Pneumatic Vs Electric Impact Wrench – 08 Facts Compared!

When we are going to buy an impact wrench, we can see there are two main types. A pneumatic and electric impact wrench are them which are classified according to the power supply. There are both pros and cons to both tools. It is important to know each one well when you are going to buy them. So Let’s see, what are the differences between both tools?

Types Of Impact Wrenches

According to power consumption, there are two types of impact wrenches,

  1. Pneumatic impact wrench – Powered by compressed air
  2. Electric impact wrench – Powered by electricity
    • Corded impact wrench – Electricity supply through cable
    • Cordless impact wrench – Electricity supply through Li-Ion battery

According to body shapes, there are two types of impact wrenches.

  • Inline Impact wrench
    Inline impact wrenches are more powerful than pistol grip impact wrenches. Most are pneumatic impact wrenches, and its torque is more than 1800 ft-lbs.
  • Pistol-grip Impact Wrench
    Pistol grip impact wrenches are lightweight and can mostly be handled with one hand. These have lower torque than inline impact wrenches. Most pistol grips impact wrenches are electric and there are some pneumatic impact wrenches available as pistol grips.
Types of Impact Wrenches
Types of Impact Wrenches

Pneumatic Impact Wrenches

Pneumatic impact wrenches are connected to a high RPM rotary-vane air motor and hammer mechanism. The energy from the motor is converted into a series of high-intensity rotary strokes and used to assemble and remove various fasteners.

An impact wrench applies a sudden, intense twisting motion to the alternator lug nut, usually in short bursts (every five seconds or so). Do you know how much torque need for lug nut removal?

If your lug nut is not removed, there are some reasons. I have prepared a guide with solutions in depth.

Power Supply

  • It can be powered by compressed air.
  • Naturally, pneumatic impact wrenches are powered by compressed air.
    Here the impact wrench is connected to an external air compressor, and the air compressor supplies the wrench with a steady flow of high-pressure air through the tube wire.
  • Normally, a pneumatic impact wrench needs more than 100 PSI pressure to operate the tool properly. If the pressure is dropped, its power will reduce.


  • It is not a portable machine. Because in addition to the pneumatic impact wrench, the compressor, tube wire has to be moved to the place of use.
  • Better for stationary work or single job site use.


  • Many brand names produce the most powerful pneumatic impact wrench in their classes.
Pneumatic Impact WrenchFeatures
Aircat 1150 900 ft-lb maximum torque
1,295 ft-lb loosening torque.
Metabo DSSW 2440 2440Nm / 1799 ft-lb Maximum loosening torque.
Ingersoll Rand 2235QTiMAX1,350 ft-lb nut-busting torque.
  • Most lug nuts require between 80 and 100 lb-ft of torque to loosen and tighten.
  • When we consider torques, there are two types of torques
    • Tighten torque – The torque needs to tighten a lug nut
    • Loosening torque – Torque for the losing lug nut
  • Loosening torque is always higher than the tightening torque. Because nut can be mechanically (tensions), or chemically (corrosion) bonded with the nut. So those should be broken. In order to do this, loosening torque is always higher than tightening torque.

User Experience

  • Air impact wrenches usually do not have variable-speed triggers.
  • By adjusting the attached air compressor, the power of an air impact wrench can be adjusted.


Regular hand tool sockets are usually made of chrome vanadium steel. It is structurally stronger but generally more brittle. Hence it is prone to breakage when exposed to shock and vibration.

Do impact wrenches need a special socket?

  • Impact sockets are made of chrome molybdenum steel. Chrome molybdenum steel tends to bend or stretch rather than shatter under high stress. It also helps in device security.
  • Usually, the wall thickness of the sockets used is relatively high due to the high torque of the pneumatic impact wrench. It can be about 50% higher than a normal socket.
  • Usually, the socket of the impact wrench is black. Because, with a black oxide coat, this socket is prevented from rusting.
  • Impact sockets have a cross hole in the handle end for use with a retaining pin and ring or locking pin ring. It allows the socket to securely engage the impact wrench, even under high-stress conditions.

Read More About – Impact Socket Vs Regular Socket – Engineering Aspect!


Inside Pneumatic Impact Wrench
  • Lubrication is essential. It is recommended by the manufacturers to pre-lubricate each work. Lubrication should be applied every few hours if used under high torque for quite a long time.
  • Only lubricants and cleaning agents specified by the manufacturer should be used.
  • It is important to check the pneumatic impact wrench regularly to ensure proper air flow.
  • Before using the tool, its leaks or damage to the socket should be removed.
  • Use only clean, dry air under the manufacturer’s recommended pressure (about 90 psi) to power the air impact wrench.


  • Wear hearing protection when using this tool because it generates a noise level of around 103 decibels. Care should be taken with long hair and clothes that can be a nuisance while using the device.

Electric Impact Wrenches

As the name suggests, this impact wrench often uses electricity. There are two types.

  • Corded impact wrench
  • Cordless impact wrench

Corded electric impact wrenches store more power than cordless electric impact wrenches. The generally large sizes of bolts and nuts and some types of screws can be removed

There is a clear difference in Corded vs Cordless impact wrenches. It is better to know it before buy one of these.

Power supply

  • Powered by electricity.
  • Based on that, there are two types:
    • Corded electric impact wrench
    • Cordless electric impact wrench


  • It is a portable machine.
  • The cordless one is more portable than a corded impact wrench.
  • Therefore, users can use it anywhere easily.
  • But must be careful to charge the battery enough to work under any situation. (It is for the cordless impact wrench)


  • Quickly removes machine-tightened nuts and bolts to make for a much easier process. 
  • Most cordless impact wrenches feature multiple torque settings. More versatile than one torque setting. So, setting the torque to the required amount allows the battery to work for a long time. It also prevents unnecessary tightening of lug and nuts.

Power of the Tool

  • Many brand names produce the powerful electric impact wrench in their classes.            
  • Meanwhile, the corded electric impact wrench has a high torque. Therefore, it works with more power compared to the cordless impact wrench.

User Experience

Cordless Vs Corded Impact Wrenches
  • In cases where a small torque is required, the work can be done smoothly.
  • Even for a beginner, it is easy to use this type of impact wrench.
  • Although it has relatively low torque, it is safe to use a cordless impact wrench.
  • No electrical hazards.
  • It is more important to be able to use it even in a place where electricity is not available.
  • There is a risk of electric shock when using a corded impact wrench.

There are two types of impact wrenches according to the collet design. Pin detent and friction ring are them. Is Pin detent better than friction ring?


  • There are serious of socket sizes between ¼ inch up to 2 inches.
  • Normal sockets cannot be used for impact wrenches. Under high torque, the socket may crack and break into pieces. So, it is important to always check the status of the socket first.
  • As mentioned earlier, the number of walls of sockets used for impact wrenches is high.


  • Electric impact wrenches have less maintenance than pneumatic impact wrenches.
  • Battery problems, brush changing, and wire cord damage are the most common problems that we have to face.
  • Easy to maintain than pneumatic impact wrenches.


  • Wear hearing protection when using this tool as it creates noise exposure.
  • Appropriate eye protection should be worn during work.
  • Care should be taken with long hair and clothes that can be a nuisance while using the device.
  • Appropriate eye protection should be worn during work as excessive noise is generated.
Cordless electric impact wrenchCorded electric impact wrench
Easy to handle.Critical to use than a cordless one.
Lightweight tool.More weighted than the Cordless one.
Torque in a general range.Higher torque can be produced.
Portable Less portable
Suitable for quick worksSuitable for long run
Corded Vs Cordless Impact Wrench Differences

Quick Overview of Pneumatic Vs Electric Impact Wrench

CharacteristicsPneumatic Impact WrenchElectric Impact Wrench
Power sourceCompressed airElectricity
Portability➤ Uneasy to handle over anywhere.
➤ Often, these devices are permanently installed in garages.
User experience➤ More inconvenient to use than an electric impact wrench.
➤ Very suitable for heavy duty.
➤ professional-grade tool
➤ Easy to handle.
➤ Cordless impact wrench is easy
to use in light duty work.
➤ Suitable for home use.
Whether or not the torque can be changedFixed torqueMost of the electric impact wrench can change the torque based on the need.
Ability to workIt is best to use this impact wrench in long-term work.➤The cordless impact wrench can only be used until the battery is fully charged.
➤ A corded impact wrench can be used for work that takes a long time. 
Price rangeMore expensive than other types. USD 100 to 1200USD 35-800
Pneumatic Vs Electric Impact Wrench Comparison

Pneumatic impact wrenches are also harder to move and handle than cordless electric impact wrenches. But usually gives more power.

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Tom Mackency

Tom Mackency

Hi, I am Tom Mackency. It has been 10 years that I have been working as a professional woodworker since 2013. I am really enjoying my carrier by creating many kinds of projects in my workshop. But mostly I like for home improvement projects. Home improvement and DIY projects are the most interesting things for me. More than that, the coolest things are power tools. Those are very precious and efficient than a decade ago. So I try to introduce so many things about power tools, woodworking, DIY projects, home improvement and many more interesting topics here.