Even if you are confused about what size of air compressor for impact wrench, you can bear in mind that on average, you will need an air compressor with 4 to 5 CFM @ 90 PSI to power or run an ½ inch impact wrench. To avoid delays in your task, also go for an air compressor of 20-gallon capacity. This is because the larger the storage tank, the more air pressure it can hold and let out.
If you have a project at home for which you need an impact wrench, you might be wondering what size of air compressor you need to run it. Choosing the right air compressor for an impact wrench can be a challenging task as there are some key considerations for deciding on the ideal one.
An impact wrench is an important tool used for removing stubborn bolts, rusted fasteners, installing, and tightening screws in cars, trucks, machines, and more. Although they have different uses around the home and in the hands of professional automotive shops, their primary advantage is the ability to drive in multiple fasteners quickly.
The force is exerted by the impact wrench, as it takes off most of your reliance on muscle power. This provides you more time to work on a project be it cars, small engines, or lawnmowers.
However, to operate an impact wrench, you need an air compressor. Compressors are of numerous brands, tank sizes, types, and output varying pressure.
The ability of a compressor to power an impact wrench depends on the compressor’s capacity. One of the factors to consider is the frequency of use.
With that said, first determine whether your impact task needs constant use of the compressor or would it only be occasionally. For occasional use, a small compressor will run the impact wrench, but for regular use, your compressor has to be equipped with the required discharge capacity.
What to consider before choosing an air compressor for an impact wrench
When choosing an air compressor for an impact wrench, there are some key considerations to evaluate.
Some of these include:
Type of project
The level of project you intend to carry out is an important aspect to consider when choosing an air compressor. The type of compressor needed to run an impact wrench for personal use is quite different from the type you need for professional work such as work done on a construction site.
Smaller tasks will involve little power while a large task will require you to drive in pneumatic drills and screwdrivers, all of which will require much more power.
Air compressor tank size
The air compressor tank is what holds the compressed air, and these reservoirs come in different sizes. Since the compressors are measured in gallons, the larger the air compressor tank, the more air it will be able to hold. It will also last a long time and need less frequent refilling.
To determine the size of an air compressor tank, here’s a simple calculation to help you out. Multiply the CFM by 6; the result is the minimum size of the compressor tank.
If the size of the tank of the air compressor is lower than the minimum pressure required to operate the tool, you are bound to struggle to use the impact wrench.
Impact wrench CFM requirement and CFM rating
Airflow is the system’s ability to perform a task continuously, that is the rate with which air comes in and out of the compressor and it is measured in CFM which is cubic feet per minute. Before any plugin, always confirm if there is enough airflow for the impact wrench.
In most cases, CFM is at 90 PSI, this is because it is measured with a comparison of pounds per square inch (PSI). 90 PSI is the minimum required for most air impact wrench tools to work correctly.
To obtain the least CFM rating of the air compressor, first, determine the CFM of the impact wrench tool and multiply through with 1.5.
That is, if the CFM of the impact wrench is 6, we will multiply by 1.5 to obtain a resultant of 9, which is the minimum CFM of the air compressor.
Required space and portability
A larger air compressor tank will take up more space in your toolbox, house, garage, or even at your workshop.
If you use the impact wrench for professional purposes, it is important to consider the ease of mobility and use when choosing an impact wrench compressor.
If you only use it at home or at a stationary place in a workshop or construction site, then you can opt for a non-movable compressor that would remain at a position permanently.
However, if you have enough space to comfortably carry it in your car or your truck, then it’s safe to go for a larger tank.
Why use an air compressor for impact wrench?
An air compressor enables the impact wrench to work efficiently and productively. It reduces the pressure you exert and also reduces strain on your hands, arms, shoulders, and wrists.
This is done using its high torque motor. The air compressor converts power sources to potential energy in form of pressurized air. In the impact wrench, the pressurized air is the driving force.
Can a pancake air compressor be used to run an impact wrench?
Although with a larger compressor tank, you will have more air. There are also some mobile air compressors for impact wrench.
A pancake air compressor is ideal for small space projects as long as the compressor is powerful enough to generate air that can fasten and loosen large bolts. A pancake air compressor of 5 CFM and 90 PSI will run a ½ inch impact wrench.
How important is the size of an air compressor?
In recent times, a number of manufacturers are beginning to overlook size, producing air compressors that are lighter and smaller while still efficiently providing the required power.
Most manufacturers still grade an air compressor’s capacity by its size. This makes it difficult to estimate a compressor by its size.
However, in determining how powerful a compressor is, you should consider these important factors. You can also find these details in the owner’s manual of the air compressor.
- Airflow pressure in pounds per square inch (PSI)
- Liquid capacity of the reservoir in liters
- Amount of airflow generated by the air compressor in cubic feet per minute (CFM)
- The horsepower of the air compressor.
Is a 3-gallon air compressor good enough to run an impact wrench?
You cannot run an impact wrench with a three-gallon air compressor. It doesn’t meet the minimum requirement. This is because this capacity won’t generate enough CFM to power an impact wrench.
Professionals advise that you make use of at least a six-gallon air compressor to run an impact wrench. This is for smaller projects just around the house as manufacturers don’t advise this.
However, for larger projects or professional use, use a 20-gallon air compressor for the best performance and efficiency.
Best air compressors for impact wrenches
If you have questions about the ideal air compressor for an impact wrench, first, it is important to note that air compressors have various tank sizes, weight, portability, and output varying pressure.
That said, here’s a list of the best air compressors for impact wrenches:
- Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AC Compressor.
- Eagle EA – 5000 Impact Wrench Air Compressor
- NorthStar Belt Vertical Air compressor
- Makita MAC5200 Air Compressor
- Porter – Cable C2002 Air Compressor
In a nutshell, all impact wrench have different features and also require an air compressor to match these features for a smooth operation.
In choosing the size of air compressor you need for an impact wrench, always consider the volume of work you intend to do with it. This will determine how the capacity and how powerful the air compressor should be to generate enough air pressure to get the work done with ease.