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Category Archives: Air Ratchets and Impact Drivers
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
Without doubt, the most exciting category of wrench driver at the moment are those that are powered from electric motors with out the need for cords and cables. The huge recent advancements in battery technology has meant that the cordless driver that used to be a tool that was laughed at, is now starting to be taken seriously by professionals in the construction and auto-mechanic industry.
For the users, this is great news. Cordless electric drivers require almost zero set up time and the lack of a cable or air pressure hose mean that they can be used anywhere and everywhere. The cordless models are currently slightly down on power than electric drivers that have a cord plugged into the mains however, they have reached a maximum torque output that is more than capable of performing most jobs that you throw at them.
We will now reveal the three best tools for different user requirements.
The Best for Daily Use
There is competition for the best daily use model between the Makita 253 and the Milwaukee 0779-22 of which both tools are similarly specified. The Makita is a 3/8 inch socket connection whilst the Milwaukee is a 1/2 inch tool that costs 20% more. We advise that unless you specifically require a 1/2 inch tool, you will be better off all around with the Makita 253.
The Best Budget Model
The best budget model goes to the DeWalt DC821KA which is priced at a competitive $248. The DeWalt does not lack in power for the money savings and will be able to get the job done performing as well as the more expensive tools in the market. The high quality of DeWalt’s manufacturing will ensure that it is worksite toughened and ready for action.
The Best for Light Use
The best cordless driver for light use is the Bosch 22612. It has a low power output in terms of maximum torque, however, what it lacks in power it makes up for in absolute head speed where this tool runs away with the fastest title. It is good for low impact jobs and therefore puts it in the category of light use.
Milwaukee MLW2663-22 Summary
Pound for foot-pound of torque the best in the cordless
The Milwaukee 2663-22 deliver pound for foot-pound the highest torque available in an electric cordless device for the money it costs. It delivers a massive 450 foot-pounds of torque which is enough to comfortably see you through any job where you require a high power yet portable machine. This tool is so powerful that it even beats some of the air powered devices which are traditionally thought to be unbeatable in terms of power.
The 2663-22 is ideal for mechanical, automotive, and industrial jobs. It is powered by the Milwaukee M18, 18-Volt lithium-ion battery which is able to spin the head at just below 2,000 RPM. The connector plug is a 1/2-Inch. Milwaukee have also installed an innovative friction ring that provides industry-leading power in a small size. The weight of the 2663-22 is 6.7 pounds and it stands 9 inches tool making is a middle size cordless tool but also gives it excellent power to weight ratio. It’s practical for use for a range of applications from tightening and loosening nuts and bolts to completing general construction and maintenance jobs.
Milwaukee MLW2663-22 Specifications
- Milwaukee-designed impact mechanism
- Most powerful cordless electric delivering 450 foot-pounds of torque
- Compact size and weight reduces user fatigue
- Overload protection prevents damage to the tool and battery in abusive situations
- Friction ring allows quick, easy socket changes to increase productivity
The Conclusion for the Milwaukee 2663-22
There is no doubt that this tool can cut the mustard in the cordless electric market. It is certainly the most powerful tool available that requires no wires or air compressor connection. The head speed is also fast and the body of the tool is fairly light and small in stature. It has been proven in automobile garages to have enough power to easily remove wheels without requiring the operator to lug around a huge great big air compressor tool.
The Lithium-Ion battery is at the cutting edge of electrical storage and battery technology and will ensure that it lasts the distance. Converting from your old cordless to this is an easy step to make as you will instantly benefit from added power and torque.
The features of the MW2663-22 are however limited when compared against the big brother in the Milwaukee range. The 0779-22 is a tool that offer less torque but greater features and functionality including a more durable drive system.
Makita MAKWT01W Summary
Makita quality with a budget price tag
The Makita designed and built WTo1W is the baby brother in the Makita cordless electric driver tool range. It is built to the same high quality standards that we have come to expect from Makita. The power source is a single 12 volt lithium-ion battery which is the best type of battery around currently. This battery can produce a torque of 74 foot-pounds in this product. This power is achieved at a maxmimum head speed of 2,400 RPM and whilst delivering 3,200 Impacts per minute.
The WT01W is one of the lightest electric drivers in its class at a weight of just 2.2 pounds. It also include Makita’s handy LED work area illuminator which allows for the tool to be used tight spaces whilst giving full sight of what the operator is doing.
Makita MAKWT01W Specifications
- 74 foot-pounds of Maximum Torque in an ultra compact size
- Variable speed of 0 – 2,300 RPM for a wide range of fastening applications
- Ultra compact design at only 6-3/8″ long
- Weighs only 2.1 lbs. for reduced operator fatigue
- Built-in L.E.D. light illuminates the work area
- Makita built with the highest quality steel and heat hardened to last longer
The General Consensus on the Makita WT01W
This product should be judge on its price range and class. It will not change the world and is not an all rounder for every day use. It will however be extremely reliable and get most jobs done with limited fuss or hassle. The 74 foot-pounds of torque is not massive but enough for most drilling and screwing jobs around the house the connection is a 3/4 inch male socket so will fit on to existing attachments.
If you are looking for a good all round tool that will be capable of delivering that little bit extra, the big brother is the one to go for. Makita’s BTW253 will deliver double the torque of the WT01W.
The industry for electric impact driver is growing rapidly with many people moving away from the requirements for having large air compressor units to being able to have an electric device that will simply plug into the mains. That is coupled with the huge performance increases that have been seen in the output of small electric motors in recent times. Maximum torques of getting on for 350 foot-pounds was unheard of from an electric motor going back a few years.
Another benefit of an electric driver over an air pressure powered device is that it requires less setting up prior to work beginning. IT simply needs plugging in to circuit mains and off you go.
The Best for Daily Use
The best electric cord tool for those that are intended to use the device on a daily basis and therefore require higher levels of power and torque, the DeWalt 292K is the perfect choice. It is built with daily heavy use in mind and is tough enough to last through regular knocks and bangs.
The Best Budget Model
Look no further than the Kawasaki Clever if you are searching for a middle range yet low priced electric corded wrench driver. The Clever is styled like a super bike and performs with the same intensity. It competes with the class leaders for torque, power and head speed whilst being on average a quarter of the price.
The Best Middle Range Model
This category has two winner and both are from the same manufacturer. The Milwaukee 9070 range feature two products, the 20 and the 22. The difference is very small so take note. The 22 has a slightly newer drive motor system and made more durable and tougher. The 20 is slightly lighter so it horses for courses as far as this middle of the range electric drivers goes. The Milwaukee 9070-20 and the Milwaukee 9070-22 are both good middle of the range.
Which Heavy duty air wrench is the best for you?
Heavy duty impact wrenches are most likely to be seen in manufacturing factories and large construction sites. Some auto mechanics do choose to use heavy duty air powered impact torque wrenches however, they are not a requirement in this specific industry due to the huge power output that they are capable of and the relatively low requirement in the auto industry.
The top end of the air powered torque wrench market is predominantly 3/4 inch and 1 inch male drive shaft connections. These tools are the most expensive torque wrenches that are on sale all over and should therefore be explored to ensure that you are making the correct purchase. They deliver maximum torque levels that aren’t seen in small devices and vary in size from a slender and flexible device to bulky tools that limit the application.
The Best for Daily Use
If you are looking for a product that is a good mix of maximum torque raw power and reliability and assurances that you will not be let down, the IR2141 cannot be beaten. It delivers and unprecedented 1,200 foot-pounds of torque for a machine that weighs just 7 pounds and stands just over 8 inches tall giving the IR2141 the title of the highest pound to weight ration in the class. Its reliability cannot be beaten and its extremely rare for owners to require using their warrantee.
The Best 1 inch Model
The category of heavy duty air powered impact torque wrenches is fairly much dominated by the Ingersoll-Rand products. However, the wrench that takes the title of best 1 inch model is not an IR tool. The best 1 inch is the Chicago Pneumatic CP7775-6 which delivers an astonishing 1,550 foot-pounds of torque which ensures that you can complete any job.
The Best All around Model
Ingersoll-Rand have two budget products that fall into the heavy duty air powered torque wrench category; one 3/4 inch male drive shaft connection and one 1 inch. However, the best all round for a budget model is the IR-261. It can deliver over 1,100 foot-pounds of torque which is enough for most applications and is still a relatively sleek design.
1/2″ Air Impact Wrenches
Air Impact Wrenches are used in many different industries with the most predominant being trades such as auto-workshops and construction projects. The manufacturing and ship building industries are also likely to be constant users of air powered ratchet tools.
The middle of the range air powered ratchets are those that are powered by 1/2 inch air hoses. These tools are middle powered and middle priced and therefore the majority of industries would be looking for tools that sit in the 1/2 inch air hose compressor range. They also have the added advantage of having high torque power whilst being small and slender in their stature. They are therefore the best for use on busy jobs where the worker does not have the time for messing around or the space for moving tools around easy.
The Best for Daily Use
The absolute best air powered torque wrench that is available with a 1/2 inch air hose connection is no surprise. Ingersoll-Rand pride themselves on making the very best tools for everyday use. That is the main reason why Ingersoll-Rand tools are the first choice for the majority of Nascar teams. The IR-2135 is not cheap but is certainly the best tool for every day users. It is reliable and will not let you down when you need the power. It also delivers the highest torque in the market of 1/2 inch wrenches.
The Best Extreme Budget Model
An extreme budget model is classified as one that is massively cheaper than the standard price for the class. The Campbell Hausfeld TL050299AV costs 8.5 times less than the best performing air powered ratchet tool in the half inch tool market. It costs just $30 which is a tiny price and places it into many peoples consideration. The Campbell Hausfeld TL050299AV will not be as durable and reliable as the more expensive products but there is no reason why this shouldn’t be purchased by a home mechanic that will use the tool very lightly.
The Best All around Model
The best all around 1/2 inch air power torque wrench title goes to an up and coming brand in the air powered tool marking. Aircat have seen steadily increasing sales and their latest model, the AirCat 1000, is set to propel them even further. It is also great for those that dislike Ingersoll-Rands strangle hold on the air powered tool market. It is a small and lightweight device and boasts almost as much torque as the best performing Ingersoll-Rand 1/2 inch product for over $100 less. This is a great product and should be considered by those that will use on a medium to high basis.