Working with battery-powered tools can be a lot of fun and also highly efficient. When it comes to cordless ratchets, owning one can certainly reduce the amount of frustration you would get trying to fasten or loosen nuts everywhere, particularly ones that are professionally or factory fastened.
The ability to simply extend your hand, place the tool, and press a button until the job’s done is nothing short of amazing (OK, you actually have to guide it a little or pulse the button sometimes instead of press and hold).
But are they all the same? – As is the case with most power tools, some manufacturers do a better job than others when it comes to designing and building quality tools. However, depending on your particular needs, you may be surprised to find that even the most budget-friendly cordless ratchets can be highly efficient when you’re in a tight spot.
6 Best Cordless Ratchets to Save Time and Energy
- 6 Best Cordless Ratchets to Save Time and Energy
- Who Needs a Cordless Ratchet?
- Most Important Features to Keep an Eye Out For
- Picking Between 1/4 and 3/8-Inch Cordless Ratchets
This cordless ratchet is a crowd favorite not just because it bears the mark of a reputable manufacturer. The 2457-21 is a go-to power tool because of its good performance and its low profile which makes it easy to use in an engine bay.
Weighing just 4.2lbs, this cordless ratchet is very easy to operate even at odd angles when you find yourself in tight spaces. It also does quick work due to its torque.
As with any solid cordless ratchet, the variable speed controller is an important feature, one which gives the user total control during any task. What I also like is the LED flashlight and the power gauge which lets you know how much longer you can keep working before you have to recharge.
If you’re looking to get a decent cordless ratchet but you’re on a tight budget, VonHaus has a good alternative to all the big-name stuff on the market. This tool is capable of spinning at 280 RPM when not under load, which is pretty impressive if you ask me.
It comes with a battery and charger included, which saves you the trouble of additional investments. It also has a variable speed trigger which is a nice level of control given the low price point. Although the housing is not too impressive, the design is ergonomic and this may matter even more to some people.
The anti-slip grip, the fuel gauge, and the LED work light are all surprising features. Is it bulky? – Yes. Is it as easy to use in tight spaces? – No. In any event, it’s still light and it has all the bells and whistles you need to work on a car engine and everything else.
This tiny cordless ratchet wrench comes with a 1/4-inch square drive. It’s a bit less powerful as it puts outa maximum torque of 30 lb-ft. but it’s made out of quality materials that give it an above average and almost high-end impact resistance and overall durability.
The built-in LED work light is quite bright for a power tool of this size. The battery is not included which means that this is not the most affordable solution, but it may be the best solution for whenever you don’t want to apply too much torque to fasten or loosen a bolt.
For general use around the house and for cars and bikes, this 1/4-inch drive will do you justice. But you should probably have something more powerful on hand too which can deliver more torque if you want to do extensive car work like engine tune-up or putting in new parts.
If you’re trying to get the most bang for your buck then a cordless ratchet kit with multiple wrench sockets may not be a bad idea. This model features a 3/8-inch adaptor sleeve which is just what you need to reach all the tight spots in an engine bay. But, unlike most competitor models in this price range, you get a variety of connectors which you can use to tackle more projects.
Weighing just under 3 pounds and over 10 inches long, this tool will get you places. The motor is quite powerful too as it’s able to deliver a maximum torque of 35 lb-ft. One thing that you won’t get is an adjustable speed trigger which means that this cordless ratchet is not the most beginner-friendly.
However, if you know what you’re doing, you should be more than fine. The build isn’t too bulky and it does have an ergonomic grip which should help you control it when it’s in action. The 2000mAh battery is long-lasting which is a big plus. It takes up to 60 minutes to recharge.
If you’ve used an Ingersoll Rand power tool before, you probably have a good idea of the level of quality you’re getting with the R3130 cordless ratchet. This model is great for working on cars but not for reaching tight spaces in the engine bay.
It has a higher torque than most models I’ve reviewed as it delivers an impressive 30 lb-ft. of torque, which would be incredibly hard to find with any other ¼” cordless ratchet.
But the R3130 is also special because of its heavy-duty metal body and overall durability. It is slightly more expensive but it’s also a tool that will last for a long time.
The variable speed trigger is included and so is a carry case, as well as a built-in locking feature for when the battery runs out of power. The latter feature will allow you to use it as a manual wrench. However, there’s no LED work light, which may be surprising considering the powerful battery and the price tag.
This affordable 3/8-inch cordless ratchet has a decent amount of torque and a solid design that lets you operate it with ease even in tight spaces. It also can handle some light work on industrial sites such as working on pipelines or stage frames.
Nevertheless, it’s best suited for common car engine mechanical breakdowns. The speed controller is an important part when it comes to controlling the tool. The grip is not ergonomic but it is anti-slip which should be enough for small tasks.
The 1500mAh battery is fairly decent although it does take up to 60 minutes to fully recharge. That being said, at least the battery is included.
There’s also built-in LED lighting which I find almost essential for quick under car repair work. It’s a mini LED work light for spot illumination.
Who Needs a Cordless Ratchet?
I would argue that everyone might find a use for a ratchet wrench, electric and cordless or otherwise, at some point in their lives. Having the luxury of keeping the ratchet in place without having to reposition the tool to loosen or tighten nuts and bolts is very nice.
An electric cordless ratchet saves precious time on urgent repair or maintenance work and much elbow grease while you’re at it. Another added benefit is the ability to reach tight places, if the ratchet isn’t too bulky, which means you can get a lot more work done.
There’s also the control and safety aspect to consider. The sockets on cordless ratchets create a good seal around fasteners, which means the tool shouldn’t slip and damage adjacent wiring on car parts if you’re working on car engines.
Most Important Features to Keep an Eye Out For
The weight and size are probably the most important. Depending on how bulky or compact they are, you can determine what areas you can reach. Some ratchets can be up to 11” long, which in theory looks perfect for engine maintenance work. But if they’re bulky, you won’t be able to use them at full extension in tight spots.
Weight is also important as the main point is to avoid elbow grease and all forms of fatigue. But lighter cordless ratchet manufacturers often cut down on cost by using light materials such as plastic for the casing. I dare say that these tools are light enough that nobody would care about the weight. The expensive ones with metal chassis and metal gear will last much longer if you can swing for the price.
This is where you have to think about whether you need a heavy-duty capable cordless ratchet that you may take with you on the road or to construction sites. Last but not least, the torque is what determines how useful the ratchet will be in your hands.
The more powerful the tool is, as in the more torque it has, the faster you can loosen or fasten a bolt. But, depending on what you’re working on, this may or may not be a good idea. Even with variable speed control, some nuts and bolts need a very low torque so they don’t break under heavy pressure. That’s why workers pulse the power button, instead of pressing down continuously, when they have to go light.
All the bells and whistles that follow are not as important when judging the overall value of a cordless ratchet. Things like power indicators or LED lighting are nice to have but they shouldn’t be a priority. If you’re doing engine maintenance, you’ll be better served by an overhead work light or flood light anyway.
Picking Between 1/4 and 3/8-Inch Cordless Ratchets
When picking a new cordless ratchet for your toolbox, you’re going to have to make a choice as to what size drive head you need. For general housework or car maintenance, both 1/4 and 3/8-inch drives are good. But, which one is better? – It depends on your exact need.
If you want a higher torque, then 3/8-inch cordless ratchets will perform better. They also typically come with more socket options. Keep in mind that the drive doesn’t necessarily influence the length of the tool. Both 1/4 and 3/8-inch cordless ratchets may fit tight spaces just as easily.
But, most professionals prefer a 3/8” drive as it has the best balance of torque and reach. For car maintenance, there’s nothing better as the 1/4 drive is rarely powerful enough while the 1/2-inch drive is simply too big to use comfortably without extensions.
Saying Goodbye to Elbow Grease and Wasting Time
If you’re a professional, you probably already own a nice set of ratchet wrenches, or maybe even a few sets. Many of you may even wonder if you even need a cordless electric ratchet. I’d say that you definitely could use and enjoy using a cordless ratchet. But it may not completely replace your manual wrenches.
No matter how many guides you read, you’ll only be able to pick the best cordless ratchet for the job if you know exactly what you want to do. There are a few universal models that fit almost anywhere and pack a ton of power, but they’re hardly worth investing in for basic maintenance work around the house.
A hardcore woodworking and welding enthusiast, Russ is the editor-in-chief of TAH. In his spare time, Russ loves watching sports, and (binge) watching Netflix.