What is Air Compressor CFM?

Having to carry around huge machines from one place to another will probably tire you out before your work has even started. To avoid that problem, look for an air compressor today!

Being a versatile machine, an air compressor can be attached to various air tools. It acts as a power source and pressurizes air, turning it into mechanical energy.

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If you have no idea how it works or what are the basics, for example, What is Air Compressor CFM?  Read this article, you’ll surely find all your answers.


What is an air compressor?

A compressor is a device that turns power into potential energy as compressed air. To state it simply, it forces air into a container and pressurizes it. Then the air is forced through an opening in the tank. The pressure builds up there. It works like a balloon deflating.

When mentioning a power tool, it usually has a power source attached to it. The power source adds to its weight. When you use an air compressor as the power tool, it is much lighter and easily portable.

This is why many industrial workers and manufacturers use an air compressor. And not only is it used in the industrial field but it is also used in home and garages too,

How does an air tool work?

Before working with anything, it is important to know what it does and how it works. Air tools are rising in the industrial world. They’re easy to use, portable, inexpensive, and even have a lower theft rate.

For all its advantages, you should buy one right now. And if you already have one, you might want some extra information that might come in handy. Here’s how an air tool works.

An air compressor compresses the air inside a tank. Attached to the air compressor is an air tool. It forces air through a hose that’s connected to the tool. Once it through the hose, a motor converts the pressure of the air into mechanical energy. The tool then starts working.

Different kinds of air compressors:

There isn’t just one type of air compressor out there. According to their capabilities and drawbacks, there are four different kinds of air compressors commonly used.

Rotatory screw compressors:

These are the easiest kind of air compressors to take care of. They are equipped with an internal cooling system and do not require much maintenance. These machines are quite large, used for industrial purposes. They can be run oil-free as well as with oil.

These work by trapping air between two rotors. The internal cooling system helps it to be used continuously. It ranges from 5 horsepower to 350 horsepower.

Reciprocating compressors:

Another popular type of compressor is the reciprocating compressor. It is used for much smaller jobs, like house-renovating. Unlike the rotatory compressor, a reciprocating compressor is not designed for continuous use. These work by a piston inside a cylinder, which compresses and displaces the air to build pressure.

These compressors have two types, namely; single-stage and multi-stage. Single-stage compressors perform smaller functions as they provide less pressure. Multi-stage ones provide more pressure for bigger jobs. They can reach up to 30 horsepower.

Axial compressors:

These air compressors are not found on construction sites. Instead, they are used in high-speed engines of planes and ships. Since they can provide thousands of horsepower, they have a higher efficiency rate. Also, they are quite costly. Because of these reasons, they are mainly kept for aerospace research.

Centrifugal compressors:

These compressors consist of a multi-phase compression process. Their primary function is to slow down the air. When slowed down, it becomes cool. Through this, potential energy is built up. These can produce a high amount of energy in a relatively small space.

They require the least amount of maintenance and can even produce oil-free air. The range of energy they provide is around 1000 horsepower. Which is why they are used in large construction like chemical plants and steel industries.


What are air compressors cfm?

The term cfm is short for cubic per minute. For all of you who don’t know what it is, well it is a measure of how much air is pushed out by a compressor. It shows the suitability of a compressor for a given application.

Machines like a saw or pressure washer require a much higher cfm. The reason behind this is that they are continuous demand tools. That is, they work without breaks. Hence, they require continuous energy.compressor cfm chart

While some machines require a lower cfm as they only need a sharp burst of energy. For example, a nail gun.

Cfm of various machines:

Different machines require different amounts of energy. To help you out, I have stated some of them below;

Impact wrench:

An impact wrench is a tool used to tighten or loosen a large nut, bolt, or frozen or rusted fastener. They provide high rotational torque.

A 1/2” wrench requires 5.0 cfm.

Air ratchet:

An air ratchet is used to tighten or loosen low to medium torque bolts. An impact wrench cannot be used on those as it may over-tighten or break them.

An air ratchet requires around 3 to 5 cfm.

Paint spray gun:

A paint spray gun is a tool that is used to spray a coating through the air on to the surface. The air directs the paint particles.

A paint spray gun requires 4-8 cfm.

Orbital sander:

An orbital sander is a disk machine used to smoothen down a surface. It is a mechanical device in place of sandpaper. The sanding blade delivers a random-orbital action on the surface.

An orbital sander requires 12 cfm.


A blowgun is a tool used for light cleaning, drying, or blowing off parts. A nozzle is attached to one end that lets out pressurized air.

A blowgun requires 3 cfm.


You might probably be familiar with the manual version of this. A screwdriver is a pretty basic tool. It is used to tighten, loosen up or attach screws. The handle is attached to the air compressor.

A screwdriver requires 5 cfm.


In this article, I discussed everything about an air compressor. What an air compressor does, how air tools work, different types of air compressors, and what is air compressor cfm. I also mentioned some of the machines and how much cfm is required by them.

Throughout this article, I’m sure you found plenty of reasons why to consider buying an air compressor for your next big project.

If you found this article helpful, surely do let me know in the comments below!

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