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ES120 Electric Screwdriver Review

For a long time I've been on the look out for a good electric screwdriver. I wanted one that was small, had good build quality, good RPM, and good torque. Now, "good" is a relative term so I'll elaborate a little and say that I do like nice things and most of the screws I use are in the #2 to #10 range. As long as the driver could push these with a decent speed and seat them with a "finger-tight" level of torque, I would be happy. I didn't want something huge like the ones that you can get from the hardware store. Recently I found the ES120 electric screwdriver and it appears like I found what I was looking for.

Honestly, this little electric screwdriver is sweet. It's about the size of a large marker or highlighter and has only one button that controls the entire operation. Holding down this button will turn on the screwdriver and light up a little screen. Rotating the screwdriver clockwise or CCW will start the motor. There are 5 qualitative torque modes: 4 constant speed modes and one Automatic mode that varies the torque & speed as a function of how much you rotate the driver. From what I can tell, there is a little gyroscope inside and the microprocessor is integrating its angular rate to get an angle measurement. It uses this angle measurement to know what direction and what speed to turn the bit. The torque seems to be controlled only by the applied power. There is a very small bar at the bottom of the display that seems to be showing the output current. Although you can't set a numerical torque limit, I'm just happy someone finally made a nice micro electric screwdriver...

It comes with a small zipper case with hold down points for 6 bits. Mine came with two low quality 4mm bits (phillips and flat) but I've seen other listings that include more. Honestly, if you get this screwdriver, then invest in a nice bit set like the Wiha 75991 (normal) or 75992 (ESD Safe) bit set. Both can be purchased from Amazon for about 50$. They include a handle, extension bar, and 25 bits in phillips, flat, allen, and torx in standard sizes. Definitely worth it. There are more bit sets available from Wiha under the "System 4" category.

The ES120 can be had for anywhere between 90$ and 150$ depending on where you get it from. I found that it was the cheapest on Banggood, while Amazon's listings were in the +110$ range. One thing that confused me was that there doesn't seem to be a listed manufacturer for this product. It just seems to be distributed by many different vendors. I got mine from Amazon from SainSmart when it was about 100$.


One of the things that struck me about the ES120 was the build quality. Its body is all stainless steel, it uses a microprocessor and inertial sensors to control speed and direction, it has a nice little screen for direction and torque information, and it's USB rechargeable (battery life is very good). In the above video you can see a good tear down and review. One of the highlights is the cool clutch mechanism on the output that prevents back-driving. This allows the screwdriver to be used manually to break a screw free or tighten it down without hurting the gearbox. 

The one thing that I didn't like about this screwdriver is that the bit doesn't go deep enough, which admittedly sounds like a personal problem. It's not really a problem with the screwdriver, or the bits... It's just something that IS. It was an issue for me because I often take apart things that have buried screws. In order to reach these with this screwdriver I needed a minimum OD bit extension so it can fit in these narrow, long, holes.

I had a good dose of luck in that I happened to have some hexagonal tube stock from K&S Precision Metals that was exactly the right size. The hex tube is 5/32" (4mm) on the inside and 3/16" on the outside (tube is labeled by outside dimension). That's about as 'minimal OD' as you can get. I cut a piece of the extension bar from my Wiha set, and glued the hex tube stock on the end. I also glued a magnet on the inside so the bits would still be held in place. It's worth noting that K&S has products in a lot of hobby stores and their tubes are made such that each size can fit inside the next size up (think: telescoping antenna). This includes the hex tubing. This can be very useful.

Conclusion: I really like this little driver. It saves me from turning a lot of threads for both my work and hobbies. It's also faster than doing it by hand. The build quality is good, it works very well, and it's small. It applies, IMO, a very good amount of torque for small screws (my guess is around 30 oz-in). It is pricey, but for me it's worth it. 

There is also an ES121 electric screwdriver available on Banggood that has a faster speed but lower output torque. 

There is also a small soldering iron called the TS100 that seems to be made by the same people. It has some cool features, including an accelerometer to detect when it's not in use. It's about 60-70$ on Amazon. I haven't tried it out but it has a lot of good reviews.


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