Impact Driver vs Impact Wrench: Pick the Right Tool for Your Project

Last updatedLast updated: September 02, 2021
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Are you a DIY enthusiast doing plenty of work in and around the home? If you are, you need the right tools to help you get work done correctly. However, you might find it somewhat challenging to choose the best tools, especially when it comes to options like impact driver vs impact wrench.

With the right power tools, you can work through a wide variety of projects, ranging from building furniture to laying decks, repair broken stuff, and so much more. With the right equipment, all of that is possible.

How can you buy the right tools? One thing that can assist you is to know the functions of each tool and know what you can use it to do. In this post, we will consider each of the tools, consider the types of jobs you can do with them, check out their benefits and drawbacks, and other important information.

A thorough consideration of all these will assist you to make the correct buying choice.

How does an impact driver work?

Impact Driver vs Impact Wrench: Pick the Right Tool for Your Project

At first glance, the impact driver looks the same as a cordless drill and looks like the impact wrench. However, while the appearance is similar, the main difference lies in the work that they do.

An impact driver is a tool that is made to give you a high level of torque and rotational power. As the name implies, it uses impact to drive objects. The impact that it uses strong, rotational hammering that occurs at intervals.

The main purpose of this tool is to drive and fasten things via speed and power. Most of the options on the market have ¼” hex sockets and these are particularly made to come with the stress that the driver places on the bit.

If you are thinking of getting this tool, there are certain things that you should keep in mind. For one, you should remember that this tool is somewhat limited in terms of what you can drill with it. If all you are looking to do with it is to drive screws and fasten bits, then there is no problem. But if you are looking to do more than that, you’d need something else, for example, a cordless drill.

The tool comes as manual and electric options, but most people prefer the electrical versions. You can also get them as corded or cordless options. Impact drivers give plenty of power, although not as powerful as the impact wrench.

Impact drivers are versatile tools and will work perfectly for both installation and removal tasks.

Here is a rundown of the major features of these tools:

  • They have a ¼” standard hex holder for drill bits

Just like regular drills, these tools come with a hex collect that you can fix drill bits into. This offers you the opportunity to work on different tasks.

  • Speed is measured in rotations per minute

Another feature of these tools is that the speed is measured in RPMs. With a high speed, you can work on tough objects. Lower speeds work best with more delicate materials. That is why it is recommended to go for models that have variable speed controls.

  • Compact

These tools, whether corded or cordless, are often compact and lightweight. This form factor makes for great tools to use in small spaces.

The DeWalt brand is one of the biggest brands in the tools industry and the DCF885C1 is one of the best options on the market.

Types of impact drivers

There are two major types of impact drivers. These are the corded and the cordless models.

Corded impact drivers, as the name implies, are models that are made to work with electricity. They have a cord that is plugged into an electric outlet and this powers the tool.

The cordless models, as you might have guessed, are models that do not need a cord to work. They are not plugged into an electric outlet to work. They have batteries for power.

Between the two types, corded impact drivers usually offer the most amount of power. Additionally, these machines can run indefinitely as long as you have them plugged into a power outlet.

Cordless models offer certain advantages of their own. While they do not work for as long as the corded options, they are lightweight and portable. With such types, you can take the tools to the work instead of taking the project to the tool.

Also, cordless machines are excellent because they are easy to maneuver in tight spaces.

Uses

These tools are used for two main purposes:

  • Tightening and loosening fasteners
  • Drilling holes in materials

These machines are usually used to drive screws into materials like metals and studs, materials that are typically hard to work with. Due to the small size, you might suppose that they don’t have plenty of torque. However, these tools have plenty of torque and deliver enough power to help you drive long screws into different materials.

 

Impact Driver vs Impact Wrench: Pick the Right Tool for Your Project

Furthermore, these tools help you to drill holes with the ¼” hex shank and drill bit. It is a powerful tool that allows you to drill different holes into materials like plastic, wood, aluminum, and more.

Reviews indicate that the Porter-Cable PCE211 is one of the best impact wrenches today.

Advantages

Here are some of the reasons these tools are excellent.

  • Impact drivers provide high torque in rapid bursts.

This ability makes them great for heavy-duty applications. It can allow you to remove lug nuts, drive long lag bolts, and more. The average model can give you up to 150 Nm of torque.

  • They are compact

They can be used in confined and awkward spaces

  • These tools have very little kick-back

Because of the higher torque, these models can overcome most of the resistance that creates kick-back, thus reducing chances of injury to the user.

Disadvantages

  • No torque control

These machines don’t allow you to determine the amount of torque delivered at a time. this can damage work surfaces and might strip the heads of screws.

  • Frequent bit replacement

Due to the power that they extend, your drill bits might wear down quickly and need to be replaced often.

How does an impact wrench work?

Impact Driver vs Impact Wrench: Pick the Right Tool for Your Project

There are several similarities between the impact driver and the impact wrench. For example, both of them are high-torque tools.

Impact wrenches also come with a square drive and give rotational force. This tool works by hitting the screw or nut until it loosens. It has a mechanism that hammers the output shaft to produce plenty of torque and eventually loosens the nut.

This powerful tool is highly versatile and is used to make a huge amount of torque while the person using it uses a very little amount of effort. The energy of the tool is stored in a rotating body and suddenly delivered to the output shaft. This burst of energy is responsible for the torque.

Many of these machines use compressed air to power the tool. Nevertheless, some models also use batteries.

These versatile tools find a place in automotive industries and other places.

Types of impact wrenches

Impact wrenches are categorized based on the way they are powered. To that end, you can power these tools in four ways.

  • Corded

As the name implies, these tools are powered by electricity. They are plugged into an electrical outlet and are limited to the length of the cord.

  • Cordless

These work without cords. They require batteries. Most models like this have batteries included in the package. The batteries are rechargeable.

The pneumatic models are often used in automotive, particularly by race mechanics. They are very powerful and their incredible power allows the mechanics to remove lug nuts at blinding speeds. They work using compressed air, which doesn’t make them a good fit for domestic purposes.

  • Hydraulic

These use a fluid mechanism to deliver power to the machine. It is the least common power source on the market. It is easy to use, though, as all you need to do is to pull the trigger to start the force. One downside of these models is that they are relatively heavy. However, they do not increase the chances of strain.

Another difference from other models is that these hydraulic wrenches come with ½” standard square drive. They are loud and need ear protection when used.

Uses

These are very versatile tools that are powerful and often used in the automotive industry. One common use that you might know of is the use of these wrenches to remove or tighten nuts when changing the tires of a vehicle. If you take your car to the repair shop and the repairer approaches to change the tires, chances are pretty high that he is using an impact wrench.

Aside from helping you to change car tires, this tool is also used to assemble heavy equipment, assemble vehicles, manufacturing tools, for construction, and much more.

It also finds a place in home repairs and installations, although this might be overkill.

Advantages

  • Produces plenty of force

These tools are really powerful options. They create a lot of force which lets them loosen most nuts and bolts they encounter.

  • Reduced wrist strain

If you suffer from wrist strain when using hand tools, you should have an easier time with these tools as they will help to reduce the strain.

  • Versatile

Impact wrenches are available in four types. Therefore, you can choose the type that best meets your requirements.

Disadvantages

There are some drawbacks to using these tools. Here are some disadvantages:

  • They are pretty loud
  • Not for beginners
  • Not good for domestic use

Impact driver vs impact wrench: Quick comparison

Here is a comparison table showing some of the differences and features of the two tools.

  Impact driver Impact wrench
Power source Electricity, Battery Compressed air, hydraulics, electricity
Ease of use Easy Steep learning curve
Ease of maintenance Easy Easy
Uses To drive screws, drill holes Loosen and install lug nuts and heavy bolts
Price Pricey Lower price
Safety High level High level
Size Compact Larger
Lifespan Durable Durable

So, which one should you get?

As we have considered so far, these two tools are quite different even though they have similar names. The best one for you largely depends on what you need it for. If you have plenty of DIY projects or you are working around the home, then the impact driver comes in very handy. It allows you to drive long screws and do similar stuff yourself.

The impact wrench is not as versatile as the impact driver. While they are more powerful, they are best used on construction sites or with vehicles. If you love working on cars, then the impact wrench is best for you.

Final thoughts

This impact driver vs impact wrench article has provided plenty of information about these two tools. They are both pretty useful. The best one to buy depends majorly on you and what you plan to do with them. For most folks, the impact driver comes in handier for their DIY projects.

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