Electric Vs Air Impact Wrench

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  March 12, 2022
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If you shop for power tools very often, you are certainly aware that air-powered tools are less expensive than electric ones. What accounts for this? There are several reasons. Similarly, when comparing electric vs air impact wrench, they have significant differences that keep them apart from each other. Today we will examine all the areas that make these two impact wrenches different.

What Is An Electric Impact Wrench?

You know that an impact wrench is a power tool that can fasten or loosen nuts and bolts using a sudden rotational impact. However, every impact wrench has its individual type of structure and application. Not to mention, an electric version is one of these types.


Generally, you will find two types of electric impact wrenches. Identically, these are corded and cordless. When using a corded electric impact wrench, you need to connect to an electric outlet before using it. And, you don’t need any external power source when using the cordless version. Because, the cordless electric impact wrench runs using batteries.

What Is An Air Impact Wrench?

Sometimes, an air impact wrench is also called a pneumatic impact wrench. Mainly, it is a type of corded impact wrench that is corded with an air compressor. After starting the air compressor, the impact wrench gets enough power to create a rotational force and starts turning the nuts.

In the first place, you should know that running an air impact driver is not simple due to its complex mechanism and various measurements. Most of the time, you need to figure out the dependable factors of your air impact wrench to match with an air compressor. So, always you will have to choose an air compressor carefully for your air impact wrench.

Difference Between Electric and Air Impact Wrench

You already know the basic difference between these power tools. Particularly, their power sources are different, but they also have unique structures and run using a separately designed mechanism. Now, we will differentiate them according to their characteristics and explain further in our later discussion.

Source of Power

We’ve already mentioned that an electric impact wrench needs an electric power source, either it is corded or cordless. The corded electric impact wrench consumes more power than the cordless impact wrench, and you can use the corded version for heavy-duty tasks since it can store and deliver more power to the shaft. On the other hand, the cordless version cannot handle tough jobs but works as a handy tool in terms of portability.

When talking about an air impact wrench, it gets power from a totally different power source, which is actually an air compressor. The mechanism works only when the air compressor delivers compressed air to the impact wrench, and the air pressure starts hammering the driver using the internal hammer system. So, unlike the electric impact wrench, you won’t have any motor inside the air impact wrench.

Power and Portability

Because of the direct connection to the electricity, you will get the highest power possible from the corded electric impact wrench. However, the situation is not the same in the case of a cordless electric impact wrench. Since the cordless impact wrench runs with the power of batteries, the power won’t last for the whole day. For this reason, it is very easy to run out of power when you are using it continuously. But, the cordless impact wrench is the most portable version of all types. Actually, the corded impact wrench also seems messy because of long cables.

Sadly, the air impact wrench isn’t a good option when someone prefers portability. Because, using an air compressor in different places is not so easy due to the large setup. In fact, you will have to carry the air compressor too with you along with the impact wrench itself. Anyway, creating a setup with a high CFM air compressor can give you enough power to take down bigger nuts as well. So, the air impact driver has more power than a cordless electric impact wrench, and still, it is suitable only for a single worksite for its lower portability.

Trigger Type

If you are a beginner, an electric impact wrench can be a good start for you. Because, controlling the impact wrench is a lot easier task in an electric impact wrench. On the positive side, you will get variable triggers that come with speed controlling features and give you better precision in your job. Coupled with that feature, only a couple of taps is enough to give a specific command and run based on your choice.

Sometimes you may feel more comfortable triggering an air impact wrench. Because, you won’t get any variable trigger here, and the operating method is very simple. To control the power of the impact wrench, you need to simply adjust the airflow or power of the air compressor instead of the wrench. But, on the negative side, you cannot get full precision control over the impact wrench.

Final Verdict

Ultimately, the choice is yours, and it will depend on your specific needs. However, we can be pretty straightforward about these two options. If your primary need is portability, choose the cordless electric impact wrench. Anyway, needing both portability and power will result in choosing the corded electric impact wrench, and you need to spend more to get this worthy option. And finally, you should use an air impact wrench if you want to work on a single worksite and need more power, but have a limited budget.

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.