Last updated: August 11, 2021

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Socket spanners combine the practical features of different tools, but are also adaptable. That is why they can be the right tool for many situations, whether it is for screws, nuts or even slotted nuts.

In this socket spanner test 2021 we compare different types and sizes of socket spanners, explain what their special features are and what you should look out for when making a purchase. After reading this test, you should have answered all the questions that are relevant for your purchase decision.




Summary

  • Socket spanners make work easier. They score particularly well in convoluted areas, where they can reach places no other tool can.
  • In most cases, socket spanners come in a whole set. This is practical because the right tool of the right size is always at hand.
  • Not every socket spanner is suitable for every person. The sizes and types required depend on the area of use, for example.

The Best Socket Spanner: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for sockets

If you want to buy a set of socket spanners, there are a few things you should know beforehand. These include, for example, the criteria you should use to find the right socket spanner for you. We have therefore compiled the most important ones below.

In summary, these are:

In the next section, we will introduce you to these and describe what is important.

Material

Since the material of the socket spanner is subjected to a lot of stress during use, it is essential that high-quality metal is used. Otherwise it will rust or even break after a short time.

A suitable material is chrome vanadium steel. This is hard enough that it can withstand the high loads and does not show heavy wear after a short period of use.

It is also useful that the handle is ergonomically shaped, covered with plastic and rubber and has an uneven surface with a profile. This makes it easier to get a firm grip and you won't slip. This is especially important if you want to work for longer periods at a time so that your hand does not suffer.

Size

When buying a socket set, there are several aspects to consider, including size. First of all, it is important to know whether there are ratchets and if so, which ones. Their size is given in inches. The three most common sizes are 1/4, 3/8 and 1/2 inch.

Ratchet size Functional range
1/4 inch This size is suitable for places that are not easy to reach. Smaller bits tend to be used. A place of use for this ratchet is, for example, the bicycle or on household appliances.
3/8 inch The ratchet with 3/8 inch length is particularly popular with professionals on motorbikes or cars. For its size, it has very good power transmission.
1/2 inch This spanner is relatively heavy. However, it is used for work on engines, for example

In addition to these sizes, there are others that are not of interest to private individuals unless they have a special hobby that requires one.

Apart from the ratchet, the size of the sockets is of course central. This is given in millimetres. The sizes range from 4 to 60 mm. But here too, sizes over 32 mm are not normally needed in private households.

Set size

Sockets are sold in sets. But here, bigger does not necessarily mean better.

First of all, the common sizes and parts should be included in the set. That means ratchets of 1/2, 1/4 or 3/8 inch, depending on the application, should be included. In addition, suitable sockets between 4 and 32 millimetres. Of course, it also depends on the type of nuts.

The usual sizes and parts should be included in any case.

If the set goes far beyond the usual parts, you should consider whether you really need them. The larger the set, the heavier and more unwieldy it will be. If you don't necessarily have a hobby that requires unusual parts, a smaller set is sufficient.

Finally, the packaging of the parts should not be neglected. They should be packed in a case that is stable and suitable for a long time and should be able to withstand even stress.

It is extremely difficult to find a case afterwards. It makes perfect sense to label the individual parts inside the case. It is practically impossible to find a case that does this.

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a socket set

Now you know what to look for when buying a socket set. If you still have questions, we have already answered at least the most common ones in this guide.

What is special about a socket spanner and what advantages does it offer?

Socket spanners are particularly practical because they are a tool for a wide range of trades.

In a bundled frame, you have ratchets and sockets from which you can search for suitable sizes and use them in an uncomplicated way. A socket set combines several tools in many different sizes.

Steckschlüssel-1

Sockets offer several advantages over open-ended spanners. One of them is that a set fits compactly into a case.
(Image source: Unsplash / NeONBRAND)

Every household should have a basic set of tools. A socket set can be a good start for this.

What types of sockets are there?

There are different types of sockets, so to make sure you don't get confused, we've introduced you to three of them here.

Hexagon socket spanner

The hexagon socket is probably the most common type of socket spanner. It is used to loosen or tighten nuts easily.

Advantages
  • Wide range of applications
Disadvantages
  • Not suitable for all nuts

The hexagon socket should be found in every home. Its tasks can also be taken over to some extent by, for example, twelve-sockets, but because of the wide range of uses, it is worth having a hexagon specially designed for it.

Bit socket spanner

This type of socket spanner is used for screws. The different sizes and types of attachments offer a selection that will always provide you with the right part.

Advantages
  • Versatile sizes
  • various types available
Disadvantages
  • High price

Although the modes of operation differ when used with the ratchet, these bits can demonstrate the same results as screwdrivers.

On the other hand, they are more compact and thus offer a large selection in a small space. In addition, tightening in limited spaces is easier with a ratchet.

Slotted nut socket spanner

This type of socket spanner is mainly used in industry. It is used to secure gears or machine shafts.

Industry, securing machine shafts and gears, not interesting for private individuals

Advantages
  • Securely fixes
Disadvantages
  • Unnecessary for private households
  • Expensive

So this type of socket spanner can be neglected if you are looking for a set only for your private household.

Who are socket spanners suitable for?

Socket spanners are suitable for different people and applications, depending on their properties. It all depends on the needs that a socket set is supposed to satisfy.

Steckschlüssel-2

A socket spanner can be used for various tasks. Its flexibility makes it popular in both the private and professional spheres.
(Image source; Unsplash / Tekton)

Depending on the field, the size of the ratchet, for example, can change, which is useful to use. The different sizes lend themselves to different tasks, for example, due to their different power transmission.

For example, a 1/4 inch ratchet is appropriate in private households, whereas a car workshop would be lost without 3/8 and 1/2 inch ratchets.

The same applies to the sizes of sockets and other accessories in socket sets. All parts can be indispensable for one area of work, while in another area of use they just lie around in the case.

Therefore, before buying, it is important to know your own needs and areas of use as well as your current equipment.

What does a socket set cost?

The price of a socket set can vary greatly. It mainly depends on the scope of the set.

The more specialised the contents, the more expensive the set

But it is also determined by the quality of the material and, for example, the packaging in a case.

While smaller sets also tend to cost less, the more specialised the parts contained, the less so. Common ratchet and socket sizes can be purchased cheaply in many sets, but when it comes to more specialised attachments such as those for slotted nuts, the price can skyrocket.

Area of application Price
Private household From 20 to 150 euros
Industry From 100 to 500 euros

Inexpensive socket sets can be bought for as little as 20 euros, and even high-quality sets can often be bought at a reduced price. For sets with many parts and of the highest quality, the cost can quickly climb above 100 euros. Sets designed for the industry cost up to 5 times as much. So the range is very wide.

Conclusion

Every household should own a bit of tools, as they are often not easy to obtain in the situations where they are needed. Especially when basic equipment is not yet available, it is worthwhile to buy a socket spanner set with the most common sizes. The same applies if there are areas where simple tools such as open-ended spanners or screwdrivers are not applicable.

As long as the needs do not change much, a good quality socket set is a long-lasting companion. The money invested pays off over a long period of time. Especially in moments when a specific tool seems to be missing, you can simply put together the right one and use it without complications.

Image source: dsotirov / 123rf

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