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Today Hitachi announced the addition of two new products featuring their HXP 18V batteries: the WH18DL impact driver and the WR18DL impact wrench.  Both models offer similar features with the impact wrench delivering a bit more torque and a 1/2″ square chuck (for standard 1/2″ drive sockets) as opposed to the driver’s 1/4″ hex chuck.

The wrench is rated to produce 1,950 in-lbs — 162-1/2 ft-lbs — of torque, which should handle many (if not quite all) of the jobs for which you currently use an air wrench.

Note: If you’re an autocrosser, cordless electric impact wrenches are incredibly useful for unbolting wheels quickly at the event.  You can also do the job almost as easily with a good old cordless drill, but you have to break them first.  That disadvantage is sort of offset by the fact that you can use the drill to reinstall the nuts down to a soft torque so you can finish them off with your torque wrench.  Either tool will speed up your day.

The driver puts out 1,330 in-lbs, which is respectable and in range with other 18V impact drivers.  If you don’t yet have an impact driver in the shop, get thee down and pick one up.  They’re a must have for assembling big wood projects with carriage bolts and numerous other fastener fiascos.  This is one of those tools that once you have one, you’ll wonder how you got through all those years without. 

We do wonder, though, if it’s really necessary to keep an 18V impact driver around when the lower voltage (and smaller) units still put out so much torque.  We’re currently testing a Bosch 12V unit that delivers a little over 1,000 in-lbs, and so far we haven’t managed to bog it down in any normal tasks.  It’s a little monster.  We do like the concept of Li-Ion, though, as they’re so much easier to maintain.

Back to the Hitachi units: Both models have a two-speed selector switch so they can operate on either 0-2,600 RPM or 0-2,000 RPM.  The slower speed offers longer battery life and works for many applications.

It’s probably important to note that the HXP batteries are backwards compatible — like Milwaukee’s, RIDGID’s, and others’ — which means you can use them with any tools in Hitachi’s 18V DMR or DVF3 tools.  So, if you’ve got an older combo kit that doesn’t include one or the other of these new tools, you could pick one up and upgrade your whole kit at the same time.  The universal charger that comes with the new tools will also charge any of Hitachi’s 7.2V to 18V Li-Ion, NiCd, or NiMH batteries, so you could continue to use your old batteries as well.

These tools will both retail for $289 according to Hitachi.  Look for them on shelves soon.


5 Responses to Preview: Hitachi’s Li-Ion Impact Driver/Impact Wrench

  1. Myself says:

    So when will they come up with a non-impact mode, for low-torque starting of nuts so you can be sure they’re not crossthreaded before switching into impact mode? Hammer drills are switchable…

    The universal charger is pretty sweet. There’s something to be said for keeping the same connector, or a similar enough one that you can make a charger like that. Now if only these came in a less goofy color scheme!

  2. Steve Thompson says:

    I autocross my MINI Cooper and have been shopping for a cordless impact wrench for a little while. The question for me is this: as noted above, some of the lower power units do fine. And in general I find electric impact wrenches just too bulky for much more than lugs and an occasional exhaust bolt (sometimes). That’s where air tools rule! So, I’ll admit that the Hitachi is probably a superior instrument, but is the $289 price of the tiger-striped Hitachi really worth $220 more than a cheapie import (http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=92798) for removing my lug-bolts at the track?

  3. Myself says:

    If you have to ask the question, you must not have a lot of experience with Harbor Freight yet. 😉

    They’re pretty serious toys, but I don’t know if I’d call them tools. The cheapie chargers don’t have any control logic, so they wear out batteries prematurely. The batteries are cheap to begin with, so while they boast a common terminal voltage, the amperage grunt they put behind it is seriously subpar. Don’t expect to get more than a few dozen charges out of that pack, whereas a name-brand tool should give you hundreds.

    I’ve also had bad luck with cheap switch mechanisms. They seem to arc a lot and fail prematurely; I think this is because they don’t include a snubber capacitor across the contacts. If you can get replacements that fit, and don’t mind opening the drill every few months to fix it, that’s up to you.

    I guess the question is this: When the tool fails, where will you be? If you’re at a track, and borrowing someone else’s impact wrench is just a matter of gratitude, then yes, the cheapie’s a fine idea. Especially if you don’t plan to use it heavily in the first place. But if a tool failure would leave you stranded somewhere uncomfortable, consider investing in quality.

  4. Fletcher says:

    Styling is a little reminiscent of a kid’s toy, isn’t it?

  5. PeterP says:

    Yeah, do they have a non G.I. Joe edition?

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