In-Depth Review: Porter-Cable 382 5-Inch Random Orbit Sander
From my experience, the PORTER-CABLE 382 Random Orbit Sander works quite decently and holds up okay after minimum use. I even bought a spare since it costs relatively cheap (check online for where I bought it from) at the time of this writing. It's able to avoid common problems like the pad adhesive wearing out because of its hook-and-loop system that makes the pad stick like Velcro. Most importantly, you can depend on this sander to do its sanding job in a consistent and dependable manner.
Here are your alternatives to the PORTER-CABLE 382 Random Orbit Sander.
1) Black & Decker BDERO100 Random Orbit Sander
The Black & Decker BDERO100 actually manages to somehow be cheaper than the PORTER-CABLE 382 Random Orbit Sander, but is it necessarily better or brings more bang for your buck? They both deliver 12,000 OPM of orbiting speed, but the amperage capacity of the Black & Decker BDERO100 is listed as five. However, a reviewer on Amazon points out that the B&D has more of a 2-amp motor, so there's less of a discrepancy there with the PORTER-CABLE 382.
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Alas, the PORTER-CABLE 382 has more of a 1.9-amp motor itself that barely qualifies as 2 amps, so the B&D BDERO100 actually outdoes it in that regard, meaning it has a slightly more powerful sanding ability but it's a hairline difference. Meanwhile, the 382 outweighs the BDERO100 by 0.4 pounds and it's slightly bigger and wider, allowing for wider area coverage at the cost of maneuverability at tight corners. Their price discrepancy is as minor as their specs discrepancy.
2) Bosch ROS20VSC Random Orbit Sander
The Bosch ROS20VSC has almost double the price of the PORTER-CABLE 382, but does it necessarily mean it brings double the abilities of its Porter-Cable counterpart? The 382 is actually slightly larger than the ROS20VSC by a few inches here and there. They both feature 12,000 OPM as their top speed, but the difference with the more expensive Bosch unit is that it has a variable speed.
This means it can go as low as 7,500 OPM but as high as 12,000 OPM at the turn of the dial. Sometimes, slower OPM is better in case you want to do fine sanding that smoothens out the surface perfectly without grinding an excessive amount of sandpaper and material. In terms of weight, the 382 is heavier by 0.1 pounds. In terms of ratings, the Bosch orbital sander has a higher rating from 496 customers at the time of this writing.
3) PORTER-CABLE 7346SP 6-Inch Random Orbit Sander
The PORTER-CABLE 7346SP is about three times more expensive than its brethren random orbit sander, the PORTER-CABLE 382. The question here is did Porter-Cable necessarily make a more advanced version of the 382 that's three times better to justify the price hike? Let's check out the specs. The7346SP covers a larger amount of area by default by being the biggest and heaviest random orbital sander on this list.
It weighs 6 pounds, which makes it outweigh the 382 by 2.4 pounds. How big of a discrepancy is that? It's a discrepancy the size (or weight) of the 3M Random Orbital Sander 20317. Alas, in terms of speed, the sander giant can only muster 2,500 OPM to 6,800 OPM. Does it necessarily mean the 382 is the faster and better sander in that regard? Not when you take into account its 4.5-amp motor that beats out the 1.9-amp motor of its little brother. Funnily enough, Amazon users rate both sibling orbit sanders as 4.3-star sanders.
4) 3M Random Orbital Sander 20317, 5 in Non-vacuum 3/16 in Orbit
The 3M 20317 Random Orbital Sander is probably the most expensive yet highest rated random orbital sander on this list. At that price, you can buy three PORTER-CABLE 382 Sanders. Does being more expensive automatically mean something is better though? The 3M 20317 Random Orbital Sander has a size comparable to the Bosch ROS20VSC.
It even has the same 12,000 OPM (single-speed only, unlike the variable-speed Bosch unit). However, the main difference between the 3M sander and the Bosch sander or even the PORTER-CABLE 382 as well as all the rest of the sanders on this list is that it only weighs 2.4 pounds. Does its lighter weight spread across a body as large as the ROS20VSC affect its ability to mitigate motor vibrations? According to the 14 customers who gave it its high rating, yes it can handle shakiness just fine.
5) DEWALT DWE6421K Random Orbit Sander Kit
Last but not least is the DWE6421K by DeWalt. The DEWALT DWE6421K has a price that's closer to the Bosch ROS20VSC, but in fairness to the PORTER-CABLE 382, their price discrepancy isn't as great as 382's price gulf against the 3M 20317. In terms of specs, the DEWALT DWE6421K has a size that's closer to the 6-pound PORTER-CABLE 7346SP, but it only has a 5-inch sanding disk and 4 pounds of weight.
This 4-pound weight allows the DWE6421K to outweigh the PORTER-CABLE 382 by 0.4 pounds, which is ultimately a negligible difference. They both feature the single-speed 12,000 OPM specification, but the larger DeWalt DWE6421K makes up for this similar spec with a 3-amp motor that delivers far more strength and torque per orbit or rotation than the PORTER-CABLE 382 and its 1.9-amp motor. That extra amperage makes all the difference in terms of rough sanding strength.
Alternative Choices Comparison Table
Black & Decker BDERO100 Random Orbit Sander
Bosch ROS20VSC Random Orbit Sander
PORTER-CABLE 7346SP 6-Inch Random Orbit Sander
3M Random Orbital Sander 20317, 5 in Non-vacuum 3/16 in Orbit
DEWALT DWE6421K Random Orbit Sander Kit
The Final Cut
The PORTER-CABLE 382 can at times be outdone by amperage and by extra features, but as a no-frills workhorse it's still worth your attention and money. You can easily replace its 5-inch sandpaper (with 8 holes on it) thanks to its hook-and-look Velcro-like disk attachment system.
At the same time, it also offers features that other sanders lack, like having a balanced fan and dual plane counter that work hand-in-hand in mitigating sander vibration and user fatigue after extended use. Whether you think you can get more value from a more expensive sander or if you have everything you need from the so-called Porter-Cable workhorse is up to you.