What size compressor do I need for an impact wrench? - detailed instructions (2023)

What size compressor do I need for an impact wrench? - detailed instructions (1)

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With the idea of ​​an impact wrench that meets your needs as a mechanic or weekend DIYer, the next step is to get the air compressor as a power source. The air compressor, of course, needs to perfect how the impact wrench works, which makes the right choice a little confusing.

FYI, when talking about pneumatic tools, you inevitably hear CFM at least a few times or more.

This is because air compressors are measured in PSI, which stands for "Pounds per square inch” or CFM delivery, which stands for “cubit feet per minute. If your main objective is to drive an impact wrench, then one of the2,5 a 7 CFMit will work out very well.

Randomly choosing a sizeair compressorof the many options available without some consideration is likely to result in suboptimal performance.

The CFM or air flow rating is based on engine horsepower, tank size and pump capacity. But in many cases, you don't have to worry about the exact unit to get, as each unit in an impact wrench and other pneumatic tools has its unique CFM listed by the manufacturer on the box.

What is the air compressor size for an impact wrench?

What size compressor do I need for an impact wrench? - detailed instructions (2)

The basic criteria for predicting air compressor size for akey of impactis the rated horsepower (HP), pounds per square inch, cubic feet per minute, and tank size in liters.

Potency is the first determinant as they are not created equally. If you need your impact wrench for small jobs like inflating tires, the 1.5 HP air compressor will do the job. But don't assume that horsepower alone defines the efficiency of the air compressor.

Most impact wrenches require air compressors with a minimum of 90 PSI to function properly and operate between 80 and 100 PSI. Small compressors with horsepower between 1.5 and 3 will produce between 120 and 150 PSI, so the air problem is not an issue here.

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CFM describes the amount of air the tool will need to pass through per minute to function. Clearly, the output of the air compressors must match the required CFM of the impact wrench. Finally, tank size measured in gallons influences how long the impact wrench can run.

Why air compressor?

Compressed air is one of the most beneficial, versatile and available forms of energy. Most air tools have adjustable torque control and variable speed for added versatility, and compared to traditional tools, air tools last longer.

  • a longer life
  • Variable speed and torque control
  • No risk of electrical fire or shock hazard
  • generates less heat
  • high power ratio
  • No contaminants from accidental air leaks

How many gallons does it take for the air compressor to run an impact wrench?

Tank sizes are measured in gallons. Critically determine the CFM to keep the impact wrench working as it should. Like other pneumatic tools such as angle grinders or paint sprayers, impact wrenches may also need to run for a long period of time, which means they need large tanks.

What size compressor do I need for an impact wrench? - detailed instructions (3)

If you've confirmed the rated horsepower, pounds per square inch, cubic feet per minute, the next consideration is tank size. Try not to get confused with a big tank based on how much work time you can get with an impact wrench - focus more on usage.

If you use your impact wrench intermittently, a larger tank will do, but if you must do continuous use, a smaller container with a better motor and pump will work.

What size air compressor do I need for other air tools?

In addition to the impact wrench, the air compressor can work with other tools such as nail guns, paint sprayers, angle grinders, air sanders and more. But sizing an air compressor for any air tool has a lot to do with how much air is needed to power the device.

Air compressors work based on the air contained in the storage tank, which means the volume of compressed air will affect how the tool works. When the tank is full and has a higher CFM than the equipment, the tank compressor doesn't need to work as hard to keep the air flowing.

What size compressor do I need for an impact wrench? - detailed instructions (4)

Almost all pneumatic tools have specific requirements for air volume and pressure. You should get a larger tank if you plan on using a pneumatic tool that requires continuous air, such as paint sprayers or grinders.

But if you use pneumatic tools that only need intermittent operation, such as nail guns, a smaller air compressor is fine.

Most DIY compressors are explicitly designed to power one tool at a time, but in many cases, the purpose of the air compressor can be to run multiple devices simultaneously.

In situations like this, you could use a larger, more commercial compressor and have your airflow gather the individual CFMs of each pneumatic tool.

What is the smallest impact wrench air compressor?

The goal is to have an air compressor with tanks and a pump big enough to produce enough CFM for your impact wrench.

You will also have to move your air compressor at least once in a while; so a laptop is more desired. Smaller portable air compressors mean less capacity and less weight.

To calculate the minimum size air compressor needed, you need to know how much airflow the impact wrench requires to operate. Once you find the air tool CFM requirement, either in the manual or the technical specifications, and meet them, your equipment will perform at its best.

How to calculate CFM requirement and tank size?

While this information is already in the user guide or on the manufacturer's website, if you want a rough guide on how to find the minimum required CFM and tank size for your compressor, do the following:

  • Multiply the air tool CFM by 1.5. For example, a 6.5 CFM impact wrench will require a 9.75 CFM air compressor.
  • Also, to find the minimum compressor tank size, the required CFM must be multiplied by 6. For example, an 8 CFM impact wrench will need a compressor tank of at least 16 gallons.

Remember, this method is only a rough guide and the larger the air compressor tank, the better the air tool will perform.

Will a pancake air compressor work with an impact wrench?

Sure, there are portable air compressors for impact wrenches, but the bigger the gallon, the more air you can hold. One of the popular types is the pancake air compressor with small tanks between 3 and 6 gallons.

Pancake air compressors are suitable for smaller workspaces and can fit anywhere better than 30 gallon stationary units.

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Air compressor capacity is not the only key factor in deciding efficiency; it simply determines the execution time. A pancake air compressor can operate an impact wrench, but only for a short time as long as the air in the tank lasts.

The size of the tank keeps the air supply at the correct level when working with the pneumatic tool and also determines continuity. You should know that big tanks take up a lot of space.

What is an air compressor primarily used for?

Impact wrenches are mostly used in garages, mechanic shops, tire shops or workshops, so it's not surprising to find an air compressor always close at hand.

If you want to remove a tire or two, a 4 or 5 gallon compressor will do, but when it comes to removing everything, you'll need one that's about 15 gallons in size.

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What size compressor do I need for an impact wrench? - detailed instructions (5)

They are useful for complete car repairs, maintenance, hobbies, crafts and construction. Let's look at some of the benefits of high quality pneumatic tools. The air compressor is versatile equipment based on applications and can perform different tasks in homes, workshops, basements, factories and garages.

With the different models and sizes available, there are some for small functions like inflating pool toys, sports equipment or air mattresses and others for power tools like nail guns,workouts,impact wrenches, staplers, spray guns and sanders.

The use of air compressor is widespread in different occupational areas. Some of them include

  • Construction: For a variety of pneumatic tools and equipment
  • manufacturing: From food, beverage and pharmaceutical packaging to plastics and metal fabrication.
  • Agriculture: For tractors, sprayers, pumps and irrigation systems
  • energy sector: For oil drilling and other drilling tasks
  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning: HVAC unit heat pump and air supply systems

To involve

After all that, you should already know what size air compressor you need for your impact wrench. Air compressors come with a storage tank to hold the air they need, and the amount of air determines how well the impact wrench performs.

So the ultimate goal is to get an air compressor capable of powering the impact wrench.

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(Video) How to modify your air compressor to run air tools or impact wrenches


How do I know what size air compressor I need? ›

To determine the correct size of the air compressor for your needs, check the highest value CFM and PSI of your tools. Multiply the CFM by about 1.5 to get the best margin CFM required for better and safe use. Once you get the value, find an air compressor that meets the requirement.

Is a 6 gallon air compressor good for air tools? ›

Air Compressor Tank Size

Tools that require only quick bursts of air, like pneumatic brad nail guns and finish nail guns, drain the air tank much more slowly. For these tasks, 2- to 6-gallon tanks are sufficient.

Can an air compressor be too big? ›

An air compressor that's too small won't put out enough air, or you'll run it to death well before the end of its lifespan. An air compressor that's too large will carry a hefty price tag and will be costly to run.

Is a 10 gallon air compressor enough? ›

To pick the right size air compressor, note your tools' CFM requirements and pick a model that goes 10-20% above the required amount. Next, find a compressor with a large enough tank to power your tools for extended periods. Usually, 10-20 gallons will suffice.

What size air compressor runs an impact gun? ›

100 Litre Air Compressor

The large air tank makes this compressor suitable for tools that require a constant supply of air, such as spray guns, impact wrenches and drills.

Can a pancake compressor run air tools? ›

A pancake air compressor with 150 PSI is ideal for personal use to fill the air in tires or power up pneumatic tools.

What to look for when buying an air compressor? ›

CRITERIA. There are three key aspects to consider when it comes to choosing an air compressor: air pressure, air flow (measured in cubic feet per minute, or CFM), and the amount of air that can be stored in the tank.

What is a good size compressor? ›

American manufacturers measure air compressor tank sizes in U.S. gallons. There is a wide range of reservoir capacities on the market ranging from small but efficient 1-gallon models up to large commercial 80-gallon products. For your home garage, a compressor size in the 2.6-gallon to 20-gallon range should do nicely.

What happens if compressor is oversized? ›

Oversized Compressor.

This will lead to huge energy bills, largely caused by the spike in energy produced when the compressor starts up. The excessive start/stop cycle can also result in motor burnout, future mechanical problems and potential failure of the compressor.

Should you bolt down an air compressor? ›

The compressor must be bolted to the floor with vibration pads before operating to prevent equipment damage, injury or death. Do Not tighten bolts completely as this may cause stress to the tank welds.

What is a 20 gallon air compressor used for? ›

A 20-gallon air compressor is usually sufficient to run any tool with an airflow requirement of 5.0 CFM at 40 PSI or less. This includes most pneumatic nail guns, hobby painters, staplers, wrenches, and bolters that are intended as light- to medium-duty tools and equipment.

Is a bigger tank better for an air compressor? ›

A larger tank holds more air and will allow you to use more air before the pressure drops and the motor kicks on to refill the tank. That might let you avoid stopping work while the compressor refills the tank.

How many PSI is a 60 gallon air compressor? ›

Industrial Air 60 Gal. compressor features a large capacity tank providing longer run times for air tools such as ratchets, spray guns and hammers. Compressor has a 155 max psi and delivers 11.5 CFM at 90 psi. 3.7 HP, motor with 240-Volt operation.

Will a 6 gallon air compressor fill a car tire? ›

Portable air compressors in the 3- to 6-gallon size, such as those used to operate pneumatic nailers, are good for filling larger-size and heavy-duty tires. If you have a completely flat tire, however, it may take several cycles to refill the tire completely.

Is an 8 gallon air compressor big enough? ›

Most 8 gallon air compressors can produce 3 SCFM at 90 PSI, which is sufficient to power most pneumatic tools. However, there are other 8 gallon air compressors that can produce up to 11.8 CFM at 90 PSI for a bit more money.

How many CFM air compressor do I need? ›

Air tools made for general use with portable air compressors typically require 0 to 5 cubic feet per minute (cfm) at 70 to 90 pounds per square inch (psi), whereas with larger tools connected to stationary systems, the requirements usually exceed 10 cfm at 100 to 120 psi.

Is a 6 gallon air compressor enough for impact wrench? ›

For example, if the impact wrench has an airflow requirement of 5 CFM, then the tank size of the air compressor must be at least 25 to 30 liters (6 – 8 gallons). In this case, you can expect the impact wrench to operate for about an hour or an hour and a half.

Will a pancake compressor fill a car tire? ›

A pancake air compressor with 150 PSI is ideal for personal use to fill the air in tires or power up pneumatic tools.

What happens if I put too much air in my car tires? ›

Overinflated Tires Wear Out Your Tires Faster & Unevenly

Uneven tire wear can also be the result of overinflation. When your tires have too much air it causes the center of the tread to bow out and wear first. Because of this you will need new tires more often and have a less than comfortable ride.


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