Both the impact drive and impact wrench are among the top power tools needed to get jobs done. However, many people don’t understand the difference between the impact driver vs. impact wrench.
We take a closer look at the differences and similarities between the impact wrench vs. driver, so you know which one is best for your DIY projects.
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Impact Driver Vs. Impact Wrench: Key Differences Explained
Design & Purpose
What is impact wrench vs impact driver? The main differences are seen in the design and purpose. The impact driver resembles a standard drill, but it provides much more power. In comparison, the impact wrench looks like a regular drill, but it is smaller and stubbier. This smaller design doesn’t signify less power; in fact, it is far more potent than the impact driver.
The impact driver is going to be available as a corded or cordless version, while you can find corded impact wrenches, cordless impact wrenches, as well as air impact wrenches. You would use an impact driver to drill long screws into metal or wood, while the impact wrench is utilized to tighten or loosen bolts and nuts. Additionally, the impact driver is generally easy to hold and use, while the impact wrench can be heavy and difficult to control. Still, both are essential in your home garage.
Mechanism/How It Works
Looking at these videos, you can easily see the differences between the impact driver vs. torque wrench. This first video illustrates how an impact driver works.
The impact driver works similarly to cordless drills, but it can provide a lot more power because of the unique design. When driving screws, this additional power ensures a more straightforward job with less effort. Most impact drivers range in torque from 1500-1800 in-lb. Plus, there is virtually no reactionary torque when using an impact driver.
Our second video shows how an impact wrench operates. You see how with every half-turn of the drill, the internal hammer rotates and compresses a spring. Once this spring is released, energy forces the hammer down while also creating a twisting function.
Another difference between impact wrench vs driver vs drill is what each tool is used for. The impact driver is tough enough to drill screws through metal, wood, and bricks. The high torque forces the screw through an object. If you are building furniture and drilling long screws, you will find that this power tool works far better than a cordless drill.
You can also use the impact driver to remove stuck screws or screws that have become corroded. Because the impact driver is compact, you can use it in tight spaces.
The impact wrench is designed to tighten or loosen bolts and nuts. Force is measured in ft-lbs, offering far more power than other tools. This wrench is mainly used in the automotive field to remove lug nuts. You will also see them during car races when time is essential.
However, you can also use the impact wrench for construction or on assembly lines. You wouldn't want to use either of these tools for the wrong job as it is not what the tools were designed to do and could prove to be dangerous.
Pros & Cons
The impact driver is powerful enough for more household jobs and provides plenty of flexibility, with the ability to change bits. You can also use it in compact places and experience minimal kickback. The lightweight design and low price make it simple for anyone to use. However, they can be noisy and sometimes drive screws too far, especially if you aren’t paying attention.
The impact wrench produces a lot of force, helping you get off stubborn nuts and bolts. While the tool is heavy, the design normally reduces wrist strain. There are many types to choose from, but some can become expensive. That’s why most amateurs don’t see a need to own an impact wrench and leave it to the professionals instead.
Value For Money
Impact drivers come in a variety of prices, but they are generally cheaper than impact wrenches. You can find budget impact drivers for under $50. If you need more power or versatility, you might prefer to invest a few hundred dollars to get something geared toward professional use.
The budget impact wrench is going to cost closer to $100, but you can spend far more. In fact, to get an air impact wrench or hydraulic option, you could spend much more. That’s why the majority of impact wrenches of this caliber are meant for industrial or professional auto shop use.
One thing to remember when using either a cordless impact driver vs wrench is the additional cost for batteries. However, if you stick to one brand, such as if you are using the Ryobi impact driver vs impact wrench, you might be able to use the same batteries between the two tools.
Ease of Use & Required Maintenance
If you are a beginner, you will find that the more straightforward tool to use among the cordless impact wrench vs driver is the driver. Not only is it lightweight and compact, but it also doesn’t produce as much power, making it simple to handle. You can choose from a variety of driver bits, ideally suited to whatever job you are looking at. You can also take an impact driver on the go with you to complete jobs anywhere.
Impact wrenches are much harder to handle because of the twisting torque produced. You need to purchase specialized impact sockets, as the standard set of sockets could easily break or crack. However, both power tools require minimal maintenance. You want to keep the tool clean, inspect it regularly, and store it appropriately when it's not in use. If choosing a cordless impact driver or wrench, you will need to keep the batteries charged, or you might find yourself without the tool when you require it.
General Safety Tips When Using These Power Tools
Anytime you use a power tool, there is a chance of an accident. To protect yourself from injury, consider these vital power tool safety tips.
- 1Learn about your power tool before use. Read the owner’s manual for directions.
- 2Wear proper PPE. We recommend ear protection and eye protection when using power tools.
- 3Use the appropriate accessories with your power tool.
- 4Inspect the tool for damage before use.
- 5Clean your work area and remove anything that’s not needed. Keep it clutter-free.
- 6When your tool isn’t in use, store it correctly.
- 7Don’t leave your power tools anywhere that children can reach them.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
What type of socket should be used with an impact wrench?
Impact sockets should be used with your impact wrench. If you use a standard socket, it could crack or break and might cause an injury.
Where is the best place to buy quality impact drivers and impact wrenches?
Whether you want a hex impact driver vs impact wrench, you should shop on Amazon. The platform provides the best selection and allows you to read through customer reviews with ease.
Do impact drivers have a clutch?
Unlike a power drill, the impact driver only has one gear. This setup requires you to be more precise when using a variable-speed trigger.
Do impact drivers have variable speeds?
Some impact drivers have a variable-speed trigger, allowing you more precision over the job at hand. However, these are often more expensive than a standard impact driver.
Can impact drivers remove a lug nut?
You could remove the lug nut with an impact driver if they aren’t tightened more than the driver can handle. You wouldn’t want to use this power tool to work with rusted or frozen lug nuts.
Are electric impact wrenches as good as air-powered impact wrenches?
Many people wonder which is better between the electric vs. pneumatic impact wrench. The air impact wrench is much more expensive and generally only used in professional auto repair shops. While they make automotive jobs simple, they usually have far too much power for woodworking and household repairs. If you need potent power, the air impact wrench is better, but the electric impact wrench is useful for everyday projects.
Will an impact wrench break bolts?
Most often, if a bolt is rusted and breaks, it was going to break no matter what you do. The impact knocks off the rust, making it easier to get the bolt out, but sometimes the head breaks off too. However, using a breaker bar would have probably caused the same outcome.
By now, you should understand the difference between the impact driver vs. impact wrench for automotive use. With the torque wrench vs. impact driver, use the first power tool to get off stuck nuts and bolts, while the driver is useful for household and construction projects.