Impact Driver vs Impact Wrench: The Differences

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People are often confused about the differences between an impact driver and an impact wrench. In fact, it’s pretty difficult to find someone that explains to you what separates an impact driver from an impact wrench as they’re so easily confused.

In this article, I’m gonna tell you about all the differences so you can learn what’s the best option for you and your needs.

Impact Driver vs Impact Wrench: The Differences

Drive Style

Impact wrenches come with a square drive to which one attaches a socket to remove nuts. Impact drivers usually come with a 1/4 inch that accepts hex shank bits of the same size used to screw and unscrew fasteners

Impact drivers and impact wrenches have different drive styles for different purposes.

An impact driver comes with hex collect accepting hex shank bits of the same size the hex collect is. The most common size of an impact driver’s hex collect is 1/4 inches. Thus, you’ll find the market flooded with impact drivers of this size.

An impact wrench, on the other hand, comes with a square drive that allows the user to attach sockets of different sizes to remove lug nuts.

If you asked me, I believe the most common option for impact wrenches is the 1/2 inch model. However, I know for a fact that there are a wide variety of sizes for impact wrenches.

Those construction workers and contractors that need more powerful impact drivers usually end up getting these tools in their 3/4 inch or 1-inch editions. The reason is that they output more power to meet the needs of industrial-level tasks.

Last but not least, if you’re looking for a more compact impact wrench than the very popular 1/2 inch option, then you might like the 3/8 inch version as it offers workers a portable yet very powerful impact wrench.

An Impact Wrench Has a Bigger Torque Than an Impact Driver

Impact wrenches output a higher torque than impact drivers as their main aim is to remove rusty lug nuts and bolts

As opposed to impact drivers, an impact wrench is a tool thought to remove tough lug nuts and bolts that for some reason (i.e. rust) are very difficult to remove manually.

Due to this they come built with motors that output a higher level of torque so they can offer what’s commonly called “nut-busting torque”. This is a setting that outputs a very high level of torque in short bursts to break the friction between the nut and the thread.

This is why you can find impact wrenches that start around 100 ft/lbs of torque and can reach up to 1000 ft/lbs of torque.

Impact drivers, on the other hand, have much weaker motors as their only aim is to quickly and safely tighten fasteners which is why most impact drivers won’t surpass the 180 ft/lbs of max torque limit.

An Impact Driver Is Faster Than an Impact Wrench

An impact driver is a battery-powered tool responsible for fastening screws, nuts, and small bolts. Due to this, one of its most famous mechanisms is that it can recognize when the fastener is already tightly screwed stopping itself, to avoid the stripping of the fastener head.

As the tool is aimed at fastening screws, its highest focus is placed on speed. Therefore, most impact drivers are going to be substantially faster than impact wrenches which focus is placed on maximum torque instead of RPMs.

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Power Sources

Impact drivers come in corded and cordless forms while impact wrenches are either powered by battery or by air tanks

Impact drivers can be corded or battery powered. Moreover, most of them are either 12, 18 o 20 volt depending on the level of power they output.

If you asked me I believe cordless impact drivers are better. I mean, you’ll sometimes be using them in tight and hard-to-reach places where cables are going to be an issue. Cordless means a bigger price tag, of course, but they are definitely worth it.

Impact wrenches are a different deal. The most common power source for an impact wrench is air tanks, which is why pneumatic impact wrenches are more popular than cordless impact wrenches, though you can find both in the market.

The reasoning behind this is that air impact wrenches are cheaper and more powerful, making them perfect for mechanics. However, not everybody has an air tank at home which is why cordless impact wrenches stand as the better option.

As explained, I believe cordless impact wrenches are the better option for most workers, but I made articles for people looking for both types either way:

Will an Impact Driver Remove Lug Nuts?

I mean, it depends. Two things must happen for an impact driver to remove a lug nut.

First, the tool must have enough torque to break the friction between the lug nut and its thread to allow its release. If you asked me, I’d say an impact driver must have a motor that delivers at least 150 ft/lbs of torque to make sure they are powerful enough to remove rusty nuts and bolts.

A perfect example of a powerful impact driver that can act both as a wrench and a driver is this DEWALT DCF887D2 20V MAX XR impact driver as it delivers close to 150 ft/lbs (1825 in-lb) of maximum torque.

DEWALT DCF887D2 20V MAX XR impact driver

DEWALT 20V MAX XR Cordless Impact Driver Kit, Brushless, 1/4" Hex Chuck, 3-Speed, 2 Batteries and Charger (DCF887D2)

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Then, you’ve got to get a square driver adapter to attach lug nuts to the impact driver. And that’s it! Now you can use an impact driver to remove lug nuts.

Hi, I’m John Smith, a proud husband, and father of two little beautiful girls. After a long time of thinking I made up my mind to build a website around my passion.. helping people who need smart advice from handymen with years of experience.

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