Advantages of having a top-quality impact driver
The main benefit to spring to mind when talking about impact drivers is the fact that they are so much more powerful. They combine both rotating and creating impacts or ‘blows’ to the screw or wood you are looking to drill into. This leads to quicker and easier drilling and driving, and also means you can get more power from a compact driver. Many impact drivers are sold in combos with cordless hammer drills, meaning that you can have the best of both worlds.
Features to consider while choosing an impact driver
So which are the features you should be on the lookout for? What do all of the numbers on the product descriptions mean? And just how do you decipher which is the impact driver you should choose? The following guide to the listed features should help you to understand the products and which of the aspects of these products are most important for you.
Just like your average cordless drill, there is a rotation element of an impact driver in the way the mechanism works. The speed range is how quick this rotation is, and is measured in RPM or ‘revolutions per minute’. This is the same sort of term you may have seen used to discuss engines or even your record player! The range means the choices of speed available to you, from the lowest to highest RPM.
Impacts per minute
Combined with the rotating function of the drill bit is the ‘impact’ feature. Think of this a little bit like a tiny hammer helping to make more of a powerful impact, tapping away at the drill bit and helping it into the surface. The impacts per minute is how many of these ‘taps’ it is able to produce per minute.
Torque is a measurement of force which can be something either pushing or pulling, and is measured in inches-pound (or feet-pound). In the case of an impact driver, the torque is what gives it a huge amount of power in spite of being relatively small, and means you can create larger holes or drive huge screws even if the impact driver itself isn’t the biggest. It gives beefy power to relatively small drivers.
When talking about most tools, the voltage will have a big impact on the power. In the case of impact drivers, all the power you could need is pretty much already in place, and voltage will not have a huge impact on this. What the voltage will have an effect on is the speed at which the driver can do the job, and sometimes a higher voltage can also lead to a more weighty product. Generally speaking, voltage is less important for an impact driver than many other power tools.
Corded or cordless
All of the impact drives to make our list are lithium ion battery products, and therefore cordless.
There are many benefits to having a cordless impact driver including less of a trip hazard, the ability to reach into smaller places, and the ability to use your tool far away from somewhere it is plugged in.
Modern technology has allowed most tools to embrace cordless.
In an age where Li-ion batteries are so widely used, it is very rare that we would recommend any other sort of tool except for those which utilize this technology. It holds charge so well, and this means that your tools can pack a punch for a long time with no loss of power. Charging them up is also much faster using this technology.
A lot of the impact drivers on the list are parts of bigger ranges of tools made by certain brands. Often, these take identical batteries. In some systems, you may be encouraged to just have one, great quality lithium ion battery to cover a multitude of tools, which you can just plug in when needed.
Put into very simple terms, a brushless motor is often more efficient. Brushed motors lose a fair amount of their power as heat, which means they can even cause overheating of impact drivers and other tools. Brushless have a much higher level of efficiency, lose less power and run coolly. There are impact drivers with both brushed and brushless motors, and which you opt for will come down to personal preference. The Makita XDT15ZB and its cousin, the Makita XDT14T, are examples of exceptional impact drivers offering a brushless motor.
The chuck of the driver is the section where the drill bits are inserted. Chucks tend to either be ¼ inch or ⅜ inch in size, and on our list of the top cordless and corded impact drivers there are products with both types of chuck. Fortunately, these can be adapted if you have a preference of which to use, or if you already have bits of one chuck size, which you intend to use with your driver.
LED work light(s)
The impact of having an LED work light should not be underestimated. This is a relatively simple product feature, but one which many drivers have started to include as manufacturers realize how much more control and safety it can give.
The LED lights are usually included as a ring, and will illuminate the area in which you are working. This reduces the chance of accidents and mistakes and generally makes life a lot easier.
A lot of light is not always available when using your impact driver, but if there is a light included then you don’t have to worry about it.
When you think about the dimensions of a product you may instantly think of the storage. This is a legitimate concern to have, and if you have a lot of tools, them all being big and bulky can be troublesome when it comes to taking them out and about, or finding somewhere to put them.
Dimensions of an impact driver are also important for other reasons, mainly the spaces in which they can operate. If you are looking for the best impact driver for automotive use, for instance, you may be looking for a product that is compact enough to fit in tight spaces and still do an adequate job. Impact drivers are great at providing power without having to be huge.
The weight of a tool is always worth thinking about. This becomes especially important if you plan on using your impact driver for a considerable length of time. If you are going to use it for hours at work, or are just a serial DIYer who constantly needs to use tools, you can become very tired very quickly if your tools are heavy. This can even increase the chances of accidents, but mainly the consideration of weight is due to the comfort of the user. Luckily, impact drivers that are small and lightweight don’t have to lose power.
Tools should be able to take something of a beating. They can’t be flimsy, and the manufacturers should know this and also back it up with the fact that they can protect your purchase via a warranty. Good quality impact drivers will have some form of warranty to show that the makers are confident that they are offering a great quality product. The warranty on the tool itself and the battery may be slightly different as batteries do not last as long.