It takes centuries to take off that bolt by a manual ratchet with your greasy hand. Time to upgrade to a cordless ratchet!
With this tool, you don’t have to worry about limited swing clearance nor hard-to-reach bolts. Just pull the trigger and bust the nuts right off 5 seconds.
As a first-time buyer, you can’t just go out there and pick the cheapest one that seems to work. That’s why I’m here. In this article, you will discover:
- Detailed guide to choose the right cordless ratchet.
- In-depth review of the 6 best cordless ratchets in 2021.
Let’s get started!
What you need to consider
If you are buying cordless ratchet for the first time, you’d probably be tempted to go for something cheap. But face it, nothing good comes cheap! The best of things are usually not the cheapest.
Besides price and cost, you need to consider a couple of other factors before coughing up dollars for a new cordless ratchet. Check them below:
Drive size of a cordless ratchet decides what socket it can be used with. Bigger socket’s drive sizes are used for higher torque applications.
Here is the SAE and metric socket sizes chart so you can have better understanding about socket sizes and drive sizes
If you are a DIYer, a 3/8” drive cordless ratchet is what you should go for. It can cover almost every basic task around your house and still small enough to fit into tight spots in the engine bay.
Here’s the smallest cordless ratchet drive size most people use today. You can use it for extra small fasteners in your car or lawnmower. 1/4″ drive tool is smaller and a bit weaker than 3/8″ and, of course, slightly cheaper.
As a mechanic, I have 2 of these 1/4” cordless ratchet, and they are quite handy in some situations. But if you want the one true tool that pulls off 99% of your DIY tasks, go for 3/8”.
Speed and torque
So you should look for ones with higher RPM (revolutions per minute), which will help you finish your jobs much quicker.
The average RPM of cordless ratchet often range from 150 to 400.
Note that these numbers are free speed without load. The actual speed depends on:
- How tough the bolt is
- How much torque the cordless ratchet can produce
A lot of users worry about over-tightening when the tool has too high RPM. But you don’t have to. This tiny-little tool will not have enough power to stress you out.
Torque tells you how much the tool’s rotational force can produce, and it is measured in foot-pound (ft-lb).
Usually, Cordless ratchets’ torque ranges from 30-60 ft-lbs. I don’t care much about the torque rating of cordless ratchets. Manufacturer’s specs always seem sus to me. Here’s why:
Cordless ratchets are time-saving tools, not muscular-saving. Even a 60 ft-lbs cordless ratchet will not loosen a rusty bolt in your car. Most of the time, when I deal with nuts and bolts, I use this tool as a regular ratchet to break them loose manually first, then I pull the trigger.
And in the opposite direction, sometimes the tool can’t tighten the bolts enough. Again, I have to use the cordless ratchet to tighten them manually.
I’m not saying you should totally ignore torque rating. Just don’t hesitate between a 30 ft-lbs and a 35 ft-lbs tool. They make no difference. Unless you pay for a 200$ cordless ratchet, don’t even expect them to break any bolt torqued to 15 ft-lbs. These specs usually are just marketing! But honestly, despite this fact, I can’t live a day without them!
Here’s my advice:
The capacity of a battery is given in amp-hours (Ah). The average Ah of a cordless ratchet ranges from 0.5 to 2.5.
The higher the Ah, the higher the runtime. For example, suppose a battery has a capacity of 2.0 Ah, and it provides 2 amperes of current. In that case, it should theoretically last for one hour.
Ah also decide how powerful the tools are. Here’s why: a 2.0 Ah battery uses a single row of 5 cells. In comparison, a 5.0 Ah battery uses two rows of 5 cells that are laterally connected. What happens is that the voltage stays the same, but the current doubles.
Besides, the smaller battery has to work harder than the bigger battery to do the same job. This decreases its productivity and longevity.
Just choose a 12v cordless ratchet. They are more compact, lightweight, and versatile than the 18v and 20v versions.
Having an extra battery is convenient but expensive.
If you are a DIYer, you only pull out the ratchet once in a while. There is no need for an extra battery. A 2Ah battery will be more than what you expect.
The charging time is another important factor to take into account. You don’t want to buy something that takes forever to charge. It can be frustrating! The average charging time of a 2Ah battery is about 1 hour.
Brushed or brushless motor
Whether the tool’s motor is brushed or brushless matters too, it affects:
- Overall efficiency
- Tool’s lifespan
Tools with brushed motors are much more affordable than those with the brushless. They deliver (electrical) current via brushes, but the physical contact involved causes efficiency to drop.
Unlike the brushless, brushed motors have around 75-80 percent efficiency. If you need something for casual use, just go for brushed versions. Don’t spend double money on something you can’t use its full potential.
- Much more affordable
- The brush can be replaced to extend life
- Less efficent due to brush’s friction
- Lower power output
These cordless ratchets do not use brushes inside the motor. But they achieve higher results than those with brushed motors. Instead of brushes, they use some kind of encoder devices that reduce wear and tear.
Overall, brushless motors last longer. And they make much less noise than the brushed ones. But if you’re going to get one, you must be ready to part with some extra cash.
- Better overall efficiency
- Higher power output
- Produce less heat and noise
- Last longer without replacing brush
- Lightweight and compact
- More pricey
Flexibility simply refers to how easily the tool can fit into tight spaces. If you regularly work in the engine bays, you must know how frustrating it is to reach for those odd-position fasteners.
Size and weight
Size: The size determines a whole lot. Ratchet’s head should be narrow enough to reach all difficult spaces. Also, the body and battery have to be slim for better and easier maneuvering.
Weight: lightweight is a big bonus. Other than that, the tool’s weight must be balanced. That means the head’s weight isn’t too heavy compared to the handle’s. Trust me; this balance will save your wrist one day.
Extended or standard reach
The decision of which cordless ratchet works for you depends largely on the job you’re working on. If you’re doing a 2.4 liters Honda starter, for instance, you’d need a ratchet with an extended reach. The standard cordless ratchet might not get to the bolts in this case.
An extended reach ratchet can be the only solution in some odd position. But in some cases, the standard reach version works best. If you’re working under a dash, for example, you’d need something quite as short as a standard reach.
Unless you are a mechanic, there’s probably no need for an extended reach version.
A firm, comfortable grip protects your hands and keeps you out of harm’s way. It also helps reduce fatigue and pressure on the muscles. While you want to fasten and loosen effectively, make sure to stay within safety.
The comfy grip also depends on the weight and balance mentioned above. If your ratchet’s handle is too heavy or unbalanced, your hands will have a hard time when using it for a long time. Besides, your efficiency at work is likely to drop drastically.
When you choose a cordless ratchet, make sure it has a non-slip surface. Unlike impact wrenches, cordless ratchets will apply the torque directly to your wrist. The non-slip surface gives you more control, limits the risk of wrist injuries.
Variable speed trigger
Allows you to control the tool’s speed. Better control, better precision!
If you work on cars regularly, LED is a must-have feature.
Note: Pick a tool that has LED lasing for a few more seconds after you release the trigger. This will let you easily maneuver the socket onto other fasteners.
This is a security feature that stops you from pressing the trigger by accident. You may think it is unnecessary until you put the ratchet into the toolbox with other tools.
The battery indicator tells you how much power is left on the tool. Having a cordless tool without a battery indicator is like holding a bomb without knowing when it will go off. Ok, I’m exaggerating, but you get the idea. Knowing the power level and when the tool needs charging is crucial when you’re in the middle of the job.
Best cordless ratchets under 100$
|Kimo 3302||Aoben 5808|| Eastvolt FF-01B
|Brushed or brushless||Brushed||Brushed||Brushed|
|Battery capacity (Ah)||2||2||2|
|Charging time (minutes)||60||30||30|
|Over torque shutdown||✕||✕||✕|
Bang for the buck – KIMO 3302
- Come with a sturdy case and 2 batteries
- Include 10-17mm sockets
- Fit into tight spaces
- Great battery life
- Sometimes can be slow
- Torque is not as high as advertised
The Kimo cordless ratchet is definitely one of the best out there, though it can sometimes be very slow. It has 40 ft-lbs of torque and a maximum speed of 400 RPM. As a mechanic, I don’t believe manufacturer’s specs. In fact, the actual torque and speed are not that high. However, I’m a picky mechanic; the tool’s power probably exceeds what a DIYer needs.
The product weighs just about 2.2lbs, and its very slim head design allows you to reach the most difficult parts of your machine. No matter how tight the spot is, Kimo cordless ratchet will go in and fasten the bolts.
Kimo 3302 has a battery capacity of 2Ah. I once tried to use a strap to pull the trigger and leave it that way to see how long it can last. After more than 25 minutes, I had to turn it off because the tool was so hot and started to smoke. Just an experiment to see the battery’s capacity, don’t be like stupid Timmy. You’ll ruin the tool one way or another.
But that number is still impressive to me. For a DIYer, you take a nut here and there, and it will last for the whole day. Even if the battery is dead in the middle of the work, this set gives you an extra battery! Besides, 1000 charge cycles will not let you down.
This 3/8” drive cordless tool has a brushed motor. And this makes it much less pricey than most other cordless ratchets on the market. With less than 100$, you can own this goodness in your tool bag and enjoy smooth bolt-fastening.
Other than that, it comes with the 7 most common 3/8” drive sockets (includes that 10mm socket you always need). Along with a 3/8” to 1/4” adapter, the set is probably more than enough for a DIYer.
Runner-up – AOBEN 5808
- Inexpensive price
- Two batteries
- Include a sturdy case and useful accessories
- Offer all the basic features
- Comfy grip
- Short battery life
- Pin detent is easy to fall out
- Low torque
The manufacturer claims this tool to have 40 ft-lbs of torque, 280RPM. Again, don’t trust these specs and expect them to break loose any 20 ft-lbs bolt. Break it manually first and then pull the trigger. Time-saving – that what this tool is meant for.
As an additional perk, this 3/8” cordless ratchet comes with two batteries, one charger, along with the exact accessories of the KIMO set above, and one 3/8” extension bar. More than what a DIYer needs for his project.
However, compared to KIMO, the battery life is shorter, and it can’t hold a charge for a long time. After 9 months of usage, if I left a fully charged battery for a week, it would drain itself off. But 9 months of abuse is still very impressive for this affordable price.
Other than that, AOBEN 5808 also offers all the basic features of a cordless ratchet – LED for dark spots, variable speed trigger for more control, lock switch, and battery indicator.
It seems too good to be true, right? Yes! These features come with some small issues that annoy uncle Timmy a little.
First, the lock switch sometimes gets in the way when you don’t need it.
Second, the pin detent fell out after 3 months of usage, so I had to use a piece of paper to keep the socket in place.
Minimum budget option – Eastvolt FF-01B
- Incredibly competitive price
- Include a nice case of useful socket sizes
- Comfy grip
- LED for dark spots
- Battery indicator
- Lightweight and compact
- No variable speed.
- Bulky for tight places
- No extra battery
- Lack of torque
The most inexpensive product in this review – Eastvolt FF-01B 3/8” cordless ratchet has a 12v brushed motor claimed to deliver 35 ft-lbs of torque and 230RPM. What did uncle Timmy say about the manufacturer’s specs? Yes, glad you pay attention. Don’t trust them!
However, the torque rating of this tool is still slightly higher than the two products above. They are all too weak for a mechanic like me, though. But for a DIYer, it may be helpful to keep this in mind when choosing the right tool.
This product also comes with a compact case, 7 common 3/8” socket sizes (10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17mm), and a 3/8”-to-1/4” adapter (just like the two products above). These probably more than enough sockets for a DIYer. For light tasks around the house, a 10mm socket may be the one you need the most. But if you work in the engine bay, you definitely need more sockets than those.
The anvil tends to keep the socket too tight. It’s not a big deal to me, though. I actually prefer it that way so that the socket won’t fall off easily.
One thing you should consider about this product is the battery. There is only one battery. Even though the capacity is very impressive, having no extra battery is something that bugs me so bad. The tool uses a unique battery, so other tool’s battery won’t fit. The only way to get one more battery is to buy one more set, oops!
And that leads to another problem. The battery design makes the tool very bulky for tight spaces.
With an incredibly competitive price, the tool still offers LED for dark spots, light indicator, and locking switch. But there is one crucial feature this cordless ratchet doesn’t offer – variable speed trigger. So it’s pretty much all or nothing!
Best cordless ratchets above 100$
|Milwaukee 2557-20||Milwaukee 2457-20||Milwaukee 2560-20|
|Brushed or brushless||Brushless||Brushed||Brushless|
|Weight without battery (lbs)||2.8||1.81||2.99|
|Variable speed trigger||✓||✓||✓|
|Over torque shutdown||✓||✓||✓|
Timmy’s pick – Milwaukee 2557-20
- One of the most durable
- High torque to enhance smooth operation
- True time-saver
- Offer all the basic feature
- Stop automatically when overload
- High price
- Detent ball doesn’t hold sockets well
Everyone knows Milwaukee to be an excellent brand. But if you’re going for this ratchet, you should be ready to pay some extra cash. With a brushless motor, the tool is a whole lot more expensive. Brushless also means no electric burn smell, no spark, and more powerful output.
This 3/8″ cordless ratchet is advertised to deliver 55 ft-lbs. I actually can get about 40 ft-lbs of torque. 40 is smaller than 55 but still powerful enough for a mechanic! That why Milwaukee 2557-20 is my favorite pick.
No, you can’t compare this with air-powered ratchets. Some users try to do so, but it’s completely baseless. Pneumatic will forever be stronger than electric. But then, this tool’s convenience is a big plus – that what the tool is meant for!
The 3/8″ cordless ratchet weighs 2.8 lbs, and it has a speed of 200 RPM – trust me, it’s a true time-saver! With its metal components and solid construction, I’m afraid this tool will outlive me.
But the design comes with a drawback. The tool is a little bulky for tight spaces. It’s not a big deal to me since I just grab my 1/4″ or extended reach cordless ratchet when I need something for hard-to-reach bolts. But most of the time, it will do the job.
A few customers also have a small issue with the detent ball. It doesn’t hold sockets well enough. I myself don’t have this problem but if you want extra safety, put a piece of paper between the socket and anvil.
Note: Be careful when using this for aluminum nuts smaller than 10mm. The tool is powerful enough to sheer off the nut.
The powerful dwarf – Milwaukee 2457-20
- Time and energy-saving
- Strong and compact
- Over torque shut down to prevent overheating
- Direction switch is too tight
35 ft-lbs of torque, 250 RPM (without load), here’s another great ratchet from the Milwaukee brand. The tool comes with a brushed motor, and it is much less expensive than the “Timmy pick”. Along with its lightweight (1.81 lbs without battery), compact design, and sheer power, that’s why I call it “the powerful dwarf”.
I got this tool because I needed something better for tight spaces. I really didn’t expect so much. Perhaps it would save me the stress of taking a hundred turns to loosen just a single bolt. But then, I got more than just “better”. The ratchet’s head goes straight into any tight space, and it works more perfectly than any cheap HF cordless ratchet out there.
Milwaukee 2457-20 cordless ratchet also has a smart chip to stop the motor immediately when there is more torque than what the tool can take. If I attempt to break a bolt tighter than 35 ft-lbs, the tool will stop automatically and give me a moment to think about my stupidity. This feature helps to prevent the motor from stressing out and overheating
However, I don’t really like the direction selector. It feels too difficult to turn when I put on my mechanics gloves. Other than that, this “dwarf” is a great tool to have for both mechanics and DIYers.
Hard-to-reach bolts killer – Milwaukee 2560-20
- Great durability
- Extended reach for odd positions
- High torque output
- Excellent ratchet for automotive repairs
- Too expensive
Milwaukee 2560-20 M12 3/8” extended reach cordless ratchet is yet another Milwaukee product with a brushless motor. The tool is advertised to have a 55 ft-lbs of torque and 200 RPM (without load). I usually don’t believe manufacturer’s specs, but this time, these 2 numbers are the truth! This tool is the strongest cordless ratchet I’ve ever got.
It’s also heavier (2.99 lbs without battery) than most of the other cordless ratchets. The extra weight comes from the sturdy “extended reach”. I actually have no problem with this, maybe because I’m used to my freaking heavy impact wrenches.
The “extended reach” allows you to access extremely difficult areas. If you work in the engine bay, an inch matters! There will be situations that only this tool can pull off.
Though the head seems quite extended for the LED light position, it works perfectly well and makes my job a lot easier.
At this point, you have indeed gotten the hang of all you need to know to make the best choice.
With that in mind, my top pick for cordless ratchet under 100$ is KIMO 3302. An affordable choice for a DIYer, this set includes everything you need with decent quality. If you are doing light work in your garage, it worths every single cent!
As for the cordless ratchet above 100$, the top pick is Milwaukee 2557-20. With its solid construction, excellent durability, and high torque output. An ideal choice if your budget is not too tight!
It’s time to upgrade! Get one for yourself today and enjoy the bliss that comes with smooth ratcheting.