Air Compressor CFM Chart

Are you trying to purchase a new air compressor but unsure what size you require? Do not assume that the air compressor’s tank size is the only factor to consider. More power does not always equate to a bigger tank. A larger tank does nothing more than enable you to utilize the air compressor for longer intervals between cycles. Different tools require different CFM through their working pressure.

Knowing how many CFM you require in an air compressor to run your air tools can be challenging. Insufficient CFM will prevent you from using your tools constantly or at all, while excessive CFM may indicate that you overspent on your air compressor. Do you need a particular size of the air compressor with the Air Compressor Cfm Chart? Here is some information about compressors in a chart in this article.

What CFM Am I Needing?

The term CFM refers to cubic feet per minute. CFM measures the air’s volume, whereas PSI measures its force or pressure. Similar to PSI, an air compressor won’t function if the CFM value doesn’t match or exceed the CFM specifications of your air tools.

However, air compressor CFM numbers differ significantly from PSI. While most home air compressors have a 150–175 PSI rating, CFM values vary widely. Given that, you should take some time to compare the CFM ratings of each of your air tools to determine which one needs the highest CFM. The highest CFM requirement tool should be found, and you should multiply that value by 1.5 to provide yourself with a safety margin. You will know from the result how much CFM an air compressor must have to meet your requirements.

For instance, if the air hammer you use has a CFM rating of 3.38, you’ll need a compressor that can produce 5.07 CFM.

*3.38 x 1.5 = 5.07

To calculate how many CFM you’ll need if you use many air tools simultaneously, sum up all their CFM demands and multiply the total by 1.5.

Additional Things to Think About Air Compressor: You should consider a few additional factors besides CFM. The tank size comes first.

Tank Volume

Tank size is not as crucial as CFM ratings, as I previously stated, but it is still vital.

Smaller tanks require more frequent cycling to maintain pressure. This can be problematic if you use air tools like grinders, paint sprayers, or sandblasters that need constant airflow. In essence, you’ll have to halt your work and wait for the cycle to finish before continuing. To minimize any potential disruptions, you might choose to get a compressor with a larger tank if you use the tools described above or others similar to them.

A tiny tank should be adequate if you’re using instruments that need brief air bursts, like a nail gun or an impact wrench. It ought to take between three and six gallons.

Duty Cycle

As mentioned in a previous article, the duty cycle refers to the proportion of a compressor’s cycle time that the compressor pump is running.

When a device is used, the time of pressure,  cut-in pressure, and turn-off is the total cycle time. This cycling interval is crucial because it allows the compressor to cool off before turning it on again.

Typically, duty cycles are specified as percentages of 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100%. It depends on the running of the air compressor at the moment. 

For instance, if an air compressor’s duty cycle is 50%, it should operate for no more than 30 minutes in a single hour. You risk harming your compressor if you force the compressor to work longer by utilizing air tools that demand more air than the compressor can provide.

What duty cycle do you require, then? Once more, it depends on how you plan to use it. The longer your compressor can run without risk of damage, the higher the duty cycle. Choose a compressor with a 75% or 100% duty cycle if you use air tools that need continuous airflow. With a 50% duty cycle, you’ll be OK for routine household use.

Air Compressor Cfm Chart

If you’re anything like me, you don’t feel like reading the owner’s manuals for every one of your air tools to find out what CFM is needed. I got it. That’s why I put together this handy chart. You can find a list of widespread air tools, their necessary PSI and CFM, how much CFM an air compressor has to be able to deliver to power them, and a suggestion for an air compressor in the table below.

ToolWorking PressureCFM RequirementRecommendation
Flooring Nailer90 PSI and 2 CFM3Stealth 4.5 Gallon (3.0 CFM)
Brad Nailer                             1.0 CFM & 90 PSI1.5Makita Mac210Q (2 CFM)
Framing Nailer4.2 CFM & 90 PSI6.3Makita Mac5200 (6.5 CFM)
Finish Nailer1.0 CFM & 90 PSI           1.5 Makita Mac210Q (2 CFM)
Palm Nailer1.5 CFM & 90 PSI2.25Porter Cable C2002 (2.6 CFM)
Roofing Nailer  2.5 CFM & 90 PSI                       3.75    Craftsman CMXECXA0331042 (4.0 CFM)  
Pin Nailer                     1.0 CFM & 90 PSI1.5      Makita Mac210Q (2 CFM)
Stapler  1.0 CFM & 90 PSI           1.5Makita Mac210Q (2 CFM)
1/4 Ratchet                            4.2 CFM & 90 PSI6.3Makita Mac5200 (6.5 CFM)  
3/8 Ratchet  4.4 CFM & 90 PSI6.6Makita Mac5200 (6.5 CFM)  
1/2 Impact Wrench4.0 CFM & 90 PSI6Makita Mac5200 (6.5 CFM)
1/4 Angle Die Grinder  4.0 CFM & 90 PSI           6Makita Mac5200 (6.5 CFM)
Air Hamer90 PSI & 4.4CMF6.6Makita Mac5200 (6.5 CMF)
Palm Sander 6”90 PSI & 4.5CMF6.7MakitaMac5200 require 6.5
Cut off tool 3”90 PSI & 4.0 CMF6MakitaMac5200 require 6.5
HVLP Paint Spray Gun30 PSI & 8.0CMF12Ingersoll Rand SS5L5 (18.1 CFM)  
Air Drill 3/890 PSI & 4.0CMF6MakitaMac5200 is 6.5
Reciprocating Saw90 PSI & 3.0 CFM4.5California Air Tools 10020C (5.3 CFM)  
Needle Scaler90 PSI & 4.0 CFM 6Makita5200 requires 6.5
Tire Inflator100 PSI & 1.0CMF1.5Dewalt DWFP55126 (2.6 CFM)
Blow Gun115 PSI & 10 CFM8 barCFM is 10
Die Grinder90 PSI to 707CFM is 7
Impact wrench ⅜-1/290 PSI to 705Recommendation is 5


How do I know what size air compressor I need?

Choose the one that demands the most CFM at the most PSI. Find a compressor where the margin of 50% is safe to the necessary CFM. Now select an air compressor that delivers at least 4.5 CFM at 90 PSI, for instance, if a tool needs 3 CFM at that pressure.

How many CFM is a 2.5 HP compressor?

2.5 HP Air Compressor, 0-20 CFM Maximum Flow Rate. Where the air tank capacity is, you will get 100 L. 

How do I get more CFM from my air compressor?

It’s possible that a tool you have needs more CFM to function correctly than what your compressor can deliver. In this situation, you have various options for modifying your air compressor system to improve CFM.

Final Thought

Look at my article’s information on the air compressor CFM chart. Northern’s broad selection of air compressors is bound to have the ideal one for you, whether you’re working in your home or at your shop. This buyer’s guide provides helpful advice on light to heavy-duty compressors and solutions to any queries you might have about purchasing and operating an air compressor.

You may use this handy air tool usage chart to choose the best air compressor for your needs. After moving on to the CFM usage chart, let’s first discuss why CFM is essential to you.