Impact Driver Vs Impact Wrench: The Differences

Professional contractors, hobbyists, and DIY professionals always consider their tools their greatest asset. However, with the plethora of tools in the market that do similar jobs, it can sometimes be hard to pick the best tool for your projects.

One of the most perplexing decisions is to choose between impact driver vs impact wrench.

You’re probably wondering what is the real difference between impact driver and impact wrench. And you probably don’t have a clue on which one is better for your next woodworking project.

They might sound essentially the same, but they actually have a few key differences—although there certainly are some similarities as well. Before buying your next tool, check out their key differences to make a more informed purchasing decision.

These two are the most powerful wrenching tools. Whichever of these two you choose to buy, you are sure to get more torque than what you’d usually get by just using the average torque wrench or drill.

However, you most likely need only one of them, so it’s best to choose carefully. To make the best choice, know their standard applications and uses as well as their pros and cons. In this article, we’ll tackle all of that in great detail.

Let’s get started!

Impact Driver

Both homeowners and professionals use impact drivers instead of the cordless drills, particularly due to the bit sets with hex-shank accessories that are made to endure the stresses which these drivers could impose on the bit.

An impact driver is a high-torque tool that also exerts hammering blows in axial direction with its internal impact mechanism. It’s mainly used for tightening nuts and driving screws and fasteners into your material.

The chuck of these tools accept only those bits with ¼-inch hex shanks. You can either pull up on its chuck sleeve in order to insert a bit or simply slip bits into chucks. You may also reverse the switch as it’s also handy in getting the screws and fasteners out.

These are smaller and lighter as compared to drill drivers. And though they aren’t as versatile, they are sure to perform around the same way. Because the torque output of impact drivers is higher compared to the typical drill driver, the job could be done more quickly.

Who Should Use It

Whether you’re a professional builder dealing with construction job or an amateur dealing with home improvement and DIY projects, this tool is for you. This is also for those who want a compact and lightweight tool to do the job.

There are lots of projects and tasks in your workshop and around your home that would need a tool for driving in screws. Though you can just go for the standard torque and drill wrenches, they don’t always provide the right torque that can get the key tasks done.

Thus, you need a more versatile option that generates more torque—and that’s where impact drivers come in handy.

Impact drivers are one of the standard tools in any workshop, and craftsmen love these tools due to their wide range of applications in various woodworking and other related projects. They may look just like the standard drills, but they are actually more powerful and offer more torque for a faster and more efficient work.

What For

Impact drivers have two main uses.

First, they tighten and loosen fasteners with its high rotational torque.

Second, they drill holes in hard surfaces with their hexagonal shank drill bits. Its 1/4“hex bit adapter can definitely hold attachments and screwdriver bits reliably. Its high non-reactionary torque and overall performance can help you make your construction, DIY, and home improvement project possible.

Using an impact driver, expect to get a torque of around 2,200 in-lbs.—this depends on the model you’re going for. Impact drivers are useful for doing various household projects. The main purpose of the tool is to drive in bolts and screws into woods and other materials which the standard drill cannot cover.

If you’re building a deck, drawers, cabinets, and other construction projects, an impact driver can be utterly useful.

Pros

  • Easy to Use: They’re easy and convenient to use. They provide the right torque for thoroughly driving screws and also ensure that nothing slips out of place. Regular drills usually can’t give this guarantee.
  • Affordable Tool: Impact drivers are generally costlier than the standard drill, but it’s way cheaper than the larger and more powerful wrenches. You can already get a decent impact driver for as low as $50—though the bigger brands may cost more.
  • Ideal for Driving Screws: Its ¼-inch hex driver makes it one of the best tools for driving in screws. Whether you’re working with wood or other materials, an impact driver is the way to go.
  • Compact Choice: Using or handling an impact driver makes things easier due to its lightweight design.

Cons

  • No Torque Control: Most impact drivers don’t have torque control. Thus, it will be hard to control the extent of torque the tool produces. This may lead to damaged work surfaces or stripped screw heads.
  • Won’t accept some bits: One of the key failings of an impact driver is it won’t cover certain types of bits. It has this locking collect which only accepts the hex-shanked ones. This limits its applications and is a major con for some users.

Impact Wrench

Impact wrenches are socket wrench power tools which work by storing energy in its heavy retaining mass then releasing everything at once in tiny impacts against the output shaft.

Thus, it puts more force on the nut or bolt which you’re trying to loosen or tighten. The tool is also called air gun, impact gun, rattle gun, windy gun, or torque gun.

impact wrench

It really does it jobs in thoroughly driving fasteners and lug nuts that demand a super high rotation force.

Who Should Use It

Those who work in auto repair shops, assembly lines, large construction and heavy equipment maintenance projects would definitely need an impact wrench.

These guns are typically used in assembly, repair, and maintenance work due to their low-level noise impact and reactionless tightening.

When you don’t have any other wrench that is powerful enough to do the job, an impact wrench is the trusty resort. This tool consistently offers a high torque output.

An impact wrench looks like a drill but doesn’t supply consistent rotational power at such a high speed. Instead, it delivers high torque output at low speeds via a hammering action. It is bulkier and definitely more powerful than an impact driver. It uses a ½-inch square driver. It is perfect for those who need to fasten or loosen sockets.

What For

To unfailingly loosen or drive lug nuts and heavy bolts, an impact wrench becomes extra handy. If you’re doing heavy machine maintenance, home construction, and mechanical work, an impact wrench is definitely the tool you need. There are also lighter duties that the impact wrench does like changing automobile wheels or building garden decking.

Pros

  • Generates More Torque: When the torque wrench, impact driver, and standard drill don’t make the cut anymore, the impact wrench comes to the rescue. Its torque output can handle almost all applications.
  • Easy to Use: Though it might feel bulky and despite its massive torque, using it still feels light and easy. With this power tool, bolting and unbolting sockets and screws are effortless.
  • Perfect for bolts and nuts: You still can use an impact wrench to drive in screws if you have the right bit, but they are best used for bolts and nuts. Whatever the size, an impact wrench can cover it efficiently. That is why an impact wrench is most recommended when dealing with mechanical work and large machines.

Cons

  • Bulky: Since it generates more power and torque, it comes in a bulkier design. Handling it is still easy though, but impact wrenches just weigh several ounces more than the impact drivers. Thus, it might take time before you get used to them, especially if you usually utilize compact and lightweight tools in your workshop.
  • Expensive: As compared to impact drivers, impact wrenches can really cost more. If you will need their power only on rare occasions, it might not be worthwhile to spend a huge amount on a tool that most likely would just end up idle in the workshop. The best ones would cost hundreds of dollars although you can find cheaper models if you look harder.

Discussed above are the pros and cons of an impact driver and an impact wrench. Depending on your exact needs and budget, assess the two and choose the one that suits your preferences. The two do seem similar, but summarized below are the key differences they hold:

Impact Wrench vs Drill Driver : Differences

Discussed above are the pros and cons of an impact driver and an impact wrench. Depending on your exact needs and budget, assess the two and choose the one that suits your preferences. The two do seem similar, but summarized below are the key differences they hold:

Impact DriverImpact Wrench
Power SourceElectricity. Battery (cordless)

 

Compressed Air, Electric
Tool Holder¼-inch Hexagonal socket½-inch square shaft
Working PrincipleImpact force in axial and rotational direction.Impact blows in rotational direction only
Output ForceMore revolutions per minute (RPM). Less torqueLess revolutions per minute (RPM). Higher Torque
UsesDrive Holes. Drive screwsDrive in or loosen heavy bolts and lug nuts
For Who?DIY, Home Improvement, ConstructionAssembly lines, Auto repair,  heavy equipment maintenance, and huge construction projects.

 

Which One Is Best for You?

Overall, as compared to impact drivers, impact wrenches are bulkier, heavier, and more powerful with its higher torque. However, Impact wrenches are specialty tools.

Thus, only a few people may feel the need to own one. Impact driver, on the other hand, has more uses as not everyone would have heavy bolts to drive or loosen. Simply put, an impact driver has more potential to become a household item than an impact wrench.

However, an impact wrench can be highly recommended if you constantly work on specific jobs that need a powerful and heavy-duty tool.

For instance, if you own or work at a repair shop, machinery maintenance site, or construction projects, an impact wrench can be your best friend. For professionals, an impact wrench will make their job easier and faster.

If you have the budget, you can actually go and buy both.

They’re both great additions to your collection. But if you’re on a budget, it makes more sense to choose just one.

After deciding which tool to buy, make sure to choose the right model and the right brand. If you buy an impact driver, choose the right product with the right voltage, trigger and RPM, controls, ergonomics, and torque and IPM.

When choosing an impact wrench, choose:

  • The right type
  • Torque
  • Weight
  • Size
  • Impacts per minute
  • Driver size
  • Torque adjustment
  • Balance and ergonomics
  • Warranty

Conclusion

The final takeaway when deciding which between impact wrench vs impact drive is better is to assess your needs.

To make the most of your investment, assess the possible usage frequency of the item and whichever you feel you can use more often, stick to it. The most important thing is to choose the product that can get the job done and can come to your rescue anytime a personal or professional need calls for it.

Whether you’re a DIYer or a professional contractor, equipping your workshop with the right set of tools is highly essential. To do that, understand the uses of each key tool to ensure that you’re picking the right ones for your collection.

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