If you are reading this, there is a good chance that you already have a cordless drill. However, you may have recently seen someone using a cordless impact driver/drill or maybe you happened to come across them at your local hardware store.
You might be wondering whether it is worth investing in an impact driver or if you can get by with your drill. In this post, we are going to look at some of the differences between cordless power drills and impact drivers and explain why it is worth adding one of these tools to your workshop. Among the top differences are that an impact driver is specifically for driving screws. Additionally, drivers input a short burst of force instead of a steady spinning of a drill.
Here are a few more features to consider as you determine whether an impact driver/drill or cordless power drill is right for your project.
How to choose between a cordless drill or impact driver
The cordless drill/driver is one of the most popular tools you will ever find. In fact, it is the most commonly used power tool there is. Our 20V Maxlithium Brushless Drill & Driver proves the point with its unbeatable efficiency and Rockwell-produced credentials.
Part of the reason for this popularity comes down to versatility. With the keyless chuck, you can fit a range of bits and accessories to use your cordless power drill for more than just drilling holes and driving screws. It can also be a rotary sander, a hole saw and more.
An impact driver, like our 20V 1/4″ 3-Speed Brushless Impact Driver, is a tool that is made specifically for driver screws. Instead of the adjustable keyless chuck of a cordless power drill, the impact driver has a quick release hex chuck. Besides the difference in the chuck, one of the other obvious, visual differences is the fact that impact drivers are smaller than drills.
The big difference for performance is the amount of torque that a cordless impact drill/driver can apply to the turning motion. Impact drivers work by delivering short bursts of force instead of the steady turning motion that you would expect from a drill. This is caused by a mechanism inside the driver that applies quick impacts to the rotation.
If you are wondering whether you should be using a power drill or impact driver for a specific job, it all depends on the type of work being done. A cordless impact driver or drill on its own cannot replace a power drill. Impact drivers are not designed to drill holes and they can’t take all of the accessories that a cordless drill can. However, if you need to drive a lot of screws – especially screws that are either thick or long – a cordless impact driver is going to outperform a cordless drill every time.
Now that you understand some of the differences between these two tools and the purpose of an impact driver, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why this is a beneficial power tool to own.
An impact driver/drill makes the job easier
The main reason to own a cordless impact driver or drill is that it makes the job of driving screws easier. A cordless power drill can drive screws, but it will take more force from the user to get the job done.
Meanwhile, a cordless impact driver can drive screws without the user having to apply as much force and it can get the job done faster. In tests performed by Popular Mechanics, most impact drivers were able to tighten ¾-inch nuts in less than three seconds and a few were even able to do the job in half a second. Along with that, the quick release chuck makes it easier to switch between bits.
Cordless impact drills let you complete more work on a single battery
If you are primarily looking for a tool to drive screws, an impact driver is going to get more work done on a single charge. Impact driver/drills use their power more efficiently than cordless power drills do, and they transfer a much higher proportion of the torque to the bit. This not only means that it is easier to drive the screws, but also means that you can do more work on a single charge.
Compared to cordless power drills, impact drivers are lightweight and compact
Cordless impact drivers are also lighter and more compact than cordless drills. This makes them easier to handle with one hand, and it also means that they can fit into tighter spaces. An impact driver is a power tool that is going to perform much better for situations where you need to drive or loosen screws at odd angles or with little room to work.
They’re easier on your hands and wrists
With a cordless power drill, much of the force actually gets transferred back into your hand and wrist when you are operating it. This requires more effort from the user to hold the drill steady when they are using the tool. Since a cordless impact driver applies more of the force to the bit, that means less of the force travels back to your arm. It makes operating the tool easier and it means less wear and tear on your hands and wrists.