier if you don’t have a lot of experience or haircutting knowledge. It’s easier to move around at different angles, especially if the person getting the haircut is a squirmy child.
While we usually recommend corded clippers for professional salons and barbershops, a cordless model can still be a good idea if you work in an especially busy environment. This is due to a couple of factors.
First, a really busy salon probably has a lot of people moving around, and this makes it more likely one of them will trip over the cord. This could cause a painful yank or pull for your client or even lead to an injury.
Additionally, if your workplace is really busy, you might not always have access to an outlet. The cordless design means you don’t have to wait, which would mean making your client wait.
Who Should Use Corded Clippers?
In general, we usually recommend corded clippers for standard professionals because they have a consistent power supply that means consistent hair cutting. Plus, they usually have more power, making them better for cutting various different types of hair throughout the day. These are some other situations in which corded clippers, or at least a dual-use model you can also use with a cord, is a good idea.
If you want a set of clippers to use to completely shave your head, whether it’s because you’ve started balding or just want to rock a buzzcut, cordless clippers might be the best option. This is simply because you’re going to be using them for longer periods of time to cut the hair off your entire scalp. You’ll run through the battery fast and regularly have to recharge the clippers.
Another reason is that you need the extra power to get through all the thick hair. You aren’t just blending or fading the ends. You’re completely cutting off the hair, so you need as much cutting power as possible. At the same time, you don’t need the maneuverability of a cordless model since you aren’t creating a detailed style.
If you otherwise don’t need a cordless model, a corded model can also be a better choice if, for whatever reason, you have problems with organization. For instance, maybe you share a small space with a lot of people and don’t have a lot of room for storing grooming equipment. Or maybe you just lose things easily.
Regardless, with a corded model, you don’t have to worry about losing the cord or charger. Instead, you only have to worry about keeping track of and finding space for one thing.
Corded Models We Like
There are a few, but these are our favorites:
The Wahl Clipper Color Pro Complete Haircutting Kit
Summary: Whether for professional or personal use, we recommend the Wahl Clipper Color Pro Kit for anyone starting from scratch who needs a full array of accessories that are easy to organize.
- Color-coded guards
- Full 26-piece kit
- Carrying case
- Self-sharpening blades
- Breakable guards
The first thing you’ll notice about the Wahl Clipper Color Pro Complete Haircutting Kit is, well, the many colors. This isn’t just for style—though if you need a kit for family haircuts, kids tend to love it. Its primary purpose is organization. Finding the guard length you need and remembering which to use when is a lot easier thanks to the color coding.
Altogether, the kit includes 26 pieces, 14 of which are guide combs. You also get slanted ear tapers and even eyebrow timing combs. In other words, it’s a complete kit for just about all your grooming needs, whether at home or on the job. Just make sure to store it all correctly in the carrying case as it’s easy to lose or break all the different pieces.
Wahl makes some really great products, and this is one of the pairs we recommend most often.
The Oster Classic 76 Professional Hair Clippers
Summary: The durable and powerful Oster Classic 76 is a great choice for professional barbers thanks to its suitability for multiple hair types and convenient nine-foot cord.
- Powerful universal motor
- 2 detachable blades
- Durable design
- 9-ft power cord
- Few accessories
Our favorite thing about the Oster Classic 76 Professional Hair Clippers is its powerful motor. Along with the sharp blade, it more easily and comfortably moves through a range of hair textures, which makes it a good choice for professionals. Similarly, the motor, along with the sturdy housing is highly durable. This helps it hold up after frequent, all-day use.
Unfortunately, the Classic 76 comes pretty barebones. It does have two different lengths of detachable blades, but otherwise it doesn’t have the accessories that someone might want for personal at-home use.
However, one thing it does come with: a nine-foot power cord. Once again, this is definitely something you’ll need for a professional barber shop since you’ll need to maneuver the cord around the barber’s chairs.
Cordless Models We Like
There are two:
The Hatteker Hair Cutting Kit
Summary: For independent barbers, the Hatteker Hair Cutting Kit provides features like waterproofing and easy charging in a stylish design with a long battery life for regular use.
- IPX7 waterproof
- 5-hour battery life
- USB charging
- Stylish design
- 10 guide combs
- No zero gapping
Unlike a lot of hair clippers, the Hatteker Hair Cutting Kit is IPX7 waterproof, which means you could actually briefly submerge it underwater without damaging it. This is great for use at home and in professional settings since you’re likely to be using a lot of water at the same time.
If you’re looking for a cordless model, these clippers also stand out because of the five-hour battery life. Plus, they have a versatile USB charging cord that makes it a lot easier to charge even if you don’t necessarily have access to an outlet. For instance, you can plug it into a powerbank if you’re a traveling barber.
Lastly, we also like that the kit comes with 10 different guide combs whose colorful designs match the overall style of the clippers. Although this model can’t be zero gapped, the numerous accessories increase the versatility and lengths of cuts you can make.
The Wahl Professional 5 Star Cordless Magic Clip
Summary: The 5 Star Magic Clip is one of our favorite clippers because it has stagger tooth blades with crunch technology that makes blending and fading easier for both personal and professional use.
- Stagger tooth blades
- Crunch technology
- Corded or cordless use
- Powerful rotary motor
- Durable metal casing
- Low battery life
The Wahl Professional 5 Star Cordless Magic Clip is famous in the hairdressing world for its stagger tooth blades with crunch technology. This proprietary design from Wahl helps blend hair for better fades and creates the signature crunch sound that lets you know when it’s cutting through hair.
For cordless clippers, the 90 minutes of battery life is a little on the low side, but luckily, the Magic Clip has a dual-use design. You can use them both cordlessly and plugged in, so this makes a dead battery less of an issue. Plus, the powerful rotary motor cuts well on both modes of power.
Finally, we found that the Magic Clip is one of the most durable models you can get, a good choice if you plan on using it a lot. This is mostly due to the metal casing that, while a little heavy, protects the internal components.
You Might Be Surprised to Hear It, But…
As with all things fashion- and style-related, we’ve got very strong feelings about the cord vs. no cord debate, so thank you for letting us share! At the end of the day, each has some real and bona fide advantages over the other, but as with many things, it comes down to personal preference.
Hopefully there’s something here that helps you out, and if you have any other questions, jump over to our “Contact” section and drop us a line. In the meantime, be good, have fun, and happy clipping!
Michael Morris is the head writer here at Rough and Tumble Gentleman. He's got a ducktail beard and loves Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He's married to the woman of his dreams and lives in Brooklyn, NY.