Are pneumatic tools obselete?

CheemsK1500

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The other day my 3/4 inch craftsman pneumatic impact started acting up. I thought about tearing into it, but then I remembered all of the times I just used a Milwaukee Fuel on other jobs. I still use my 3/8 air ratchet quite a bit though, since it's go a marginally slimmer profile than the electric ratchets I've encountered. I'm also yet to see a viable electric air hammer, but everything else seems to have a battery fed alternative.

Pneumatic advantages:
-You have more accurate means of knowing how much power you have left (air pressure guage)
-Instant power replenishment (as long as your compressor works)
-Overall less bulky than the electric equivalent. (My 3/4 pneumatic Craftsman is roughly the same size as my Milwaukee M18 1/2 inch.)
-standardized hookups across all manufacturers.
Pneumatic Disatvantages:
-Mobility (Unless you have a massive compressor mounted to your vehicle.
-The airs hose tends to get in the way.

Battery advantages:
-mobile
-No chord or hose to trip on

Battery disadvantages:
-Expensive proprietary batteries for every manufacturer (adapters do exist for mixing and matching batteries and tools, but manufacturer warranties don't support them.)
-power demanding jobs either require you to have several charged batteries on standby or stop and wait for your drained battery to recharge.
-Lithium batteries are immensely dangerous when overheated.

These are my observations. Watching a video of a drama queen (clearly a shill) throw a nice looking blue point across his garage in a video titled "I'm never using air tools again." made me think of this question. My personal opinion is that battery operated is better than ever, but there is still certainly times where air tools are useful.
 

ali_c20

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The big advantage of battery powered tools is mobility. If you have a functioning air system I would stick with the air tools, multiple battery packs and chargers are expensive. The batteries don't last forever if you use them a lot they die in relatively short time.
The amount of available air tools is huge and they are smaller and cheaper than battery tools so I don't think they are obsolete.
 

1lejohn

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It all depends on the specific application. The quality of the air tool, and the size of the compressor. I have both. I don't know what we did before the Dewalt battery tools when working in the petrol chemical plants here in Texas. ( insert brand name here) Oh I know we had to drag a generator, extension cords and use electric tools. Thats so 20th century. We used air tools when plant air was near by. I personally use my air tools at home less and less. I still use the compressor to clean and dry stuff off. I agree with the air hammer statement. DA sanders are another tool that comes to mind. A half inch 20 volt Dewalt impact is a bad boy.
 

82sbshortbed

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I agree with the cordless impact driver. Got a snap-on half inch one that will whip a tire off like it ain't nobody business. Haven't charged it for a while and it's still ready to go when I need it.
 

CheemsK1500

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The more expensive battery powered tools, even the cheap ones to an extent definitely have the power to rival air tools when they are at full charge. The question is whether not they can hold up to sustained usage like the air tools can.

I remember using my Milwaukee Fuel 1/2 inch impact to break a wheel spacer bolt on a dually. The first few bolts broke loose, but as the tool heated up and the battery drained, the immense power started to fade. I had to set the tool aside to cool down and then put in a freshly charged battery to remove the remaining bolts.
 

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I'm not a fan of battery tools, guess they have improved over the last 20 years. Though my first experiences were not positive. I still like my air tools, impacts, needle scalar is about all I use any more. Use more corded tools grinders, drills, porta band, skill saw, cutoff saw, sawz all etc.. Have looked at the cordless grinders, am sure they don't have the umph I want for a grinder, Not a let the grinder do the work kind of guy, and they are much to bulky for what they are. Did however buy a Bauer 3/8 cordless impact to use putting on cable clamps for putting the cable on fences. Bet I get another when I get to that point on the next job, one for each end.
 

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The more expensive battery powered tools, even the cheap ones to an extent definitely have the power to rival air tools when they are at full charge. The question is whether not they can hold up to sustained usage like the air tools can.

I remember using my Milwaukee Fuel 1/2 inch impact to break a wheel spacer bolt on a dually. The first few bolts broke loose, but as the tool heated up and the battery drained, the immense power started to fade. I had to set the tool aside to cool down and then put in a freshly charged battery to remove the remaining bolts.
That's my bitch about cordless tools. They seem to work fine until you need them to really work then they get hot, cry and die then I'm trying to not hit the hand holding the breaker bar as I wack it with a hammer.
 

Midnightmoon

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I realize that I am behind the times, but I have yet to purchase any battery powered tools. And to be honest, other than wanting to wrap the portable impact driver around the neck of whoever thinks it is a good idea to use one at 6:00 AM in a campground to retract their stabilizer jacks, I know nothing about them.
 

SquareRoot

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Not yet,battery powered tools still dont have the power of air
Apparently you have never used a Dewalt to remove lug nuts? Something has to give, just glad it wasn't my wrist.:worthy:
 

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bucket

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In the garage, air tools are still my go-to. I don't mind the air hose, it's far less annoying than having to charge batteries all the time. The air tools also aren't as bulky. I won't say that my Snap On impact gun is stronger than my Dewalt 20v XR impact, but it certainly is more durable, has much better speed control and doesn't peter out when the job gets tough. Not to mention all the other tools I use that don't yet have a battery powered counterpart. Air hammer, die grinders, mini angle grinders, DA sanders, air file, mini reciprocating saw, etc. Also one of my most commonly used air tools, the blow gun. There's no way to replace that.

Now for mobile work, yeah... you can't beat the battery powered tools.
 

TotalyHucked

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There's definitely a place for each and several tools that simply don't have a battery powered version. I have a Milwaukee 3/8 ratchet that I use ALL the time, it admittedly doesn't have the ass of an air one but that ok cuz I don't need it to most times. My 1/2" and 3/8" impacts are awesome for travelling with and not dealing with a hose for taking off wheels and other random stuff. Even when I worked for a race team full time, 90% of our stuff was done with battery tools. But if you need it to last a long time, like grinding/needling/etc, air is still king.
 

CheemsK1500

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Apparently you have never used a Dewalt to remove lug nuts? Something has to give, just glad it wasn't my wrist.:worthy:
Edit, that is in an impact driver, though it's too small for lug nut duty. I wouldn't use anything less than 1/2 in drive.
 

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