Is a higher CFM a better air compressor?

There are different thoughts and answer on the internet for a question is higher CFM means a better air compressor. Today we will be answering this question and the answer will be backed by my experience, science, and people’s thoughts.

To start we need to understand what really is an air compressor and what CFM means in it.

What is an Air Compressor?

An Air Compressor is equipment capable of converting electrical energy into potential energy. It does this energy conversion and the resultant potential energy is in the form of Pressurized Air. Air compressors are used for many purposes like filling cylinders with air, supplying clean air to people, inflating and deflating tires, and more.

What is CFM?

CMF Stands for Cubic feet per minute. It is the SI unit for measuring the volume of air which is produced by the air compressor per minute. So, in a way CMF is the power of the air compressor. While CMF is affected by the atmosphere, the Air Compressor’s motor is also a factor in the different values of CMF.

Is Higher mean Better?

A cute question mark vector


Scientifically higher CFM means a higher compressor flow rate which makes it capable to produce more air. In a sense, we can say the higher CFM means a better air compressor but keep in mind higher CFM rating means a larger tank size because to achieve a higher CFM compressor need to cycle on more often.

(What people Think)

To answer this question we asked questions to the expert on quora and the answers are very interesting.

According to Tim Holloway (who is also a former operator at ASE Penta Master Technician) It all depends upon what you are using an air compressor for and how much air you need. To get a proper CFM rating you need to total up your entire air consumption. The higher doesn`t always mean better because sometimes Leaks can cost you a fortune in electrical power that leads to unexpected electric bills.

Here is the Full quora answer to the question.

(Our experience)

According to our Experience, We recommend being safe and estimating the usage on the high end. So, if you require 3 CMF, it is better to get a 150 CMF compressor, just to be safe! If you do this, you can expect your compressor to get your job done. Make sure high that you don’t go with super high CMF though because they are very heavy and have a large size. Also, keep the electricity factor in mind. Get an Air Compressor with good electric output otherwise, you will just end up paying more electricity bills.

For the off-road air compressors having a CFM of more than 2 will efficiently work and most the

portable air compressor comes with a Minimum CFM of 3-5.

To conclude having a higher CFM Will produce more air but you need to consider for what purpose you are using that air compressor.

Let’s have a look at a table on which tools require how much CFM for one session.

ToolsCFMAverage PSI
Air Hammers490-100
Angle Grinders5-890-100
Blow Guns2.590-100
Brad Nailers0.360-100
Die Grinders570-90
Disc Grinders2090-100
Drill-1/16″ 3/8″470-90
Dual Action Sanders11-1370-90
Framing Nailers2100-230
Grease Guns3120-150
Tire Inflators2125-150
Tools and CFM

What size Air Compressor do you need?

As we mentioned, the right-sized air compressor will depend on many factors. You need to check the purpose you need an air compressor for. You also need to check where you are going to use the compressor.

In addition to that, the power of the Air Compressor will also determine its size. And some types of air compressors occupy more space than others. Do you have the required space at your home to keep a compressor? You need to ask yourself this question too! So, as you can see, the appropriate size air compressor really depends on a lot of factors.

Another thing that’s true about Air Compressor is that the bigger Air Compressor isn’t always better. You’d rather get more value from Air Compressors that are compact with high air output as opposed to large compressors with a low output.

All about Air Compressor Size

Power Source

You can use an air compressor with a generic outlet in your home. Some of the air compressors do require a 240 Volt Power Source though and in such cases, you might need a voltage amplifier. There are also air compressors running on gasoline. Gasoline Compressors are a bit heavier than the ones running on power outlets.


Air Compressors will occupy a lot of space so, depending on your room or where you plan to store them, get the appropriate one. A small spaced room can handle a six-gallon compressor and compressors of this size can fit in most cases. A 30-gallon compressor on the other hand requires a massive space. So, choose wisely!

Use Case

Depending on where you’ll use the air compressor and for what purpose, you need to get the appropriately sized compressor. If you want to move the compressor from place to place, get a small-sized one. Otherwise, get one with a large tank.  If you are getting a stationary compressor, you will need to buy a separate hose too as it won’t be possible to move the compressor over and over again.

Tank Size

An Air Compressor’s Tank is where the compressed gas is stored. Tank size range from 1 to 60 gallons. There are some that exceed that 60-gallon mark too but those compressors are meant for industrial use.

It is crucial to know the tank size to gauge how long the air compressor will work. If you are filling a pool using a gallon compressor, you would need to run the motor constantly, and filling up the pool will take time. Fill the same pool with a 30-gallon compressor and you can fill it in just minutes.

Knowing the tank size is important as some tools like grinders and sanders need a regular flow of compressed air. And in such cases, you need a large tank. Also, the life of your tools depends on how many times you have to turn the motor on and off.

Also, check-  Is an Off-Road Air Compressor Worth It?

               Is 4.5 SCFM good For Air compressors? [Researched Answer]

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