Air Supply UK: Specialist Compressed Air Engineers

Published: 28/03/2024

What air compressor do I need for air tools? Your questions answered 

If you want to use pneumatic air tools, there’s no getting around the fact that you’ll need a compressor. However, choosing a suitable air compressor to power your tools is easier said than done. Compressors come in a wide range of sizes, and if you’ve never bought one before, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of options available. 

The compressed air experts at Air Supply have put together this guide with the answers to the most commonly asked questions about compressors and air tools. 

What is CFM, and why is it important for air tools?

CFM stands for cubic feet per minute. It measures the volume of air in cubic feet that’s moved per minute by the compressor. For example, if a compressor is rated 15 CFM, 15 cubic feet of air flows each minute. 

When choosing the correct air compressor for use with air tools, the CFM will be one of the most important factors. All pneumatic tools are given a standard cubic feet per minute (SCFM) rating, which refers to the minimum airflow required to run. This information can be found printed on the tool itself, in the owner’s manual, or on the manufacturer’s website. You’ll need to ensure your compressor has a higher CFM than the tool’s SCFM rating. 

How do you calculate the CFM your air tools require?

As we mentioned above, you’ll need to ensure your compressor has a higher CFM than your air tool requires. However, there is also a simple calculation you’ll need to know. 

To calculate the CFM of the air compressor you need to, multiply the tools (SCFM) by 1.2. For example, an air drill with a SCFM of 4 will require a compressor with a minimum CFM of 4.8 (4 x 1.2 = 4.8). This is the easiest way to ensure your compressor is powerful enough to run your air tool. 

If you have multiple tools you want to power with your compressor, choose the one with the highest SCFM for your calculations. If you plan on running multiple tools simultaneously, you’ll need to add the individual SCFM of each tool and times it by 1.2 to get the required CFM.  

What size air compressor do I need for air tools?

Although it’s essential to check the SCFM rating of your specific tools, knowing the average CFM requirements of some popular air tools can also be helpful. 

What size air compressor for a nail gun?

Most nail guns need an air compressor with a minimum of 1.2 CFM.

What size air compressor for a framing nailer?

Most framing nailers need an air compressor with a minimum of 2.4 CFM.

What air compressor for an impact wrench?

For a ½ inch air impact wrench, you’ll typically require a minimum CFM of 6.  For a ¾ inch impact wrench, you’ll usually need a minimum CFM of 8.5.

What size air compressor for an orbital sander?

Most orbital sanders need an air compressor with a minimum of 7.2 CFM.

What size air compressor for a die grinder?

A die grinder typically requires a CFM of at least 9.6, making it a more heavy-duty pneumatic tool requiring a powerful air compressor.

What size air compressor for an angle grinder?

Most angle grinders need a compressor with a minimum of 7.2 CFM.

What size air compressor for an air drill?

Most air drills require a minimum CFM of around 4.8.

What size air compressor for a sandblaster?

Sandblasters typically require a compressor with a minimum of 4.8 CFM.

What size air compressor for spray guns?

The CFM needed for a spray gun can vary a lot and will depend on the type of your tool. The typical CFM requirements of spray guns can range between 7.2 and 21.6, so you’ll need to check what your exact spray gun requires. 

How Air Supply can help

If you’re looking to buy a high-quality new compressor, Air Supply should be at the top of your list. We offer a wide range of used and new air compressors at competitive prices. Many of our used machines are also available to hire if you want to trail a compressor without the commitment of purchasing one!

Our site offers various rotary screw compressors, piston compressors, oil-free compressors, or silent compressors for you to choose from. We also stock air treatment equipment, including air dryers and filters.

Our Absolute ultra-silent lubricated range is excellent for DIY use, home garages and workshops. These are compact, quiet and available in various sizes to suit your pneumatic tools’ CFM requirements. Alternatively, check out the Absolute oil-free class 0 range, which provides high-quality, clean air for a range of DIY applications. 

Contact us today to learn more about our products and services, or speak to a member of our team if you’re unsure about which compressor would be best for your air tools. 

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