Battery Powered Torque Wrenches
Since its invention in 1918, the torque wrench has evolved significantly over the last 100 years. Thanks to significant advancements in efficiency and accuracy, today's industrial powered torque wrenches are a far cry from their early ancestors. These tools have truly revolutionized the way precision bolt fastening is done in heavy industries like construction, manufacturing, petro-chemical, mining, and power.
Out of all of the industrial powered torque tools on the market today, we find today's battery powered torque wrench to be far and away the most convenient. These tools are great for quick projects, jobs that require mobility, and instances where there isn't easy access to an external power source.
Compared to its hydraulic or pneumatic counterparts, the battery powered torque wrench is relatively new on the market with early models appearing as recently as 2007. Some industries were slow to adopt these early models as they had a reputation for having a short lifespan, low battery life, and less accuracy. However, drastic improvements have been made over the last seven years. Major advancements in battery technology and the addition of the large capacity brushless motor, have made for significant improvements over earlier models. Today, we consider them to be the most convenient and versatile of the industrial powered torque wrenches, and they have been gaining popularity across multiple industries in recent years.
What is a Battery Powered Torque Wrench?
A battery powered torque wrench, also known as a digital torque wrench or a nutrunner, is a tool that allows operators to apply accurate, repeatable, and measurable torque to a fastener through power generated from an attached lithium-ion battery. These tools are incredibly convenient and require little effort to use, making them well suited for jobs involving a high volume of fasteners that must be tightened using a precise amount of torque.
Depending on the model, torque ranges can be anywhere from 115 Nm to 6,500 Nm or 84 Ft/ lbs to 4,797 Ft / lbs. Many products have two modes: power and speed. The effectiveness and accuracy of a battery powered torque wrench is very much dependent on the quality of the battery. Often the highest performing models have the brushless motor that is powered by a lithium-ion battery. The battery’s voltage and ampere hour will determine the accuracy of the tool, while the size and characteristics of the battery will determine the lifespan,or the number of bolts that can be tightened in between charges. In our experience, you can typically get between 300-400 bolts per charge from the average battery powered torque wrench, but this range can vary depending on model and manufacturer.
There are two scenarios where a battery powered torque wrench is the best option for applying precise torque to a fastener:
- Situations where electricity or compressed air are not readily available or easily accessible
- When you're doing a quick job and don’t have time to assemble a pneumatic torque wrench.
What are the Benefits of Battery Powered Torque Wrenches?
When it comes to convenience, battery powered wrenches are hard to beat. These tools do not require an external power source which makes them mobile and versatile. They are lightweight, portable, and thanks to their batter power source, they possess several digital capabilities that other torque wrenches do not. Below are the top benefits of a battery powered torque wrench:
- No power cord or external power source required. Hydraulic, pneumatic, and electric torque wrenches all require a connection to an external power source, but battery torque wrenches do not. They simply need a lithium-ion battery. As a result, they are mobile and versatile, and great for jobs that involve hard to reach bolts, as you don't have to deal with the hassle of a cord.
- Digital Displays. Many battery operated torque wrenches are equipped with digital displays that provide visual confirmation of torque exertion. Having the ability to quickly glance at an LED screen makes it easier to document torque for project specifications.
- Programmable Preset Torque Values. The ability to program preset torque amounts is a huge time saver and prevents the operator from having to manually input torque values each time the tool is used.
- Less Expensive. Battery torque wrenches are often less expensive than other industrial wrenches, mostly due to the lack of an external power source.
- Comfort. These tools are designed with the operator in mind. They’re lightweight, quiet, and many have an ergonomic design, which makes them easy to use over a long period of time and reduces the chance of job related strain or injury.
What are the Disadvantages of Battery Powered Torque Wrenches?
Despite the convenience and versatility, battery powered torque wrenches have a reputation for being less reliable than other torque wrenches. This is mostly due to performance concerns with early models and newer products are much improved. Nevertheless, below are some of the disadvantages of a battery powered torque wrench:
- Limited Usage Between Charges. While battery quality has evolved significantly over the last couple of years, battery powered torque wrenches still must be charged at regular intervals. Other industrial torque wrenches can generate power continuously from external sources.
- Less durable. Battery powered tend to be less durable than other types of industrial wrenches (another reason why they’re less expensive), which may make them less ideal for certain heavy industries and hostile environments.
- Less Accurate. While accuracy has also significantly improved over the last few years, many digital torque wrenches are less accurate than hydraulic or electric torque wrenches. On average, you will see a + / - 3 percent accuracy with a 2 percent repeatability, which is line with several pneumatic models.
- Shorter Lifespan. Battery powered motors are generally not as robust as ones found in air powered, hydraulic, or electric tools, and tend to have a shorter overall lifespan.
RAD Battery Powered Torque Wrenches Offered by MaxPro
Keep in mind, not all battery torque wrenches are created equal, and the model and manufacturer largely influence the tool’s quality, lifespan, and accuracy. For those looking for a new torque wrench, we highly recommend Rad Torque System’s suite of lightweight, high-quality B-RAD Digital and B-RAD Brushless Select industrial torque wrenches, both which are available at MaxPro.
DB Battery Rad Torque Wrenches
These cordless, digital torque wrenches are powered by a lithium-ion battery and have the highest power-to-weight rate of any pneumatic controlled system. They also have incremental torque settings, a clear visual display, and LED indicator lights. Each model is programmable and provides integrated calibration as well as dual scale reading. With a noise level that only reaches 80 dB, they are much quieter than other industrial torque wrenches. Each model includes two batteries, a battery charger, and a weatherproof storage case.
- DB-RAD 500-2 - ¾” square drive, 50 - 500 ft/lbs at 21.5 RPM. (lightest model)
- DB-RAD 1000-2 - ¾” square drive, 100 - 1,000 ft/lbs at 19 RPM
- DB-RAD 1500-2 - 1” square drive, 150 - 1,500 ft/lbs at 17 RPM
- DB-RAD 3000-2 - 1” square drive, 300 - 3,000 ft/lbs at 13 RPM
B-RAD Brushless Select Battery Torque Wrenches
The B-RAD models offer torque ranges up to 5,000 ft/lbs and are equipped with two buttons that allow the operator to increase or decrease torque value in 10 ft/lbs increments. They also have a brushless motor that is powered by the latest lithium-ion standard battery. They offer two different types of displays: a simple screen or a four digit digital display. One of the unique benefits of these models is that they are able to automatically stop once the torque cycle is complete, which makes it easier to knock out a series of bolts quickly. Every model comes with a reaction arm, 2 batteries, a battery charger, a storage vade, and an ISO 17025 calibration certificate.
- B-RAD Select BL 500 Series - ¾” square drive, 130 - 500 ft/lbs at 21.5 RPM
- B-RAD Select BL 1000 Series - ¾” square drive, 200 - 1,000 ft/lbs at 10.5 RPM
- B-RAD Select BL 1000-2 Series - ¾” square drive, 200 - 1,000 ft/lbs at 71 RPM
- B-RAD Select BL 1500 Series - 1” square drive, 300 - 1,500 ft/lbs at 6 RPM
- B-RAD Select BL 1500-2 Series - 1” square drive, 300 - 1,500 ft/lbs at 19.5 RPM
- B-RAD Select BL 3000 Series - 1” square drive, 600 - 3,000 ft/lbs at 3 RPM
- B-RAD Select BL 3000-2 Series - 1” square drive, 600 - 3,000 ft/lbs at 21 RPM
- B-RAD Select BL 5000 Series - 1” square drive, 1,000 - 5,000 ft/lbs at 2.1 RPM
How Often Should a Battery Powered Torque Wrench be Calibrated?
A battery powered torque wrench requires regular calibration in order to maintain accuracy and performance. Failing to calibrate can lead to operator errors, inconsistent readings, and frequent repairs.
The frequency in which a torque wrench requires calibration depends on the operator, the industry, and the frequency of use. However, most professionals suggest calibrating your battery powered torque wrench every 2,500 repetitions. However, I usually like to err on the side of calibrating it every six months. Keep in mind, the more usage, the more frequently calibration is needed. If your wrench errors beyond an acceptable limit or issues with accuracy are noticed, it may be time for a calibration.
When looking for a reputable calibration shop, always check to see if the company is ISO/IEC 17025 accredited, which is the main ISO standard used by calibration labs and a good indication that the company knows what it is doing. The calibration shop should provide a certificate of calibration. Maxpro provides a QR label, which enables operators to access calibration data with a quick scan. Calibrations generally take anywhere from 3 days to 1 week.
As technology continues to improve, it wouldn't be surprising to see more companies adopt the battery powered torque wrenches. Their mobility, versatility, and digital display gives me the ability to work much faster than some of its counterparts. These tools developed a bit of a bad reputation with early models having issues with battery life and durability, but they’ve come a long way since then. Having the ability to work without an air compressor or an attached air hose really increases safety and productivity. But quality really is the key here. If you’re going to invest in a digital torque wrench, we'd recommend going with a high quality, reputable option like the RAD or B-RAD series.
If you’re looking for a new battery powered torque wrench or simply need to calibrate an existing model, turn to Maxpro. Not only are we the country’s leading distributor of RAD torque tools, we are also an ISO 17025 accredited calibration shop. Contact us today.