Electric vs Air vs Cordless Impact Wrench: Which one is the Winner?

Do you know that the global market for impact wrenches was predicted to be worth $4.82 billion in 2020? This market is expected to grow to more than 6.7 billion USD by 2027.

Whenever it relates to dealing with rusted, resistant, or hopelessly jammed nuts, there is just one tool you need: an impact wrench! It will enable you to save a significant amount of time while also ensuring that you do not burn a beat.

So, if you are hunting for a dependable and long-lasting impact wrench, consider that there are many options nowadays, and it can be daunting if you do not understand what you are seeking out.

Fortunately, our in-depth guide on Electric vs Air Impact wrench vs Cordless Impact wrench will explain whether to go for an air or cordless or electric-powered impact wrench. However, two parameters will significantly impact your decision: the frequency with which you use it and the nature of the job you perform.

So let’s get started!

What is an Impact Wrench?

An impact wrench is a swivel wrench motor device called an impactor, impact gun, air wrench or gun, rattling gun, torque gun, and windy gun.

By trapping energies in a rotational body and then sending it rapidly to the end wheel, this equipment is intended to give excellent torque production with low user effort.

The most prevalent power source is pressurized gas, but electric and mechanical power is also utilized, with portable electric devices getting more widespread in the 2000s.


Types of Impact Wrenches

Corded Electric Wrench

Electric Impact wrench

Corded impact wrenches are solely operated through a connection to an electrical outlet. Because it is a plug-in technology, you will be hitched to that source of electricity.

Yes, these impact wrenches will get the job done; however, they quickly grow obsolete and have little use in the engineering or automobile industries.

And the reason behind this is that they are not exactly portable, and you will permanently be restricted to a specific working distance that the length of your wrench’s cord will define.

Indeed, these wrenches will suffice for modest, garage-based activities, yet they will fall short of the mark for more essential tasks requiring speed and portability.

In addition, corded tools can be a workplace safety problem; if you are not cautious, you might easily slip and tumble over the cable. Impact wrenches with no cord are just superior to the corded wrenches.

Cordless Electric Wrench

Cordless Impact Wrench

Cordless wrenches or battery-powered wrenches are, in fact, more pleasant to operate and much more compact than corded wrenches. Furthermore, cordless impact wrenches can be taken everywhere you wish due to their battery power operation.

Additionally, cordless electric wrenches are significantly more versatile when contrasted to air impact wrenches. The feature that they don’t require a connection or an air hose is a significant benefit.

They are also made to deliver enough power to remove even the most obstinate bolts, fasteners, and nuts. It is essential to remember that cordless impact wrenches can soon run short of energy and are not as forceful as pneumatic and corded impact wrenches.

However, the idea is to get many batteries so that you can simply swap it out for another until the first recharge when it goes off.

It is imperative to note that if you opt to purchase a battery-powered impact wrench, be sure it has a brushless motor. They’re more dependable, produce less warm air, and last much more than other forms.

What Makes Cordless Electric Wrenches a Good Idea?

  • The cordless wrenches offer more convenience in moving around the tool as compared to other impact wrenches
  • These offer more ease of use and versatility
  • If you are more exposed to working in hard-to-reach areas, the cordless wrenches will lend a great help

Why are Cordless Electric Wrenches not Good?

  • These wrenches will miss out on the power as compared to air impact or corded wrenches
  • While these wrenches are more portable, they carry the extra weight of the batteries that make handling them a bit difficult

Air-Powered Impact Wrench

Air Impact Wrench

While the air impact and electric impact wrench work are the same, the significant difference is that the former’s interior hammer is fueled by compressed air, not an electric motor. Such massive air power to these wrenches provides them huge torque.

Besides, Pneumatic impact wrenches typically have fewer moving parts, making them considerably simpler to fix if things turn out badly.

But, you’ll need to have a hefty air compressor to operate a compressed air impact wrench, which can be a significant disadvantage in compact workshops and domestic environments.

The extra air hose is also inconvenient, although professionals have used it for the past century. In a nutshell, they are dependable and suitable for most applications, but you will need to purchase an air compressor.

That’s why technicians, industrial personnel, and building professionals commonly use air impact wrenches.

Certainly, compressed air devices are bigger and heavier than electric models; however, no other wrenches can equal their power. The continual air supply makes them ideal for overtime hours in the workshop.

What Makes Air Impact Wrenches a Good Idea?

  • Air impact wrenches in most circumstances have substantially greater strength than electric impact wrenches.
  • These wrenches are suitable for stationary workplaces such as repair shops, construction sites, etc.
  • These wrenches are air-powered, which implies you will never run out of power with this device.

Why is Air Impact Wrenches not Good?

  • Offer no portability
  • You will always need an air compressor to operate these wrenches

Major differences between Corded, Cordless, and Air Impact Wrenches?

Though there are some noteworthy differences between the Electric, Cordless, and Air Impact Wrenches, we will look at factors that make one superior to the other. By reading the below points, you can better decide which one to choose.

Weight or Portability

While the corded electric wrenches had been wired to carry along the battery-operated to have the batteries. Nevertheless, battery-operated impact wrenches are the apparent champions regarding weight.

They are built for efficiency and portability, with lighter internal mechanisms. However, an important point is that the batteries make them a little heavy.

On the other hand, corded and air impact wrenches are large and typically hefty, making them difficult to move around.

Its internal components are typically constructed of iron, which adds to the heaviness, and the air hose is commonly in the line.

Moreover, you also have to move the air tank with the air impact wrench and cord with the corded wrench everywhere.

Nonetheless, the air impact wrenches compensate for their mass by producing greater torque, while the corded wrenches are less impressive.

On the other hand, a point to remember is that battery-powered impact wrenches are pretty robust these days than air impact wrenches.

Power

This one is a bit more difficult to determine. However, we will definitely award it to the air-powered machines.

Because compressed air wrenches don’t depend on a mechanical hammering mechanism to generate high power; instead, pressurized air is used to easily undo and tighten more robust nuts and screws.

Broadly said, they are more potent than other varieties in most circumstances.

Besides, electrical impact wrenches with cords have more force than cordless impact wrenches and can typically extract more giant bolts, nuts, and certain kinds of screws but they are a bit more complicated though.

On the other hand, battery-powered wrenches will soon empty if you require massive power. Air-powered impact wrenches are still the best choice for demanding operations.

Maintenance

Both corded and cordless impact wrenches are definitely an easy win at maintenance. Electrical motors have a limited number of components to upkeep.

While the internal motor of both corded and cordless wrenches is identical, so the winner here is both types of electric wrenches.

All you have to do is keep specific battery packs charged or reach the power outlet. Nevertheless, if the battery’s capacity is depleted at some stage in the case of cordless wrenches, you can replace it.

You did not have to worry about frequent mechanical damage since cordless wrenches are designed to be operated occasionally. On the other side, air wrenches can be a pain to keep in good working order.

They are larger, require more frequent lubrication, and many components of the system may have to be changed occasionally. Moreover, electric motors cannot be repaired in the same way air impact wrenches could.

Substitute components are also more challenging to acquire for air impact wrenches, so they generally need to change the entire system when some components malfunction

Convenience

Once more, cordless wrenches come out ahead of the corded and air impact wrenches.

Air impact wrenches are heavier than standard impact wrenches, making them difficult to operate for extended periods and creating severe wrist strain. They also resonate much more since they exert so much torque.

Besides, the corded electric wrenches also need access to the power source all the time, so tackling the wire and keeping the safety measures intact can be real pain compared to cordless wrenches.

On the other hand, cordless wrenches are more versatile and convenient, averaging just 2-3 pounds.

Lastly, cordless wrenches can be used in difficult-to-reach regions, which should not be overlooked because of their smaller size.

Price

The corded electric wrenches are the real winner in the price factor. However, these wrenches might lack most of the qualities of the cordless and air impact wrenches. So for novice workers getting the corded electric wrench is the best buy.

Nevertheless, when it comes to professional workers choosing between cordless and pneumatic wrenches can be a real challenge.

You might be confused to learn that we opted for a tie in this one because an air impact wrench is cheaper than a cordless.

An air-powered impact wrench is typically less expensive than rechargeable impact wrenches; however, you’ll also need to purchase other equipment, such as:

  • An air compressor
  • An air hose
  • A reel

These extra accessories do not come cheap, making the air impact wrench price tag much higher. Yes, you’ll be free to utilize the air compressor with various pneumatic equipment, but the cost is still high.

The price bracket is likewise inclusive, ranging from low-cost $100 versions to high-end $1000 units. Your choice is mainly determined by your individual requirements, the intensity of use, and financial constraints.


So Who is the Winner? Air Impact Wrench or Corded or Cordless Wrench?

Well, there is no winner or loser in electric vs cordless vs air impact wrench. All of them have their gives and takes, and at the daybreak, it all boils down to customers’ needs and desires.

For instance, if you require an impact wrench for fixed operations such as repairing in your workshop, an air wrench and a corded electric wrench may be the ideal option, granted you devour access to an air compressor or electric power source, respectively.

Admittedly, they have a few drawbacks, but none beats an air impact wrench in force and efficacy.
Cordless electrical impact wrenches, on the other hand, are the appropriate ones to choose if you’re seeking one much lighter and more mobile wrench.

Please consider that if you want to operate it forty hours per week at work, you may require several batteries.


When should you use a Corded Electric Impact wrench?

A corded electric wrench is a powerful tool that can work best for most stubborn nuts and bolts. However, they continually need an electric power source to operate.

In general, you can use the corded electric wrenches in:

  • Static locations where you have 24/7 access to the electric power source
  • Places where you have to work on stubborn and lugged nuts and bolts
  • Where you have access to all the safety gears for dealing with electric devices
  • You have to work indoors or in workshops

If you are not a professional and want an impact wrench for simple indoor tasks, the corded electric wrench serves best. However, wearing all the safety gear is a must before working with such wrenches.


When should you use a Cordless Electric Impact Wrench?

Impact wrenches are versatile tools useful for various jobs and repairs. They are, nevertheless, most typically employed in the automobile sector.

Generally, cordless impact wrenches can be preferred for the following:

  • If you work here and there, not in a fixed location, you will need more convenience of transportation, speed, and flexibility.
  • If you are doing repair tasks indoors
  • If you have to work in compact spaces or you need to loosen the nuts and screws in hard-to-reach spaces
  • If you are unfamiliar with the impact wrenches and it is your first time operating one, the electric wrench is a way to go
  • If you do not have accessibility to an air tank for operating the pneumatic wrench

If you have not once used an impact wrench previously, a cordless electric wrench is better because it’s more convenient and lightweight.

Once you have become skilled at it, you can progress to larger air impact wrenches for even tricky operations.

Not to forget that battery-operated wrenches are the wave of the tomorrow. If you’re a new learner just getting started in the profession, you might want to start with the rechargeable type because it appears to be where the profession is headed eventually.


When Should You Use an Air Impact Wrench?

Electric wrenches are far less forceful than air wrenches. You can get electrically powered ones similar to the strength of air impact wrenches nowadays, yet you’ll still have to depend on battery packs. Here are a few examples of situations where you will need an air impact wrench:

  • If you need to loosen the incredibly tight nuts and bolts
  • If you have to do repair jobs in the automotive sector
  • If you have to work on a continuing work where transportability doesn’t solve a problem
  • If you have more money to spend on a high-end impact wrench
  • And most importantly, if you have space to keep the air compressor

Can an Electric Impact wrench Remove Lug nuts?

Since the air impact wrenches have more power than electric wrenches, they can effectively work on the lug nuts or stubborn bolts.

However, some high-end cordless and corded electric wrenches can also extract lug nuts, but in general, working, the air impact has the edge over the others.


Final Thoughts

Electric vs. air impact wrench, lastly it all comes down to two things. First, your area of application, and second how frequently you will be using it.

Impact wrenches are made for one purpose that is extracting tough, blocked, and jammed bolts. Using this reasoning, a portable electric impact wrench is the finest tool for performing simple repair jobs in and outside the house or garage.

Opt for a pneumatic impact wrench if your job is more strenuous, such as at an expert vehicle repair business, or if you spend all week extracting nuts and screws from big machines.

Sources:

https://www.statista.com/statistics/1228920/impact-wrenches-market-size-worldwide/

Bahram Shahab
Bahram here! A certified Electrical Engineer who knows his way around using power tools like a professional. My journey of using these robust tools started back when I graduated. Since then, I have finished almost a dozen DIY woodworking jobs. Apart from that, I have developed this habit of jotting down my personal experience about using a specific tool. So, I write on them to help the community in the best possible way.