Will A 3 Gallon Air Compressor Run An Impact Wrench?

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Having different capacities and tank sizes, the size of an air compressor is somewhat important for what you want to do with it. One of the most common home style air compressors is a 3 gallon air compressor, which is cheap and popular as a beginner air compressor. But will a 3 gallon she compressor run an impact wrench? Let’s see—

Air Compressor Sizes

The perfect size of an air compressor depends solely on its work. Different works require different setups and tank capacity. So it’s wise to get a complete idea of the size before buying the machine. Check out our post on what size air compressor to buy to know more about their appropriate sizes and settings.

Anyways, for an impact wrench, the size of an air compressor is also crucial. Because the size of your air compressor will determine the size of the impact wrench tool you can use. Definitely, bigger air compressors will support larger tools. Besides, it will also determine whether you can continuously work with your machine. That’s when the real question arises.

Will A 3 Gallon Air Compressor Run An Impact Wrench?

In a word, we think it’s not possible to pull off this task with a tiny air compressor. 3 gallon air compressor does work for other tasks like nailing guns, but it won’t work for an impact wrench. But why?


As you can see, most of the 3 gallon air compressors are too weak to generate high air pressure. According to our experience, a home style air compressor with a 3 gallon capacity could provide 0.5 CFM air pressure at its very best. This is not actually enough to run even the tiniest impact wrench.

Another reason why we would not suggest to go for a 3 gallon size is it will not provide sufficient air to perform the task quickly. You’ll have to wait for the tank to refill once it’s empty, and it happens frequently. As a low capacity air compressor has a low CFM, so the tank literally takes forever to refill. Therefore it’s kind of annoying for all of us.

Now the question is what is the minimum size to run an impact wrench? According to our experience, we kind of did an okay-ish job with the Craftsman 6 gallon air compressor, so our lowest margin is a 6-gallon model. Still, it’s not enough to actually run the tool smoothly. You have to wait 2-3 minutes to refill the tank and get to the work again. So it’s better to look for the perfect size air compressor for impact wrench.

What Size Air Compressor For Impact Wrench

The optimum size for any air compressor will actually depend upon the length of an impact wrench. You’ll definitely need more air pressure for larger tools, so it’s actually better to find out the right tool for yourself. Here’s a guide to what settings for your impact wrench tool—

What Size Air Compressor For Impact Wrench

Tool Size Air Volume Air Pressure
¼ inch Impact Wrench 2 CFM 90 PSI
3/8 inch 3 CFM 90 PSI
½ inch 5 CFM 100 PSI
¾ inch 7 CFM 100 PSI
1 inch 10-15 CFM 120-150 PSI

According to our recommendation, an air compressor with a minimum of 5-10 CFM air volume & a tank capacity minimum of 20-30 gallons is actually suitable for household impact wrench tasks. That way you’ll be able to actually get a quick and decent service. Check out our best air compressor for impact wrench reviews to get the best deals on your desired air compressor.

If you’re reluctant to buy a large air compressor for price or accommodation problem, you can also go for a 6-8 gallons air compressor. Try to get the models which offer 3-4 CFM air volume, so that you can even work with medium-size tools also. 

The professionals, however, should go for higher specs as they may have to deal with larger tools. We would strongly recommend to get at least 60-80 gallons air compressors like the California Air Tools CAT-60040CAD Ultra Quiet 60 Gal Compressor which will provide them with the optimum air pressure and volume settings they will need. With this size, you will be able to pull off any size impact wrench without having to wait for a refill.

So that’s all for our short guide for the perfect compressor sizes for impact wrench. If you really want to get a superior result, you should definitely try out our suggestion. Don’t waste your money on the inappropriate products, rather invest your money on some really efficient ones. Happy working!

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