Electric Vs Pneumatic Impact Wrench

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  March 12, 2022
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If you are a regular user of power tools, you have probably heard of electric and pneumatic wrenches. These are two of the most common types of impact wrenches. Running with an electricity connection is the fundamental characteristic of the electric impact wrench, whereas you can run a pneumatic impact wrench using an air compressor.

In exploring these two power tools, there are still many things to consider. To help you better understand their quality and performance, we’re comparing electric vs pneumatic impact wrenches today.


What Is An Electric Impact Wrench?

First of all, you should know what an impact wrench is. Simply put, this is a power impactor tool used for tightening or loosening nuts and bolts. Regardless of what kind of impact wrench is used, it requires a power source to function. Therefore, an electric impact wrench is named after its power source, which is electricity.

Generally, the electric impact wrench comes in two types. One is a corded model that needs to be plugged into an external electric outlet, while the other is cordless, which does not need a cabled connection. As a matter of fact, cordless tools are more convenient and considered a portable tool since they run on batteries, and no external power source is required.

What Is A Pneumatic Impact Wrench?

This name is a little hard to remember. You may have heard the name as an air impact wrench. Both are the same tool and run using the airflows of an air compressor. First, you should start the attached air compressor, and the airflow will create pressure on the impact wrench to transform into rotational force.

However, you will be sad to know that every impact wrench doesn’t support every air compressor. That’s why you need a specific air compressor to run your pneumatic wrench smoothly. Though it is a cheaper option than the electric impact wrench, you may face some limitations because of its lower precision control.

Difference Between Electric and Pneumatic Impact Wrench

The primary difference among these tools is their power source. But, that’s not all. Though their uses are almost the same, their overall structures and internal mechanisms are different. So, today we will discuss further issues of these two power tools.

Source of Power

It’s something you already know quite a bit about. An electric impact wrench is powered by electricity or batteries, while a pneumatic impact wrench is powered by an air compressor. If you focus on the two types of electric impact wrench, you’ll see that the corded impact wrench can deliver a lot of power, as its power source is unlimited.

On the other hand, the cordless type normally doesn’t come with enormous power since the batteries can never provide so much power. Still, it is a reliable option for its ultra-portability. Because you can carry the power source inside, isn’t it superb?

In the case of a pneumatic impact wrench, you cannot carry the air compressor from here to there very quickly. Generally, the pneumatic impact wrench is suitable for heavy uses in a single place. Besides, you should try to get a high CFM air compressor to ensure better performance.

Usability and Power

The corded electric impact wrench is the best choice among these tools because of its high-powered facility. You can use an electric corded impact wrench for over-rusted nuts and heavy-duty tasks. Besides, you can carry this tool easier than the pneumatic impact wrench. The only negative side is that the cables may get messy sometimes.

If we talk about the cordless impact wrench, you don’t need to carry any additional parts, so most mechanics choose it for temporary use. Always remember that the battery-powered tool won’t last for longer when used continuously. Lastly, the well-powered pneumatic impact wrench is a considerable option when you need enough power and want to work only in a fixed place.


As we’ve already said, the most portable option here is the cordless impact wrench and the least portable is the pneumatic impact wrench. Choosing a pneumatic impact wrench is better when you prefer portability. If you really need better power with satisfied portability, you should go for the corded electric impact wrench.

Type of trigger

Obviously, you will get a better triggering option with electric impact wrenches. Because, these are run by electricity and programmed to understand your commands. Some models also come with a short display that shows the indicators of the current condition of the impact wrench.

The triggering option is totally different in a pneumatic impact wrench. You have nothing to do with the impact wrench without pulling the trigger. Because, you won’t get variable triggering options here. Instead, you need to set your air compressor’s airflow and pressure level to a specific limit to get a specific torque from the impact wrench.

Final Speech

We have now concluded our overview of pneumatic vs. electric impact wrenches. By now, we hope that you know how these tools work. A pneumatic impact wrench is a good choice when you own a garage or work in a specific place regularly and don’t want to spend a lot. Otherwise, you should select the electric impact wrench when these things don’t match your criteria, and you need more portability.

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.