How to Size and Select an Air Compressor

Air compressors are beneficial for both personal and industrial use. Compressed air is mostly employed for automobiles and assembling appliances. Besides this, most vehicles and furniture you see in offices and our homes make use of it at large. 

Whether it is for small purposes or for commercial purposes, you need an air compressor that will power all your tools efficiently and adequately. Gain knowledge how to size and select an air compressor herein.  

How to Size and Select an Air Compressor

Before we learn the tips to select an air compressor, we will start with understanding how to size these units. Our entire article will provide you great ideas of how to size and select an air compressor.

How to Size an Air Compressor

Sizing an air compressor is a typical way of determining the amount of CFM required to run the tools effectively. Let’s understand how this is done step by step.

Step One

The compressor’s efficiency is determined by its PSIG and CFM ratings. Pneumatic tools function properly using a certain amount of compressed air. Compressed air in these tools is expressed as CFM at specific pressure levels. When sizing and selecting an air compressor, the horsepower rating isn’t necessary and, therefore, you can avoid it.

Step Two

Follow to gather all the pneumatic tools in place. You will take a pen and paper to write down the exact CFM each pneumatic tool manufacturer has specified to operate them efficiently. In case you lack the CFM on a particular pneumatic tool, get online to get an idea of the standard requirements of the specific pneumatic tools.

Step Three

Once you get the CFM of your pneumatic tools, add them to get the CFM of all the tools you intend to use. After obtaining the number, consider increasing it more by about 30%. The addition is for extra tools, system leaks, and also for future growth at large.

Step Four

After determining the CFM you intend to use to run the tools, you will determine the PSIG that the tools require to run effectively. For the PSIG, you won’t add the values the way you did to the CFM. In this part, you will use the greatest amount of the tools you have.

Step Five

At this stage, you have gotten the CFM and PSIG rating that will run your tools. Ensure all the motor characteristics are combat. Determining the electric power you are using is also important. Typically, you will find the most residential and commercial building using single-phase electrical supply, 60-cycle power, 115volt. Three-phase electrical supply is common in industrial facilities where heavy-duty machines are used.

Step Six

Storage tanks or air receivers are used with small compressors. These devices store compressed air, and they also run the time of your machines. For optimal performance, get a receiver or storage tank that is five gallons per CFM and above.

Step Seven

Lastly, you will carry everything to a local dealer who has expertise in compressors. Take the motor characteristics, your CFM, the receiver size, and maximum pressure requirements. Your compressor will work effectively if the quality factor trolls in your mind. 

Tips to Select an Air Compressor

Tips to Select an Air Compressor

You must select an air compressor carefully to get the one that meets all your application needs. In the market, there are several air compressor models at large. They are of different styles and sizes. They also have additional features and price tags at large. Making a selection of the best one can be a challenge, especially if you lack an idea about them. Herein are tips to guide you in making the right selection.

The Size of the Storage Tank

You will find compressors with different tank sizes at large. The common size in most compressors is 30 gallons, however, you can still get an air compressor for 80 gallon size. But then, what size of tank do you need? A large tank is ideal if you plan, or you are using the compressor intermittently. However, if you use the impact continuously, consider a smaller tank with a big motor and pump. A powerful pump and motor ensure you don’t run out of the air when running your applications.

The CFM Rating of the Compressor

Your pneumatic tools need a certain amount of air to run. The PSI should be part of the calculations you will make. Always stay determined by different CFM ratings you will have at different pressures. In the market, you will find different compressor models with varying ratings of CFM at large. 

Most manufacturers are busy designing compressors with higher CFM ratings to compete favorably with other brands. When you plan to purchase an air compressor, you will only get concerned about how much CFM rating you will have at 90 PSI. The manufacturer’s package box indicates the CFM rating you will need to run your compressor effectively.

The Amount of PSI You Require

In the market, most air compressor units need about 90 PSI for it to operate effectively. However, if you need to have the best out of your air compressor, you will go for a unit that has a higher shut off pressure. Most brands have a shut-off pressure of between 125 and 135 PSI; however, this shouldn’t fool you at all.

Ensure you stay keen when selecting since the light-duty compressors shut off even at 100 PSI. In case you intend to use the compressor for light-duty tasks, you can get one with a relatively low PSI rating. However, if you will use it for heavy-duty jobs, get an option with a bigger PSI.  Be sure to consider options from as well.

Horse Power Rating

This should be the topmost consideration when you are out to purchase an air compressor. You should not assume that higher horsepower provides efficient results since not all are created equal. You will find most home garage air compressors with horsepower ratings of between 1.6 and 6. However, the horsepower rating you will consider will depend on the CFM and pressure the unit requires to run effectively.

Noise Consideration

The noise the air compressor you purchase produces is a significant factor to consider at large. You should know how the amount of noise it produces impacts your working environment. This factor also will be determined considering whether you will run the compressor indoors or outdoors. It is upon you to get a machine whose noise won’t affect your working environment at all.


This project has provided in-depth details about how to size and select an air compressor. The right compressor shall work effectively to solve all your needs. The manufacturers also provide adequate details about their models to make the selection process simple.