Looking to expand your tool collection? Need a tool with extra power that will help you drive a screw or bolt through the wood, drywall, concrete, and even metal? Then an impact driver is something that can definitely make your jobs easier.
Impact drivers are a bit different than power drills, in that they vibrate/move in and out so that they generate more power to help with driving screws through tough materials or cranking rusty lug nuts off of car axels.
In this list, we are going to look at some of the best low-to-mid range cordless impact driver options out there in 2020. It will be important to take into consideration certain features of these impact drivers, like whether their motors are brushed or brushless.
For the most part, brushed motors are more efficient and will make the impact driver more durable. However, they are more expensive, sometimes prohibitively so. Other things to take into consideration will be weight, ergonomics, and the torque each tool can generate.
Best Impact Drivers for 2020 – Quick Look
(Click on the name of any drivers to read it’s in-depth review)
|1400 IN-LBS||2,800 RPM|
|Black and Decker BDC120C|
|1375 in-lbs||3,000 RPM|
|Porter-Cable PC604L2||1,450 in-lbs||2,800 RPM|
|Bosch PS41-2A||930 in-lbs||3,100 RPM|
|Makita XDT131||1,500 in-lbs||3,600 RPM|
|Ryobi One+ P236||1,600 in-lbs||3,200 RPM|
|DeWalt DCF815S2||950 in-lbs||3,400 RPM|
|Popoman||1,600 in-lbs||4,000 RPM|
|Kimo Brushless||2,652 in-lbs||2,800 RPM|
|Milwaukee 2656-20||1,500 in-lbs||3,450 RPM|
1. Dewalt DCF885C1 – Best Overall Impact Driver
Dewalt is a proven, trusted company, and makes some of the most reliable power tools out there.
The DCF885C1 impact driver is no exception. It’s a great impact driver that will deliver results for both the professional worker and the everyday do-it-yourselfer.
It’s small and lightweight, but it packs a good punch and has lots of torque, so you can do anything from simply driving a screw through some brick or drywall to busting the bolts off a flat tire.
There are many impact drivers out there, but Dewalt’s is up there with the best of them.
Our In-Depth Review:
The Dewalt DCF885C1 is remarkably easy to handle impact driver that can be used in many different capacities. It’s lightweight and size makes it great for drilling in tight spaces. Weighing in at only two pounds without the battery and just under three pounds with the battery, it means you’ll be able to do more work for a longer period of time. Also, it has a nice, balanced weight when you hold it, which makes it even easier to wield.
The Dewalt’s built-in LED lights to make it great for working in dimly lit spaces which, when coupled with its compact size, makes it incredibly effective in hard-to-reach corners.
Its ¼ inch hex chuck makes it compatible with most any impact drill bits, and it can also be used with 1-inch bits, and fastens tightly and securely, so you can be sure it will stand up to a decent amount of wear and tear. Unfortunately, the drill doesn’t come with bits, but there are additional options for buying them as packages.
The 20-volt battery is good for light to medium use, and since it is rated at around 1.5Ah, it will probably last around half an hour. It comes with a quick-charge charger that makes recharging is quick and easy as well.
- Built-in LED lights.
- Good torque.
- Lightweight and easy to handle.
- Variable speed trigger.
- Brushed motor.
- Some reported battery problems/shorter battery life.
The Dewalt DCF885C1 is a great, affordable and durable impact driver that can be used for many purposes, for simple projects or more labor-intensive projects, high intensity or low. Dewalt is a trusted company that has a good track record making tools that last, and this driver is no exception. It has excellent power for its size and has great handling in tight spaces.
2. Black and Decker BDC120C – With Quick Release Chuck
Black and Decker is another household name in tools, and their 20V Max impact driver is a solid, low-priced option for getting jobs done around the house.
It is reliable, has enough power to do just about any light to medium intensity job, and is light and compact enough to be used by just about anyone, with a comfortable and easy-to-grip handle as well.
For anyone looking for a simple, no-nonsense cordless impact driver to use for everyday jobs, the Black and Decker 20V Max is a nice option. So, let’s look into the specifics of this impact driver and what it provides.
Our In-Depth Review:
The Black and Decker 20V Max impact driver comes in at a lower price point than a lot of the other impact drivers on this list but still delivers great value for the cost. It is a good, solid impact driver that can be used around the house but wouldn’t recommend it for more professional, heavy-use projects, as it can overheat and not stand up so well to extended use due to its brushed motor.
When it comes to your standard, around-the-house repair jobs, the Black and Decker will stay reliable and stand up to repeated use.
With 1,375 in-lbs of torque, the Black and Decker 20V Max still packs a punch despite its size and will do a great job driving screws and installing light fixtures. It also features a variable trigger speed between 0-3,000 RPMs, which allows the user to finesse more delicate jobs. This impact driver also features a smaller handle, which makes it easier to handle and control. However, those with large hands may find the grip cramped and uncomfortable.
The battery, while it doesn’t last super long, is still reliable. It takes about 4 hours to charge this impact driver from empty to full, and the battery will last a few hours on a full charge. The 20V lithium-ion battery can also be used in conjunction with other Black and Decker 20V power tools, making it easy to change back and forth.
- LED light.
- Compact and lightweight.
- Comfortable grip.
- Variable trigger speed.
- Brushed motor.
- Not great for extended, heavy-duty use.
- Magnetic bit holder can be unreliable.
The Black and Decker 20V Max impact driver is a great little impact driver for DIYers to complete routine household projects. It is cordless, lightweight and compact, so it can be wielded by just about anyone and used in small spaces and tight corners. It offers good torque for its size and has a variable trigger speed that allows for both delicate and high-impact drilling. While its brushed motor makes it more susceptible to long-term wear and tear, it is still a great, low-cost option for getting jobs done around the house.
3. Porter-Cable PC604L2 – With LED Lights
Porter-Cable is a lesser-known brand of power tools out there, and while it doesn’t have the same kind of name recognition that companies like DeWalt or Milwaukee have, it is still a solid tool that will handle well in different types of jobs.
The great thing about this offer is that it comes as a combo set, so you will get an impact driver and a power drill, along with a carrying case and charger. Another great thing is the cost; this combo comes in at an affordability that is hard to beat, although, like most things in life, you’ll be sacrificing some quality for quantity.
But still, for people looking to get some basic things done around the house, this Porter-Cable combo set is a bargain.
Our In-Depth Review:
The Porter-Cable PC604L2 combo set is a great, inexpensive set that gives you both a power drill and an impact driver. This means that it is a great option for those looking to start up a tool collection on a low budget. It comes with a nylon carrying case, which although it is a bit flimsy and doesn’t offer the protection of a plastic molded case, still provides a decent option for storing the tools.
The impact driver delivers 1,450 in-lbs of torque, which is quite good given its size. It weighs in at just under 3.5 pounds, which makes it very easy to handle, and won’t tire you out as you work on projects that require lots of overhead drilling or hard to reach fixtures. Its magnetic bit holders take ¼ hex chuck, which is par for the course when it comes to impact drivers.
Both drills also feature very comfortably, rubber grips that prevent your hand from slipping and give you a secure feeling when you are drilling. You also get a nice balanced feel while holding the drill with the battery pack attached.
All this being said, the fact that you are getting both an impact driver and a power drill for such a low price leaves a bit of justifiable skepticism in the mind of the consumer.
- Both drivers and drills are compact and lightweight.
- Comfortable grips.
- Includes a belt clip and nylon carrying case.
- The impact driver has great torque.
- Brushed motor means more noise and not as durable.
- reports about problems with the power drill.
The Porter-Cable PC604L2 combo set offers great value for the price. It’s a nice set that is perfect for a homeowner looking to do jobs around the house. Its compact size and lightweight make it perfect for jobs in tight spaces, and the fact that this set comes with a couple of bit tips and a carrying case adds to the appeal of this product. While it may not be suitable for a professional who uses it every day for extended periods of time, it will do just fine for those simple, light to medium-duty jobs.
4. Bosch PS41-2A – With Short Head Length
Bosch is another well-established company that has a great track record of making reliable tools for both professionals and amateurs.
The Bosch PS41-2A 12V Max is an exceptional little impact driver that is one of the most compacts in its class. Despite this, it is still able to deliver considerable power, although not enough for those looking to do more heavy-duty projects.
Nonetheless, the Bosch PS41 is perfect for your every-day handyman, and it has great features that make it a superb choice for anyone in the market for an impact driver.
Our In-Depth Review:
The best thing by far about the Bosch PS41-2A impact driver is its compact size. It is probably one of the smallest impact drivers on the market, with a head size of just 5.4 inches. It also has a battery that loads a bit like a handgun, as you insert it up into the handle of the driver, making it very easy to handle. Much easier to handle than most other drills or drivers that slot into the bottom lengthwise and leave you with a large rectangle under your hand that can get in the way as you are trying to maneuver in tight spaces.
And although it weighs just 2.1 pounds, it still packs a considerable punch, with 930 in-lbs of torque. Sure, this isn’t as much as some other impact drivers, and it certainly won’t be adequate for a professional or someone looking to bust lug nuts off of cars and whatnot, but it is perfectly adequate for most jobs. According to Bosch, the PS41-2A is good for about 85 percent of all jobs required by an impact driver, no not too shabby.
It also comes with a nylon, zippered carrying case, which although it is not the sturdiest thing in the world, it will still provide you with a decent way of carrying the drill, and has securing straps inside that prove to be reasonably secure.
The Bosch impact driver also features a Durashield housing that is very durable. Bosch claims that this housing has been tested to withstand 25 drops from 12 feet high onto solid concrete with no damage to the mechanisms in the drill itself.
Furthermore, it has a spring-loaded impact mechanism that makes it softer on the arms and reduces fatigue. The handle is also quite comfortable because it is rubberized, meaning it won’t slip around your sweaty palms as you struggle to get that last fixture installed.
- Compact and lightweight.
- Durable due to the dura shield housing.
- Shortest head length in class (5.4 inches).
- Variable trigger speed.
- Lower torque.
- Brushed motor.
The Bosch PS41-2A 12V Max impact driver is one of the best drivers on the market if you are looking for something compact enough to fit in super tight spaces, but powerful enough to get just about any job done around the house. It is one of the lightest impact drivers out there, and its design has been improved to maximize torque. The battery clips up into the handle to make it especially easy to handle, and it has a battery gauge so it won’t be taken by surprise by a dead battery midway through drilling something. As far as compact impact drivers go, this Bosch is a great option that won’t break the bank.
5. Makita XDT131 – With Brushless Motor
Makita is known for its high-quality, dependable tools that can be used by both professionals and DIYers.
Their drills are no exception, and this low-budget impact driver offering from them certainly is no exception. The XDT131 is an excellent impact driver that comes with a nice array of extras that makes it a very alluring option for professionals and amateurs alike.
It gives you excellent power, it’s light enough to move around easily, and it features a brushless motor, which will extend battery life and make the machine more durable in general. All in all, this Makita is a good buy at a good price. Let’s get into the details.
Our In-Depth Review:
The Makita XDT131 18V LXT impact driver is a nice, compact cordless option for those looking to work around the house, or even get into more heavy-duty projects. Its 1,500 lbs of torque make it one of the more powerful impact drivers for its price, and its 3,600 impacts/minute means it will vibrate enough to bust even the most tightly secured lug nuts.
This will allow the user to extend the amount of continuous work on a given job and maximize time spent on a project, while also protecting the driver from any damage that could be incurred because of over-use.
It also features a brushless motor, which basically means that the electrical current inside the motor is not delivered on the moving part of the motor, eliminating friction, wear-and-tear, and noise. This also means that the battery life will be longer, and the drill will be more durable and able to withstand more prolonged use.
Another nice thing about this Makita impact driver is its compact size. The head is only 5 inches long, which is quite short compared to other drivers in its class. And at 3.3 pounds, it is one of the lightest out there. This makes it ideal for working in tight spaces and overhead, and, when coupled with the built-in LED lights, make dimly-lit spaces easily accessible as well.
- Brushless motor increases durability and battery life.
- Compact and lightweight.
- Great torque for its size.
- Excellent battery efficiency.
- Great for both professionals and amateurs.
- Negative reviews of the handle grip.
- Some say too much torque makes it hard to handle.
The Makita XDT131 18V LXT impact driver is a super-compact, high powered impact driver that will get just about any job done. Its brushless motor means it will be more durable, make less noise, and have a longer battery life than other impact drivers with brushed motors, but it also means that it will be a bit more expensive. The lithium-ion LXT battery will give this driver juice for a long time, as well as protect against overheating and overuse. This Makita really is a good bargain for its price.
6. Ryobi One+ P236 – With Tri-Beam LED
Ryobi is another well-established company that makes dependable tools.
The One+ P236 impact driver is one of their lower-budget offerings, but just because it’s low budget doesn’t mean it’s crap. It’s actually an excellent and capable impact driver with a ton of torque for its size. It is reliable and has a battery that will last a long time.
You usually can’t go wrong with Ryobi equipment; their drills and power tools are tested and approved by the pros, and you can rest assured that you’ll be getting a good product in the Ryobi One+. So, let’s get into the details.
Our In-Depth Review:
The Ryobi One+ P236 is a solid impact driver that works great around the house for driving or removing screws into or from any sort of material. It is also really good at removing lug nuts stuck too tight on tires. It offers excellent performance and value for the price and is a great choice for just about anyone looking to add an impact driver to their arsenal of tools.
One of the best things about this Ryobi tool is the amount of torque it offers compared to its size. 1,600 in-lbs of torque is just about the best you can do at this price, and especially for a cordless driver. It also features a variable speed trigger, which allows you to increase or decrease the speed and power with which you drill based on your finger pressure, which means more precision when you need it.
It is also a pretty user-friendly tool. It’s got a keyless chuck that allows you to change out your drill bits quickly so you don’t waste too much time fumbling around. It also features a magnetic bit holder just below the handle, so you can keep an extra bit handy.
It also features three LED lights that are positioned around the head of the drill to help increase visibility in dimly lit areas, however, the LED lights only work when the drill is running, which can be a bit of a hassle at times when you’re looking for where to line up the drill and screw but don’t want to engage the motor.
Finally, the handle is rubberized to minimize slipping, and the casing is sturdy and will protect the drill from the everyday bumps and bruises associated with any home project.
- Auto Hex chuck lock.
- Excellent torque.
- Varying trigger speed.
- Great battery life.
- LED lights only work when drilling.
- The unit does not come with a battery.
The Ryobi One+ P236 18V impact driver is a solid, dependable driver that is great for both professionals and homeowners. Although it is not recommended for working in auto shops, it will get the job done in just about any other capacity. It has a great battery life (although the battery is sold separately), and the torque is excellent. This Ryobi is a great, compact option for a cordless impact driver, and you can’t beat the price.
7. DeWalt DCF815S2 – Light weight Body
We’ve already looked at DeWalt’s 20-volt impact driver option, and DeWalt is such a proven name in power tools, that we figured we’d take another look at one of their smaller options. The DCF815S2 is a nice little driver.
While it may not pack in as much torque as its bigger brother, it still handles really well, has nice ergonomics, and comes with a nice package that includes a carrying case, two batteries, and a quick charger.
There really aren’t too many bad things to say about DeWalt tools, but let’s have a look and see what we’re dealing with when it comes to this 12-volt impact driver.
Our In-Depth Review:
DeWalt’s 12V Max impact driver doesn’t overwhelm you with awesome features like a lot of higher priced drills do. But then again, it’s not meant to. It is a sturdy, lower-priced, reliable little impact driver that can be used around the house with drywall or wood. Anything more heavy-duty will probably require a driver with a bit more power than this DeWalt, but it’s probably good for about 85-90 percent of jobs most people will need to get done.
The battery is a 12 volt, 2.0Ah lithium-ion battery. Being a 12-volt battery, it obviously won’t last as long or provide as much power, as some of the drills with 18- or 20-volt batteries, but the trade-off here is that the drill will be a bit lighter and easier to handle. This set also comes with two batteries, which a lot of impact driver sets don’t offer, so that’s a plus.
DeWalt is known for making tools with good ergonomics, and this 12V impact driver is no exception. The handle is very comfortable, the dill fits nicely into your hand, and the balance is excellent. The rubberized grips prevent your hands from slipping when they get sweaty. It’s compact size and small head make it perfect for working in tight spaces, and the LED lights help with visibility when you’re working in dark corners.
- Lightweight and compact.
- Comes with carrying case, belt clip and 2 batteries.
- One hand bit insertion/ejection.
- Comfortable grip and balanced weight.
- 12-volt battery won’t last as long.
- Less torque than some other models.
- Brushed motor.
The DeWalt DCF815S2 12V Max impact driver is a proven and reliable tool that gives the everyday homeowner all the power and precision they probably need. It’s not a tool that will leave you gasping in astonishment at how amazing it is. It’s a tool that will get the job done and that will last for a long time.
8. Popoman 20V Max – With Hex Chuck
Popoman is probably the least-known company on this list, and while this may be a concern in a lot of areas, their 20V Max impact driver actually comes with a ton of extra accessories and the driver itself seems like a solid deal.
The impact driver and kit is pretty cheap, and you’ll be compromising some quality for quantity, but for those who are looking to start up a tool collection, and may not have any drill bits or extra batteries, this Popoman combo set would be a perfect way to get your feet wet.
Our In-Depth Review:
The Popoman 20V Max impact driver isn’t made by a company you’ve heard of. In fact, Popoman is a relatively unknown company when it comes to power tools, but they do make a few different tools that sell pretty much exclusively on Amazon. With that said, this combo kit offers a lot of extra accessories that make it a great choice for someone who doesn’t have many tools around the house and really needs an impact driver.
The set comes with the driver, two batteries, a quick charger, five socket and driver bits, a carrying case and a belt clip. And you get all this for the price that’s almost less than a lot of the impact drivers sold just by themselves.
Its variable speed trigger offers easy control, between 0-2,900 RPMs, so you can ease up the power on delicate surfaces and go all-in on tough ones. It does offer an LED light, although its position at the bottom of the handle gives it an awkward angle that is not as ideal as the LED lights places around the heads of most other impact drivers.
The LED lights are also trigger activated, meaning they only work when the drill is running, which makes it a bit inconvenient if you need to line up the driver and screw beforehand.
- The combo set comes with lots of accessories.
- Great power and torque.
- Good battery life.
- Variable speed trigger.
- Not a well-known brand.
- Brushed motor.
- Awkward LED light position.
The Popoman 20V Max impact driver is a powerful cordless option that comes with a lot of nice accessories. This makes it quite desirable for someone who may not have a large tool collection and doesn’t want to spend a ton of money on extras that probably won’t be used much. This impact driver packs a nice punch, with 1,600 in-lbs of torque, and its 4,000 impacts/minute is also excellent compared to other 20V drivers. The thing with this Popoman is the risk you’re willing to take with a lesser-known name that isn’t as proven as the others.
9. Kimo Driver – With Variable Speed Trigger
Kimo is another brand with less of a track record than other companies like DeWalt or Milwaukee, but it has been around for almost 30 years, and this 20V impact driver from them seems like an excellent option for both professionals and amateurs.
It comes in at a reasonable price point, comes in a set with lots of accessories, and features a brushless motor, which makes it more powerful, durable and efficient than impact drivers with brushed motors.
So let’s take a look at the specifics and see what we’re dealing with when it comes to this Kimo driver.
Our In-Depth Review:
The Kimo 20V Max brushless impact driver is a super powerful tool that comes with an excellent variety of accessories. It’s perfect for someone just starting out who needs a set with some driver bits and other goodies, and it’s great for the professional who will be doing more demanding jobs because it is powerful and durable.
This Kimo combo set comes with the impact driver, a quick charger, one 20V battery, six-driver bits, four-driver sleeves, a hard plastic carrying case, a belt hook, and two adjustable tool belts. All this at a low-to-mid price point! It’s an excellent deal that seems almost too good to be true.
It also packs a wicked punch, with a whopping 2,652 in-lbs of torque. This is a ton of power that will get professional-grade jobs done, and make any around-the-house drilling super easy.
The 20V battery will charge up with the quick charger in just under an hour, and the battery efficiency will be boosted by the fact that the driver’s motor is brushless. This tool also features LED lights mounted in the head to help out with visibility in dark areas.
It also comes with a nice, hard plastic carrying case. Much higher quality and more durable than the nylon carrying cases featured in the rest of the driver kits on this list. Additionally, the set comes with 10 pieces of driver bits and sleeves, which adds even more value to the purchase.
- Brushless motor improves power and efficiency.
- Lots of torque.
- Hard plastic carrying case.
- Great battery life.
- A bit heavier, at 4 lbs with the battery.
- Not a household name brand.
The Kimo 20V Max Brushless impact driver delivers great value for what you’ll be paying. Its brushless motor ensures that the driver will run efficiently and last for years, and the fact that it comes in a hard case with extra accessories sweetens the pot even more. It will be a great addition to the tool shed for anyone looking for an impact driver. Although Kimo isn’t the most well-known brand out there, they’ve still been around for 30 years, and offer a variety of reliable, well-reviewed power tools.
10. Milwaukee 2656-20 M18 – With Redlink Technology
Milwaukee makes high-quality tools trusted by the professionals, so you can be sure that you’ll be getting a solid, durable piece of equipment if you decide to go with them. Their 18-volt impact driver is no exception here.
It delivers you power, quality, and energy efficiency that you would expect from a brand of Milwaukee’s standing, and will be a great long-term addition to anyone’s tool shed, professional or DIYer.
While this impact driver is a little bare-bones, seeing that it doesn’t come with a battery or any accessories, it’s nevertheless is a quality driver that will last forever.
Our In-Depth Review:
The Milwaukee 2656-20 M18 impact driver is an excellent tool made by an excellent company. The first thing to point out about this driver is its motor, which is part of Milwaukee’s M18 line. They have designed this motor to communicate with the battery using what they call “Redlink” hardware and software in order to prevent overheating and to optimize the life of the battery. This makes this impact driver a perfect, long-lasting tool for those who expect to be getting a lot of use from it.
This driver will also give you 2,750 RPMs and 3,450 impacts per minute, which you can adjust using the variable speed trigger.
Ergonomically, this Milwaukee has a great design, with a compact head and a textured rubber grip that is comfortable and easy to hold in your hand. It also features an LED light just above the trigger, which will help out in dark spaces. The only problem here is that the light only works when you’re drilling, which we’ve seen on a lot of other impact drivers. This makes it a bit tough to line up a screw or fixture before you start drilling.
Also, this impact driver fits into the family of other M18 products offered by Milwaukee, so you can swap out the batteries if you already have one of their drills or impact wrenches. Unfortunately, this driver only comes with the driver. You don’t get the battery or any of the extra accessories that we’ve seen from other products. This means that it’s a pretty affordable option, especially if you already have a Milwaukee tool and don’t need the battery.
- One of the most trusted names in power tools.
- Redlink motor technology adds durability and efficiency.
- Battery fuel gauge.
- Excellent torque.
- Ergonomic design.
- Battery not included.
- The LED light turns off when the trigger is released.
The Milwaukee 2656-20 M18 impact driver is a very durable and efficient driver made by a trusted company that won’t let you down. It’s motor technology, while not brushless, is designed in a way that communicates with the battery to maximize battery life and prevent the tool from overheating, which reduces unnecessary wear and tear, and ensures that you will be able to use this tool for years and years. Although it does not come with a battery or any accessories, the name Milwaukee itself ensures that you will be getting a solid product that you can rely on for any job.
Impact Drivers – Buyer’s Guide
What is an impact driver?
An impact driver is a tool built to provide rotational force to loosen, tighten or extract items such as large screws, bolts, and nuts that are stuck due to corrosion (frozen) or overly secured over-torqued). When using an impact driver, you can drive screws or tighten nuts. Thus, it comes in handy especially in circumstances where a screwdriver cannot efficiently work.
How does an impact driver work?
An impact driver works by providing more torque than your screwdriver can provide. Using a hammer, spring, and anvil, torque is added to create a rotational impact. When power is applied and the motor turns the impact driver shaft, the spring compresses and releases with great power thus, driving the hammer against the anvil.
This mechanism repeats up to 50 times per second, enough repeat times to produce the force needed. So rather than giving you the power to push through, it gives you the power to punch through. The power and the speed also help to significantly cut downtime to drive larger and longer screws than a drill.
Impact Drivers vs Drills
For many, especially non-contractors, you may perceive an impact driver to be the same as an impact drill. That only the names are interchangeable, but they are the same tools in essence. However, this is not the case. In fact, eve their functions are not interchangeable.
Impact drivers and drills are not the same tools. Impact drivers are relatively newer tools in the market but hold great power compared to drills. Below is an outline of the differences between an impact driver and a drill;
- Primarily used to drive larger and longer fasteners
- Compact and lightweight
- Operates at a higher speed
- Offers more torque and twisting force
- With more voltage ratings, power and speed are increased
- Comfortable to use as it reduces muscle strain
- Primarily used for drilling holes and driving in smaller fasteners
- Operates on low speed with torque adjustability
- Versatile as it accepts a wide variety of bit types
Things to look out for
When you are choosing a good quality impact driver you must examine certain features. Knowing the features and paying close attention to them allows you to pick the right choice.
Impact drivers come with 2 distinct motor types, i.e. brushless or brushed motor. Brushless motors are more efficient when working thus, they are expensive than brushed motors. When using brushless motor impact drivers, less heat is produced thus, enhancing their durability and require less effort to care and maintain them.
The higher the voltage, the more power, and speed you will get from your impact driver. Typically, impact drivers will come in 12V or 18V. Thus, 18V will give you more torque. A 12 V motor on the other end gives you power that is similar to that of 18V drills. 12V motor is more than enough for regular DIY work however if you are looking for enhanced power, 18V motors are ideal.
RPM denotes the impact driver’s sped of rotation. Generally, you will come across three band options i.e., 0-850, 0-2100 and 0-3000. Havier duty impact drivers will even have up to 4-speed settings. Whilst others will give you more personalized features depending on the material you are working on such as wood or metal.
A higher RPM means more speed and torque. Having a wider RPM option on your impact driver, enhances its versatility, providing a cross-section of functionality over different situations.
When it comes to choosing the right impact diver, torque is perhaps the most important feature. The impact is denoted through IPM, fully known as impacts per minute. IPM is measured in inch-pounds. Torque is what gets the job done, and especially for thicker and trickier fasteners, you absolutely want more torque on your side.
You will gauge the power of your impact driver by looking at its voltage ratings. Typically, a 12V impact driver delivers anywhere from 800 to 1200 inch-pound torque whilst 18V impact drivers deliver up to 2250 inch-pound torque.
You also want to go for an impact driver that offers more options to allow for more personalization to your work. In general, an impact driver will come with a forward reverse switch and trigger. These tools will also come with a neutral to lock the trigger for battery draining prevention when it is in your toolbox.
To effectively and comfortably use your impact driver, you also want it to bear the ideal construction design. For example, due to their relatively smaller size and lightweight, impact drivers are fitted with a leg to support handling.
Rubber housing around the body and leg helps to create a cushioning to allow you to use it longer without discomfort o strain on muscles, especially at the thumb and index finger areas. The thick rubber housing overmold also protects the tool itself especially when it is laying down.
It’s not a bad idea to go for an impact driver that comes with extra accessories or features, I fact, it makes your work a lot easier.
Work lights – Many impact drivers come with work lights. They are especially handy when you are working in areas with low light conditions. They also help when you inadvertently lose your fasteners accidentally.
Belt hooks – some impact divers also come with bet hooks on either side. In some DIY project circumstances, belt hooks come very handily, for example, if you are climbing up a ladder, attaching the driver to a belt is essential as your other free and will be focused on your balance. It also makes interchanging easier.
Cordless and Corded Impact Drivers
Apart from their two motor types, impact drivers also come in two distinct working mechanisms. These include corded and cordless impact drivers.
Corded impact drivers depend on power source thus, they may sometimes limit movement. However, if you get the right cord length, then you are afforded some maneuverability. Furthermore, as they depend on power, they also boast greater torque compared to their cordless counterparts. Contrary to the beliefs, some corded impact drivers are actually less heavy than cordless ones.
Cordless impact drivers can be a little heavier because of their batteries. The only limitation of having a corded impact driver is that you have limited freedom of movement. And you can only use them where there is a power source at close proximity.
A cordless impact driver uses batteries and as such, it is more portable – allowing more freedom of movement. Some of the common benefits of having a cordless impact driver are, of course, its portability, allowing you to take it anywhere. Cordless impact drives also use batteries. Cordless impact drivers also come with built-in LED lights to allow you to use the in low light conditions.
The only limitation to cordless impact drivers is that sometimes, you may struggle o find batteries that will deliver the same torque as with corded impact drivers. Furthermore, the batteries also depend on recharging, thus, if you are in an area with no power access, you will have limited use of the impact driver.
Uses of an impact driver
Impact drivers provide a great advantage over cordless drills. Though they are almost similar in concept, they also hold several variations. Impact drivers for once hold greater torque than cordless drills, up to 5 times greater due to their power and speed.
Due to their compact sizes and shorter head length, impact drivers can also be easily used in tight and small spaces, without compromising their functionality. Because of their powerful torque, you may use them as both impact drivers and drills to drive screws without having to drill a hole with a cordless drill.
Furthermore, compared to cordless drills, impact drivers are built with improved articulation and control, so you don’t have to worry about recoils and kickbacks that may strip your screws. And the greatest advantage they come with compared to other tools is that they are very comfortable to handle. Their lightweight finish and rubber molded housing make them less strenuous on hands, fingers, and wrists.
Impact driver vs Impact wrench
The major differences between an impact driver and an impact wrench are their size and power. Impact wrenches tend to be heavier, larger and hold more torque. For example, an impact wrench and drier of the same voltage rating will boast different torque power- whist the driver may boast up to 2200 inch-pounds, the wrench will boast up to 13000 inch pounds.
Thus, generally, impact wrenches are not ideal for around the house DIY projects because they provide more torque than needed. Whilst impact drivers are made with ¼-inch hex drives and drive screws, impact wrenches are made with ½ – inch hex drives and loosen or fasten sockets.
The most common features of both impact drivers and wrenches are summarized below;
- Primarily used to provide impact rotational and axial force to drive screws and drill holes
- Ideally designed for DIY and home improvement projects
- Electric or battery power source (corded or cordless)
- Fit a ¼-inch hex drive
- Boast more speed (RPM) and less torque compared to impact wrenches
- Primarily used to blow in rotational direction when loosening or fastening nuts and heavy bolts
- Ideally designed for auto repairs, assembly lines, heavy equipment maintenance, and large constructions
- Electric or compression air powered
- Fit a ½ -inch hex drive
- Boast less speed (RPM) and more torque compared to impact drivers
Brushless vs brushed motors
When choosing an impact driver, you will come across some that are fitted with brushed motors and some that are fitted with brushless motors.
During operation, brushed motors will, of course, operate to produce friction. This friction reduces their efficiency when compared to brushless motors. Because of this friction, more heat is generated, thus inhibiting more power transfer. The heat generation also impacts the durability of the driver, prompting frequent replacements of its parts.
The reduction of friction when operating makes brushless motors more efficient. The frictionless operation also means that more power is transferred and the motor also boasts greater power control. At the end of the day, less heat is generated, thus, giving your brushless motor enhanced battery life and overall durability. Furthermore, this design also means that they require minimal maintenance.
It is not always easy to gauge the quality and durability of an impact driver, especially when shopping for one online. The best way to go about it is through real-life customer reviews to give you a better understanding. However, you can also invest in favored brands. You will also be able to gauge the best brands by going through customer reviews. Below, you will also find the recommended brands for impact drivers;
Dewalt is a renowned power tool and hand tools manufacturer, highly favored and popular in the industries. Its focus on high-quality manufacturing is what made it remain in the market for so long. The American power tools giant is also known for its versatility and diversification in tools, allowing you to find just what you are looking for.
The Bosch brand is one of the best for impact drivers. The brand pays close attention not only to durable construction but also to the choice of the best materials. The tools are available in a cross-section of options, whether you want corded or cordless impact drivers.
The black & Decker brand delivers great brushless impact driver options. The Black & Decker impact drivers are built with a fair amount of torque and considerable accuracy, giving you more control and articulation during operation. They make an excellent choice for any home DIY project.
Safety tips for using impact drivers
When you are using an impact driver, you should never forget that it is a motorized power tool, as such extra care should be taken when using it. Some of the most important safety practices to follow are;
Different models differ in terms of operation and design, thus, it is wise to always read the manual before operating the tool
- If you notice any problems or defects, contact the customer support before you proceed with using it
- Always wear safety goggles with side protectors
- Wear face masks especially if you are drilling through concrete or any type of walls
- Never wear extremely loose clothing or jewelry when operating an impact driver
- If you have long hair, tie it
- Remove clutter or any other distractive items around your working space
- Never carry an impact driver by its cords
- Always disconnect the impact driver before installing or adjusting its attachments
- Always use the correct fitting bits and attachments
- Always use the impact driver as it is designed to be used
- Never use an impact driver near a wet area or under the rain
FAQs related to the impact drivers
Can an impact driver be used as a drill?
An impact driver can be used as a drill to a certain extent and not fully. You can drill holes with an impact driver, but you need a drill bit. Using a standard hex drill bit, you can make small holes in softwood or even lighter steel. If you want to make larger holes or holes in thicker material such as hardwood, then an impact driver is not the best option.
Do Impact drivers strip screws?
No, unlike drills, impact drivers are less likely to strip screws. This is because impact drivers have less recoil. They are also built with more articulation and give you more control, thus, preventing the risks of recoils and kickbacks.
What do you use a compact impact driver for?
A compact impact driver is used to drive larger fasteners and longer screws. Their 14-inch hex shank drill bits also allow you to perform some basic smaller scale and less tricky drilling. Because of their compact size, they also easily allow you to work in small and tight spaces.
How do you put a drill bit an impact driver?
To put a drill bit into an impact driver, you should follow the steps below; Turn off/ disconnect the impact driver from the power socket Loosen the tip of the chuck around the shank Loosen the tip of the chuck by rotating it firmly in a counterclockwise direction. Select the drill bit you want to attach and insert it on the tip of the chuck To ensure secure attachment, tighten its hold around the tip by rotating it in a clockwise direction.
Do you have to use an impact sockets with an impact driver?
It depends on the impact driver. In general, it is advised to use impact sockets with impact tools. Because these tools are used on regular sockets, their brittle material may cause them to crack. However, unlike impact wrenches, some impact drivers don't hold distractive or too powerful torques, as such, these types of impact drivers can be used with regular sockets. However, to play it safe, especially for beginners, impact sockets are always better.
Can I use an impact driver for automotive?
It all depends on how you intend to use the impact driver. If you are using it for menial work that requires less torque at about 1000 to 2250 inch-pounds, an impact driver is enough. However, if you intend to engage in the more serious engine and transmission work, then you need an impact wrench.
Can I use impact drivers to remove lug nuts?
Yes, you can use an impact driver to remove lugs. However, it depends on what types of lug nuts you want to remove. The two factors to consider when trying to remove lug nuts with an impact driver is the driver's torque output and the tightening of the nuts. For example, an impact driver with an output torque of at least 1000-inch pounds will easily remove a lug nut tightened at 800 to 1000 inch-pounds. However, to play it safe and for added convenience, it is always better to go for an impact wrench.
Can you use regular drill bits in an impact driver?
Yes, you can use regular drill bits in an impact driver. But it depends on the situation. If your focus on the work is hole size, then an impact driver will not be a viable option in the first place. An impact driver fitted with regular drill bits allows you to make only small holes. In addition to its ability to only make small holes, an impact driver with regular drill bits will be able to work on certain but not all surfaces. You can use an impact driver on less tricky and sturdy surfaces such as softwood or thinner metal. If you have surfaced such as hardwood or heavy-duty steel, then impact drivers with regular bits will not get the job done. However, using this puts you at a hazardous risk at all times during operation.
What is a cordless impact driver used for?
The functions of a cordless impact driver are similar to that of a corded one. The only difference is that a cordless impact driver is built with more portability and depends on a battery power source. Yet, cordless impact drivers are smaller, lighter and more powerful thus, making home improvement DIY projects more efficient to execute.it is more favored for use in tight spaces due to its size.
What is the difference between a hammer drill and an impact driver?
The principle difference between a hammer drill and an impact driver is the direction to which they each apply force during their twisting action. Whilst a hammer drill exerts pressure directly on to the bit as it hits the surface, the impact driver increased force by perpendicularly applying it onto the surface. Typically, a hammer drill delivers force by slapping the force directly whilst the impact driver delivers it through the force relayed through a rotating mechanism.