Air Impact Wrench Vs Electric Impact Wrench

Air Impact Wrench Vs Electric Impact Wrench

Every handy man and mechanic worth their salt knows what a wrench is and how versatile the tool can be. However, for those who may be unfamiliar with a wrench, a wrench is a common tool wish is often used to provide a manual grip to apply pressure, and torque, to help turn objects such as nuts and bolts. A wrench may also be referred to as a spanner or a monkey wrench.

There are a numerous types and styles of wrenches available on the market including: open-end wrenches, box-end wrenches, flex-head wrenches, spanner wrenches, adjustable wrenches, air impact wrenches and electric impact wrenches. Impact wrenches have become more commonly known to be used by automotive mechanics who need take apart stubborn bolts in order to fix car parts, change tires, or to remove engine parts with greater ease.

Air Impact Wrench Vs Electric Impact WrenchHowever, while automotive mechanics definitely use impact wrenches on a regular basis, impact wrenches are also consistently used by manufacturing plants, construction workers, and assembly lines. Regardless of what the situation may be having the correct impact wrench is an essential component to be able to get the task at hand done in a timely, efficient manner.

With so many different wrenches available to the consumer it can be hard to navigate the market and find the wrench which is most appropriate for the task at hand. This article takes a more in-depth look at the air impact wrench and the electric wrench, addresses some of the pros and cons of each wrench, and helps provide insight into which wrench is best suited to tackle any task.

Long before the inventions of the air and electrical operated wrenches, was the manual wrench. While the manual wrench can get most jobs done, it does require a lot more effort, torque and even skill to use and operate. With the invention of the air and electrical operated wrenches people are now able to eliminate a lot of work time and to accomplish far more with a single tool. Easier to handle, lighter in weight and more versatile, the air wrench and electric impact wrenches have both revolutionized how mechanics, builders and even housewives are able to tackle jobs.

How an Impact Wrench Works

At first glance an impact wrench looks a lot like an electric drill. However, while the exteriors of a drill and impact wrench may look similar, they do not have many functional similarities. While an electric drill does supply a consistent source of power, and speed, an impact wrench has been specifically designed to provide a higher, more powerful torque, at a much lower speed than an electric drill.

The inside of an impact wrench has been designed to allow a “hammer” to strike against an anvil. The anvil is connected to the square driver of the business end of the wrench, and once the anvil has been struck by the “hammer” it forces the socket of the impact wrench to apply power in incremental stages. The key component of an impact wrench is that the power is applied in incremental stages, thereby not breaking the bolt or nut, and only providing the necessary power to get the task done.

There are two major advantages to using an impact wrench over other tools which also provide hammering actions; an impact wrench provides more force and also allows for rust, or other components, to be broken loose from the nut or bolt and helps eliminate further sticking in the future.


Air Impact Wrench

An air impact wrench has quickly become the “go to” tool for auto mechanics. An air impact wrench harnesses the power of air to create a very powerful force, making hard jobs extremely difficult and easy to manage. An air impact wrench is also commonly referred to as a pneumatic impact wrench.

An air impact wrench does require one to have a direct connection to an air source, more often than not a large compressor, in order to operate the wrench and provide continuous usage as long as an adequate supply of air is attached to the wrench. Arguably the only down side to an air impact wrench is that it does require an air source in order to be operational, making them a great tool for a stationary location, but not an ideal tool for traveling or on the go repairs. A few people may even suggest that an air impact wrench is hard to control, because they do not have variable speed triggers, however, with a little practice it becomes very easy to operate and control all sizes of air impact wrenches.

An air impact wrench allows for a far more ergonomically correct work space, and has greatly reduced the amount of time, and effort, it takes to accomplish even the most difficult tasks. An air impact wrench allows for even the most stubborn, rusted out bolt to be removed and can also easily remove small pins and other delicate objects without stripping, or harming, them in any manner.

Electric Impact Wrench

An electric impact wrench can be either cordless, or wired, and has recently gained a lot of popularity. The corded version of the electric impact wrench is very similar in speed, and size, to that of the air impact wrench.

A corded electric impact wrench is also able to obtain more power than its cordless counterpart, making it capable of removing larger screws, bolts and other bigger objects. A corded electric impact wrench, on the other hand, tends to be more cumbersome and difficult to manage due to the electrical cable attached to the operating system. The corded electric impact wrench is best utilized with smaller objects, as it may not have the power needed to remove difficult, larger objects.

A cordless electric impact wrench is an ideal wrench when trying to get to hard to reach places or when in need of a smaller portable wrench. While it is extremely handy to be able to charge the electric impact wrench over night and to be able to take the cordless electric impact wrench anywhere, the downside is that an electric impact wrench does not offer its users nearly the same amounts of power as an air impact wrench. However, if you are in need of a small, simple to operate wrench, the electric impact wrench is the ideal tool to do infrequent, smaller jobs.

A word of caution, electric impact wrenches also tend to be the most expensive impact wrenches available on the market, so be sure to shop around and compare prices before purchasing an electric impact wrench.

What to Look for in an Impact Wrench

With a market flooded with tools and options, it can be hard to determine which impact wrench is best suited for you and your work load. The first thing to consider when choosing an impact wrench is the size you will need as well as the location which you will most likely be working from.

If you expect to be working in tighter more cramped spaces, or to be traveling a lot, it is wiser to choose the cordless impact wrench which can be charged and then moved from space to space.

While a cordless impact wrench does tend to be cost more, it is wiser to make an investment into a battery operated electric impact wrench if you tend to travel, move, or do repairs on the go.

However, if you are in a stationary location and will be using the impact wrench on a regular basis, it is advised to purchase an air impact wrench. An air impact wrench does require a constant source of power, so these are best utilized in workshops, garages, and other stationary locations.

Another item to consider before purchasing an impact wrench is operational time and how long you plan to use the wrench. If you need to use the impact wrench for longer periods of time you will either need a corded electric wrench or an air impact wrench, as a cordless battery operated impact wrench does have a very limited life between charges.


Both electric and air impact wrenches are incredible tools to have handy, especially when faced with removing stubborn, rusted nuts and bolts or working in a very cramped space. The hammering action which is provided by impact wrenches is impossible to duplicate manually and helps to not only ease workloads, but also serves as a tool to loosen rust, nuts, and bolts which would otherwise be virtually unfeasible to remove.

When push comes to shove it hard to say which style of impact wrench is more superior to another, and it truly depends on the task at hand, the amount of work space available, and what needs to be accomplished. However, for more difficult jobs it is recommended to use an air impact wrench, as it does provide more power and torque and can remove virtually any stuck on bolt or nut. Some experts have also rated the air impact wrench as a superior wrench when reviewed from a power-to-weight ratio standpoint.

Regardless of which style of impact wrench you purchase, you can rest assure it will provide enough power to remove even the most stubborn nuts and bolts and will cut down on your work time.

Leave a Reply