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What Size Air Compressor Do I Need for Impact Wrench? The Step-by-step Guide

What Size Air Compressor Do I Need for Impact Wrench

If you are wondering: “What size air compressor do I need for impact wrench?” the answer is that the size of the air compressor depends on several variables. In this article, we guide you through the process of choosing the correct size air compressor for your impact wrench.

What Is an Impact Wrench and What Is It Used for?

An impact wrench is a type of power tool that stores energy in a rotating motion before rapidly releasing it to the driveshaft.

It has been designed to require minimum effort from the user and uses compressed air as its source of energy. However, some models do use hydraulic or electrical energy, but these are less popular versions.

This compressed air is generated by air compressors that are often chosen based on several variables, such as the tank size, the airflow, and the air pressure output.

Impact wrenches are commonly utilized in a variety of industries, including car repair, heavy machinery service, product manufacturing, construction, and any other application that requires great torque output.

They come in every conventional socket wrench size, ranging from small quarter-inch tools for minor assembling to larger drives for larger construction projects. Impact wrenches account for some of the most widely used air tools.

Choosing the Right Air Compressor for You

It’s not easy to choose the ideal air compressor for an impact wrench. Moreover, it can become much easier to select the proper tool for you if you simply focus on your requirements or what you need from the air compressor.

Simply follow these key steps to determine whether the air compressor of your choosing does, in fact, meet your needs.

1. Consider the Project You Are Working On

Before deciding on the air compressor, it is essential first to determine the impact wrench size you need for your specific project.

Consider whether it is to be used on a small-scale project or whether you need it for a significant construction project. The project type determines the impact wrench size, which in turn determines the air compressor size you need.

2. Are There Other Air Tools?

The chances are that you may need more than one air tool for your project. If this is the case, consider what types and sizes you have. Certain air tools, such as sandblasters, require constant air pressure, and you need a larger air compressor. However, other tools may not require continuous air flow so that a small air compressor can do the job.

3. Determine Space Limitations

If you intend to store the air compressor in your home or garage, this can influence the air compressor tank size you can purchase. Before going out and buying an air compressor, it is essential first to determine what size suits your storage space.

4. Consider Your Portability Needs

Portable air compressors are handy tools, but they are often smaller air compressors. However, if portability is essential to your particular project, this can have a significant influence on the size of the air compressor you need.

What to Look for in Air Compressors

You must have a good understanding of key air compressor characteristics before purchasing one for your impact wrench. There are several different types of air compressors on the market, each with a different capacity.

It is essential to select the appropriate compressor for your personal requirements. Below is a list of all the key characteristics of air compressors to help you choose the correct size air compressor.

Consider the Airflow

The airflow of a compressor is another crucial consideration when purchasing an air compressor. You’ve probably heard of CFM or cubic feet per minute and PSI pounds per square inch. These factors influence how well the air compressor works.

However, they vary based on the size of the impact wrench. Therefore, how much CFM your impact wrench needs can help you determine how much pressure you need from an air compressor.

Look at the CFM Rating

The CFM rating needed for particular impact wrench sizes can range from two to 16. When choosing air compressor size, CFM (cubic feet per minute) is the most important factor to consider. Although all impact wrenches operate at the same PSI, the CFM ranges.

When utilizing a quarter-inch impact wrench, a two-CFM air compressor is adequate. On the other hand, a 16 CFM compressor is required to operate a one-inch impact wrench.

Determine the Ideal Volume of the Air Compressor Tank

A key consideration is tank capacity or volume. The capacity determines how much air the air compressor’s tank can hold. Additionally, the benefit of having a larger tank that can hold more air is that it requires fewer refills. Once the air compressor tank is full, decreasing air pressure is much less likely.

While a great size air compressor tank for vehicle painting is 50 to 60 gallons, the capacity of an impact wrench is not as great and generally requires a minimum capacity of just six gallons.

The lowest capacity, however, is not the standard. Larger impact wrenches that are often intended for professional use generally require a total of at least 20 gallons.

Personal Use

This number, however, is optional for personal use and is based on your needs. A 10-gallon air compressor tank may suffice for home use. However, if you question whether you can operate an impact wrench with a tank capacity of three gallons, or less than six gallons, the answer is no.

Why? Simply because an air compressor tank with this capacity is too tiny to provide sufficient pressure to allow the impact wrench to function correctly, as low-capacity tanks are able to produce a volume of just 0.5 CFM.

However, the smallest impact wrench requires a volume of 1 to 1.5 CFM at 90 PSI (pounds per square inch).

Consider How Much Air Pressure You Need

The importance of air pressure is self-evident. As you may already know, an air compressor compresses and decreases the air volume, providing it greater kinetic energy, which is made possible by air pressure.

Air compressors require a pressure of 90 PSI. However, experts recommend raising it to a pressure of 120 PSI or higher. It goes without saying that the higher the air pressure, the greater the power of the air compressor.

What Tank Shape Is Preferable?

While the shape of the air compressor tank has little bearing on the air compressor’s efficiency and performance, it does have an effect on whether it is comfortable for use. The tank shape also determines the air compressor’s mobility and how much storage space it requires.

An example of this is a pancake air compressor that takes up less space and stores away more easily than a typical tank.

If you’re going to use an air compressor in your house, it makes sense to select one that doesn’t take up much room. If you need to transport it, choose a version that is lightweight and easy to transport.

A Closer Look at Impact Wrench Size

Often, the best way to choose an air compressor is by looking at the size of the impact wrench you need to use, as it often tells you how much compressed air you need. As we have already seen, the CFM (cubic feet per minute) plays a big part in the size of air compressor needed to power an impact wrench.

Below, we discuss the most commonly used impact wrenches and their CFM output requirements to help you find the best air compressor for your impact wrench.

Quarter-inch Impact Wrench

This is the smallest impact wrench on the market and does not require a great deal of air pressure to power it. An air compressor with a CFM of 1 to 1.5 is sufficient for a quarter-inch wrench.

3/8-inch Impact Wrench

If you have a 3/8-inch wrench and are wondering: “What compressor do I need?” then the answer is simple. Since it is a larger impact wrench, it requires a CFM or 3 to 3.5.

Half-inch Impact Wrenches

The most popular air compressor for impact wrenches is the half-inch wrench. This impact wrench requires a 3.5 to 5 CFM air compressor. The average CFM rating for a half-inch wrench is four CFM. However, for maximum performance, experts suggest utilizing five CFM compressors.

One-inch Impact Wrench

This sort of impact wrench is often not utilized for private use. It is mostly employed in the construction industry and on building sites.

The air compressor you need for an impact wrench of this size is one with a nine to ten CFM rating. While it may seem pricey, you must use an air compressor in this CFM range if you want a better outcome.

Final Thoughts

Impact wrenches are a useful air tool commonly intended for residential or commercial use. However, it isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario when it comes to air compressors and different impact wrenches call for a different tank size.

If you were wondering, “What air compressor do I need for my impact wrench,” we hope this answers your question and helps you find the best air compressor to suit your needs.

Picture of Daniel Lewis

Daniel Lewis

Live in Chicago Illinois.
A contractor with10 years of experience.
Works with air compressors for various uses.

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