Review: RYOBI 18-Volt ONE+ Lithium-Ion Cordless 1/4 in. Hex Impact Driver

How does the Ryobi 1/4 in. Hex impact driver measure up to it’s specifications? We review it here.

Description

RYOBI ‘s P234G 18-Volt ONE+ Lithium-Ion Cordless 1/4 in. Hex Impact Driver is a quality homeowner/handyperson tool that compliments a cordless drill in the home toolbag. This 1/4 in. Hex Impact Driver is rated at 1500 in./lbs (125 ft-lbs) of torque.

It features a 1/4 in. quick-connect coupler for fast and easy bit changes, the tool includes cast aluminum gear housing to ensure strength and durability. The included lithium-ion battery provides good runtime and provides fade-free power for maximum performance throughout the charge. It’s a part of the the RYOBI ONE+ 18-Volt Tool System.

The retail kit includes: (1) P234G Impact Driver, (1) P102 18-Volt ONE+ 1.3 Ah Compact Lithium-Ion Battery, (1) P119 18-Volt ONE+ Charger, and operator’s manual. I found it on special pricing at HomeDepot during the holidays.

Review

Unboxing revealed a typical RYOBI green and black cardbox with glued ends. In the box, the impact driver is separated from the battery and charger with cardboard, so no-frills packaging but nice looking enough for retail shelves.

The Impact Driver feels solid, weighing in at 1640 grams (about 3-1/2+ lbs) with the battery attached. The hand grip is comfortable and allows you to squeeze the trigger and change direction easily. I like the comfortable grip and the balance. It’s a lot heavier than my cordless drills, but I appreciate the mass taking up the impact hits rather than my hands.

The impact driver will rotate like a drill until it meets resistance before the impact driver starts hammering away. A nice solid performer, it doesn’t feel hot even after prolonged use.

As in my review of the NoCry Impact Driver , I decided I would measure the tightening torque on my cars’s wheel lug nuts.

Torque Testing

I loosened a couple of lug nuts on my car with my cross-bar wrench. The car specs say that they should be tightened to 100 ft-lbs (1200 in-lbs). This RYOBI Impact driver is rated at 125 ft-lbs so I tightened them up until the lug nuts stopped turning.

As in the NoCry review, I took my torque wrench and calibrated it (which I do frequently) and set it to 80 ft-lbs. The lug nut started to tighten very easily. So I decided to back off the torque wrench setting to 40 ft-lbs and work my way up to see how tight it was. I moved to a different nut and started tightening. The wrench clicked at 40 so I increased it to 50 ft-lbs. The lug nut moved easily, so it had tightened to somewhere between 40 and 50 ft-lbs. Not 125 ft-lbs! This is the same result as the NoCry Impact Driver.

I tightened all three nuts to 100 ft-lbs then tried to remove them with this Impact driver. Again, similar to the NoCry, they did not budge.

In another test, I took a 4″ 5/16 lag bolt with a 1/2″ bolt head and drove it into pressure treated wood. The driver took about 30 seconds before the bolt stopped when the head hit the wood. I could easily turn it with my torque wrench set at 20 ft-lbs so it isn’t clear what stopped the impact driver – possibly the socket coming into contact with the wood too. I was able to tighten a 3/8″ machine bolt and nut to 30 ft-lbs.

After tightening the bolt more with a torque wrench, the head was getting below the wood surface. I tried to remove it with the impact driver, and fully expected it would easily unscrew. But the head was too far below the wood surface for the socket to grip. I should have used a washer under the head.

As it turns out, the impact driver is not designed to deliver a constant torque and therefore will not be able to tighten anything to its rated torque (125 ft-lbs in this case.) I have to assume the rating is meant for instantaneous torque applied with each impact. So don’t expect an impact driver to tighten or loosen anywhere near its rated torque.

I did not test how long the battery lasts because these tests were spaced days apart. The 1800 mA-Hr rated battery delivered its power faithfully. The battery has no indicators to show how much power is left.

Recommendation

I needed more turning power than my two cordless drills offer, so I bought this impact driver. It has a good weight and it is comfortable to use. I am disappointed in the torque it delivers. My very unscientific tests show it does not tighten or loosen to anywhere near the 125 ft-lbs rating.

I would still recommend this RYOBI Impact Driver to the homeowner-handyman. It makes short work out of long screws, nuts and bolts, and any screw-type fasteners.

One word of cautionDO NOT USE FOR TORQUING AUTOMOBILE WHEELS. They will not be tight enough unless you further torque them with a proper wheel or torque wrench. This RYOBI Impact Driver is fine for speed screwing each lug nut on (or off once loosened).

Pros and Cons

Pros: Good grip, good turning speed. Magnetic holder for screws. Does the many jobs needing more torque than a standard cordless drill.

Cons: Rated torque seems to be lower than stated. No project work light. No variable torque settings means you can over-drive your fastener if you are not careful.

Where to also get it:

My Rating:

3.5 / 5 stars     

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