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Which cordless impact driver should you choose?

Shop for Cordless Impact Drivers

Ask yourself the following questions when choosing a cordless impact driver, to ensure you purchase a model that meets your needs.

How much power do you need?

Low voltage models can drive in large screws in to tough materials For other cordless tools such as drill drivers or cordless screwdrivers, the power of the tool is largely down to its voltage. A higher voltage tool will be able to drive longer and thicker fasteners and drill larger holes in tougher materials.

However, because cordless impact drivers are, in general, much more powerful, even the low voltage models can drive large screws into tough materials such as hardwoods, soft metals and even masonry.

Cordless impact driver drilling into a brick wall As a result, the voltage you choose for your impact drive dictates how quickly you can drive screws and other fasteners into tough materials.

Quite simply, an 18 volt model will be able to insert or remove fasteners and drill holes faster than a 10.8 volt model, but it will probably be a heavier and more expensive tool.

For more information, see our section: How to choose the right voltage.

How long do you need the battery to last?

Empty battery A tool’s battery capacity will be presented as a number followed by ‘AH’ (Amp Hours)

The larger the tool’s battery capacity (the higher the number), the longer it will run before needing to be recharged. For more information, see our section: What is battery capacity?

Laying decking Quite simply, if you want to use your cordless impact driver for time-consuming tasks, then select one with a larger battery capacity, or consider purchasing more than one battery, so the tool is never out of use.

For less time-consuming tasks, consider a cordless impact driver with a smaller battery capacity, so you’re not paying for something you don’t need.

For more information, see the section: What is battery capacity?

How does the tool feel in your hand?

Holding a cordless impact driver If possible, hold the cordless impact driver in your hand before you purchase it and consider the following when handling the tool:
Some impact driver handles have rubber grips for comfort and added grip

Firm grip

It is important that you have a firm grip on the handle when using the cordless impact driver. Some models will have a rubber grip, while others will just have contours in the tool’s casing.

Reaching the controls on a cordless impact driver

Access to the controls

When you are holding the tool, check that you can reach the main controls comfortably. It is also important that you are able to reach the speed control trigger and pull it all the way in easily.

The forward/reverse switch is usually located above the trigger or on the back of the tool, so ensure that you can reach this easily with your thumb or forefinger.

A balanced tool can help to prevent strain and stress on the users arm and wrist

Balance

A well-balanced tool is important if you are going to be using it for a long time, and could prevent excess strain on your arm and wrist.

Ensure the front part of the tool does not feel too weighty.

Heavy and light cordless impact driver on scales

Weight

Weight shouldn’t necessarily be the primary factor in deciding which tool to purchase. A tool may be lightweight but it’s no good if it doesn’t have enough power to complete the task at hand! However, weight should still be a consideration. A tool may have the required power but it’s no good if it’s so heavy you can only use it for a very short period of time!

1 litre of milk Generally, the higher the tool’s voltage, the heavier it will be – this is because a larger battery and motor is needed to power the tool. The heavier the tool is, the more strain your arm and wrist will be under when working.

Most cordless impact drivers weigh around 1.5kg, that’s roughly the weight of a 1 litre carton of milk.

Wonkee Donkee says "If you’re planning on using the impact driver for long periods of time, you should look for a model that provides the required torque and speed, with the lightest weight."