Among the most powerful handheld power tools is the electric impact wrench. These devices are used extensively in garages, where they’re invaluable in loosening and tightening large bolts and lug nuts. In cases where the fastener in question has rusted in place, their extreme rotational torque can be utterly invaluable.
But this is a specialized device that’ll only appeal to those performing certain tasks. So is it worth your while? Let’s take a closer look at this particular tool, and see how it compares to some of the alternatives.
The electric impact wrench offers a number of advantages over the alternatives. The first we’ve already mentioned: the very high rotational torque. But we should also consider the practicality of the device: it can quickly move from one fastener to the next without the need for repositioning. If you have hundreds of them in a row, as in a production line, you’ll be able to work incredibly efficiently.
Better than a screwdriver?
While a screwdriver of the right size and shape could be used as an alternative to the impact wrench, it’s far more powerful, with vastly superior torque. On the other hand, it also generates a huge amount of noise, which means that you’ll be well advised to invest in ear defenders alongside this particular tool.
The terms ‘impact driver’ and ‘impact wrench’ are often used interchangeably, but there are differences. The former usually comes equipped with a quarter-inch hex opening, while the latter can be made to fit a range of sockets. Make sure that you check exactly what you’re getting before you invest your money.
Better than a pneumatic impact wrench?
So, how does an electric impact wrench compare to its pneumatic counterpart? On the plus side, you won’t need a compressor to start the device, which makes it more convenient. On the other hand, you’ll also get less power from a pneumatic impact wrench.
Cordless wrenches also tend to be much heavier – which, if you’re zipping nuts all day using a high-power driver, might be a significant consideration. Comfort and fatigue matter if you’re earning your living through the same repetitive activity.
Price is another consideration which might persuade many to go pneumatic. As well as being cheaper to buy, pneumatic wrenches also tend to be less prone to overheating, as they work by circulating cold air. Moreover, when a breakdown does occur, it tends to be much easier to fix.
The main drawback of pneumatic compressors, at least for those working with limited space, is the size of the compressor itself. The smaller the compressor, the more often you’ll need to repressurize it – which can lead to significant interruptions and slow working.