Cordless ratchets allow you to work on your vehicles or your home without putting in the effort to operate a manual ratchet and without the risk of tripping on an air ratchet’s air hose. These tools use a battery to power the motor, which in turn rotates the head of the ratchet. More than just time-saving, it allows you to work in tight spaces without having to worry about your ratchet handle’s swing clearance.
The best cordless ratchet for your home tool kit will depend on its power output, size, weight, battery, and grip. Many offer safety features that can extend the life of the tool while keeping you safe. Some of the best cordless ratchets are featured in the list below.
- BEST OVERALL: S-LONG Cordless Electric Ratchet Wrench Set
- RUNNER-UP: Milwaukee 2457-21 3/8-in Cordless M12 Lithium-Ion
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Eastvolt 12V Cordless Electric Ratchet Wrench Set
- BEST FOR AUTOMOTIVE WORK: ACDelco ARW1201 G12 Series 12V Cordless Ratchet Kit
- BEST SET: AOBEN Cordless Electric Ratchet Wrench Set
- MOST FLEXIBLE: KIMO Cordless Electric Ratchet Wrench
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Cordless Ratchet
Before buying a new cordless ratchet, there are important features to consider. These characteristics include size, weight, power output, and battery life.
Size and Weight
Most cordless ratchets are light enough to be used with just one hand. However, even a difference of one or two pounds can increase the likelihood and severity of common hand fatigue symptoms like hand cramps. A lightweight cordless ratchet can help you avoid this common problem.
The ratchet should have a narrow head and a slim body so that it can be comfortably maneuvered around and through obstacles, allowing you to work in tight areas. Keep in mind that the size and weight of a cordless ratchet typically correlates to power output, with smaller models having less power. Cordless ratchets range in weight from just under one pound to three pounds, and most can fit inside a variety of tool boxes and tool belts.
The power of the cordless ratchet motor is measured by the torque output and the speed. Torque refers to the rotational force produced by the cordless ratchet and is measured in foot-pounds (ft-lbs). The average torque of a cordless ratchet ranges from 25 to 50 ft-lbs, with the more powerful models being better suited for automotive work.
The speed of a cordless ratchet is measured in revolutions per minute (rpm), with an average ratchet producing between 250 and 400 rpm. The faster speed allows you to quickly loosen or tighten bolts and fasteners, but it could also cause you to overtighten if you aren’t careful.
Brushed vs. Brushless Motor
Whether a cordless ratchet has a brushed or brushless motor can affect the price and efficiency of the tool.
- Brushed motors use brushes inside the motor to deliver electrical current to the motor windings. This physical contact causes their efficiency to fall to about 75 to 80 percent when compared to the 85 to 90 percent efficiency of a brushless motor. However, tools with these motors are more affordably priced, making them a good option for casual use.
- Brushless motors use a type of encoder device to achieve the same result without the wear and tear caused by physical brushes. This extends the life of the motor, increases the overall efficiency, and makes the motor quieter. Tools with brushless motors typically cost more.
The battery life for a cordless ratchet is measured using milliamp-hours (mAh) for small batteries, or amp-hours (Ah) for larger batteries, with 1000 mAh equaling 1 Ah. A one amp-hour (Ah) battery is capable of producing one amp of energy per one hour of time. Alternatively, a 1-Ah battery can produce 10 amps of energy, but can only do so for six minutes.
The average Ah rating for cordless ratchet batteries is between 0.5 Ah and 2.5 Ah. Your battery life needs depend on the availability of electric power for recharging, the average length of use, and the power, torque, and speed requirements of the ratchet. Higher energy output will drain a battery faster.
Comfort and Grip
Just like many other power tools, the grip of the handle on your cordless ratchet is an important aspect to keep in mind. The grip absorbs the impact while you work, which helps to protect your hands and reduce hand fatigue. A grip with a cushioned support is easier on your fingers and muscles, allowing you to firmly grip the cordless ratchet without having to squeeze down on hard metal or plastic.
When you look for a new cordless ratchet, keep in mind that the tool will use a lot of torque to fasten and unfasten nuts and bolts. A handle with a nonslip surface helps you stay in control while you work.
The flexibility of a cordless ratchet refers to its ability to be used in a range of difficult situations. A manual ratchet typically has a long, narrow head and handle, allowing it to fit into tight spaces, such as behind a furnace, or in the cramped confines of a mechanical room. However, once the ratchet is in place you still need enough room to move the handle. If you don’t have the space, the socket won’t turn. To address this issue, you can use a cordless ratchet that has a narrow head. It will be able to fit into similar spaces, and you can use the trigger to power the ratchet head so you won’t have to turn the handle.
For tight locations, a forward-reverse switch is necessary. This will allow you to quickly change the direction that the ratchet will turn without having to remove or adjust the ratchet beforehand. As well, these types of spaces, such as inside a car engine, can be easier to work in using a ratchet with a built-in light.
The drive size of a cordless ratchet refers to the size of the sockets you can use with the ratchet. The most commonly used drive size is ⅜-inch, although a ¼-inch socket is commonly used for smaller motors, like a lawnmower.
- A ¼-inch drive is the smallest of the two common drive sizes and it’s frequently used for motorcycles, mopeds, lawnmowers, and some HVAC applications. If you have a ⅜-inch cordless ratchet, then it may be beneficial to get a ⅜-inch to ¼-inch adapter. If you are looking for a new tool, then cordless ratchets with a ¼-inch drive size are less expensive.
- The ⅜-inch drive is commonly used in major automotive repairs for engine work, including tightening spark plugs. These cordless ratchets are normally more powerful than those with a ¼-inch drive because they are intended to work with larger fasteners, but they also may be more expensive.
Before using any power tool you should understand how it works, identify any safety concerns, and learn how to operate any safety features. A cordless ratchet can be built with a variety of safety features including a safety trigger lock, a battery indicator, a forward-reverse switch, and an electric brake.
- Safety trigger locks prevent you from accidentally pressing the trigger, causing the cordless ratchet to rotate the attached socket. This simple lock keeps you from overtightening your fasteners and prevents the tool from accidentally starting.
- A battery indicator doesn’t keep you safe in the traditional sense, but it does help you know how much power you have remaining before you need to recharge. This allows you to properly plan for projects instead of trying to figure out how to reattach a fastener when your ratchet has a dead battery.
- The forward-reverse switch gives you the ability to back off of a fastener so that you don’t overtighten it. This simple switch can help you avoid having to remove your hand from a tight location just to turn the tool around.
- An electric brake automatically stops the tool from applying force as soon as the trigger is released. If your fasteners absorb the remaining kinetic energy, they can crack and break.
Our Top Picks
Below are several top products chosen for their quality, features, and price to help you select the best cordless ratchet for a variety of projects.
The S-LONG Cordless Ratchet has a high maximum speed of 400 rpm and a top torque output of 40 ft-lbs. You can control the power and speed of the ⅜-inch ratchet with the variable speed trigger, but if the battery runs low you can use the included manual ratchet wrench. This set also comes with a built-in LED light, eight standard sockets, a ⅜-inch to ¼-inch adapter, and an extension bar.
The 12-volt cordless ratchet weighs just 1.8 pounds and it has a soft, rubber-coated grip designed to not easily slip out of your hands during use. The included battery charger will fully charge a battery in just 60 minutes, and you can keep track of the charge with the battery power indicator on the ratchet. This cordless ratchet has a forward and reverse switch to change the direction of the rotation and a lock switch to prevent the ratchet from operating if you accidentally press the trigger.
This 12-volt cordless ratchet has a cushioned grip that allows you to comfortably work with minimal hand fatigue. Its on-board battery gauge lets you know when you need to recharge your battery so that you don’t jump into a project that you can’t finish. This set comes with a plastic carrying case, a lithium-ion battery, a rapid charger, and the cordless ratchet. The rapid battery charger is capable of charging the battery to full within 30 minutes, allowing you to get to work quickly.
The cordless ratchet has a reinforced metal housing and trigger to extend the life of the tool. It also has a maximum torque of 35 ft-lbs and a variable speed trigger that can be used to decrease or increase the speed to a peak of 250 rpm. The slim build of this ⅜-inch ratchet means it can be carried in your tool belt, or with the built-in LED light it can be used in tight, dimly lit spaces.
The sleek black and red design of this ⅜-inch cordless ratchet will look great in your tool box or garage, but the real value is the included battery, charger, sockets, socket adapter, and carrying case. This affordable cordless ratchet set has seven stainless steel sockets, a ⅜-inch to ¼-inch adapter, and a rapid battery charger that can fully charge the battery in just one hour.
This product has a 12-volt motor that produces a maximum torque of 35 ft-lbs and a maximum speed of 230 rpm. A built-in LED light, a slim body, a narrow head, and an anti-slip grip handle allows you to work comfortably in tight places, while the two-step start switch prevents accidental starts. When you are done using the ratchet, you can pack the set away into the included plastic carrying case’s organized slots.
Tackle common automotive jobs, like spark plug replacement, with this ⅜-inch cordless ratchet. It comes equipped with a variable speed trigger that has a forward-reverse setting as well as an electric brake that stops the ratchet as soon as you release the trigger to prevent overtightening. Weighing just three pounds, it has a maximum torque of 57 ft-lbs and can operate at up to 160 rpm.
The cordless ratchet comes with two 12-volt lithium-ion batteries, a durable plastic case, and a fast charger that can fully charge one battery in 30 minutes. The built-in LED light gives you a clear view of the area you are working in, and the soft, ergonomic grip provides comfort to your hands while you work. This tool also features a trigger lock switch and a slim body design to access hard to reach locations under the hood of your car.
When you get this cordless ratchet set home you can begin working almost immediately due to the rapid charging time of the battery charger. Each of the two included 12-volt lithium-ion batteries takes just one hour to fully charge. The set also comes with six stainless steel sockets in the most common sizes, one ⅜-inch to ¼-inch adapter, and a 3-inch extension bar.
The cordless ratchet has a maximum torque of 40 ft-lbs and produces a speed of up to 280 rpm, which can be controlled with the variable-speed trigger. This product also has an LED light on the front for better visibility and battery power indicator lights on the side so that you know when you are running low on power. This set comes in a durable plastic case that has organized slots to keep your tools safe when they aren’t being used.
Trying to thread your ratchet through the parts in your engine or behind a wall in your home is incredibly difficult if you’re not using a cordless ratchet like the KIMO Cordless Ratchet. It has an ultra-slim head to maneuver through narrow spaces and a built-in LED light so you can see where the head needs to go. You also can control the amount of speed you want to use with the variable speed trigger that allows you to increase the speed from 0 to 400 rpm.
This ⅜-inch cordless ratchet has a maximum torque of 40 ft-lbs, and it has an ergonomic handle that helps reduce hand fatigue and resists common chemicals in automotive, marine, and aviation industries. It also features a forward-reverse switch, a trigger lock, and an onboard battery gauge so you can keep track of how much power your battery has remaining. This 12-volt cordless ratchet comes in a protective carrying case and includes seven common sockets and a ⅜-inch to ¼-inch drive adapter.
FAQs About Cordless Ratchets
Continue reading below to find the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about cordless ratchets.
Q. How does a cordless ratchet work?
A cordless ratchet uses a battery to drive a motor which in turn rotates the ratchet head. This automatic function is used with a socket to remove nuts and bolts without having to use any manual force beyond pushing the power trigger.
Q. How do you use a cordless ratchet?
A cordless ratchet is used by attaching a compatible socket to the ratchet head and lining it up with the nut or bolt you want to tighten or loosen. Once the socket is sitting securely over the nut or bolt head you can press the power trigger to begin applying pressure to the socket, forcing the nut or bolt to turn. Typically you will have a variable speed trigger that allows you to control the speed without designated power levels.
Q. How long does a cordless ratchet last?
On average, a cordless ratchet will last five to 10 years with regular use and proper care.