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Cordless vs Air Impact Wrench: Who’s the Winner?

Cordless vs Air Impact Wrench
Written by Brent Butterworth
Last Update: May 8, 2023

Impact wrenches can apply higher torque than regular torque wrenches. Best of all, users don’t need to exert muscular force to use them. They’re also compact, portable, and easy to use. Certainly, these tools make the tedious job of tightening and loosening bolts much easier.

Today’s best impact wrenches are powered by compressed air and batteries. Both alternatives have their own pros and cons that make them convenient in different situations.

Certainly, opinions are diverse. While some prefer the high power of pneumatic wrenches, others prefer the low weight and portability of battery-powered models. But, which option is the best of all? Today we’ll compare the most interesting features of cordless vs air impact wrench so you can choose which option is the more convenient for you.

Advantages and disadvantages of air impact wrench


  • Higher torque application
  • Long lifespan
  • Faster than cordless wrenches


  • Can’t work without an air compressor
  • Hard to transport
  • Hard to store
  • Very noisy

Advantages and disadvantages of cordless wrench


  • Low maintenance
  • Low weight
  • Easy to carry
  • Easy to store
  • Adjustable torque
  • Doesn’t break rusted bolts


  • Limited torque application
  • Can’t work without batteries
  • Expensive batteries
  • The batteries take too long to fully charge
  • The batteries need to be replaced after 3-5 years of continuous use
  • The wrench tends to lose power when batteries start to fail

Cordless vs Air Impact Wrench  – The Main Differences

Cordless vs Air Impact Wrench

Generated torque

Impact wrenches use a pneumatic motor powered by compressed air to work. This configuration allows for greater torque generation compared to cordless impact wrenches. For this reason, impact wrenches are ideal for heavy duties, like tightening and loosening bolts on steel structures and big and heavy vehicles.

Also, torque wrenches allow you to be much faster and more efficient on the job. For this reason, these tools are commonly used on pit stops of motor races, where saving time is a must.

Pneumatic impact wrenches don’t need to be too large or too heavy to generate more torque. However, cordless impact wrenches need a big and heavy brushless motor to generate high torque. So, the more power you require from your cordless tool, the bigger and heavier it should be.

In addition, the maximum torque generated by a cordless tool is only a fraction of the average torque that a pneumatic impact wrench can apply.

Weight difference

The weight of an air impact wrench is considerably less than that of a cordless wrench. However, the biggest con in these cases is the weight of the air compressor. To generate higher air pressure, compressors need big air tanks and pumps.

So, if you intend to use your pneumatic wrench on heavy-duty projects, you’ll certainly have problems to transport your tool. However, this doesn’t happen with cordless wrenches. Although they’re slightly heavier than air impact wrenches, they don’t need to be connected to heavy air compressors to work. This feature makes them a more portable option, ideal for applying torque at different points without losing valuable time.

Ease of use

Cordless impact wrenches are by far easier to use than pneumatic wrenches. They don’t need to be connected to a power source, so you can use them in remote places, where electricity and gasoline aren’t available.

Also, cordless impact wrenches are lightweight and can be used with one hand. In addition, they give you access to those difficult corners where air impact wrenches can’t reach.

Air impact wrenches on the other hand are more difficult to use and require a more complex setup. Before getting started, you need to prepare your air compressor to get the most out of your tool. That includes opening and closing some valves and checking the gauges and the oil level. The extra weight added by the air compressor also makes transportation more difficult and may force you to stay in the same place during work.

Maintenance frequency

Air impact wrenches and cordless wrenches can remain operational for years without requiring maintenance. However, the same doesn’t happen with air compressors. For example, condensed water inside the tank tends to rust the metal walls. On the other hand, the friction generated inside the air pump tends to wear some moving parts. So, your air compressor will require deep maintenance from time to time to function well.

Safety features

Both pneumatic and cordless impact wrenches are safe with proper use. So, before using an impact wrench for the first time, make sure to follow all the recommendations in the user manual.

For example, when using a pneumatic tool, be careful to not apply too much air pressure. Also, adjusts the maximum torque of the tool so as not to break the bolts. In the case of cordless wrenches, keep the batteries away from the heat of the sun and protected from accidental drops and scratches. These batteries tend to explode if the


Air impact wrenches are slightly cheaper than their cordless counterparts. However, your expenses could rise to the sky when you need to buy an air compressor.

On the other hand, cordless impact wrenches are available in a wide variety of price ranges. The simplest options can cost a few hundred dollars, while the most advanced models can exceed the $1000 limit.

Cordless vs Air Impact Wrench – The winner

Without a doubt, both options are winners. While air impact wrenches win for being more powerful and efficient, cordless wrenches win for being more portable, lightweight and easy to use. Depending on your requirements, one of these options may be much more convenient than the other.

So, before making the final decision, ask to yourself: what do I need from my tool? What do I need to do? The answers to these questions will help you have a clear idea of the kind of tool you need.


Certainly, the differences between air impact and cordless wrenches are many. However, those same differences also make these tools so versatile and unique. Although both wrenches have the same function, they can only be used under certain circumstances.

Now that you now all the benefits of both options, it’s your turn to choose the most convenient for you considering some important aspects such as price, generated torque and ease of use.


Q. 1: Are impact wrenches any good?

A. If you know how they work, you will realize they are the best tools for tightening and loosening bolts in no time. To use them, the user only needs to press a button to apply large amounts of torque without any effort.

Q. 2: Air impact wrench vs cordless. Which one is better?

A. It all depends on the user’s requirements. Air impact wrenches are ideal for heavy duties while cordless wrenches are best for lighter duties in locations away from a power source.

Q. 3: How do you use an impact wrench?

A. To use an impact wrench you just need to put the head of the wrench on the bolt and then press the trigger. The rotating action of the head helps to tighten or loose the bolt.

About the author

Brent Butterworth

A Professional Woodworker & Custom Furniture Builder

Brent lives in Wisconsin and is a woodworker, custom cabinetmaker, interior consultant, and a freelance writer who got the opportunity to write several magazine articles for different publications on home improvement and woodworking. He’s always amazed at the depth and breadth of woodworking all over the globe, and feels proud to be a part of this great effort. Brent has built everything one can imagine, from unique art furniture to different types of home furniture to canoes and even a sailboat.

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