If you have got any interest in DIY or home repair, then a drill of some sort is an essential part of your toolkit that allows you to work efficiently and effectively on your DIY projects. You can use a drill for many different DIY tasks, but depending on what exactly you are planning on doing, a cordless impact driver might be a bit more effective and valuable. These two tools are similar, but there are a number of significant differences that are worth bearing in mind when you are trying to work out which tool to use for your current DIY project.
Here at Best of Tools, we have put together a brief guide to cordless impact drivers and what they are used for in order to help you get the most out of your DIY and home repair toolbox. Our guide below will talk you through all the important things you need to know about a cordless impact driver and its uses, as well as the difference between a cordless impact driver and a regular drill. We will also discuss a couple of different types of cordless impact drivers to give you the best understanding possible of what you are looking at when it comes to cordless impact drivers.
Cordless Impact Driver Usages
What is an impact driver?
A cordless impact driver has a lot in common with a standard drill driver. Let us run through the design of both in order to clearly show where they differ. A standard drill is a versatile all-purpose DIY tool, with a chuck that holds interchangeable bits in place.
In general, you can switch between two different speeds of movement, with a slow option for driving in screws and a faster speed option for drilling holes. Most standard power drill models also feature a clutch element, allowing you to change the level of torque in order to avoid over-tightening and damage to the materials or the drill itself.
An impact driver is smaller and more lightweight than a standard power drill and is usually capable of providing more torque and drilling power when used. For the most part, cordless impact drivers are either 20 volts, 18 volts, or 12 volts in power, with higher voltage ratings meaning a higher level of drilling power.
Impact drivers do not use a chuck to hold bits in place. Instead, they feature a hex collet, which is a type of quick-change clamp that takes a different style of the drill bit with ¼ inch hexagonal-shaped shanks. They are easy to switch bits out by pulling on the collet, and the majority of hex bits available are impact rated, meaning that they can effectively stand up to the high level of force produced by the impact driver’s motor.
Cordless impact drivers deliver their power in short bursts of rotation, boosting the torque produced when necessary. This happens automatically when the device encounters resistance, such as a hard material to drill through. Typically, they only work in a single gear, but more advanced premium models sometimes have a range of gears, often with up to three possible gears.
Common uses for a cordless impact driver
Standard drills are usually used for simple tasks such as drilling holes in a wide range of materials and driving in small fasteners or screws. Impact drivers are used for larger tasks such as driving in large fasteners or long screws. If you use an adapter, you can also easily use an impact driver to drive in lag bolts.
If your ¼ inch hex shank drill bits are impact rated, you can do a number of relatively straightforward drilling tasks. However, the increased power of a cordless impact driver means that it is not particularly well suited to precision drilling tasks where finesse is required.
Instead, cordless impact drivers are better used for tasks where the precise size and location of the hole is less important than the increased power of the drill. That means that a cordless impact driver is a great way to get through metal or tough, knotty wood, but not so good for precisely measured holes!
Advantages of a cordless impact driver
Regular power drills are valuable and versatile tools that can serviceably complete a wide range of DIY tasks. They are also affordable and accessible tools that many people have on hand at most times. In general, they are cheaper and more accessible than cordless impact drivers. So, what are the significant advantages that make a cordless impact driver worthwhile against this competition?
Cordless impact drivers offer some great advantages, particularly if you have a larger scale DIY project that needs to be worked on. They provide a great deal of force and impact on their own, reducing the amount of effort that you need to put in to drive larger fasteners in, reducing the strain on your arms and wrists.
That means that you can keep working for longer before arm strain becomes a problem. Impact drivers are also better for your screws, keeping a high level of secure contact with the screw head and reducing the risk of stripping the screws during use.
Brushed vs. Brushless motors
There are two different types of motor used in cordless impact driver tools for the most part. These are brushed and brushless motors. The brushes produce a little bit of friction during operation, meaning that a brushed motor is usually a little bit less efficient than a brushless model. Brushless cordless impact drivers are generally more expensive than brushed models but offer more power, more battery life, less maintenance, and more precision in exchange for this price.
If you are expecting to get heavy use out of your cordless impact driver, it might be worth paying the extra for a high-end brushless model. If you are just planning on occasional use of your tool, however, then a cheaper brushed model should be more than sufficient for your purposes. Both are good options, but the added expense of a brushless model may be a deal-breaker for users who are not expecting to use their cordless impact driver particularly frequently.
Drills and cordless impact drivers may have a great deal in common, but they have enough differences that it may well be worth owning both if you anticipate doing a relatively high level of DIY on a relatively regular basis. Both of them are valuable tools that offer excellent performance in their specific niches, as well as a bit of overlap between their functionality.
Hopefully, our guide above has given you a strong sense of the difference between standard drills and cordless impact drivers. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each one can help you to get the most out of your DIY and home repair toolbox.