In this article, we’re covering the comparison between impact wrenches vs breaker bars.
Why do we do this?
Well, surprisingly, there isn’t a lot of information out there that clearly explains the differences between these two types of tools to allow a potential user to know what type of tool they need with accuracy.
So, if you want to learn what’s what when it comes to impact wrenches and breaker bars, then I’d suggest you to keep reading on.
What’s a Breaker Bar?
Every tradesman knows that having the right tools can make all the difference on a job site and one tool that is essential in any toolbox is a breaker bar.
I mean, these tools are relatively inexpensive, with most costing less than $30, so there is no excuse not to have one on hand.
Its design is simple, yet effective:
A breaker bar is a long, thin bar with a socket on one end… The length of the bar allows for increased leverage, making it easier to break loose stubborn bolts and nuts. The socket on the end can be swapped out to fit various sizes, making it a versatile tool.
One of the main pain points that a breaker bar solves is the need for increased torque.
On a job site, it’s not uncommon to come across a bolt or nut that just won’t budge, no matter how much force you apply, we’ve all seen that.
Well… a breaker bar will allow you to apply more torque to the fastener, making it easier to loosen.
In addition to making it easier to break loose stubborn fasteners, a breaker bar can also save you from a potential headache: breaking a fastener.
When using a standard ratchet, if a bolt or nut becomes too tight, the ratchet can slip and potentially strip the fastener.
A breaker bar, on the other hand, is much less likely to slip, reducing the risk of damaging the fastener.
What’s an Impact Wrench?
Impact wrenches are the real deal when it comes to tackling tough jobs.
We’ve talked about them before here at cleverhandymen.com, but let’s dive a little deeper into what makes them so darn useful.
First things first, let’s talk design:
Impact wrenches are built like a drill, with a motor that powers an anvil, which in turn rotates a socket. This unique design allows for a whopping increase in torque, making it a breeze to tighten or loosen even the most stubborn fasteners.
Take changing a tire for example.
You know how much of a pain it can be to remove those lug nuts, especially when they’re rusted. But with an impact wrench, you’ll have those nuts off in no time, saving you from a sore back and a bunch of wasted time.
Now, let’s talk about what separates an impact wrench from a breaker bar. Sure, they both serve the same purpose, but they’re two totally different beasts.
Impact wrenches are bulkier and heavier than breaker bars, and they also require a power source. But, the extra heft and power mean they can provide a whole lot more torque, which becomes essential for heavy-duty tasks.
Impact Wrench vs Breaker Bar
The best way to learn about the differences and similarities between impact wrenches and breaker bars, is by comparing them from different viewpoints:
When it comes to power sources, impact wrenches and breaker bars are like apples and oranges.
Breaker bars are all about elbow grease and manual labor, while impact wrenches bring the thunder with electricity, compressed air, or even batteries.
But what does this mean for you as a regular tradesman? Let me answer that.
Imagine you’re working on a car engine, and you need to remove those stubborn cylinder head bolts.
With a breaker bar, you’ll be twisting and turning those bolts with all your might, hoping to get them loose and you’ll usually fail.
But with an impact wrench, all you have to do is press a button and the tool will take care of the rest. This not only saves you energy but also makes the job a lot faster and less stressful. Talk about a game-changer!
In the tool world, as I call it, torque is the king of the castle.
When it comes to impact wrenches and breaker bars, torque is the measure of the tool’s outputted force which is key to unlocking tight bolts and nuts.
From the side of breaker bars, even though they are able to output high torque levels they rely on good old-fashioned elbow grease to turn fasteners.
This can get tiring very fast, especially if you work with hundreds nuts and bolts a day.
And, while they’re great for everyday use and light-duty tasks, they might struggle to budge those stubborn, rusted bolts. Think of these tools as the strongman of the tool world, but with a bit less muscle.
Now, let’s talk about impact wrenches.
These provide an extra amount of torque which is much higher than a breaker bar, and doesn’t need any physical effort.
Their higher and more efficient torque levels, of course, make them the ultimate tool for tightening and loosening even tough bolts.
When it comes to efficiency, impact wrenches reign supreme compared to breaker bars.
Tradesmen appreciate tools that make their job easier and faster, and impact wrenches do just that.
Utilizing a rapid hammering action, impact wrenches tools create high torque output, allowing users to apply significant force with minimal effort which results in a faster and more efficient tightening or loosening of bolts.
On the other hand, breaker bars rely solely on manual strength and can be slow and tiring to use. While they have their place, they can’t match the efficiency of an impact wrench.
In short, if you want to make your job faster and less demanding, an impact wrench is the way to go.
The noise a tool makes is a major concern for many tradesmen as many hours of exposure to loud tools can take a toll on our ears and can even lead to hearing loss.
So, it’s no surprise that many of us are on the lookout for tools that are less noisy, right?
And this is exactly where breaker bars have an edge over impact wrenches.
While impact wrenches can be loud due to their rapid hammering action, breaker bars are relatively quiet in comparison. This makes them a great option for anyone who values their hearing and doesn’t want to risk any damage.
But… don’t write off impact wrenches just yet!
With the latest advancements in technology, manufacturers have been able to make impact wrenches that are significantly quieter than their older counterparts.
They may not be as quiet as breaker bars, but they’re still a great option for those who want a more efficient tool that’s less noisy.
We all know that saving money is important, especially in the current economic environment. And, let’s be real, who doesn’t love a good bargain?
Enter breaker bars.
These budget-friendly tools are the ultimate cost-saving tool to remove nuts and bolts as they can be found for less than $50 which is a price point that won’t break the bank.
But, we all know the catch: Breaker bars are manually operated. Meaning, if you’re working on a job that requires a lot of bolts to be tightened or loosened, it can be a bit of a workout.
That’s where impact wrenches come in. Don’t get me wrong, they may be more expensive than breaker bars, costing five to eight times more, but I believe they’re totally worth it.
I mean, they will save you time and energy as they come with motors that, through either a battery or an air compressor, provide exceptional rotational torque to fasten or remove any kind of nut or bolt.
Benefits of an Impact Wrench
Let’s discuss most of the main benefits of gettin an impact wrench:
Lug nuts, lug nuts, and more lug nuts!
We all know the monotony of tightening and loosening them all day long. But what if I told you there’s a tool that can make this task a breeze?
Enter the high-torque impact wrench!
With its superior torque, an impact wrench can effortlessly remove and fasten lug nuts, saving you time and effort. Plus, less time spent on lug nuts means more time to focus on other important tasks.
But it’s not just about time-saving, it’s also about hand and arm strain.
With high torque, you can skin operating the tool manually (as you would a breaker bar) which allows you to say goodbye to sore muscles.
Hell, it’s like a secret weapon in your tool collection. It’s a game-changer, folks!
Lug nuts are the bread and butter and butter of a lot of tradesmen, especially mechanics. But let’s face it… twisting these fasteners on and off all day can be a real drag.
That’s where impact wrenches come in, and boy do they make a difference! With an impact wrench, fastening and removing lug nuts is a breeze.
The rapid hammering action allows me to get the job done in no time, and with minimal effort. I’m talking about tightening or loosening lug nuts in seconds!
Not only that, but it also saves me from the strain and fatigue that comes with using a manual tool.
Trust me, once you’ve used one, you’ll never go back to manual tools again! It’s like upgrading from a bicycle to a Ferrari. It’s just that good!
When it comes to tools, versatility is key.
And what’s a not only highly powerful but versatile tool? That’s right, an impact wrench.
These powerful tools are the ultimate multitaskers, capable of handling everything from automotive repairs to construction projects.
Whether you’re dealing with stubborn bolts, nuts, and fasteners that breaker bars just can’t handle, an impact wrench has got your back.
And the best part?
Cons of Impact Wrench
Not everything is great when it comes to impact wrenches. In fact, there are some very clear disadvantages with this kind of tool.
Let’s discuss them:
Times are tough and no one wants to spend more money than they have to, we all know that.
As tradesmen and blue-collar workers, we put our bodies through a lot to make a living, and the last thing we want to do is break the bank on expensive tools.
If you pay attention (and I know you have) it’s pretty easy to see that impact wrenches, whether they’re powered by air compressors or power outlets, can be a pretty penny.
But why are they so costly ($150+)?
Well, for starters, they are made with expensive internal components (e.g. brushless motors) that allow them to have high torque capabilities.
Moreover, they are key tools for mechanics and other tradesmen as they boost their productivity a lot, and manufacturers know this when it comes time to set the price.
But that power doesn’t come cheap, with impact wrenches often coming in at a price range that’s a bit hard to swallow for the average worker (at least it is for me).
But hey, you get what you pay for, right?
Bulk & Heavy
I remember one time, I had to carry a heavy impact wrench across a construction site, and it felt like I was carrying around a small elephant.
All this is to tell you that the weight of a tool can become a real burden, really fast.
Sadly, impact wrenches are particularly heavy as they come manufactured with powerful motors and internal mechanics.
The motor provides the high rotational torque to the anvil needed to remove stubborn bolts and nuts, but it also adds substantial weight to the tool.
But, it’s worth mentioning that despite their weight, impact wrenches are incredibly powerful tools that make fastening and removing bolts a breeze.
Picture this: you’re on the job site, working alongside your colleague, working on stubborn bolts and nuts with your trusty impact wrench. But as the days go by and your colleague starts to notice a ringing in his ears that just won’t quit.
Unfortunately, this is a harsh reality for many tradesmen who spend their days operating loud power tools without proper ear protection.
Hearing loss is a serious issue, and it’s crucial to take care of your ears while on the job.
Impact wrenches, in particular, have a reputation for being loud due to their rapid hammering action.
But, the good news is that manufacturers have been making great strides in creating quieter models with advanced technologies that allow them to make acceptable levels of noise when at full throttle.
Wearing ear muffs is another great way of making sure you won’t damage your hearing.
Benefits of Breaker Bar
Now, let’s focus on breaker bars and their benefits, which are quite a handful:
Precision & Control
We’ve all heard the saying, “measure twice, cut once.”
The importance of precision and control in life is evident, whether it’s cooking a perfect steak or hanging a picture straight on the wall.
But did you know that precision and control are just as important when it comes to tools? And that’s exactly where breaker bars shine.
By being manually operated, breaker bars provide superior precision, and control as the user has full control over the amount of force they apply to the fastener, allowing them to make adjustments as needed.
Imagine trying to remove a stubborn bolt from a tight space, a manual breaker bar allows you to exert the exact amount of force needed to loosen it without damaging the surrounding area.
Or perhaps you’re working on a delicate engine, a manual breaker bar allows you to make precise adjustments without the risk of over-tightening or stripping the threads.
Great for Tight Spaces
At some point in our careers, we’ve all found ourselves in tight spaces, whether it’s under a car or in any other cramped crawlspace.
In these situations, having compact and portable tools is crucial.
And when it comes to fastening or removing lug nuts in these particular locations, a breaker bar is the ultimate tool for the job.
With its slim design and manual operation, a breaker bar can easily fit into tight spaces and provide the precision and control needed to get the job done.
Additionally, the length of a breaker bar also allows for greater reach and access to tight spaces where a shorter tool would not be able to reach.
You won’t deal with hefty batteries or long power cables, it’ll be just you and the breaker bar.
We all know the feeling, you’re working on a job site and the constant drone of power tools is giving you a headache. Or maybe you’re trying to work on a project at home, but the noise is making it impossible to focus.
On that account, it’s worth mentioning that breaker bars are manual tools, meaning they don’t rely on electricity or compressed air to function, which means they are completely silent!
This is a game-changer for those looking for a bit of peace and quiet on the job.
Imagine being able to work on a project without having to wear ear protection or disturbing the peace of your neighborhood!
- explain the importance of quietness when working as a tradesman by providing an example
- mention that most power tools are noisy, explain why
- discuss that manual tools, like breaker bars, are perfect for those looking for a bit of quiet, explain why
Saving hundreds of dollars on tools can make a big difference in a tradesman’s wallet, especially when it comes to keeping the peace with the wife!
But just because you’re looking to save money, doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice power and efficiency.
Enter the breaker bar: the perfect solution for the budget-conscious tradesman looking for torque and convenience.
A breaker bar is a manual tool that is great for fastening and removing lug nuts that can handle even the toughest jobs, and it won’t cost you more than $50!
Why so cheap?
Well, breaker bars don’t have the need for a power source and are manufactured with cheaper components, making them a very cheap tool to remove rusty nuts and bolts.
Also, their simple design and minimal moving parts make them a durable and low-maintenance option, saving the owner on costly repairs and maintenance.
Cons of Breaker Bar
Well, when it comes to the disadvantages of breaker bars, I can tell you that I find two main ones. Let’s discuss them:
Lack of Torque
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to remove a stubborn, rusty lug nut with a breaker bar, only to find that you’re not making any progress.
This is because breaker bars lack the torque output to break those tough nuts, and also because it’s a manually operated tool, meaning it will rely on the strength the user has and not on internal components like brushless motors.
So, if you’re someone who frequently works tight or rusty lug nuts (e.g. mechanics), you might want to consider an impact wrench as these power tools can generate much higher levels of torque, making them better suited for tasks that require more force.
Manual tools have their charm, they don’t require any electricity or batteries, and you can use them anywhere and that sounds awesome.
But let’s not sugarcoat it, using a breaker bar can be a real pain in the you-know-what too!
Imagine you’re changing the tires on a truck, and you need to remove and replace all the lug nuts.
Using a breaker bar to remove and replace each lug nut manually can be a tedious and tiring task that can take hours to complete as it requires you to apply a significant amount of physical force through repetitive motion to turn the bar and loosen or tighten the lug nut.
It’s like trying to open 10 jars of pickles with your bare hands, sure it can be done but it’s not going to be pretty and it’s going to take a while.
On the other hand, using an impact wrench which is powered by an internal brushless motor, can make the job much faster and easier.
|Impact Wrench||Higher Torque|
|Lack of Torque|
Best Impact Wrench
DEWALT 20V MAX XR DCF899B 1/2 Impact Wrench
- Torque: 700 ft-lbs of max torque and 1200 ft-lbs of max breakaway torque
- Motor: Brushless motor
- Led light: Yes
Now that it’s time to give my pick for the best impact wrench I can’t wait to talk about this DeWalt 20V DCF899B 1/2″ impact wrench.
The first thing you’ll notice about this impact wrench is its reliable 1/2 inch anvil with a detent pin that ensures that high torque levels are applied to the bolt or nut being fastened or removed.
Under the hood, it has its brushless motor that outputs 700 ft-lbs of max torque and 1200 ft-lbs of max breakaway torque to allow users to handle all kinds of lug nuts and bolts with ease, making it a versatile tool that can handle any task.
I particularly like its incredibly compact structure, measuring in at just 8-13/16 inches in length. This makes it perfect for fitting into tight spaces, allowing me to work in cramped and confined areas.
Last but not least, this DeWalt impact wrench features a convenient 20-second delay LED light which is an essential attribute for those who work in low-light conditions.
- Reliable 1/2 anvil with detent pin that applies high torque levels to the bolt or nut being fastened/removed
- Brushless motor that outputs 700 ft-lbs of max torque and 1200 ft-lbs of max breakaway torque to handle all kinds of lug nuts and bolts
- Compact design of 8-13/16-inch in length to fit in tight places
- Convenient 20-second delay LED light
- Bit bulky for my liking
Best Breaker Bar
TEKTON SBH00340 3/4″ Drive x 40″ Breaker Bar
The first thing you’ll notice about this TEKTON 40″ breaker bar is its convenient AISI 4140 steel handle.
Not only is it lightweight, but it’s also designed to make it easy to reach those uncomfortable places. Meaning you can work longer without experiencing fatigue, and you’ll be able to get the job done faster.
But that’s not all – the real game-changer is the breaker bar’s 230-degree pivoting head.
This feature allows you to work from any angle, making it ideal for those hard-to-reach spots that can be so frustrating to work on.
And if precision is what you’re after, the TEKTON breaker bar has got you covered.
Its internal spring allows for maximum precision when installing sockets and engaging fasteners.
I mean, it doesn’t matter if you’re working on a delicate piece of machinery or simply need to make sure that the socket is securely in place, the internal spring makes it easy to achieve the level of precision that you need.
- Convenient long handle to reach uncomfortable places
- 230-degree pivoting head allows the user to work from any weird angle
- Internal spring allows for maximum precision when installing sockets and engaging fasteners
- Head is made of heat treated AISI 4140 steel which is perfect for heavy applications
- Packaging was not great
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequent questions people ask when discussing the differences between impact wrenches and breaker bars.
I though it could be nice and give it a shot at answering most of them as it might help you make your mind on what’s the best tool for you.
What do you use a Breaker Bar for?
The breaker bar is a long, thin metal bar that may look simple, but it packs a punch.
With a socket on one end and a handle on the other, it’s designed to make loosening tight fasteners a breeze.
But wait, you might be thinking, “Isn’t that what an impact wrench is for?” While impact wrenches can certainly do the job, breaker bars have a few secret weapons up their sleeves.
For starters, they’re more compact and easier to maneuver in tight spaces. Plus, they are cheaper and don’t make noise at all!
What do you use an Impact Wrench for?
Impact wrenches are a must-have for any tradesman looking to take their work to the next level, particularly if that job consists in removing hundreds of stubborn nuts and bolts a day.
Imagine having the power to effortlessly remove and install lug nuts on a vehicle or tighten large bolts and nuts on a construction site, all with the simple pull of a trigger.
That’s the kind of power and efficiency an impact wrench can bring to your work.
But it’s not just professional tradesmen who can benefit from an impact wrench. These tools are also perfect for DIY projects around the house.
Assembling furniture, installing appliances, and even basic home maintenance tasks such as changing the oil in your car or replacing a water heater can all be made easy with an impact wrench.
Can you use a torque wrench as a breaker bar?
You might be tempted to think that you can use a torque wrench in place of a breaker bar, but let me tell you, that is a recipe for disaster.
A torque wrench is specifically designed for tightening fasteners, and using it to break them loose can not only damage the tool but also throw off its calibration.
Imagine trying to tighten a bolt to a precise torque, only to find out that your tool has been damaged from using it as a breaker bar. Trust me, it’s not worth the risk.
Stick to using a breaker bar for breaking loose stubborn fasteners and a torque wrench for tightening them to precise specifications.