What Size Air Compressor Do I Need for Impact Wrench In 2020

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An air compressor is a very helpful tool for impact wrenches. Impact wrenches have common use in houses, shops, and garages or professional services in the garage or factory. If you are looking for an air compressor for an impact wrench, this guide is for you.

At first, you have to select the impact wrench according to your needs. So, you can pick a perfect air compressor to meet your purpose. If you go through this article, you will get a clear idea about the size of the air compressor for impact wrench.

What Size Air Compressor Do I Need for Impact Wrench

Picking the best air compressor for impact wrench is not easy. If you give attention to your needs at first, it becomes manageable to find the right tool for you. So, let’s solve your issues. Just go through the following points and match them with your requirements. But if you don’t have time to care about all this, simply choose our best pick for air compressor for impact wrench, the Makita MAC5200 Big Bore 3.0 HP Air Compressor. This air compressor comprises of everything you can ask from an air compressor, great for handling any household task. You can also check out its detailed review along with other top picks in our best air compressor for impact wrench post.

What Size Air Compressor Do I Need for Impact Wrench

Type of your project:

In the beginning, consider your plan for which you want to buy an impact wrench. Will you use the impact wrench for personal purposes? Or will you use this for professional work? Do you need to use this tool in the garage? Or at the construction site? Ask yourself. 

You need a stronger one for professional service than the one for personal use.

Type of your air tools:

There are many kinds of air tools. Some air tools, like sandblasters, need continuous airflow. That is, you need a larger tank. But if you use any tool like a brad nailer, you don’t have to choose a large tank. A small one will do.

Required energy source:

Where will you use those? Is there electricity available? If it is possible, then you can use a 220-volt power socket. In the case of some larger ones, you may have to use 240-volt power. However, in a lack of electricity, you will have to use gasoline for power supply. 

Required space:

If the tank is large, simply it will require a lot of space. If you need to keep that in the house, that will not be fit. So, think of your need and required space both at the same time.

Necessity of portability:

If you need to move your air compressor, you should pick one that is easy to carry. But if there’s no need to move, then consider the points mentioned above. You may fix a non-movable compressor permanently at your place.

What Characteristics Should You Look For?

Before deciding to buy an air compressor for an impact wrench, you should have enough ideas about some factors. There are many kinds of air compressors available in the market having different capacities. Choose the right compressor according to your needs. We are trying to give you an idea about these factors so that you can select the perfect air compressor without too much effort.

What Characteristics Should You Look For


It’s a vital factor in choosing an air compressor. You may have heard about CFM (cubic feet per minute) and PSI(pounds per square inch). These two determine how effectively the air compressor will function. But they vary depending on the size of the impact wrench.

CFM rating:

It depends on the size of the impact wrench. If the impact wrench is small in size, you won’t need so much airflow. Then you can use an air compressor of low CFM. But in case of a larger impact wrench, you have to use one with high CFM to get more airflow.

For ¼ inch impact wrench:

You will need an air compressor with only 1-1.5 CFM, which can give your impact wrench enough airflow, as it won’t need much air pressure.

For ⅜ inch impact wrench:

For this size of impact wrench, you will need an air compressor with a  bit much CFM. The CFM range should be between 3 to 3.5. You can also work with below this range. But to get a better output, it’s better to select a model within this range.

For ½ inch impact wrench:

This type is the most common air compressor for impact wrench. In this case, you can use an air compressor having 3.5 to 5 CFM. 4 CFM is an average rating. But experts recommend using 5 CFM to get the best result.

For 1-inch impact wrench:

Usually, this type of impact wrench is not used for personal purposes. It is mainly used for construction works and construction sites. You should use an air compressor having 9-10 CFM. This may seem costly. But to get a better result, you have to use a compressor within this range.

Air pressure:

There’s no need to say the necessity of air pressure. You know, the air compressor compresses the air and reduces the volume of air, which gives itself kinetic energy. However, this becomes possible because of air pressure. 

90 PSI(pounds per square inch) is adequate pressure for the air compressor. But experts suggest increasing it to 120 PSI or more. No need to say, the more pressure, the more power of the air compressor.

Tank volume:

Tank volume is another important point. The more the tank capacity is, the more air it can hold. The advantage of holding more air is that it will take less time to fill the tank. Once the tank is filled, the possibility of decreasing air pressure is less.

Tank volume 

When you look for the best air compressor for car painting, you will have to select an air compressor of 50 to 60 gallons. But in the case of an impact wrench, the capacity is not as high as that of car paint. The minimum capacity of the tank should be 6 gallons. But the minimum is not the standard. Experts recommend using at least 20 gallons for professional uses. You can use above this. But don’t select a smaller one if you use your air compressor at your garage or factory.

However, for personal uses, this number is negotiable. You can use a 10-gallons tank for this purpose. But if you ask whether it is possible to run an impact wrench with a tank of 3 or under 6 gallons, the answer would be negative. Because a tank having this capacity is very small to give enough pressure. It can generate only 0.5 CFM. But as mentioned above, the smallest impact wrench needs 1-1.5 CFM @90 PSI. Now, you can easily realize the importance of the tank size of an air compressor for impact wrench.

Tank shape:

This factor doesn’t have much impact on the performance of your air compressor. But you should consider this point so that you can use your tool comfortably. The portability and required space for the compressor depend on this point.

If you use the air compressor at home, you should choose a model that doesn’t occupy too much space. If you need to carry the air compressor to different places, then you need to select a model that is easy to carry and not very heavy. 

There are many sizes and shapes of air compressors available in the market. For easing mobility, there are pancake-shaped, hotdog shaped, horizontally moveable, vertically moveable air compressors. Many air compressors have handles and wheels for easy mobility.

Frequently Asked Questions

✅ How much CFM is needed for a half-inch impact wrench?

You will need 3.5 to 5 CFM to run a ½ inch impact wrench. This size of impact wrench is commonly used by the crews. To get the best result, 5 CFM is recommended.

✅ Is 90 psi pressure enough for an air compressor?

PSI is not a crucial factor in the performance of an air compressor. Generally, 90 PSI is a sufficient source for an air compressor. But according to experts, the maximum capacity of 120 PSI or more should be present.

✅ What size of air compressor do I need to change lug nuts?

An air compressor of 3 to 4 CFM will work properly. The pressure required to be up to 90 PSI.

✅ Does a 6-gallon capacity air compressor can handle impact wrench?

Experts say that an air compressor with a 6-gallon tank is the minimum requirement for impact wrench. But it is not recommended. Use at least 20 gallons tank for professional use.

✅ Can I work with an air compressor of a 3-gallon tank?

In short, the answer is No. You can’t run an impact wrench with this capacity. This volume doesn’t fulfill the minimum requirement of the impact wrench. It won’t provide enough CFM to run the impact wrench.

Final Thoughts

Smooth impact wrench operation requires an air compressor. There are several specialties in a perfect air compressor to run an impact wrench. All impact wrenches are not with the same features. There are various sizes and needs. So, among all the products available at the market, you need to choose the right product for you. We just tried to help you in this troublesome work. 

From our guide, you can easily understand all the facts in buying an air compressor for impact wrench. You just consider those points while purchasing an air compressor. That’s how you can easily pick the air compressor that suits your impact wrench and meets up your needs most.

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