Should I buy an Impact driver or an Impact Wrench?

Should I buy an impact driver or impact wrench? Which one is better? These are very basic questions that raise many questions in people’s minds. Homeowners completing their own home improvement and repair projects have increasingly turned to impact tools for their toolkits.

Since thousands of tutorials can be easily found online, it isn’t surprising that many people use these tools for DIY projects. Impact drivers and wrenches have quickly grown in popularity with DIYers due to their portability and power. 

Impact drivers are most commonly confused with impact wrenches since they are used in two separate fields, mechanical repair, and wood construction. This is because both types of tools are commonly used in both fields. In spite of the fact that they both look similar and are powerful tools that operate with a high degree of torque, but, how are these two tools different? 

This article describes the differences between impact drivers and impact wrenches, and the most common applications of each product, plus what each product can do for you so that you’ll be better able to decide whether or not you need one tool or both tools.

Should i buy an impact driver or an impact wrench

Impact Driver vs Impact Wrench

The main difference between an Impact driver and an impact wrench is the Torque, The torque of impact wrenches are many times greater than that of impact drivers, usually by hundreds of pounds.

Professionals use impact wrenches on heavy equipment, in construction, and in the automotive industry, whereas the DIY user prefers an Impact driver for their home-based decor projects.

You can drive fasteners and screws through the Impact driver whereas Impact wrenches can help in loosening or tightening stern nuts and bolts. 

Impact driver vs Impact Wrench Comparison Chart

Impact DriverImpact Wrench
Impact driverImpact wrench
Power sourceBattery, ElectricElectric, Compressed air, Battery
Tool Holder/Driver1/4-inch hex shank driver bits1/4”, 3/8”, and 1/2″ square drives
Maximum Power: in watts400 watts‎1020 watts
Maximum Torque:1500-2000 in LBS2200-3000 in LBS
Use forLoosening or fastening screws into wood metal or light concrete.Loosening or fastening nuts and bolts on cars or metal equipment Driver
Ideal forHome DIY, CarpentryAutomotive, construction, HVAC
Not recommended forIt cannot be drilled into hard materials like brick or concreteOver Tightening Fixings

TIP: Tightening the nuts and bolts will produce the required torque. It is imperative that you check the maximum torque of the impact wrench because this varies by brand and it should be determined by what you are trying to tighten with the machine.


Impact driver:

Features

Impact drivers are available in both manual as well as electric versions, but most people tend to refer to the electric versions when they mention impact drivers. Electric impact drivers are generally light and easy to use compared to manual impact drivers. Various electric impact drivers are available, including corded as well as cordless models. An ingenious tool used for losing and tightening a variety of screws, carriage bolts, nuts, and screws anchors. 

It uses the impact of the screw to insert screws directly into the wood without the use of a pilot hole, such as in sheathing and decking. This is one of the most versatile power tools that allows for one-handed operation to install and remove screws and bolts.

In order for the bits to fit the chuck, the shank of the bit must be hex 14.8 inches in length. There is a sufficient amount of power and torque within the motor to facilitate easy and accurate driving of these types of fasteners into wood, metal, or light concrete. While it is capable of boring holes using a spade-style bit, it wasn’t designed to drill holes.

Uses of Impact Driver: 

Self-tapping wood screws are the primary use of impact drivers. There has been a dramatic rise in the popularity of battery-operated tools in the woodwork industry. Additionally, impact drivers are also useful for builders and carpenters, especially when they are going to be required to hold a complex project together with multiple fasteners.

Generally, an impact driver will perform well in the following cases:

  • Installing self-threading screws
  • Screwing thick, long fasteners into hard materials
  • Unscrewing corroded bolts, screws, and nuts
  • Constructing furniture

REASONS TO BUY

Easily tightens hundreds of screws

Best for screwing into metal

It is useful in tight spaces and corners

Replacement bits are easy and flexible

Portable and lightweight

Usually, come at a lower price

Neither jerk nor kickback occurs

REASONS TO AVOID

Unsafe for inexperienced operators

Loud noise while in use

Impact drivers require bits


Impact wrench:

Features

FACT: Do you know that impact wrenches are used during pit stops at Grand Prix races to change wheels?

When using an impact wrench to replace your ratchet and breaker bar, you will gain significant productivity increases, as well as deliver a high level of torque, all at the same time. There is no doubt that you can tighten and loosen nuts and bolts in a faster and easier manner by using a corded or cordless impact wrench that easily fits in any toolbox. There are two main types of impact wrenches available to customers, either electric or air-powered. An impact wrench features a motor for providing power to the tool in order to loosen tight nuts.

The use of compressed air as a torque source can be beneficial for larger construction projects. The impact wrenches, despite their small size, are extremely powerful. As a result of hammering the motor, you are able to generate huge amounts of torque and deliver concussive blows to the head that are very powerful and fast. It moves a bolt by continuously twisting the nut or bolt, usually in short bursts. Because of this, they are capable of removing even the most stubborn nuts and bolts.

Uses:

By using an impact wrench, especially by automotive mechanics, it is capable of loosening and fastening nuts and bolts quickly and effectively.

  • In cases where a hand wrench cannot loosen a nut, these tools are useful.
  • The most common use of impact wrenches is changing car tires.
  • Besides auto workshops, they’re also used in construction.

REASONS TO BUY

It delivers a large amount of power

It can loosen or tighten any type of nut or bolt, regardless of size

Remove stuck or corroded nuts

Speeds up your work

Hand and arm protection

REASONS TO AVOID

Inexperienced users will have difficulty using it

Since these are heavy-duty, they’re a bit too robust for home use

TIP: An air regulator controls the torque of an air impact wrench. Air regulators can either be connected to the end pressure line or to the impact wrench. To adjust the output torque, adjust the air regulator.


Differences Between Impact Drivers and Impact Wrenches

Impact wrenches have a 12-inch square drive, which helps them to fit into tight spaces. DIY enthusiasts tend to prefer impact drivers because they can drive bolts and nuts as well as come with hex collet sizes ranging from 7-inch to 14-inch. You can use an impact driver to drive screws into metal or wood, in addition to tightening or loosening nuts. 

Since impact wrenches are heavier and have a high force than impact drivers, Eventually they become difficult to carry and operate by hand for a long time. Moreover, impact drivers are significantly lighter than impact wrenches and thus are more convenient to manage. Thus, they are easier to hold and use.


Who makes the Best Impact tools?

Impact driver vs Impact wrench
Impact driver vs Impact wrench

If you choose a product from an established brand, you will have to spend more, but this will be worth it in the long run. The most important thing to remember when buying impact guns is to choose a brand that manufactures high-quality power tools.

There is a considerable cost associated with these tools, and it might not be possible to keep on buying them over and over again.

The following are some of the best impact manufacturers.

Dewalt 

The DEWALT impact wrench comes in very handy when it comes to loosening nuts and bolts that you couldn’t loosen by hand due to their impact strength.

On the other hand, DEWALT’s impact drivers are made using plastic handles with a very rubberized grip, as well as a metallic shaft that can withstand the huge torque produced when tightening nuts and screws by these excellent tools.

DEWALT manufactures some products with square stems made from metal that can be used with 12-inch sockets, which is a size that is widely used by wrench manufacturers and socket manufacturers around the globe. 

Bosch

The impact drivers made by Bosch are primarily used to drive large fasteners into a range of surfaces as well as long screws. The fact that it has a considerable amount of torque in a compact body means that it is easy to use with little effort and is very quick to open.

It’s not just that Bosch impact wrenches are ideal for tougher automotive and construction jobs, but their lightweight design makes them easy to work with continuously and they are great for tight spaces as well. Rubber grips also offer the additional benefit of preventing slipping or losing control of the product.

Porter-cable

The Porter-Cable tools were first introduced to the market with a focus on professionals. However, now they have shifted their emphasis to a broader focus on value. The Porter-Cable company has a great selection of impact wrenches and impact drivers.

Porter-Cable offers impact drivers and impact wrenches that deliver power, torque, and speed, in both corded and cordless versions.

Craftsman

The Craftsman company offers a variety of tools, lawn and garden equipment, gear, and more. The company is known for its durable products and performance. Even the packaging is simple. In addition to being eco-friendly and practical.

Craftsman tools deliver the same performance for a lower price. The C3 Cordless System provides power, durability, and value for over 25 Craftsman tools. Although they are not necessarily the best brand in their price range, Craftsman tools are a decent choice for use in DIY and home projects.

Ryobi 

Ryobi does not belong to either the high-end segment or the low-end segment of the product market. Instead, the company fits somewhere in between.

Some people may think the Ryobi power tools are not as good as those made in the United States, which is not true at all. Ryobi is considered to be one of the best power tools in its price range. The Ryobi brand is known for being able to produce tools that have high functionality and durability.

Ridgid 

As a manufacturer of heavy-duty pipe wrenches, pipe cutters, pliers, and other plumbing tools during the first half of the 20th century, Ridgid rose to prominence.

Emerson Electric bought Ridgid in the 1960s, allowing the company to expand its product line with the Ridgid name on power tools they already manufactured. With regards to Durability and battery life, rigid is more or less in line with other brands. However, Ridgid tools are more affordable.


What should you buy: Impact Driver vs Impact Wrench?

It’s now time to choose. Both impact wrenches and the impact drivers are different with the almost same structure.

You may want to consider purchasing an impact driver if you enjoy renovating or fixing things around the house with the help of power tools. Impact drivers can be used to drive screws into a wide variety of materials without putting too much strain on your body. Generally, this kind of tool is used to drive long screws and bolts. 

If you work in the automotive industry, you will benefit from using an impact wrench. In order to loosen tight nuts, stuck nuts, or rusted nuts, this tool provides a powerful amount of torque that will help you.

By attaching sockets to the square drive of the impact wrench, you will be able to tighten and loosen bolts. In addition, you can also tighten the nuts solidly by using the impact wrench.

If you do not use this tool regularly, I recommend you stick with an impact driver rather than an impact wrench. Power tools, such as an impact driver, are particularly useful to anyone who works with wood or metal, such as contractors and handymen alike. Every time you have to deal with a high torque situation, you should grab an impact wrench.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I really need an impact wrench?

A good impact wrench will come in very helpful when you work in an auto repair shop, maintain machines, or do any other sort of maintenance work. When it comes to removing or tightening bolts on cars and trucks, an impact wrench can be of great assistance. With the impact wrench, you can get more work done over a longer period of time.

Can I use an impact driver as a screwdriver?

For stubborn screws and bolts, an impact driver can also be reversed in order to remove them. Impact drivers cannot drill holes without adapters due to the limited selection of bits they accept. These tools provide increased torque as well as being lighter and smaller than drill/drivers, making them more efficient for driving screws.

Can a cordless impact wrench remove lug nuts?

Several cordless 18V impact wrench models are now readily available, and they are capable of loosening lug nuts that are tightly tightened at a torque of 100 feet with ease. As they are still extremely loud when used, it is recommended that you wear hearing protection while using them.

Can you unscrew with an impact driver?

You can use an impact driver in the same way as a power drill for driving and removing screws. To use an impact driver, connect the bit to the switch and slowly press the trigger. To get a better grip on the tool, turn the bit slowly. Once the screw has been driven into the machine, the impact will begin.

What is a good torque for an impact driver?

A power driver with 1500–1800 in-lb of torque stresses higher RPMs. In the market today, there are drivers with max torques of 700 ft-lbs and 1,200 ft-lbs for unlocking nuts. Depending on your needs, you can choose from three speeds: 0-400/1,200/1,900 rpm.

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.