An impact wrench is a pivotal tool for the garage workbench. It is one of the tools that redefines your garage from a home fix-it bench into an actual working maintenance bench. Everyone has a cordless drill, a handful of screwdrivers, and a couple of wrenches bit once you add the torque wrench to your arsenal of tools, you have stepped up your game.
Sometimes referred to as a torque gun, these powerful tools depend on the physical application of torque to drive the socket or adapter you have connected to give you maximum power at the terminal end with minimal kick at the user end. This is achieved by the rapid swinging of a weighted “hammer” being rotated at high speed and then suddenly connected to the working shaft to apply all the stored rotational force into the useful end of the tool.
Once there is a prescribed level of resistance, such as the socket reaching depth, the rotating weight is disconnected from the shaft and we hear that familiar clattering sound that tells us we have reached the limit. The same sound can be heard on many of your cordless drills that have a “clutch” setting to not overdrive the screw; the same principle applies here.
Commonly used to drive sockets, these powerful tools can be used to drive screws on a heavy industry project or loosen stuck and rusted bolts that have corroded in the weather. Having one of these forceful torque wrenches around the house and ready for action is a benefit to any home handyman.
Enter the Impact Wrench
If you said “impact wrench” to most people, they’d instantly conjure up the sound we hear of the auto mechanic’s air-powered torque wrench, or the pit crew on an auto-race. That familiar high pitch whine and clack is synonymous with the torque wrench, but most of those are pneumatic driven and require an air compressor. In the home workbench, a cordless torque wrench can make more sense in terms of cost, use and durability.
Electrically powered torque wrenches are also available but for the sake of argument, if you aren’t going to invest in an air compressor and pneumatic torque wrench and decide to go with an electrically driven one, go ahead and get yourself a cordless unit as the improvements in battery technology have come a long way and the differences between an AC corded unit and a DC cordless unit are minimal.
The cordless battery torque wrench being the wiser choice simply because it is nearly evenly matched with the corded AC powered models, but are not tethered to the wall outlet and can be used anywhere in the garage or even outside the home without worrying about a power source. The increase in unit weight due to carrying the battery is worth the cost when you factor in the ability to be truly portable. Not dragging the extension cord out every time you need to use the impact wrench is worth the hassle of carrying a few extra ounces in the handle of the tool.
Finding The Best Cordless Impact Wrench
Once you’ve decided to get a cordless impact wrench, consider the brand you will be purchasing. If you have already invested in a line of cordless tools, take a close look at the brand you already have a history with. Do they have a reliable cordless impact wrench? How often will you be using this new tool?
If it will be a dedicated and regularly used tool in your garage, brand loyalty hardly matters because you’ll be charging the battery regularly and the “spare” will be on its own dedicated charger for sure. However, if it is going to be an occasional tool, the ability to swap batteries between your existing line of cordless tools might be an important deciding factor in your purchase.
Extra batteries and new chargers can cost a pretty penny and saving a few dollars by consolidating your cordless tools into a single brand and battery usage.
The Size Of Your Container Home Project Matters
You’ll also have to address how large of project you’ll ever use your new impact wrench on. If you run out and get the biggest impact wrench available, you’ll be sure to be capable of handling any need that comes your way, but you also wasted a bunch of money and carried around a lot of extra weight for nothing if you only ever plan to use the tool for smaller projects that a lighter and less expensive model could have handled.
Unnecessary purchases of large tools can be pleasing in the moment but might clutter your workbench after years of idleness. Cordless impact wrenches come in a variety of styles and working sizes. Inline screwdriver types can fit into tight spaces and the butterfly inline will allow easier directional changes, pistol grip types are common and are easy on the user’s hands.
A stunted angle driver is also available for close quarter impact needs in unique spaces with minimal clearances.
Benefits of The Best Cordless Impact Wrench
As implied in the pistol grip torque wrench, the user will feel the violent vibrations of the impact wrench to some degree, the style of the tool and the insulation provided by the manufacturer in both design and in absorption compensation will decide how much comfort or vibration is transferred to the user’s hand.
That free-swinging hammer weight is small, probably just a few ounces, but the entire design behind the impact wrench operation id the proper application of that rotational force to create maximum impact. When that hammer strikes the shaft, the tool goes to work. Excess energy is expended as heat, noise and further vibration back into the tool ultimately resulting in user discomfort.
It is inevitable to feel the torque feedback, but a well designed tool will mitigate some of that force through absorption techniques and manufacturing architecture. A cheaply made tool will cost you less money but will be rougher on your hands and joints than a more expensive model that was constructed with user comfort in mind.
Factoring Durability Into Your Purchase Decision
A very obvious decision in picking out your new impact wrench purchase is durability. We’ve all been to the big box stores and to the discount box stores and marveled at the amazing price difference in a seemingly similar tool. The words on the box may proclaim these tools are the same, but once you look closer you’ll begin to see where the money goes, or didn’t go, into the design, construction, and assembly of these power tools.
In the case of minor deviations, the cheaper tool may fit your needs but in the case of the impact wrench, especially a cordless model, the tried and tested moral of “you get what you pay for” is unfortunately a defining factor. Because impact wrenches apply so much internal force and are designed to apply dramatic strength, spend the money and get a solid model.
Look for durability ratings by previous buyers, all metal housings, brushless motors, and other indicators that your new tool will hold up under repeated use.
Factoring Adjustable Settings Into Purchase Decisions
In your comparative shopping for a new cordless impact wrench, when you come across a model with adjustable setting for the torque level, that is another added feature that may make or break your purchasing decision. Heavy torque is crucial for large industrial jobs, automotive work, or even the occasional rusted bolt around the home.
And the impact wrench will “clutch out” when the limit is reached so you aren’t in much danger of over powering your smaller jobs, but when you have the ability to set the impact wrench to a lower torque setting, it has a few advantages. Though the clutch feature is there to prevent over tightening of smaller pieces, setting a lower torque will help with that additional measure.
Also, being able to lower the torque setting when necessary will preserve your battery life. Swinging that weight for full impact when all you need is a lighter force will waste energy and cause you to recharge more often than necessary.
Our Choices For The Best Cordless Impact Wrench For Container Homes
Ryobi P261 One+
On what might be called the entry level price point for cordless impact wrenches, the Ryobi P261 is a great entry on the list and is more than enough for the home garage workbench. It is built on the Ryobi One+ 18VDC battery line of products which is a feature if you already have their products in your toolbox you won’t need to purchase additional batteries and chargers. The Ryobi name has a solid reputation for home DIY and this cordless impact wrench lives up to the Ryobi name.
The head of this tool is on a slight incline giving you an advantage when working tight spaces. The trigger also illuminates three LEDs around the head that will light up your working space for those less than optimal dark corners, freeing up your other hand from holding a flashlight or dragging out the external flood lights.
Half inch drive socket and three adjustable speeds will give you up to 300 ftlb of torque and all the way up to 3200 impacts/minute. The rubberized grip is a non-slip surface while acting as another layer of impact absorption for long session use.
Customer reviews claim this cordless impact wrench to be underpowered when compared against others on the shelf, but it is also much less expensive. If you will be turning heavy duty sockets with this tool, you may need to upgrade to a heaver duty model. But for the average hobbyist, the Ryobi P261 is more than enough tool to handle home garage level projects.
Stepping up into the midrange price point when looking to purchase a cordless impact wrench will bring you more variety among the stronger tools capable of handling larger projects. DeWALT is one of those brands that when you see the name on the tool you know you’ll have a reliable interaction. The DeWalt DCF88HM2 is everything you’ve come to expect from the brand. Rugged, compact, and reliable. The 20VDC Max battery system provides plenty of power to the tool so you can keep working long hours without waiting on a battery charge.
The tight design of the tool gives it almost a “snub nose” appearance and makes tight spaces all but disappear with the compact build. Less than six inches from front to back, this minimal clearance will allow you to get into some extremely tight spaces where other tools just won’t reach. Once you maneuver this tool into place, the illuminated head will give you plenty of light to see where you are working, even in shadows and dark corners.
The half inch impact drive can be adjusted to three torque levels and a variable speed trigger which gives you the freedom to adjust to the project at hand. Peak torque measured at 1824 ftlb, and 2700 impacts/minute, this tool is a pocket sledgehammer. Weighing 3 1/2 pounds without the battery, this is a compact tool that packs an amazing punch for its size.
Previous owners report the only problems experience with this model is their own over expectations for a mid sized cordless impact wrench and some concerns with the packaging/shipping which is heartily backed by the DeWALT warranty.
Makita XWT08Z LXT
Once upon a time, the only name worth knowing when looking into battery operated power tools, Makita has a powerful mid-level cordless impact wrench on the market with the Makita XWT08Z. Known as the industry’s cordless tool line, the Makita 18VDC battery is a fast charging power source and will give you more time working than sitting on the charger. And in the event you have a problem with your battery, Makita covers their batteries under their strong warranty system so you won’t be out of power long.
Brushless motor and the Star Protection system allows this cordless impact wrench to communicate between motor and battery and shift subtle adjustments to give you maximum power while minimizing battery drain. Smart-tools are already here and we’re holding it in our hands! Brushless motors also run cooler and more efficiently which is good for the tool’s longevity.
Three speed adjustment will change your impact/minute rate from 1800, to 2000, to 2200 and you can expect 740 ftlb of torque out of this blue monster with 1180 ftlb of pulse torque available. This is a half inch drive impact wrench so it measures up to others of the same class.
If there is a downside to this product it would be one simply of cosmetic design. The LEDs that light up your impact area are not mounted on the tool’s head but right above the trigger. Some users have complained that the LEDs can be obscured and rendered useless if you are wearing heavy work gloves that cover the lights.
Ingersoll Rand W7150-K2
Moving up into the higher priced range of tools, you can expect more from a heavier duty tool you have to pay more for. Expensive does not always equate to quality, but quality never equates to inexpensive. The Ingersoll Rand W7150 cordless impact wrench balances nicely on that line oh high quality and costing slightly more without breaking the bank. This tool also has an on-board intelligence system that allows communication between the 20VDC battery and the brushless motor to adjust on the fly prolonging battery life and tool longevity.
The pivoted head rests at an angle that gives the tool just a few more inches to creep into those tight spots that other impact wrenches can’t reach. When you’re working up inside the wheel well or under the jacks, that extra few inches can mean the world of difference.
The half inch drive is rated as a high torque tool and is optimized as an impact wrench worthy of being used in industrial situations and heavy load word places. There is no speed selector switch but the trigger is variable speed allowing you to control the torque with the squeeze of your fingers. 780 ftlb of torque and 1100 in peak removal, this tool can easily replace your air-powered impact wrench.
Professional machinists have reviewed this product and there are no recurring negative reviews. The only flaw if you want to find one is that this tool does not have on-board LEDs to illuminate your workspace, however as it is designed to be more of a “workplace” tool and less a “home/garage” tool, that’s not really a flaw.
And then there’s the Milwaukee… Yes, it is the powerhouse tool factory that you know and love. Milwaukee cordless tools have been a staple in every tradesman’s tool kit since you first saw them in action. The Milwaukee 2763-22 is the cordless impact wrench you want, the tool you need, and because it carries its reputation before it, you will have to pay for it. Considerably more expensive than other models on the market, this tool can be classified as a “luxury” model but also “worth it!”
The M18 REDLITHIUM XC 4.0 battery line is renown for its long duration of use, short charge downtime, and now promises to double the runtime by using smart technology to optimize the battery and the brushless motor to keep the tool operating efficiently at all times.
The dual fastening mode selector switch allows you to ease the half inch driver’s power down to 100 ftlb of torque for smaller delicate projects, or jack it up to 700 ftlb of torque to get that beastly power at the pull of the trigger. 1100 ftlb of pulse torque, this tool can loosen even the most stubborn of stuck nuts or bolts.
There were few to no repeating flaws on this cordless impact wrench’s reviews. The only regular complaint was that since this tool is powerful enough to be used in an industrial setting, the wearing of work gloves makes it difficult to operate the switches for torque adjustments and well as forward and reverse. Again, not much to fuss about if that’s all there is…