What Size Air Compressor Do You Need for an Impact Wrench

The impact wrench is a really powerful tool that can take things apart within seconds. However, it is nothing without a powerful air compressor. But what air compressor do you need for an impact wrench? We will find about that shortly in this guide.

We are lucky to be in a time where there are so many convenient power tools available to the common folk. Earlier in the days, you would have to do so much by hands and brute muscle strength. It would make things quite difficult. For instance, now you can cut a large piece of wood in seconds with a table saw or bandsaw.


What is an Impact Wrench?

An impact wrench is basically a powerful wrench that uses air pressure to turn lug nuts. It is an extremely powerful machine that delivers high torque to loosen nuts. Now there are various sizes of impact wrenches depending on what work do you need them for.

With an impact wrench changing tires is so much easier. The speed is what makes it so much attractive to use compared to a manual tool. Since there are different sizes of an impact wrench, they are used for different loads of work. For instance, the most common one is 1/2-inch and can be used to loosen lug nuts off a car tire.


What is an Air Compressor and What is it used for?

If the name itself does not make it apparent, an air compressor basically compresses air and delivers it. The compressed air is sent with extreme air pressure causing tools to function. Now there are two types of tools based on how they operate. We have electric ones and then we have the air-powered tools.

The air-powered tools use an air compressor to operate. There are multiple tools that use an air compressor. There are nail guns, paint-sprays, and impact wrenches that can be powered with an air compressor. There are a few benefits to why would you go for air-powered tools instead of electric ones.

  • They are much more powerful than electrically powered tools. They use high air pressure to move the mechanism and it is immensely powerful.
  • These things last longer as there is no wiring inside them. They use a simple mechanism that uses air pressure and force to perform.
  • Air-powered tools are lighter since they do not have electrical components inside them.
  • You are safe from any short circuits in the tool or any such electrical hazard.

The types of air compressors vary with air pressure, airflow, and capacity.


What Size Air Compressor Do You Need for an Impact Wrench?

The size of the air compressor here means the capacity, the airflow, and the air pressure. Of course, the bigger the compressor is the more powerful it will be and the more capacity it will have. But buying a large one and spending all that money isn’t a wise course of action.

So we will tell you which air compressor you should go with which impact wrench. Since a smaller impact wrench would not need a powerful compressor. But a bigger impact wrench has a minimum requirement that you must fulfil.


Airflow vs. Air Pressure

Now the amount of air being moved usually is referred to as airflow and it is measured in CFM or cubic feet per meter. Meanwhile, the air pressure is measured in PSI or pounds per square inch. The pressure by which the air is moved through an area is the air pressure.

Both of these are equally important for using pneumatic tools or tools powered by an air compressor. It is always important to follow the guidelines of the manufacturer to know what CFM and PSI you need to operate the tool on.

If you use too much of either, it might affect the lifespan of the tool. You will either damage it or reduce its life at the cost of powerful results. If you do need better and faster results then just purchase more powerful tools.

1/4-inch Impact Wrench

A 1/4-inch impact wrench is pretty small and does not require too much power behind it. So even a 1-1.5 CFM air compressor will be more than enough for the job. Anything higher than that is not needed. But if you are planning on using multiple tools, maybe a higher CFM would be required for powering multiple tools.

Since the compressor size depends on the impact wrench of the choice, a 1/4-inch one just needs 1.5 CFM at max. But if you need to power more tools, at that CFM to the CFM requirement of the other tools and that is how much you need in total.

3/8-inch Impact Wrench

The 3/8-inch impact wrench is a tad bit bigger and requires more power for it to deliver sufficient torque to loosen nuts. This size of the wrench needs at least 3 to 3.5 CFM compressor for the job.

3.5 CFM is powerful enough to provide enough torque to the impact wrench. It will easily loosen up any nuts you need with that much airflow.

1/2-inch Impact Wrench

This is the most common form of an impact wrench that is available. This size is ideal for personal and for professional uses. You can loosen lug nuts off a tire of the car with this really fast and easily. The 1/2-inch impact wrench requires around 4-5 CFM to operate at its best.

Anything over it would be unnecessary and anything under it would give underwhelming results.

1-inch Impact Wrench

Now, this is the most uncommon size of an impact wrench only used in construction sites. This is really powerful and is usually used in construction sites to tighten nuts firmly. It requires at least 9-10 CFM to operate, giving you an idea of how powerful this thing is.


The Capacity of an Air Compressor

So after choosing the CFM, you are thinking about how much the capacity should be on the air compressor. If you buy something small, which is easy and portable, it will run out of air very fast. For instance, something like 3 gallons would not even cut it for a 1/2-inch impact wrench.

Anything below 6 gallons is useless as you would need to give it time to recharge again and again. But the capacity usually depends on your needs. If you want to use the impact wrench for a long time, then you need something above 10 gallons at least.

If you need it for a garage or a mechanic’s shop, something like a 60-gallon air compressor will be enough for you. If you need it for personal use, something around 10-20 gallons of capacity is ideal and suitable.

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