Impact torque wrenches and electric drivers were only a few years ago considered to be completely different categories of tools. However, the recent advancements in electric motor and battery technology have rocketed electric drivers up to similar levels of performance as some of the air impact torque wrenches.
There are now more manufacturers than ever in the tool market which is great for the consumer as they each battle it out to be the most competitive and make the best tool in their specific category. The designs and performance of each are completely varied meaning that there is a product out there to suit every individual and all required applications.
Tools nowadays are also seeing levels of reliability that are simply amazing. The materials that are being used to construct internal mechanisms are high durability metals that simply do not fail even under high loads at high speeds.
There are several categories of impact wrench and drivers. The first thing that any consumer must do when looking for a new wrench or driver is decide which category of tool they require based on the usage and required operation.
Categories of Air Ratchets and Impact Drivers
We’ve separated the market into several peer groups based on common form factors and uses.
- 3/8 inch air ratchet drivers
- Air wrench in a ratchet form
- 3/8 inch air impact driver
- 1/2 inch Air Impact Drivers
- Heavy duty air impact driver
- Electric impact driver
- Cordless electric impact driver
Each group has a different range in terms of size of the tools, maximum power output, usability and price.
Some of the models require varying sizes of air compressors which then has a knock on effect in the requirement to buy a larger and more expensive compressor. However, the electric drivers simply require plugging into a battery or mains charger and getting on their way.
The highest levels of torque are achieved from the heavy duty air impact wrenches whilst the wrenches in the form of a ratchet and the cordless electric are generally low power in comparison but are of course smaller and lighter which increases their usability.
Drivers and torque wrenches are seen in many different industries such as worksite construction, auto mechanics, plumbing, electricians as well as all light applications around the home by the domestic user/
3/8 Inch Air Ratchet Driver
A 3/8 inch connector is the smallest connection size that would be considered by the majority of serious tool users and construction sites. The 3/8 inch coupler would allow for the tool to be connected to traditional air pressure hoses that are found on construction sites and in auto mechanic garages.
The air ratchet driver is a relatively low power output yet small an nimble device. They are therefore best suited to auto-mechanics for removing spark plugs under the hood of cars and trucks as well as plumbers that require a medium level of torque to fasten water connection pipes.
The entrants into this category are fairly limited. The 3/8 inch air ratchet category of tool is essentially a cross between the air ratchet and the 3/8 inch impact air wrench.
Quick Recommendations for the Best 3/8 Inch Air Ratchet Driver
Recommended as a lightweight products for auto-mechanics and plumbers: the Ingersoll-Rand Hammerhead
Air Wrench in the form of a Ratchet
Air powered tools that take the form of a ratchet are extremely innovative and allow for workers to benefit from the power delivered by having an air connection whilst also taking huge benefits from the fact that their tool is the exact shape and size that they require it to be for the jobs.
The product is by far and away the best type of product for removing spark plugs under the hood of automobiles and larger engine vehicles due to the relatively low power required and the limited working space that is available.
Therefore, the best application for this product is in an auto-mechanic garage. It does however, also offer great benefits to plumbers who require similarly low torque tightening power in usually cramped spaces.
Quick Recommendations for the Best Air Wrench in the form of a Ratchet
The best for daily use: Ingersoll-Rand 109
The best budget model: Power Force PF700
Best butterfly model: Jet 401
3/8 Air Impact Driver
The category of 3/8 inch air impact driver is perhaps the most commonly found size of tool on construction sites. They are large enough and powerful enough to deliver the required torque to make mince meat of most nuts and bolts, yet small enough to be operated easily and with the minimum of fuss.
As such, auto-mechanics love these tools as they sit nicely in the garage and pack a punch that allows them to pull their weight when they need it. They are also big news in the manufacturing industry such as in factories that mass produce items for similar reasons of being small yet powerful when it matters.
Quick Recommendations for the Best 3/8 Inch Air Impact Driver
The best for constant daily use: Ingersoll-Rand 2115
The best for light use: Porter Cable 382
The best for those on a budget: Ingersoll-Rand 212
1/2 Air Impact Driver
The best application for 1/2 air impact drivers is use on busy construction sites where steel worker require high powered tools that do no weigh as much as a small car so that they can handle at huge heights un the side of half finished buildings. Some 1/2 inch air impact tools are more than capable of reaching maximum torques of well over 1,000 foot-pounds which allows for them to easily deliver the goods on most jobs.
Half inch tool also tend to be built to a higher level of reliability than those of a 3/8 inch connector which increases their application of use. They also have a better mix of head speed and torque allowing for high speed as well as high powered jobs rather than one of the other.
Quick Recommendations for the Best 1/2 Inch Air Impact Driver
Best for daily use: Ingersoll-Rand 2135
Best all-rounder: Air Cat 1000
Best Extreme budget: Campbell Hausfeld TL050299AV
Heavy Duty Air Impact Driver
Heavy duty air impact drivers are generally connected to 3/4 inch or 1 inch air socket couplers. This allows for the maximum airflow through the device and the greatest powers and torques.
The best performing heavy duty air impact wrench can deliver a huge maximum torque of over 1,500 foot-pounds. This kind of torque is incredible but it is not required every where. For example, it is highly unlikely that any fastenings in an auto garage will require tools that are capable of such high toques.
However, large and busy construction sites and in particular steel workers will almost certainly require this kind of power at their finger tips. Those in the heavy manufacturing industry such as ship builders will also need levels of torque in this range.
Quick Recommendations for the Best Heavy Duty Air Impact Driver
Best 3/4 inch for daily use: Ingersoll-Rand 2141
Best 1 inch for daily use: Chicago Pneumatic CP77756
Best budget: Ingersoll-Rand 261
Electric Impact Driver
Electric impact wrenches are more often than not 7 Amp motors that can deliver a range of torque ranging between the few hundreds to the almost 1,000 foot-pounds. They are by nature lightweight devices and simply need plugging into a wall socket. This means that for domestic use, they are the perfect choice.
However, many construction site prefer to limit the application and use of electric mains sockets as they cause a significant safety risk.
They are also relatively light weight for the kind of jobs that are required on sites.
What they are brilliant for is fitting out commercial and domestic buildings after the first construction fitting has been completed. This means that the ring mains and plumbing is all inserted and therefore electric tools can be used to build internal walls and install the second fittings.
Quick Recommendations for the Best Electric Air Impact Driver
The best for daily use: DeWalt DW292K
The best for those on a budget: Milwaukee 9072-20
The best looking and cheapest: Kawasaki Clever
Cordless Electric Impact Driver
Cordless electric drivers are by far the most astonishing of all the tools reviewed on trusted tool advisor. They manage to deliver air powered levels of torque for extreme low prices and in devices that are as small as an average size foot.
They weigh between 4 and 9 pounds and are all single handed operation. They can deliver torque levels that compare with the smallest air powered ranges making them a real contender.
Advances in battery technology mean that drivers can be given the very best in terms of power. Lithium-Ion are the two buzz words in battery technology and they mean that when fully charged and inserted into an electric driver, they will last for a full day delivering full power.
These are great for the home user and as an emergency product to put in the car in the occasion of a flat tyre.
Quick Recommendations for the Best Cordless Electric Air Impact Driver
Best for Daily use: Makita 253
Best for light use: Bosch 22612
Best for those on a budget: DeWalt DC821KA