What Size of Air Compressor Do I Need For Impact Wrench

Size Matters: What Size of Air Compressor Do You Need For Impact Wrench?

With the idea of an impact wrench that suits your need as a mechanic, or a weekend DIYer in mind, the next step is to get the air compressor for a power source. The air compressor, of course, has to perfect the operation of the impact wrench, which makes getting the right one a little confusing.

Just so you know, when discussing pneumatic tools, it is inevitable to hear CFM at least a few times or more.

This is because air compressors are measured in PSI meaning “Pounds per Square Inch” or deliverable CFM meaning “Cubic Feet per Minute. If your main aim for it is to power an impact wrench, then one between 2.5 to 7 CFM will do just fine.

Randomly picking a size of air compressor from the lots of available options without some considerations will most likely result in worse performance.

The airflow or CFM rating is based on the motor horsepower, tank size, and pump capacity. But in many instances, you do not have to worry about the exact one to get, since each unit of an impact wrench and other air tools have their unique CFM indicated by the manufacturer on the box.

What size of air compressor is for an impact wrench?

The basic criterions for predicting the size of air compressor for an impact wrench is the Power rating in horsepower (HP), the Pounds per Square inch, Cubic feet per minute, and tank size in liters.

The Horsepower is the first determinant since they are not created equally. If you need your impact wrench for small jobs like pumping tires, then 1.5HP air compressor will get the job done. But do not assume that the amount of horsepower alone defines the efficiency of the air compressor.

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

The CFM describes the amount of air the tool will need to pass through per minute for it to work. So clearly, the air compressors output should match the required CFM of the impact wrench. Lastly, the tank size measured in gallons influences the length of time 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 an adjustable torque control and variable speed to increase the versatility and compared to other traditional ones, the air tools last longer.

  • Longer life span
  • Variable speed and torque control
  • No risk of electric or shock fire hazard
  • Generates lower heat
  • High ratio of power
  • No contaminants in accidental air leaks

How many gallons are needed for air compressor to run an impact wrench?

The sizes of the tanks are measured in gallons. It critically determines the CFM to keep the impact wrench functioning as it should. Just like other air tools like grinders or paint sprayers, the impact wrenches may also have to run for an extended period – which means they need large tanks.

How many gallons are needed for air compressor to run an impact wrench?

If you have confirmed the Power rating, Pounds per Square inch, Cubic Feet per Minute, the next consideration will be the tank size. Try not to be confused about a large tank based on how much work time you can get for an impact wrench – Focus more on the usage.

If you use your impact wrench intermittently, then a large tank will be fine, but if you need to make continuous use, then a smaller container with a better motor and pump will work.

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

Asides from the impact wrench, the air compressor can work for other tools like nail guns, paint sprayer, grinders, air sanders, and more. But determining the size for an air compressor for any air tool has a lot to do with the amount of air 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 impact how well the tool will work. When the tank is filled and has a higher CFM than the equipment, the tank compressor will not have to run so much to maintain the airflow.

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

Almost all air tools have specific requirements for both air volume and pressure. You should get a larger tank if you are planning on using an air tool that requires continuous air like paint sprayers or grinders.

But if you use air tools that need only intermittent running like nail guns, then a smaller air compressor is suitable.

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

In situations like this, you can use a larger and more commercial compressor and get your airflow by to gather the individual CFM of each air tool.

Which is the smallest air compressor for impact wrench?

Having an air compressor with tanks and pump that is large enough to produce sufficient CFM for your impact wrench is the goal.

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

To figure the minimum size of air compressor needed, you need knowledge on how much airflow the impact wrench requires to function. Once you find the CFM requirement of the air tool either from the manual or technical specification and meet them, then your equipment will run at its best.

How to calculate the CFM requirement and Tank Size?

Although this information will already be in your user’s guide or manufacturer’s website, if you want a rough guide on finding the minimum required CFM and tank size of for the compressor, you can do these:

  • Multiply the CFM of the air tool by 1.5. For instance, an impact wrench at 6.5 CFM will require an air compressor of 9.75 CFM.
  • Also, to find the minimum tank size of the compressor, the required CFM should be multiplied by 6. For example, an impact wrench at 8 CFM will need a compressor tank of at least 48 liters.

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

Will a pancake air compressor run an impact wrench?

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

The pancake air compressors are suitable for smaller space of work and can that fits anywhere better than the 30-gallon stationary units.

The capacity of the air compressor is not the only essential factor in deciding the effectiveness; it merely determines the running time. A pancake air compressor can run an impact wrench, but only for a short period as long as the air in the tank lasts.

The tank size keeps the air supply at the right level while you are working with the air tool and also determines the continuity. You should know that large tanks take up a lot of room.

What is an air compressor used for mostly?

Impact wrenches are mostly used in garages, mechanic workshops, tire shops, or break shops, so it is not surprising to find an air compressor near always.

If you want to pull a tire or two, a 4 or 5-gallon compressor will do, but when it comes to removing everything, you will need one with a size of around 15 gallons.

What is an air compressor used for mostly
They are useful for complete automotive repairs, maintenance, hobbies, crafts, and construction. Let’s see some of the benefits of the top-quality air tools. The air compressor is a versatile application based equipment and can handle different tasks in homes, workshops, basements, factories, and garages. 

With the different model and sizes available there are some for small functions like inflating pool toys, sports equipment or air mattress and others to power tools like nail guns, drillsimpact wrenches, staplers, spray guns and sanders.

The use of the air compressor stretches widely across different occupational fields. Some of them include

  • Construction: For a range 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 extraction and other rig tasks
  • Heating, Ventilation and Air conditioning: air-sourcing and heat pump systems of HVAC units


After all these, you must now know the size of the air compressor that you need for your impact wrench. The air compressors come with a storage tank to store the air they need, and the amount of air it determines the performance of the impact wrench.

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

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