What an impact wrench is, is essentially a wrench that– through some source of power – delivers an immediate burst of high torque. They work by spinning a “hammer” inside the device, and then suddenly engaging it with the socket. It’s an invaluable tool for simply getting work done quicker and with less manual effort.
They commonly come in two types of design. You can have an “inline” wrench that would best be described as a bulky screwdriver, or you can get a drill-shaped “pistol grip” design. A pistol grip design impact wrench gives you that extra leverage in the way you hold it, which is essential for larger sized sockets.
When it comes to choosing an impact wrench, you have three main options:
- An air impact wrench,
- An electric impact wrench with a cord or
- A cordless impact wrench (battery operated).
They each have their individual advantages so don’t just base your decision on price.
Electric Impact Vs Cordless & Air Impact wrenches
- Air Impact Wrench. An air impact wrench is obviously powered by compressed air and is the most common form of impact wrench, especially in a professional environment. As they don’t require a motor, they can usually be of a smaller size, and they’re easier to clean and generally maintain. They are however, usually more expensive than the alternative options, at least for a good model.
- Electric Impact Wrench. The more common types of impact wrenches for home use or for people that will only be using the impact wrench occasionally, are the electrical options, either mains operated or battery operated. Electric impact wrenches are more than capable for most forms of work and are usually less expensive to buy.
- Cordless Impact Wrench. On top of that, cordless impact wrenches are portable so they’re great for “on the go” emergencies, such as car repairs and can be stowed away easily.
Air impact wrench benefits
- Smaller Wrench Unit: Because there is no motor.
- Easy to Maintain: An air impact wrench is usually easier to clean and generally maintain.
- Most Powerful: Air impact wrenches are generally the most powerful form of wrench.
Click here to read more about air impact wrench with buying guide.
Electric & cordless impact wrench benefits
- Cheaper to Buy: You’ll find that electric impact wrenches are a lot more reasonably priced and affordable for the average person, compared to air pressured ones.
- More Convenient: An electric impact wrench is generally more convenient as it can easily be set up by plugging it into the mains.
- Easier to Store: Following on from the above point of convenience, an electric impact wrench is pretty easy to tidy away and store.
There are some great benefits to buying a cordless Impact wrench here they are.
- Portable: The main benefit and reason they were designed, is so that the device can be used anywhere without being dependent on some form of power source, be it the mains power or an air compressor. This means they’re great for car emergencies on the road, or indeed for a professional mobile mechanic.
- Compact: Cordless impact wrenches aren’t as bulky and space intensive as large forms of wrenches. This means they can easily be stowed away in your car for emergencies, or for similar situations without taking up considerable room.
- Cheaper: Generally speaking, these form of impact wrenches are cheaper to buy. While that’s not always the case, you’ll find it is for the most part due to their limitations.
Disadvantages of having a cordless impact wrench
- Lower Power: Again, generally speaking, due to them only being battery operated, cordless impact wrenches will have a lower output power level. They’re not exactly insignificant, mind you, considering they’re more powerful than a lot of old air impact wrenches! But just bare it in mind and ensure the wrench is powerful enough for your needs.
- Batteries Can Run Out: It’s highly likely that batteries can die on you when you’re most desperate to use the wrench. While this is definitely a disadvantage, it can obviously be easily avoided by having a spare set at hand. So just ensure the device is fully charged and that you have a spare set of batteries as back up!
As with any device, they have their advantages and disadvantages, and are more suited for specific situations. As mentioned above, cordless impact wrenches are great for mobile mechanics or for individuals wanting to have an impact wrench stowed away in their car for emergencies.
Get the best cordless impact wrench you can afford
If you think a cordless impact wrench is what you’re after, then be sure to shop around and take recommendations for the best one. While you’ll certainly want to stick within your budget, don’t just go for the cheapest one you come across.
Take into account the size, the brand, and the power capabilities. The last thing you want in an emergency is your impact wrench failing on you. The most important things with a cordless impact wrench is that it is powerful enough for your needs and that it has a good battery life.
For the average person wanting an impact wrench for use at home and for very irregular use, electric impact wrenches are usually the best option.
They’re more powerful and substantial than battery operated wrenches, and although they’re not quite as powerful as many air pressured wrenches, they’re certainly good enough.
The technology and quality of such equipment these days means that they’re more than adequate for the average person’s needs.
- Cheaper to Buy: You’ll find that electric impact wrenches are a lot more reasonably priced and affordable for the average person, compared to air pressured ones. Unless you’ll be using the wrench on a very regular basis and require significant power, then you have no need to invest a lot of money into an air impact wrench, and are better off saving money with an electric one.
- More Convenient: An electric impact wrench is generally more convenient as it can easily be set up by plugging it into the mains. It’s also that bit more versatile than an air impact wrench as – although it’s not completely portable – it can still be moved to wherever a mains socket is available.
- Easier to Store: Following on from the above point of convenience, an electric impact wrench is pretty easy to tidy away and store. They’re more powerful than a cordless impact wrench but aren’t as space intensive as an air pressured one, so are perfect for home use.
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However, an electric impact wrench certainly has its disadvantages
- Larger Wrench Unit: Due to them having an electric motor within the actual wrench unit, the wrench will be larger to hold. While not a huge inconvenience, it may be won’t be as easy and maneuverable to hold as an air pressured model. Most good electric impact wrenches come in the “gun hold” style so they’re still very user-friendly.
- More Moving Parts: As an electric impact wrench uses a motor and thus has many moving parts, it will inevitably require more maintenance and will be more prone to damage. While this shouldn’t put you off, it’s definitely something to bear in mind. The best thing you can do is ensure you get a good quality model and don’t just go for the cheapest option you come across.
Always buy the best electric impact wrench you can afford
Overall, much like the other forms of impact wrench, an electric impact wrench clearly has its advantages and disadvantages. It all comes down to your particular situation and how often you will be using the wrench, but whatever you decide, as mentioned above, the best thing you can do is ensure you invest in a good quality model that will last you as along as possible.