What size air compressor do i need

What Size Air Compressor Do I need? The In-Depth Guide

It depends on how much CFM your air tools consume. Every pneumatic tool manufacturers spec the CFM and PSI rating. Before choosing an air compressor, figure out the number of CFM and PSI of your air tools. It helps to choose the right size air compressor for your next project without drain your pocket. 

Ask yourself what purpose you need an air compressor? Occasional maintenance tasks or bigger home remodeling projects? Inflating tires or do some nailing jobs? Run air tools or high CFM consuming auto repair tools? hobbyist airbrushing or sandblasting jobs? A small air compressor is ideal for inflating car tires of doing some small nailing tasks. But it won’t be capable of running a sander or die grinder because they consume a high amount of air.

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What size air compressor do I need? The in-depth guide according to air tools required CFM and pressure PSI.

Some auto repair air tools, particularly air sander, die grinder, impact wrench, need constant airflow at required air pressure. They need an air compressor with a bigger tank and more airflow. 

Other hands, to operate pin nailer, brad nailer, floor nailer for doing some nailing tasks. A small air compressor could be fit with those jobs. 

Let’s discuss some of the standard air-powered tools and their average CFM and Pressure requirements.  


What size air compressor do I need for impact wrench?

It depends on what size impact wrench you have to run. The air-powered impact wrench comes in different sizes and consumes additional airflow according to its size. 

Let’s See the chart of the average CFM and air pressure rating of the impact wrench.

Impact Wrench/Driver Size

Average CFM

Average Pressure (PSI)

1/4-inch 2-4 CFM 90-100
3/8-inch 3-6 CFM 90-100
1/2-inch 5-8 CFM 90-100
3/4-inch 8-12 CFM 90-100
1-Inch 14-38 CFM 90-125

Our recommendation. 

Suppose you are looking for an air compressor to run an air impact wrench at your auto repair shop or your home garage, and it’s your daily task to drive different sizes of impact wrench according to your job. In that case, You must have an air compressor that capable of producing 12 CFM airflow at 90 PSI. And the tank size should be 20-30 gallons. 

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And choose a 60-gallon air compressor that is capable of providing you a minimum of 14 CFM at 90-125PSI that is suitable to run a 1-inch air impact wrench. 

Or if you are a homeowner and looking for an air compressor for your home garage, and that unit may use to drive 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch impact wrench occasionally. You may go with a 10-gallon air compressor capable of producing 6 CFM at 90 PSI.


What size air compressor for nail guns?

Most of the pneumatic nail guns operate at 70-125 PSI, and they consume low air. They do not need constant airflow like a sander. Nail guns required a short burst of air to drive nails into the wood. The DIYers and home remodelers like portable air compressors for maneuvering with ease at their job site. Most portable air compressors come with an oil-less pump and give the DIYers maintenance-free service on their field. 

We made a CFM and PSI rating chart of pneumatic nail guns according to their types and jobs. 

Impact Wrench/Driver Size

Average CFM

Average Pressure (PSI)

1/4-inch 2-4 CFM 90-100
3/8-inch 3-6 CFM 90-100
1/2-inch 5-8 CFM 90-100
3/4-inch 8-12 CFM 90-100
1-Inch 14-38 CFM 90-125

Our recommendation: 

Framing nailers consume more air than all types of nail guns. So if you choose a compressor to power framing nailer, that unit can run all kinds of nail guns without sacrificing lack of power. A 3-4 CFM 6-10 gallon air compressor will fit perfectly for occasional framing tasks. 

Or if you are looking for an air compressor for teamwork. And your motto is to run 2 nail guns simultaneously. It would be best to choose a 10-gallon air compressor capable of producing at least 4 CFM at 90 PSI.