If you’re looking to build any garage tool set, one of the first things you’ll need is a torque wrench. It’s an essential item for any garage and vehicle owner.
However, since the uses of torque wrenches are versatile, you’d probably need a large collection.
But, here’s the catch. Collecting these many wrenches is costly, and they’ll need a lot of space. Also, if you’re a travel junkie, driving around with several wrenches isn’t an ideal scenario, right?
The good news is, there’s a solution. You can use the best digital torque adapter there is. They’re very compact, highly portable and deliver various benefits. You can use them with a normal breaker bar or ratcheting wrench.
Digital torque adapters help you keep track of how much force is being applied. They help you apply the correct amount of force while tightening, for example, a lug nut.
In this article, we’ll talk about these compact yet highly efficient devices. Purchasing them can be tricky. If you don’t know their specifics or what the specifics mean, you might end up purchasing a wrong one. So, keep reading and here is our top 4 digital torque adapters.
2019 Top 5 Best Torque Adapter Reviews
1. M206 Performance Tools – Good for Various Option
Fastening jobs that require the use of the best digital torque adapters vary across board. That is why we are grateful for the high quality Performance Tool M206 adapter. Actually, we consider it a three-in-one kind of tool since it comes with ½ inch, ¼ -inch and 3/8-inch torque adapters.
You will get different measuring units with this adapter. These include kg-m, Nm, ft-lbs and kg-cm. For accuracy, we have ascertained that it is +/-2 percent accurate across the entire torque range, which by the way is 30 to 150 ft-lbs. This is no small feat as many torque wrenches can have up to 10ft-lbs off the required accuracy as you move higher up the torque settings.
Digital torque adapters use batteries. One of the concerns for many users is how fast the battery runs out. That is why Performance Tool has put forth a mitigating measure. If left idle for three minutes, the adapter will turn itself off automatically to preserve the battery. This one uses a CR2032 DC 3V battery, which should be easy to buy locally.
Finally, you will get clockwise and anti-clockwise operation with this adapter. No surprise there … this has become quite the standard feature for any torque adapter. You can be able to convert any half-inch ratchet into a precise torque wrench.
- It rotates when you install the ratchet so that the display always faces you for easy reading.
- Commendable accuracy at +/- 2 percent.
- LED lights and buzzer alert you when you have attained the set torque.
- Low battery alert comes on when battery gets to 2.6V.
- You have to use a screwdriver to replace the battery.
2. ACDelco ARM602-4 – Editor Choice
Sometimes, you just have to have a digital torque adapter that imitates the features of a large torque wrench. Some of these include the ability to work in both the clockwise and anti-clockwise direction. It will turn any ½ -inch ratchet to an accurate torque wrench. It has a nice LCD display that displays legible numbers.
This is a versatile tool because it comes with four measurement units. These are in ft-lbs, in-lbs, Nm and kg-cm. Thus, you do not need to recall the multiplication tables in your head every time that you find a different measuring unit from what you are used to.
We found this digital torque adapter very accurate. In the clockwise direction, accuracy has been rated at 2 percent and at 3 percent in the anti-clockwise direction. That is pretty accurate by any account.
You will get an audio alert as soon as you achieve the set torque. Why is such a feature so important? A torque wrench helps you fasten tension parts to the required torque. Thus, if you miss to take a glance at a torque wrench that does not have an audible alert, chances are you are going to over-torque. It has a loud alert that will warn you to stop immediately.
- Has a high quality storage and carry-case.
- High accuracy rating.
- Different metrics make it a versatile tool.
- Can be used for calibrating the other torque wrenches.
- Requires you to be alert because by the time the loud continuous buzzing comes on, you may already have over torqued a little.
3. Neiko 20741A – Best Budget Pick
When you have seen the features that this digital torque adapter comes with, you will agree that Neiko puts a lot of thought in their products. The first thing that you will notice is the lovely and secure packaging.
You get the torque units in four different measurements namely kg-cm, Nm, in-lbs and kg-M. The torque range is 29.5ft-lbs to 147.5ft-lbs. To preserve the battery, the adapter turns off when it is left idle for 80 seconds.
We were happy with the two torque modes. One is the trace mode that shows us how much torque is being applied at that particular moment – in real-time and the second one is peak mode that shows us when a certain level of torque has been attained.
It is hard to over torque with this adapter since it gives an audible alert when the set torque has been reached. Torque adapter makers stop at the buzzer but not Neiko. They have gone ahead to include an LED light indicator with three colors to show you how much torque you have applied.
When you have digital or analog torque wrenches, or a ratchet torque wrench that you would love to convert into an accurate wrench, the Neiko 20741A is the best digital torque adapter for the job. It uses a CR2032 button cell, which is easy to get.
You may also buy the ¾ and a 3/8-inch adapter if you need them. The ½-inch one is more affordable than the other two but they are important additions to have in your collection.
This Neiko digital torque adapter can store up to 50 peak torque memories (means you have to use it in peak mode). To access the peak memory, just long press the button indicated MEM.
Something to note: This is marketed as ½-inch torque adapter, but there is the option to order the ¾ and 3/8-inch ones as well.
- It is easier to carry than a regular torque wrench.
- Accurate within 2ft-lbs.
- Good and secure packaging.
- Large display is easy to read.
- Buzzer is not very audible when there is background noise.
- Battery runs out fast.
4. ACDelco ARM602-3 – Best 3/8 Digital Torque Adapter
We all know that the most common fastening jobs require a ½-inch and a 3/8 inch torque wrench most of the time. It is for this reason that we would require digital torque adapters of the same sizes. Just as we have reviewed two of the best ACDelco torque adapters, here is also another one, a 3/8-inch.
A torque adapter is only as good as its features. This one measures static torque only, meaning torque that has no angular acceleration. It also allows measurement setting and mode setting. It can work in both clockwise and anti-clockwise direction.
On the LCD display, you can read the torque in four different metrics. These are Nm, kg-cm, in-lbs and ft-lbs. Thus if you have a manual for a certain part that requires you to use different metrics from what you have been used to, you will not worry about conversions.
When you have set the torque and you start operating, you will hear a loud buzzer when you attain the set torque. It is hard to over-torque, which is important especially for some very sensitive car parts.
Torque range starts at 5ft-lbs to 59ft-lbs.
- High accuracy rating of 1.5% clockwise and 3% anti-clockwise.
- Lithium ion battery lasts a long time.
- You can use it as it is for general uses without requiring a torque wrench.
- Sold with a nice case for storage and traveling.
- You get a calibration record of the adapter when you buy it.
- No cons, works as advertised.
5. ACDelco ARM602-4A – Best for Higher Torque
This torque adapter from ACDelco looks and performs similarly to the first one that we have discussed above. The only difference between them is the torque range. This one goes to a maximum of 250 ft-pounds, which is a 100-ft-pounds more than the first one.
You will notice that this torque adapter is slightly more expensive than the first one. You can use it for calibrating analog and digital torque wrenches. If you have a ratchet, this adapter is going to help you change it into an accurate torque wrench.
When using this adapter, we also noticed a slight improvement on the accuracy, compared to the 147ft-pound one. This one is 1½ percent accurate in the clockwise direction and 2½ percent accurate in the anti-clockwise direction. Compared to the 2 percent and 4 percent of the first one, this one is more accurate.
- Calibration certificate traceable to N.I.S.T.
- Big digital display to read the torque setting.
- Audible alert once the set torque has been attained.
- Can be used for heavier jobs requiring higher torque setting.
- Slightly more expensive.
- Some people have complained that their LCD screen became dimmer with time, but we haven’t experienced that.
Quick Tips to Choose the Best Digital Torque Adapter
When it comes to mechanical devices like digital torque adapter, the most important factor to consider is the accuracy. An inaccurate tool ends up wasting your time and effort. On top of that, you might face serious consequences due to a machine malfunction caused by an incompetent tool.
That’s even truer for digital torque adapter. If the device isn’t properly calibrated, you’ll keep getting faulty readings. As a result, you’ll end up with the wrong amount of torque.
Usually, manufacturers include a calibration certificate with the product. It shows the result of various torque tests. The best scenario will be less than 0.5% error. However, error up to (+/-) 4% is acceptable.
But, you’ve to know the right procedure uses of torque adapter. That will help you to get the accuracy in your work.
Digital displays are meant to be more standard than manual ones, and often they are. However, some digital displays are better than others.
There are displays which are only seen when you look at them head-on. Obviously, they aren’t ideal for every application. The display monitor should be bright, clearly watchable and come with large digits.
You’ll get different functions with a different unit of torque adapter. The basic ones will give you the reading of the torque amount that is being applied. More advanced ones come with additional settings where you can set a limit and it’ll warn you as you reach closer.
As for notifying the user, adapters do that in different ways. Some has LED lights with several colors which gives a clear visual indication to the user. Some have an audio function that generates a perceptible click or beep when the adapter reaches appropriate torque. Some come with both functions.
Astoundingly, manufacturers try to make the use easier. Since accessing the display might not be always possible, some models generate a subtle beep that keeps getting louder as you reach the desired torque. This allows the user to determine how close he/she is.
Obviously, cheap materials lower down the cost of a machine. That lures buyers to purchase adapters with plastic body. There’s nothing wrong with saving some bucks, but the problem is durability.
You see, the torque adapters are meant to withstand strong forces. Also, you’ll be carrying this with you, which means it’ll go through situations like collision and slippage. A metal or all-steel adapter is best suited to withstand these situations. Also, they last longer. So even though you’re spending a few bucks more, you’ll get a better shelf life and value for the money.
You might use your torque adapter frequently. Or, you might use it occasionally. Either way, you’d want a torque wrench that comes with a strong battery. Many of the digital torque adapter reviews revolve around the battery life. It’s irritating if you have to replace the battery regularly.
The solution is purchasing an adapter with a high battery life. Also, some adapters come with features that allow the device to shut down automatically if it’s inactive for a specific time. This way, you’ll be saving battery energy.
Storage & Portability
Many people buy digital torque adapters because they are supposed to be easier to carry. However, depending on the weight and design, you might find it either convenient or inconvenient. Usually, the weight of torque adapters ranges from as low as 14 ounces to as high as several pounds. They come with compact sizes.
Additionally, the storage facility is also important. You’ll be carrying the device to different places, and often keep it in your car. It only natural that they’ll go through collision and bumps. It’s important to keep them safely stored because any collision can push them off-calibration. Usually, good products come securely stowed in a plastic case.
Size & Range
The more size and range you get, the more freedom you’ll have. Yes, you might have to spend a few dollars more to buy a versatile adapter, but it’ll save you from purchasing additional heads.
The most common adapter connection is ½ inches. They are cheaper. But more versatile adapters will contain the option to use 3/8 inches or ½ inches ratchet with them.
Same goes for torque range. You’ll get a varying degree of torque ranges within which the devices give accurate results. Make sure you choose the right range for your application.
The FAQs of Digital Torque Adapters
Q: Can I use a digital torque adapter in place of a torque wrench?
A: It is not recommended, but you can try it for general torquing purposes. The torque adapter converts a ratchet into a precise torque wrench.
Q: What three things should I consider most when buying a digital torque adapter?
A: Accuracy – Utmost, it should not be any higher than 4 percent. However, the higher the accuracy the better as it should start at +/-2 percent. That way, you can use it on even the most sensitive fastening jobs.
Display and audible alert – The LCD display should be easy to read. When you install the ratchet, the display should rotate to face upwards for easy reading. The LCD should be clear in all lighting conditions and the buzzer should be loud enough to hear, or it should be accompanied by LED warning lights.
Battery – Digital torque adapters use battery for display as well as the buzzer. Consider a long-lasting battery, one that is also easy to find. Most use Li-ion batteries but some can run out fast.
Q: What exactly can I use digital torque adapters for?
A: You can use a torque adapter for calibrating analog and digital torque wrenches, as the adapter is up to 3 times more accurate than mechanical wrenches.
Q: How do I program my digital torque adapter?
A: Make sure the battery is good. Turn the adapter on by pressing the power button. The LCD display should show PtoP or trACE mode. Let it stay for 2 seconds and then it will display 0.00. It is ready for programming. You can now enter your settings.
Q: How can I get torque memory?
A: When you operate the digital torque adapter in peak mode, it stores up to 50 torque memories. To access the stored memories, just long-press the button indicated MEM.
Many purists like and want to use a physical torque wrench for every use. While there’s nothing wrong with a desire, it’s not a world of unlimited resources we live in. More and more people are leaning towards products that have versatile uses.
The best digital torque adapter can be a valuable addition to your toolbox. They are highly portable, often provide great accuracy. But the most important issue is they are specially built to prevent the application of inappropriate torque force.
In this article, we have reviewed the top products on the market. They’re dependable, accurate, and most importantly, they won’t cost a fortune.