Bosch IDH182 Cordless Impact Driver/Wrench Review
Not all it appears to be at first glanceby Lorenz Prem
This week the Bosch IDH182 gets its shot at the title of "Best Impact Driver" you can buy. Its innovative chuck, cutting edge technology, and excellent performance numbers make it a worthy challenger. Let's take a look at how well the IDH182 manages to translate great paper specs into exceptional performance on the Hingmy test bench.
The Bosch IDH182 Impact Driver/Wrench
The IDH182 sits at the pinnacle of the Bosch impact driver lineup. It was designed for high volume/high torque fastener driving on the job site. Its excellent performance numbers put it into contention with a limited number of flagship impact drivers from a handful of manufacturers for the title of "Best Impact Driver".
Naturally Bosch equipped the IDH182 with the best technology they have. The brushless motor at the heart of the driver produces 138 ft-lbs of torque and 2,800 rpm, which are very good numbers for impact drivers. The Hex/Square Drive combo chuck is unique in the industry. The 18V battery system with its many battery and tool options makes the IDH182 a good centerpiece of any professional tool collection.
All that new tech not only made the IDH182 more powerful, but also smaller. At only 6.2" in length and 3.2 lbs in weight, this driver is exceptionally agile; especially when compared to the previous generation. The IDH182 will let your work faster, simply by begin more compact.
The IDH182 is one of the best cordless drivers on the market, but its chuck is not as revolutionary as the pictures lead you to believe.
Build quality is excellent, as I have come to expect from Bosch. The body of the driver will clearly withstand the abuse the job site dishes out. Light rain, dirty hands, and rough handling are not a problem either.
Very little rubber covers the grip and body of the IDH182. While still comfortable, the slender grip could have used a little more. The bumpers on the body are barely large enough to cushion the tool when it is resting on its side.
The trigger of the IDH182 is precise, but plagued by a large amount of dead space. The first and last quarter of the range have no effect on the motor's rpm, leaving the middle half to do all the work. Selecting and holding a specific speed takes little effort, but being truly precise is not within the capabilities of this trigger.
The through-the-body style direction selector switch is poorly executed as well. It is fully functional, but fails to glide with grace and to register in its terminal positions with dedication. While the majority of the IDH182 is cutting edge tech, the trigger and direction selector switch are as generic as they come.
The deep, well engineered belt hook can be installed on both sides of the driver. It secures the IDH182 on your tool belt without any danger of the driver coming lose on its own. There is no on-board bit storage, unless you count the hex shaped hole in the rubber bumper that protrudes from the rear of the tool just above the battery. I have little confidence that anything wedged into that space will stay put during heavy use.
The Hex/Square Drive Chuck
The most striking piece of innovation the IDH182 brings to us is the dual purpose chuck. Made entirely out of metal and covered in red rubber, this chuck is built as well as any. It accepts both 1/4" hex bits, and 1/2" square drive sockets without the need for an adapter. While that sounds good, the engineers had to make a few design tradeoffs you'll notice when you work.
First they had to move the little metal ball that secures a hex bit in a hex chuck further back. There is no room for the ball in the 1/2" square drive section of the chuck. Only bits long enough to reach the locking mechanism more than 1/2" deep can be installed in this chuck. Short bits will simply slide into the opening until they disappear completely. Pliers are required to get them out.
Bosch knows of this issue and included an adapter for short bits in some kits. Unfortunately the adapter itself is too short to reach the locking pin and needs to be replaced with one that has a slightly longer shaft. Hopefully Bosch will update all IDH182 kits to include a proper size adapter. If you do not want to use an adapter, you'll have to use bits with a shaft longer than ~1 inch.
The second issue is limited socket retention on the 1/2" square drive chuck. Again there is no room for a pin-type retention mechanism in the walls of the square drive section of the chuck. The designers substituted a compression ring retention mechanism at the tip of the chuck. While this system works well enough, it is no substitute for a pin type socket lock. If you are working with stubborn bolts and nuts on a regular basis, chances are your sockets will stay connected to the fastener instead of the driver on many occasions.
Lastly the choice of 1/2" square drive was a physical necessity rather than a practical choice. Most sockets one would want to install on an impact driver/wrench of this power level are of the 3/8" variety. An adapter is necessary to mount your existing socket collection on this driver. The bits that do fit push the limits of the driver. Commercial users who work with 1/2" sockets regularly will likely need a more powerful impact wrench, and not an impact driver/wrench hybrid like the IDH182.
Overall this chuck looks great in pictures, but fails to improve on existing designs unequivocally. In a lot of cases you'll still need an adapter to drive your bits, which puts the chuck right back into contention with the rest of the 1/4" hex chuck equipped drivers. The limitation of having to use long hex bits is an issue the competition does not have.
Speed Selector and Work light
The gear selection is done electronically in the IDH182. A simple press of the red button built into the grip just above the battery shifts the tool into one of three gears. Three green LEDs indicate the current gear incase the audible feedback from the motor is not enough.
While this could not be any simpler, the lack of a mechanical gear selector means the driver is not getting stronger in low gear. On the IDH182 low gear simply limits the driver's top speed, instead of mechanically adding gears to the gearbox to increase torque. Low gear simply helps you get a small fastener started more easily. The top end torque is the same in all three gears.
The IDH182 has one of the best work light designs I have ever tested. Three white LEDs arranged around the chuck light up the impact point no matter how close the bit is to the work piece. The plastic lenses used to focus the light create some artifacts, but these only matter to a diligent professional tool reviewer.
The light comes on when the trigger is pressed, and turns of 10 seconds after the trigger is released. A button on top of the battery housing turns the light off altogether. This is a great feature I'd like to see on other tools.
The membrane covered buttons used for these two controls are known to have a short service life. Heavy use often wears out the membrane and causes it to chip and fall off. Bosch does not publish reliability numbers for these buttons. To be on the safe side, users that frequently change gears when using their impact driver should probably look elsewhere.
The Battery Gauge
I have made it clear in many reviews of Bosch tools that I don't like the battery gauge used on their 18V tools. Displaying the charge level of a battery with only three LEDs is simply too ambiguous to be of any use to me. The gauge will help you figure out which battery is charged, and which one is not, but it won't tell you how much work is left in the battery installed in the tool you are going to take up onto the roof with you. Everyone who disagrees with me can enjoy the arguably well built battery gauge for what it is.
Once a bit is installed in the chuck and actual work is happening the IDH182 shows what it is made of. It is remarkable how Bosch managed to package so much power into this little driver. Woodscrews of any length get installed as fast as you can move the driver into position. Balanced to perfection the IDH182 barely moves in your hand as it drives fasteners. The small frame and light battery make this driver exceedingly agile.
Only lag bolts and similarly sized fasteners test the power of the IDH182. 1/2" lag bolts slow this driver down as their threads disappear below the surface of the work piece, but get seated properly eventually. Having to install a few dozen with the IDH182 is not an issue, but you'll wish for a better tool when driving a bucket full of bolts.
Durability and endurance are excellent in typical Bosch fashion. As usual the motor and the handle of the driver heat up under heavy use, but the IDH182 keeps on going all day long. This is a tool you can take to the job site and work with all day long. It was engineered for this environment and will last for years under tough conditions.
You can dial in how much work you can do on one charge by choosing a different battery size. Only the smallest gives you a chance to drain the battery in the tool before the charger has the spare ready for you. The others are a tradeoff between weight and how much work you can do before having to fetch a fresh battery from the charging station. The largest, the 4.Ah BAT620, lets you work unencumbered for more than an hour, unless you are trying to break some sort of speed record.
When used as an impact wrench the IDH182's position shifts from being a leader to working on the small stuff. 138 ft/lbs are barely enough to qualify the IDH182 as an impact wrench. There are many tasks in an autombile repair shop this impact driver is perfectly suited for, but it cannot take the place of a dedicated impact wrench. Having to run an adapter with 3/8" sockets and the upright form factor put the IDH182 at a disadvantage compared to automotive impact wrenches of all kinds. Getting it into tight places can be difficult and sometimes even impossible.
Similarly, on the job site there are bolts the IDH182 cannot hope to install. You should think of this tool as a very capable impact driver that has the headroom to do more demanding tasks at a slower speed.
Kit Box and Versions
The IDH182 can be purchased independently or as part of a kit. Each kit differs in the number and type of batteries included, type of kit box, and type and number of accompanying tools.
The L versions include a Bosch L-Boxx, a plastic kit box that fits into the L-Boxx storage system. You can read more about the benefits and drawbacks of the system in our full Bosch L-Boxx Storage System Review.
The Bosch 18V Battery System
The IDH182 inherits the strength of the excellent Bosch 18V battery system. It is one of the most complete battery system on the market today. You have your pick of excellent batteries, chargers, and tools, all of which are professional grade.
With the "Professional" moniker come extended warranties, good product support, availability of spare parts, and repair services.
The IDH182 shares the peak of the cordless impact driver performance charts with a handful of competing drivers. It offers excellent performance, reliability, and longevity in the most demanding situations. New motor technology and an innovative chuck elevate its performance well above the previous generation.
This driver is not without its flaws, unfortunately. The hex chuck is limited to bits long enough to reach the locking pin deep within the chuck, and the 1/2" square drive is too large for most sockets you'd likely want to use with this driver. The generic trigger, lackluster direction selector switch, and sparse use of protective rubber leave room for the competition to mount a challenge.
The IDH182 is an excellent buy for any professional. While it may not be the best of best, it gets what matters most as right as any driver. Add to that the the potential of Bosch 18V battery system and versatility of the L-Boxx kits, and you have a great buy for anyone.
- exceptional power paired with excellent motor speed
- hour long endurance with the large battery
- much smaller than the previous generation of drivers
- can be used continuously on the job site
- accepts hex bits and 1/2" square drive sockets without an adapter
- 3 speed motor
- brushless motor gives the driver a very unique sound
- rubber covered, all metal chuck
- 3 LEDs light up the impact point without any shadows
- work light can be turned off
- rudimentary battery gauge built into the battery itself
- great belt hook
- is a part of the Bosch 18V battery system
- can be purchased with an L-Boxx
- precise, but very loose trigger
- produces the same torque output in all three gears
- short bits disappear in the chuck and need to be removed with pliers
- an adapter, which is included, is required to run short bits
- chuck does not close around the included short bit adapter
- 1/2" square drive is tool large for most sockets you'd want to use with this driver