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Sunday, September 25th, 2022

Impact Driver vs. Impact Wrench | A Clear Winner?

impact driver vs impact wrench

Disclaimer | This article may contain affiliate links, this means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for qualifying purchases.

Laying a deck, building furniture, making a custom frame out of trim pieces, minor repairs – impact tools are perfect for all your DIY projects. 

Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a professional woodworker, having the right tools in your toolbox will let you complete all DIY tasks quickly. While looking for the best impact tools, you must have stumbled upon impact drivers and impact wrenches. 

So, how do you know which one to go for? Choosing the correct impact tools for your tasks is certainly a challenge. To be honest, even professionals need help at times when selecting impact tools for their workshops. 

But, fret not! To help you decide between the two, we’ll discuss the two impact tools and their plus and minus points. Thus, you’ll be able to compare them and choose the best one for your DIY tasks and home renovations. 

So, without further ado, let’s jump right into the deets.

Impact Driver vs. Impact Wrench 

Close-up of a cordless screwdriver lying on a wooden surface with a nozzle for roofing screws. Self-tapping screws painted in gray are lying nearby. Top view, flat lay

Whether you are quick-fixing minor things in the garage or building a cabinet, impact tools are a must-have in your standard toolkit. With patience and practice, you can quickly become a pro at handling such tools.

Once used solely by professionals and mechanics, impact drivers and wrenches have become the go-to tools for DIY enthusiasts and hobbyists. The two impact tools are highly powerful, and are identical to each other in terms of looks and functionality. Not only do they use similar rotating motions to generate force, but they also generate a lot of noise while operating. 

However, both high-torque power tools are quite different in terms of power and the jobs they can perform. This is why you must make sure to invest in the right one for your jobs. 

Impact Driver

Whether you have to drill through wood, metals, or even bricks, impact drivers are perfect for all your drilling tasks. Unlike regular drills, they feature a high-torque power that allows you to drill through anything and everything. 

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Although an impact driver looks similar to a cordless drill, it is quite different in terms of functionality. The torque of impact drives generally ranges between 1500 – 1800 in. lbs. For those who don’t know yet, the torque power of the impact driver is measured in inches and pounds.

One of the best things about the impact drivers is that they mitigate the risk of reactionary torque. This means despite the heavy torque, your wrist will not twist while drilling through surfaces. 

Features Of Impact Driver 

Impact drivers feature a 1/4-inch hex socket along with bits that are specifically designed to withstand the additional stress that an impact driver exerts upon it while drilling. Thus, you can use a variety of bits to drill through whatever you want. 

Also, impact drivers feature variable speeds, making them the perfect addition to your toolkit or workshops. Whether you have to drill through tough materials or softer materials, impact drivers allow you to adjust speed according to the task at hand. 

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Impact drivers are highly versatile and can be used for a variety of projects. Have to drill long screws on wood? Impact drivers will drill them through smoothly and efficiently. So, if your next project involves building cabinets or dressing tables, use impact drivers to carry out your tasks with ease. 

Not only for drilling screws, but you can also use them for removing screws stuck on wood, metals, or bricks. Also, if you want to remove corroded screws from outdoor fences or old cabinets, you must use impact drivers, as they are decent enough to remove rusty screws. 

While looking for power tools for DIY tasks, most people look for compact tools because they are portable. Thus, impact drivers are compact tools that make them perfect for small garages or workshops. Also, because they are compact, you can tuck them anywhere in the garage after use. 

What’s more, impact drivers are usually cordless, and they run on batteries. Therefore, impact drivers will be your savior for the day for workshops and sites with power shortages. 

What Could’ve Been Better With An Impact Driver? 

After using impact drivers for quite some time, we found that it works pretty well for hard-to-reach areas. However, we found out that they are rather noisy. Therefore make sure to use ear protection while using this tool. 

Moreover, the impact drivers lack clutch, which is found in almost all power drills. For those who don’t know, a clutch prevents the tool from drilling after reaching a particular torque level. Therefore, the absence of a clutch means that the screw might drive deeper than you want it to. However, you can avoid this by working carefully. 

Pros
  • Easy to fit in tight spaces
  • Significantly lighter than regular drills
  • Efficiently drills through both tough and soft surfaces
  • Flexible as you can change bits according to projects
  • Minimal kickback
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Sometimes the screw drives deeper than you want
  • Pretty noisy
  • Isn’t compatible with the bits of regular bits

Impact Wrench

Impact wrenches are slightly different from impact drivers. Unlike impact drivers, they are designed for heavy-duty tasks. That’s why they are primarily found in garages and workshops. If you’re looking for a power tool that will help you in loosening and tightening lug nuts. 

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More powerful than impact drivers, the torque of impact wrenches is measured in ft. lbs. With its torque range of 150 – 1400 ft. lbs., the impact wrench definitely packs a powerful punch. That’s why you’ll find them more in the hands of a car mechanic than a DIY enthusiast. 

Moreover, its pneumatic-powered variant is popularly used in garages, mainly because they are highly powerful and work incredibly quickly. Along with mechanics, they are used by construction workers in assembly lines. As such, they aren’t something that you can use for your average DIY renovations. 

Features Of Impact Wrench 

At times, lug nuts may be too tight, or a screw head might be worn away. In such situations, regular wrenches are of no use. Thus, impact wrenches are what will allow you to loosen such lug nuts with ease. 

Featuring a square anvil, impact wrenches are compatible with sockets rather than bits. Moreover, they are available in every standard socket size. While its 1/2” drives are most common, the 3/4” and 1” drives provide the most power for industrial tasks. Its 3/4” drives work perfectly for tightening or loosening lug nuts in tight, cramped spaces. 

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Because it features a powerful motor, you can exert intense pressure to twist the lug nut in a short burst of about 5 seconds. 

Moreover, you can loosen and tighten rusted fasteners, bolts, and lug nuts smoothly and quickly. Unlike regular drills, impact wrenches deliver high torque power that efficiently tightens and loosens nuts with minimal exertion by the user. 

To be honest, there isn’t any lug or nut that impact wrenches cannot handle. Therefore, they aren’t suitable for your DIY home renovations but are perfect for your garage and workshops.

The Four Variants Of Impact Wrench 

Impact wrenches are powered in four ways. Let’s take a look at them. 

  1. Corded 

The corded ones require an electrical outlet to function. You’ll have to plug it into an electrical outlet to carry out all your tasks. These are suitable for garages and workshops. 

  1. Cordless 

Meanwhile, the cordless ones do not require any electrical outlet to operate. They run on batteries which require charging between the uses. Therefore, they are ideal for construction sites where electrical outlets aren’t available. 

  1. Air-Powered 

Next, air-powered or pneumatic variants of impact wrenches remove lug nuts and bolts incredibly quickly. They are very popular among race mechanics.

  1. Hydraulic 

Not as popular as the other three variants, the hydraulic-powered impact wrenches rely on low-pressure hydraulic power sources. In terms of performance, they are similar to the impact driver. You just have to press the trigger for the machine to begin functioning. Thus, it is user-friendly. 

Because of their high torque power, the hydraulic-powered impact wrenches are pretty heavy. But, just like impact drivers, they are designed in a way to prevent strain on your hands. However, it features a 1/2” standard square drive rather than a hex collet. Also, don’t forget to wear ear protection to protect against any damage due to the noise.  

What Could’ve Been Better With An Impact Wrench? 

We have noticed that this power tool isn’t suitable for amateurs and novices because of its high torque output. Therefore, we recommend the newbies use this only under an expert’s supervision. 

Another minor drawback is that it is pretty noisy like an impact driver. Therefore, don’t forget to put on ear protection while using this. Also, it isn’t suitable for DIY home renovations but perfect for all your garage and workshop chores. 

Pros
  • Can loosen even the most stubborn lugs and nuts
  • Ergonomic design that doesn’t strain wrists
  • Works incredibly quickly
  • Available in 4 different varieties
Cons
  • Unsuitable for amateurs, novices, and newbies
  • Not for DIY home renovations
  • Pretty noisy

Impact Driver vs. Impact Wrench Differences 

Of course, you cannot buy both impact tools. This is why we’ll be comparing the two power tools in detail. This will help you make an informed decision and choose the best one according to your projects and needs. So, let’s begin. 

  1. Driving Styles 

The first difference that we noticed between the two tools is the driving style. Impact drivers are compatible with only 1/4-inch hex shank bits because they feature a ¼-inch hex shank. Meanwhile, impact wrenches feature square drives that are compatible only with sockets. However, some impact wrenches feature a 7/16-inch hex, which is commonly used by utility workers. 

No matter how much the impact drivers differ in performance, shape, and styles, they all feature the same ¼-inch hex collet. Moreover, they are available in various designs. Whether a right-angle impact driver, a standard pistol grip design, or a pressure-driven palm design, you can choose anything you want. 

On the other hand, the arena of impact wrench is broader than that of the impact driver. The impact wrench offers endless varieties of models. Whether you are looking for a 1/4-inch impact wrench or the one featuring a 3/8-inch, the impact wrench has it all. 

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However, the most popular impact wrench available on the market features a 1/2-inch drive size. You’ll come across this variant of an impact wrench in almost every woodworker’s workshop. 

Alternatively, when you’re looking for high torque output impact wrenches, the one featuring 1 inch and ¾-inch drives is the one you must opt for. These are perfect for all your heavy-duty tasks. 

Moreover, when looking for impact wrenches on the market, we recommend looking only for the mid-torque and the high-torque because they will be ideal for all your tasks. If you’re a professional constructor or a DIY warrior, we suggest going for a small, compact impact wrench featuring mid-torque power. It will let you complete all your tasks smoothly and efficiently. 

From pistol-grip style, ratchet-style, to utility impact wrench featuring a 7/16-inch hex collet, the impact wrench is available in a variety of styles on the market. You can choose the best one based on the nature of your tasks. 

  1. Usage 

After discussing the driving style, let’s move to the usage of both the impact tools. Now, before choosing any tool, you must know what they are designed for and whether they are suitable for your needs or not. That’s why keep in mind the nature of your task. 

An impact driver is used to drive screws into the surface. Therefore, they’ll be perfect for use with fasteners that need driver bits. Moreover, just by changing the bits, you can use them for drilling. 

On the other hand, the impact wrench is ideal for hex-head fasteners. As such, they are perfect for loosening and tightening lug nuts, bolts, and rusted fasteners. Moreover, they are compatible with sockets rather than bits.

That’s not it! The driving styles are highly flexible, and you can customize them to meet your requirements. You can turn your impact driver into a mini impact wrench by simply adding nut driver bits along with socket adapters. Now, you can simply go about handling hex head fasteners. 

Moreover, there are impact socket adapters that allow you to join 1/4-inch bits to impact wrenches. However, you must keep in mind that this will limit the versatility of your tools. Therefore, you should buy the appropriate tool, albeit you can use these hacks when in a hurry. 

51qFLCfm8lL. SL500

  1. Power 

When it comes to power, there isn’t much difference between the two impact tools. 

Impact drivers are found in two variants: corded and cordless. These are most commonly used by professional constructors and woodworkers. The cordless models feature max batteries of 12v, 18v, and 20v. 

As they run on batteries and don’t require electrical outlets for operation, you can easily use them on job sites that suffer from power shortages. Plus, they are portable, so you can carry them from your garage or workshop to anywhere and work conveniently. Thus, they are ideal for workshops and garages. 

Moreover, the corded ones are rarely found on the market. They are also available in different volts. However, the main issue with corded variants is that it only operates on electrical outlets sites. 

Unfortunately, not all job sites have electrical outlets. Thus, it is of no use on such sites. We recommend opting for cordless ones to carry out all your tasks smoothly and efficiently. 

Similar to impact drivers, an impact wrench has both corded and cordless variants. Along with that, they are also available in air-powered (pneumatic) and hydraulic variants. Cordless variants of impact wrench are popular among DIYers and enthusiasts, while experts, professionals, and woodworkers use the pneumatic variants.

Unlike impact drivers, the corded impact wrenches are the best because impact wrenches are known best for their tremendous torque. However, no cordless impact wrench can generate torque as high as a corded one. Corded impact wrenches are excellent for all your heavy-duty tasks, while cordless ones are perfect for light tasks.

Compared to the standard impact wrench, pneumatic ones are slightly less expensive. However, if you don’t have an air compressor, you’ll have to invest in one. All in all, the pneumatic impact wrench is best suited for garage and workshop owners.

51WLu0cj9EL. SL500

  1. Torque 

In terms of torque, the impact wrench edges over the impact driver. With its torque range of 150 – 1400 ft. lbs., you can fasten and loosen bolts, lug nuts, or rusted fasteners in a breeze. Meanwhile, some impact drivers have proven to be more powerful than impact wrenches. 

As already stated, the torque of an impact driver is measured in inch-pounds as against the feet-pounds of impact wrenches. We found some impact drivers delivered more than 2000 in-lbs (165 ft-lbs), which is excellent. As such, this makes it perfect for your garage and workshops. 

On the other hand, the impact wrenches are packed with high torque of around 200 ft-lbs. It is because of this aspect that you can change car tires easily. Moreover, impact wrenches with a torque output of about 400 ft-lbs are perfect for all your garage activities. 

  1. Speed Range 

When it comes to speed, impact driver edges over impact wrenches. We tested a few impact drivers and found that their maximum speed exceeded 3600 RPM, which is pretty great. In contrast, the speed of some outstanding impact wrenches was just 2000 RPM. 

But, the narrative changes when you throw in the pneumatic variant. The pneumatic impact wrench beats the impact driver with speed over 8000 RPM. Put simply, the impact drivers are faster than the impact wrenches but definitely slower when the pneumatic impact wrenches walk in. 

  1. Size 

Mostly, impact drivers and impact wrenches are similar in size. This is because both the impact tools are built on similar foundations. However, to be precise, impact drivers are much more compact and lightweight than impact wrenches. Of course, the pneumatic variants are an exception.

When it comes to impact wrenches, their weight and size depend upon their power levels. You can also estimate the weight of the impact wrenches by the size of the drive. 

Having said that, the compact models feature 1/4-inch drivers while the high-torque and mid-torque impact wrenches feature 1/2-inch drivers. On the contrary, 3/4-inch and 1-inch drives are featured on the larger models. 

51vVtQ1O7fL. SL500

Safety Measures Using Impact Driver And Impact Wrench 

Using power tools is no child’s play. Hands down, both the impact tools are handy tools designed to ease complex tasks of drilling and fastening or loosening lug nuts. 

No doubt, power tools save a lot of your time and effort. However, you must always take safety measures while using them. Otherwise, you can fall into a dungeon of mishaps that can lead to life-long sorrow. Also, if you’re a novice or a newbie, make sure you use power tools under guidance. 

In this section, we’ve laid down a few safety measures that you must follow while using the impact tools. So, let’s dive in to see the safety measures.

  1. Go Through The Instruction Manual Carefully 

All power tools come with a detailed instruction booklet. And the impact drivers and impact wrenches are no exception. The instruction booklet is specifically included to provide the users with all the necessary information on the device, its safety, and maintenance. 

Before starting with your tasks, go through the user’s guide. You’ll get all the necessary information such as installing the device, turning on/off your device, on the user’s guide. 

  1. Declutter Your Workspace 

Remember, you’re dealing with power tools, and honestly, they are pretty unforgiving. This is why you must clean and declutter your workspace to avoid any trips, slips, or falls while using the impact tools. 

  1. Wear Protective Gear 

Protective gears are a must while handling power tools. Therefore, you will have to wear safety glasses, nitrile gloves, a protective shield, and headgear. However, you may skip this if you’re doing some quick-fix repairing and renovations, but make sure to wear them for all other heavy-duty tasks. 

Moreover, protecting your eyes is always a priority. Therefore, we recommend wearing them every time you work with the impact tools.

  1. Maintain Your Impact Tools Properly 

Although it might seem to be tedious, maintaining your impact tools is necessary. Not only will it make your tools more efficient, but maintenance will also enhance their longevity. Here are some things you can do weekly to maintain your tools.

    • Regular performance checkup
    • Ensure all the nuts and screws of the tools are securely attached
    • Grease the bits and sockets
    • Replace all the broken and worn out parts
    • Clean all dust and debris from the tool
  1. Unplug The Tools When Not In Use 

No matter which impact tool you’re using, make sure you always unplug it after use. Also, you should never change the bits of sockets while the plug is on because if accidentally turned on, it might lead to dangerous accidents.

man assembling white table furniture at home using cordless screwdriver

Impact Driver vs. Impact Wrench Buying Guide 

While knowing the two impact tools helps a lot, choosing the correct one still remains a challenge. There are certain factors that you must look out for before picking one for your projects. 

To make things easy-peasy, we’ve discussed all the important factors in this section. Take a look. 

  1. Brand 

Impact tools are a one-time investment. You buy them once and enjoy their life-long services. Therefore, we suggest you only go for a well-known brand because they manufacture top-notch quality tools. Moreover, they also offer excellent customer services along with years of warranty. 

Although buying from a well-known brand might cost you a few bucks more, it will be worth the investment. Hence, it is better not to compromise on the quality when it comes to buying impact tools. 

  1. Accessories

While buying either the impact wrench or impact driver, you must always consider what accessories the package contains. This is because accessories are very important when it comes to impact tools. 

If you don’t get complete accessories while purchasing, you’ll have to spend a little more later. Thus, you can avoid this by buying a complete kit. Batteries, bags, extra bits, sockets – make sure you get a complete kit to avoid spending any money in the future.

  1. Battery

Those going for corded models might skip this, but it is of utmost importance if you’re going for a cordless model. Check how much time the batteries will take to charge completely because you wouldn’t want to go for an impact tool that will take a whole day to charge but drain only in a few hours. 

Moreover, make sure you check the batteries included in the package. Ideally, an impact tools package consists of two batteries. So, make sure they are there. 

  1. Weight

Not to forget, weight is of utmost importance. Before buying any impact tool, make sure you consider the weight of the tool, especially if you’ll be using it frequently. For DIYers, enthusiasts, and hobbyists, a lightweight impact tool would be perfect. Therefore, go for only the one that’s significantly lighter in weight to avoid straining your hands. 

Meanwhile, heavy-duty tasks call for powerful motors. Those featuring a sturdy and powerful motor will be significantly heavy. Therefore, heavy machines would be ideal for workshops and garages. 

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  1. Technology

There are quite a number of brands out there that use modern technology to design their tools. Therefore, you can go for them to make your tasks easy. If you’re going for an impact driver, we suggest you go for the one with an LED lighting system. This will allow you to drill through materials even in the darkest room or job site, without any difficulty, 

However, there are also tools featuring Bluetooth connectivity or built-in apps to track the performance of your tool. You can get an impact tool loaded with such features by paying a few bucks more. It will ensure your tasks are all the more fun and enjoyable. 

  1. Safety Features

While choosing an impact tool, you must remember that dealing with them is not child’s play. Therefore, safety is very important. There are tools out there that offer more safety than others. Hence, you must only go for the ones that offer more safety features to ensure your safety. 

We recommend you go for tools offering automatic cut-off or shut-off options in case the tools get hot or once the battery is fully charged. Also, tools that prevent dust from getting into the mechanisms would be a great option. This will ensure your tools last for years to come. 

Impact Driver vs. Impact Wrench FAQ

    Q1. Are Regular Drill Bits Compatible With Impact Drivers?

No, the regular drill bits do not go along well with impact drivers. You’ll have to buy bits specifically designed for use with impact drivers.

    Q2. Can Impact Drivers Remove Lug Nuts?

Although you can use impact drivers to remove lug nuts, we recommend you avoid using them. It’s better you use impact wrenches for removing and fastening lug nuts.

     Q3. Are Electric Wrenches Better Than Air-Powered Impact Wrenches?

If you’re looking for impact wrenches for your garage or workshops, air-powered impact wrenches are any day the best bet. They are highly powerful and last longer than other impact wrenches. But, they come with an expensive price tag.

Meanwhile, if you don’t deal with cars and are looking for an impact wrench for other tasks, the electric impact wrench is sufficient for all your needs. Therefore, it depends on the nature of your task and use.

     Q4. How Long Do Impact Wrenches Last?

To be honest, impact wrenches last for quite a long time. However, maintaining them frequently, taking good care of them, and handling them properly will enhance the longevity of the impact wrenches. Thus, it all depends on how you take care of them.

     Q5. Do Impact Drivers Wear Out?

Not only impact drivers, but all power tools will wear out if you overuse them and do not take care of them. However, impact drivers are pretty tough, and so they won’t wear quickly. We recommend you read the instruction booklet carefully and follow the maintenance tips to ensure you don’t run into any problems.

Screwing a self-tapping screw into a metal fastening hole on a wood strip using a screwdriver, the work of a carpenter.

Summing It Up 

In a nutshell, impact driver and impact wrench are perfect power tools for all your DIY tasks and home renovation projects. Whether you are a garage owner or a hobbyist who loves to build furniture, impact tools are a must-have in your toolkit. 

Overall, if you’re building a wooden cabinet or completing your DIY project, an impact driver will be an excellent choice for all DIY and renovation projects. 

Meanwhile, if you frequently tinker with cars in your garage or work on construction sites, the impact wrench is perfect for all heavy-duty tasks. Hopefully, after reading this guide, you’ll be able to pick the correct impact tool for your tasks.

But if you ask us our opinion, an impact driver is a much wiser choice for all your DIY tasks, compared to the impact wrench. With that, we shall take your leave. 

That’s all for today, folks. Take care!

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Ann Hutchinson

Ann Hutchinson

Ann Hutchinson | Head of Product Reviews

Ann Hutchinson is the heart of the team, the glue that binds us together; she enjoys chess, traveling and glamping when she is not writing here at Homesthetics; she is energetic and creative, but can also be very a bit impatient and quite often hangry, reason for which in the office launch is always ordered ahead of time.

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