Impact Wrench vs Impact Driver | UK Guide | 2023
Those unfamiliar with tool basics often struggle to discern the differences between an impact wrench and an impact driver. The two tools do indeed share some similarities, but they are used for different applications. Impact drivers were once reserved for use by professionals, although they are becoming far more affordable and are finding their ways into the toolboxes of amateurs and DIY enthusiasts.
Impact wrenches have always tended to be the reserve of professionals and have long been a common sight in auto repair shops. As such, there is not really much call for them for everyday use. Although impact wrenches and impact drivers look very similar on the surface, understanding the differences between the two tools will help you pick the perfect product for your tasks. Below, we break down the main differences between these two popular varieties of power tool.
Key Differences Between Impact Wrenches and Impact Drivers
Impact drivers and impact wrenches are used for the same basic purpose. They are usually put to task to remove stubborn bolts and heavy-duty screws from wheels and industrial machinery. However, they handle very differently and each have their own unique applications.
An impact wrench is the way to go if you want higher torque levels. In fact, impact wrenches can provide you with significantly more torque than a standard impact driver. An impact wrench is the preferred choice of professionals, especially for those working in automotive and construction fields. However, impact wrenches can be used in a more everyday context. Some DIY enthusiasts may choose to invest in an impact wrench, while those who prefer to carry out extensive repairs and remodelling on their vehicles may also require an impact wrench to complete a task.
For everyday tasks and DIY jobs, an impact driver is the best option to go for. They offer some of the same functionality as a heavy-duty cordless drill, although they are nowhere near as versatile. That being said, they can be very useful at carrying out extensive repairs in and around the home. If you need to add a high number of heavy-duty screws in a short amount of time, an impact driver is a good choice of power tool. They are also ideal if you are planning on carrying out construction work in the garden, such as laying wooden decks.
While an impact wrench is a useful tool to have if you have the funds to purchase one, there is unlikely to be much call for it on a regular basis. Even if you need to carry out occasional maintenance work on a vehicle, an impact driver can provide you with enough functionality to carry out your jobs. Of course, if you need to call on substantial torque on a regular basis in a professional setting, an impact wrench is a worthwhile investment.
Impact Drivers Explained
At first glance, an impact driver can me mistaken for a large cordless drill. However, while these two power tools share some similarities aesthetically, they serve vastly different functions. The main function of an impact driver is to provide you with high levels of torque and rotational force.
The impact provides by an impact driver is incredibly strong and consistent, with rotational hammering force also provided in some instances. These tools have been designed to provide you with heavy-duty driving and fastening performance. Almost every impact driver will include a hex socket measuring a quarter of an inch. You can use multiple bits with an impact driver, much in the same way as a drill or power screwdriver.
However, the overall build of an impact driver is superior to these tools, allowing you to place much more operational stress on the tool without the worry of bit breaking. If you decide to keep things simple with an impact driver, you should be aware that you will be fairly limited in the kinds of materials you can drill into.
While it should prove more than powerful enough to handle thick masonry, the applications of an impact driver will be limited to driving screws into place and fastening large bolts and nuts. If you want the freedom to be able to drill into a wide variety of materials, consider investing in a large cordless drill that has been designed exactly for this purpose.
Impact Driver Applications
An impact driver is usually called for when you need to drive screws into had materials such as sheet metal. Although most impact drivers are fairly small when compared to cordless screwdrivers, they are capable of delivering far higher levels of torque. This makes them more a powerful choice for driving particularly lengthy screws into heavy-duty materials. You can drive a considerable amount of screws into such materials in a relatively short of amount of time. Impact drivers can also be used to drill holes into material thanks to the inclusion of a hex shank.
However, you will need to pick a suitable drill bit in order to carry out drilling. Impact drivers can be effective at drilling into softer and thinner materials, including wood and some metal sheeting. Their relatively compact size also makes impact drivers convenient to use. Even if go for a model that packs a punch, the compact build makes them easy to handle, allowing you to keep control and ensure precise results. They also tend to be cordless, making them practical for handling tasks in awkward spaces.
Impact Wrenches Explained
As with impact drivers, impact wrenches a powerful choice of tool that provides you with considerable amounts of torque. The majority of impact wrenches feature a square drive element, with rotational force delivered when the wrench is activated. They are regularly used to loosen particularly stubborn bolts, especially those of a larger size. The percussive force provided by an impact wrench is very effective at loosening bolts that can not be removed via conventional means. The hammer mechanism of an impact wrench produces huge amounts of torque that you couldn’t possibly be able to achieve manually with a conventional socket wrench.
Impact Wrench Applications
The main application of an impact wrench is to loosen or fasten sockets, especially where a large amount of force is required. This puts them in contrast to impact drivers, that are better suited to driving in screws and smaller fasteners. As they are heavy-duty power tools, impact wrenches are usually used in professional settings. They are a staple power tool in the auto industry and are often called for during construction jobs. This is because such industries usually involve large sockets and bolts that are nearly impossible to loosen with manual wrenches and natural levels of torque.
If you can afford to spend a sizeable amount of money on impact wrench, investing in one is an option. However, you should think about how often you will need such high levels of power and torque. If you regularly repair vehicles from your home workshop, an impact wrench might be a worthwhile upgrade to an existing impact driver. If you are planning on undertaking significant restoration work at home, you also find an impact wrench a useful addition to your tool inventory. Impact wrenches tend to be larger in size than most impact drivers.
While this is not really an issue if you plan on using an impact wrench in a workshop, you may find them too cumbersome to use flexibly across larger areas. If you want an impact wrench to use in and around the home, carting the tool from one place to the next can be a chore. You will also find less cordless impact wrenches on the market than cordless impact drivers. Although you can compensate for this by staying close to a mains power supply or using a high-quality extension cable or portable generator, it is one more thing to consider when handling your power tool.
Which Option Should You Choose?
You should now have a clear idea of the benefits and drawbacks of both impact drivers and impact wrenches. Both power tools have their unique uses and better serve distinct applications. If you only need to handle small DIY tasks and occasional bolt removal, an impact driver is a good choice. A decent impact driver will speed up the process of tightening and removing bolts, while also providing you with some drilling ability.
However, you will be limited when it comes to the kind of material you can expect to drill into. However, the compact size of an impact driver makes them a very user-friendly choice of power tool. If however you need to undertake constant bolt removal and tightening tasks, an impact wrench is the best choice of power tool.
These heavy-duty tools are designed for more intensive applications and the level of torque and hammering power they provide can not be beat by an impact driver. If you are a professional contractor in need of a power tool that can keep up with a busy workload, an impact wrench is by far the most suitable fit for your needs.