Difference between Air power tools vs. Electric power tools

Power tools were created to get our toughest jobs done in a matter of seconds. They make our work easier, faster and much simpler. With the advancement in technology power tools also evolved, and now we have tools specifically based on their source of power. Today we will be talking about two of the most popular types of power tools present today at our disposal; the air powered tools and the electrically powered tools.

Q. What makes the two of them so different?

Both of these power tools were created to serve the same purpose i.e. to provide higher power (torque) which cannot be generated by simple tools. Both of these are similar in work which they do but are quite different how they achieve it. The electrically powered tools have a motor inside them which when powered either by AC current of batteries generate the required torque. On the other hand, air powered tools use compressed air to develop the torque.

Q. How do each of them work?

Let’s try to under the working of the mechanism of each of the power tools before we start the exact comparisons.

    • Air power tools: The air tools are those which utilizes the compressed air to get its rotational torque. Compressed air is passed through various air tubes and pile driver before it reaches the cylinder. Here the air at high pressure is let into the rotary cylinder with one of the two holes depending on the direction of motion required. The air strikes the sitting turbine and generates the torque. The direction is controlled using a flip switch. This is the basic description that how an air powered tool works.
    • Electric power tool: As all of you know that an electric power tool is fitted with a motor, which is responsible for the generation of torque. The motor is powered by either battery in case of cordless tools or by AC current in case of wired tools. The torque of such tools directly depends on the fact that how much powerful motor is used, powerful the motor higher the torque.

Check out for some other Electric tools like Electric Nail Gun reviews

What to Considerations before selecting the one

Power rating:

It is the most important consideration that you should make about any tool before deciding in favor of any tool. Look for your job requirements and analyze whether the selected tool has the capability to get the job done or not. All the other features will be meaningless is your tool is not able to get the job done for which it is purchased. All the features cost and benefits are secondary and can be overlooked but not the power capabilities.

  • Air tools: The tools if this category is immensely strong and have been designed to do the toughest task. The amount of torque which they offer can be regulated simply by varying the airflow through the device. They offer the highest power ratings and that’s why they are the premium choice of in automation shops and machine industry.
  • Electric tools: Well these tools have to do a lot of catching up before they can make the air tools run for their money. They offer power in medium range which is sufficient to do most of the daily tasks but not quite there at the top level. With newer innovations in the technology things are changing very rapidly and within some days they will be equally powerful as air tools.

Cost of the tool:

This is the one part which often restricts people to get what they want. Also, spending too much on a power tool for the features that you won’t ever use is an absolute waste of your hard-earned money. Even spending too less is not advised as you may not get what you need. The right tool gives you a balance between what you spend and what you get.

  • Air tools: These tools have considerable upfront costs. The air tool is pretty less expensive when compared to their electric counterparts. The higher price which you pay corresponds to the higher amount of power which you get an obvious longer lifetime of the tools. The part which makes them expensive is the air compressor, which is the mandate for this type of tools, but the running and maintenance costs are pretty much low. Moreover, this valuable compressor can be used for multiple tasks.
  • Electric tools: The fact that you don’t need an external power source makes the electric tools quite affordable. Moreover, if you get the cordless model you don’t need to worry about power all the time. If you go for the similar rating compared to an air tool it will cost you much.

Design and build prospect:

The design and build quality become a very important consideration when you are going to work on a project for longer hours. Leave alone the grip and weight, even the power and how does it feels into the hand will matter a lot when you start working. The robustness and maneuverability will be one of the top considerations which you should look carefully.

  • Air tools: The pneumatic tools are kind of light and offer a better fit in your hand. The only thing you should look at is which model feels better in your hand. We can say for sure that these tools be to continue to be lighter as they don’t have motors and extra components in them but they are fitted with a hose that puts a check on the motion of the tool.
  • Electric tools: These were designed for precise motion around the corners. And with the development of cordless tools, they have stormed the gates. It gives you the freedom to work in different angles and position suitable to your needs. There is no restriction in the movement of the tool. All that mater is you need it charge it fully. As these are slightly heavy, it makes they quite difficult to operate for longer hours.

Maintenance and ease of servicing:

This is one of the key facts that need to discuss before we skip to other topics. When both new tools work like a charm, but what will happen after years of usage or when you tool goes down. How easy and cheap will it be its repair, before that how timely it can be fixed. These are some questions that you must ask yourself before selecting a tool. Check out our article about power tool maintenance

  • Air tools: As they do not involve many moving parts their maintenance is quite easy. There are low chances of failure of the tools and it can be repaired quickly. Common problems that can happen are leaks in the hose, which can be fixed easily. But if your compressor gives out it will be a costly fix.
  • Electric tools: When you look at the electric tools, their maintenance is quite tough. You need to get them to the designated service centers for the repairs. Even the in case of slight misuse there are high changes of the device getting damaged and the repairs are too costly to bear. Also, they need regular servicing after fix usage.

The advantages and disadvantages of each tool

While we have covered the most part lets have a look at what pros and cons each device has…

Air tools Pros

  • High powered- we have learned that these tools can take care of the toughest job more easily, They have high power to weight ratio.
  • Flexibility: They can work in areas where there no other tools can work. Also in regions where electric power is not present, just fill your tank and move
  • Versatility: A single compressor gives you access to all the tools, just change the headers and your new tool is ready
  • Safety: Do not possess the risk of electric shocks and fire hazard. They cannot be damaged from overheating and overloading.

Air tools Cons

  • High initial cost: Compressor, tools, tanks, and hoses are not cheap, so the initial setup cost is high
  • Hoses: The hose will often tend to leak from there and there
  • Portability: If you need to move the tool on a daily basis, it’s a no go. They are heavy and cannot be taken everywhere

Electric tools Pros

  • Portability: A electric tool can be as portable as it can get. Pack it in a cabinet and take wherever you want to.
  • Flexibility: They have been designed for flexibility and when you consider the cordless models they can work in areas where there no other tools can work.

Electric tools Cons

  • Zero versatility: Here a single tool does not open your doors for all the work you need to get different tools for different work.
  • Electric power is must for their operation in most cases.

Check out this short video about air tools vs electric tools


You can find that a profession may own both of these tools as each one has its own advantages. You can scale your requirements and if they are high you can go for an air power tool, but if you find yourself on the other side of the road simply go for an electric model. As the technology is improving day by day, some days electric tools will be an equal match for the air tool, but today is not that day. The Bottom-line is this that the tool which you select should be 100 percent capable to complete your jobs and base on your personal requirements.