Find Out What Size Air Compressor Do I Need?

What will happen if you use an undersized or oversized air compressor for your household or industrial work? That will impede your working process. As well as shorten the lifespan of the tool that you use with the air compressor. With this brief opinion, you have known the great importance of using the right size air compressor.

To pick out the proper size of the air compressor, you have to determine some necessary factors at first. Such as what is the purpose of using your air compressor, what tools are going to use with the air compressor, power source, and many other things. In this article, you will get the required information about what air compressor do you need.

The reasons we need an air compressor

If you are a professional industrial worker or a DIY enthusiast, you must have some tools you need to use often. And there come two options for you whether you will use electric tools or air tools. Comparing with the durability, cost, weight, easy usage, and quickness, air tools are more popular nowadays. If you have to work in an easy and fast way, nothing that can beat air tools.

An Air compressor is used to increase the air pressure for different air tools. It converts normal air to heavy and produces high pressurized air. So, we can clearly say that the main reason for using an air compressor is to give more strength and make the work faster to the air tools. 

An air compressor can provide power supply to the air tools even in a remote area, where a shortage of electricity has. The most important works are done with using air compressors such as construction, manufacturing, agriculture, etc.

What air compressor do I need?

Already you have known the importance of using the right size air compressor. To figure out the right size of air compressor, at first, you have to check your air tool’s specifications that are going to run with the compressor.

For low-flow tools, you have to choose an air compressor with lower SCFM (Standard Cubic Feet per Minute) at higher PSI. On the other side, for high-flow tools, you need to use an air compressor that has higher SCFM at lower PSI. In the below, some significant factors directly affect the size of the air compressor.

Where the air compressor is going to use?

The most necessary factor for choosing the proper size of air compressor is to determine the workplace where you are going to use that. At first, consider the size of the project so long as it is a big construction area or DIY repair or upgrade household service. Usually, for doing massive work or using multiple tools, you will need a big size air compressor with a larger tank and, for doing DIY household work, you need a small size air compressor.

Keep in mind that you should not evaluate the tank’s physical size when choosing the proper size for you. It is better to determine the amount of airflow that the air compressor is capable of supplying air. The airflow of an air compressor is measured as CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute).  A higher CFM air compressor is used in large industrial projects for using larger tools and, a lower CFM air compressor is used in small DIY projects.

  • Types of tools

Here comes another important factor that also affects determining the size of an air compressor. You have to purchase an air compressor according to the tools you will use with the air compressor. Usually, most air compressors are customized to meet the requirement of the tools that need between 10-110 CFM. It may vary for different equipment.

The SCFM of your air compressor will be the most CFM requirement tool that you use. If you use more than one air tool simultaneously, add their required CFM and, you will get the right SCFM for you. No matter whether you use your air tool’s 100% power or less than that, you have to determine the actual CFM of each piece of equipment you use.

There is another thing that needs to consider before installing an air compressor. That is the air compressor’s pressure, measured as PSI (Pounds-Per-Square-Inch). Using the accurate PSI air compressor runs the air tools smoothly. If you use a lower PSI air compressor, the equipment will not run perfectly. On the other side, if you use a higher PSI air compressor, it will damage your tools with its higher pressure.

  • Intermittent demands

Air tools can divide into two categories according to the consumption of air pressure from the air compressor. Some equipment needs a strong and continuous supply of air pressure from the compressor. The most realistic example of this category is the sandblast cabinet. On the other hand, some tools need a sporadic and fixed rate of air pressure for a short time as a pneumatic cylinder that requires a fixed rate of air pressure to push the piston through its stroke.

Find out the category of your air tools whether they need a continuous supply of air or a sporadic supply of air. This factor keeps a vital role in choosing the right size of air pressure. If you follow this strategy to find the proper size air compressor, you will never suffer from the wrong size air compressor.

  • Power source

Imagine you have determined all the above factors carefully and choose an air compressor according to your need. Unfortunately, the air compressor can’t run due to a shortage of power supply. So, considering the air compressor power sources of your working place is also a significant thing before sizing an air compressor.

A common-size air compressor can plug into any standard home power outlet. For some large-size air compressors, you will need a high volt power outlet. Check the power source of your workplace whether it is powerful enough to run your required size air compressor. Or else, you can reform your power outlet with more volt.

If your working area has no electric supply, you can choose an air compressor that can run with gasoline. It is also known as a gas-powered air compressor. But if you have enough electric supply to use an electric air compressor, don’t use a gas-powered air compressor because it is not powerful as an electric one and needs more cost to maintain.

What size air compressor do I need for the air tool?

To know the exact size air compressor for your air tools, you have to determine the PSI and CFM of each piece of equipment. Most used wrenches, air hammers, and impact drivers require an air compressor that has at least 90 PSI portable air compressor. And the CFM rate varies for different tools. Check your tool’s CFM rate with their manual or, you can ask the seller from whom you buy the tool.

Consider the highest CFM required tool of you. It will help you to run all your tools without any interruption. If you use multiple tools simultaneously, you should also consider preventing a shortage of air pressure from your air compressor.

What size air compressor is best for home use?

For home use, you don’t need a big size air compressor. DIY-enthusiast uses a portable compressor to do small household work. In that case, they don’t need to run multiple tools simultaneously. So, it will be a better idea to purchase a small air compressor that doesn’t take too much space.

The home use air compressor should be small and lightweight as if it can place in a narrow corner of a house. Besides, a living house power supply is not as powerful as an industrial house. So, you have to determine your house’s power supply capacity before buying an air compressor. For home use, the air compressor should be at least 150 PSI and approximately 1.5 CFM.

Air tool CFM chart

In this chart, we have mentioned some common air tools that are mostly used. If you can’t find the CFM of your air tools, you can check from the chart at a glance.

Air toolsAir pressure(Required PSI)Air Consumed(CFM)
Air Hammer490-100
Blow Gun2-390-100
Die Grinder570-90
Grease Gun3120-150
Impact Driver(1/2’’)490-100
Impact Driver(3/4’’)790-100
Impact Driver(1”)1290-100
Angle Grinder5-890-100
Brad Nailer0.570-90
Disc Sander2090-100
Framing Nailer2100-130
Hydraulic Riveter490-100
Impact Wrench(3/8”)390-100
Impact Wrench(1/2”)490-100
Impact Wrench(1”)1090-100
Speed Saw490-100
Paint Spray Gun4-890-100
Orbital Sander6-970-100


Why we need air tools?

If you are an industrial worker or a DIY enthusiast, you must need some air tools to do your work smoothly. Air tools are used for drilling, sanding, painting, and many other applications. It is more powerful and lightweight as compared to electric tools. With air tools, the working process remains quick and more effective. The most common air tools are impact wrenches, nail guns, air hammers, etc.

How to Determine Your Air Needs?

The easiest way to determine the required air output for your air compressor is to determine the CFM and PSI of the air tools that you use. Here are the steps how to determine your air needs.

  • Observe the maximum and minimum CFM of each air tool.
  • Determine the minimum PSI of the tools.
  • Running time of the tools.
  • Determine whether you need to run multiple air tools simultaneously.

Is a 20-gallon air compressor big enough?

An air compressor should at least 20 gallons.  Air compressor size shouldn’t determine approximately. In the above, we have already discussed the importance of pre-determination of an air compressor. But we can say a 20-gallon air compressor is big enough for home use.

What size air compressor do I need for a die grinder?

A die grinder doesn’t need a lot of air pressure. With our determination, we can say that the die grinder needs at least 5 CFM air compressor @70-90 average operating PSI. Also, choosing an air compressor of 20 gallons will prevent delays between tasks.

How would I know my air compressor is the wrong size?

Identifying whether the air compressor is the wrong size or the perfect size is not a big deal. You will see some issues related to the air compressor if it is the wrong size. Here are some common issues.

  • It will take too much time to do a job with your air tool if the air compressor is undersized.
  • It will consume too much power if the compressor is oversized.
  • The compressor will constantly shut off.

Nobody wants to choose a piece of equipment that shortens the lifespan of other equipment. A wrong size air compressor reduces the durability of the connected air tools. Besides, you will not be able to do your job properly without any interruption. So, determine the significant factors to find the best size air compressor.

This article will help you to determine the proper size air compressor that will make your industrial or DIY work more easy and fast.

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