Air compressors are often used in conjunction with handheld tools in order to tackle projects that would be difficult to accomplish through manual labour alone. Examples can include impact wrenches within a garage and the air required to power a pneumatic pump.

It should still be mentioned that different tools will require slightly different air compressor configurations. What factors will need to be taken into account in order to ensure that you have chosen the correct model for your requirements?

PSI and CFM: What is the Importance?

The power output of an air compressor (such as a hydrovane compressor or a standard reciprocating compressor) is measured in two ways:

  • PSI (pounds per square inch)
  • CFM (cubic feet per minute).


Why are these two readings important? They will ultimately determine which tools can be used in tandem with the compressor. Each tool is equipped with its own recommended air pressure in order to function properly.

Powering a tool below this threshold can result in issues with efficiency and some tools may even be damaged by pressures that are too low.

This is why it is always necessary to select a compressor that is able to slightly exceed the airflow parameters of the tool itself by approximately 1.25 times.

What if You are Using Multiple Tools at the Same Time?

Air compressors are often used to power more than one tool at once. In this case, you will need to base the size of the compressor around the combined CFM of all the tools that are present.

For instance, let's imagine that you will need to use these two tools:

  • A cut-off saw rated at 6 CFM
  • A grinder rated at 4 CFM.

In this case, the size of the compressor should be able to provide at least 12.5 CFM of power. If you are curious to learn more about compressor size in relation to a specific tool, please take a moment to contact PMJ International. An expert will be glad to be of assistance.