The impact and torque wrenches are ideal for various tasks, such as tightening or loosening nuts and bolts. Since the two tools do pretty much the same thing, sometimes it can be hard to determine the circumstances to use either of them. Here we take a closer look at some of their fundamental differences to help you understand which one you need.
Impact Wrench vs. Torque Wrench
1. Application: Heavy Duty vs. Simple Tasks
While these two tools will do the same tasks, they come in handy for different situations and applications. The impact wrench is always the tool to turn to for heavy-duty applications where you have to deal with fastening or loosening several nuts or bolts.
For large construction projects where there is a likelihood of dealing with hundreds of bolts, the impact wrench is much better tool for you. Also, the impact wrench is an ideal tool for tasks like changing tires as you need more torque to work on the tight lug nuts.
The torque wrench comes in handy when you only have a few nuts and bolts to fasten, and speed is not very crucial. For tasks like working on the vehicle’s internal parts or repairing bikes, the toque wrench is perfect. Also, given it provides more precise torque control, it is the best tool for applications that require precision.
2. Power Source: Manual vs. Powered Tool
The power source is perhaps the most significant difference between these two. An impact wrench is a power tool, while a torque wrench is a manual hand tool.
Torque wrenches are more similar to a regular wrench in both appearance and functionality since the user has to turn it manually when fastening or unfastening bolts. With the impact wrench, you only need to pull a trigger or push a button.
However, the impact wrench comes in various types as you can get pneumatic models powered by air compressors or electric ones that are either cored or battery powered.
3. Torque Adjustability: Torque Wrenches Give you More Control Over Torque Output
Contrary to what many people might assume, the torque wrenches provide more control over the toque output than the impact wrench despite being manual tools.
Torque wrenches have a mechanism to allows you to alter the amount of torque that is put out. Most have a clutch and calibration on the surface to enable you to adjust the torque output from 10 ft. lbs to around 100 ft. lbs.
With impact wrenches, torque is also adjustable. However, things are not as precise as what you get from the torque wrench. The adjustment often entails altering the speed or airflow if you are using a pneumatic one. But, these tools can provide up to 1,000 ft. lbs in torque, or even more.
4. Noise: Super Silent vs. Super Loud
When it comes to the noise output, the torque wrench also seems to have an edge here as it is typically a super-silent manual tool that hardly makes any noise at all. The only sound you will hear is perhaps from the clutch when changing torque or from the nuts and bolts as they move.
Impact wrenches, on the other hand, can be super-load as they have a noisy motor, and air compressors tend to be quite loud. In many instances, you need to wear ear protection when using this tool.
5. Cost: Torque Wrenches are Much More Affordable
Given that the torque wrench is a simple manual hand tool, it should be obvious it will be more affordable. On average, you should expect to pay around $20 to get one, but some models cost way much more than this, and there are also a few cheaper ones.
With the impact wrench, prices start at around $50, but if you want something more advanced that delivers a high torque output, you have to part with at least $200 or even more. Besides being pricier, the impact wrench is also more expensive to own in the long run
If you fasten and loosen bolts or nuts a lot for your projects, you need to invest in a good impact wrench or torque wrench. While having both is always the best idea, if you have to buy just one, go for the torque wrench if you want something that offers more precise torque control for simple tasks. However, for heavy-duty jobs that require more torque, the impact wrench is your best bet.