What size air compressor do I need for impact wrench? When you're looking to purchase an air compressor, one of the first things to consider is what type of tools you'll be using it with. For example, an impact wrench will require a much larger capacity than a simple nail gun. To find out how much power your specific tool requires, check the specifications on it. Once that's figured out, take a look at our guide below for some general recommendations!
Table of Contents
- When Should You Use an Air Compressor for Your Impact Wrench?
- Why Do I Need an Air Compressor for My Impact Wrench?
- Why Do I Need To Know the Size of the Air Compressor before Purchasing One?
- How to Determine the Size of an Air Compressor for Your Impact Wrench?
- What Size Air Compressor Do I Need for Impact Wrench?
- 8 Benefits of Using a Compressor with Your Impact Wrench
When Should You Use an Air Compressor for Your Impact Wrench?
An air compressor is used with an impact wrench for various jobs requiring a higher torque output to loosen stuck or rusty bolts. It assists the power applied - either by hand or by impact – in loosening nuts and bolts. They can also provide bursts of compressed air, which may be useful when removing rusted components from vehicles, bicycle frames, etc.
The most common application of the air compressor and impact wrench combo happens during auto maintenance. For example, an inflating tire was rapidly filled with the help of an input nozzle on the head lathe while recalcitrant lug nuts were hammered away using leverage alone; even more importantly though, as soon as pressure dropped below a certain threshold inside the pneumatic chuck mounted on one end of the impact wrench, the brake would be released automatically.
Forget about the old-fashioned way of doing things. The best air compressor for impact wrench has arrived, and it will change your life forever!
Why Do I Need an Air Compressor for My Impact Wrench?
Tools like an impact wrench work by combining a mechanical do with a rapid back-and-forth motion. This force is created when air from the compressor forces it out of the socket to create power and torque.
But running the compressor for extended periods drains its tank rapidly, which is why you need a constant supply of compressed air. The basic process involves two pumps. One generates compressed air at low pressure, and the other stores this in tanks at high pressure. You start each stroke by withdrawing some of this energy that will then be used to work on loosening or tightening joints on bolts etc.
Why Do I Need To Know the Size of the Air Compressor before Purchasing One?
Tools like drills and air compressors require certain levels of power to run efficiently. As a result, you must know the size of your air compressor before purchasing one, so you can get something that will match its power expectation. For example, your old smaller drill/compressor may not function well with a new larger model.
If the larger model is working too hard for your older compressor, then it could lead to physical issues like overheating or worse-a blown compressor!
Related: How Does an Air Compressor Work?
How to Determine the Size of an Air Compressor for Your Impact Wrench?
The first thing you'll need to know is the size of your wrench. No, not your pants or hand size; we're talking about the wrench's drive size—the opening in which you insert a socket. For example, if your impact has a 1/2" drive opening for sockets, it will most likely require an air compressor with at least a 1/4" air hose valve. If it's 5/8" then you'll want at least 3/8", and so on. Before buying anything, though, be sure that all other components in the system can support the compressor's maximum CFM rating. And keep in mind that things like valves and regulators are rated based on line pressure, while tools are usually rated according to their maximum CFM draw.
Next, you should figure out whether you want an oil-lubricated or oil-free operation. This is because an oil-pump style compressor requires a lot of maintenance to keep it operating continuously and will require the addition of a filter/separator unit with an inline pressure gauge attached. Oil-free compressors, on the other hand, are usually less expensive, lighter weight, smaller in size, and can be maintained by simply blowing out any debris from their tanks & filters at least once every few months (the main difference being that oil type compressors have an internal pump while oil-free models rely on external pumps for forced lubrication). They also tend to be quieter, and some even have high flow ports to accommodate heavier tools/equipment.
Next, check the PSI and CFM ratings of your wrench(s) and look for a compressor that's rated compatibly—typically 1000-1200 PSI will work well with an ½" impact wrench; 1500-1800 PSI works well with a ¾" impact wrench, and 1800 + is best suited for use with impact wrenches sized 1" or larger. Of course, you don't have to buy a tremendous air compressor either (even if you plan on using it infrequently). While you certainly won't want one under 2HP when dealing with those heavy metal-cutting impacts, you can get by just fine using less powerful units such as those powered by Honda GX (or similar) engines.
Finally, you'll want to consider what features you can live without versus those that would be ideal—things like LED work lights, hour meter, tool holder brackets for lugs and sockets, a 10' air hose as opposed to a 6' automatic oiler with pressure relief valve (to prevent compressor "bounce"), electric heaters for cold weather applications and so on. You may also want to purchase an impact-specific extension cord to keep the wiring neat & tidy.
The only other thing you need to know is whether your compressor will be portable or stationary. Stationary models are great if you plan on leaving it in one place, but they're usually heavier than their portable counterparts; plus, some stationary models are loud enough to wake the dead, which means you'll be disturbing your neighbors every time you want to use it (and that's never fun). On the other hand, portable models are lovely because they can be moved around easily and have the added benefit of running off standard household current. The only drawback is that portable models tend to cost a little more—but not having to hook up anything extra makes their additional value well worth the price.
What Size Air Compressor Do I Need for Impact Wrench?
Many people use impact wrenches for things like tire installation, coil springs, brakes, and suspension components. However, air compressor manufacturers aren't all the same; what size is right for you? Here are some factors to consider when choosing an air compressor for your needs:
If you're doing DIY home projects or garage work, a one-gallon air compressor should be fine. It will give you enough power to change tires on most vehicles and do minor household repairs. With these smaller compressors available in just about any hardware store, the purchase price isn't generally that high either. The downside of small models is that they don't have much endurance; it's possible to run them out of gas if you put the pressure up too high or run them for too long, and they'll stall out.
If you're an avid hobbyist, hobby shop owner, or a hands-on professional looking to buy some equipment for your business, you might want to look at a slightly larger air compressor. Most of these are available in the 2 1/2 – 5 gallon range; this is more than enough capacity for almost any task that requires pressure but isn't quite large enough to have no endurance limit (you should still be able to put the pressure up relatively high before running one of these tools flat). Unfortunately, because most people won't have much need for them, portable compressors tend to be on the pricier side of things; a good one will usually cost around $250-$300.
Suppose you're installing large equipment in a commercial environment, such as a garage or warehouse that requires air tools to be used regularly. In that case, you'll probably want to invest in an industrial-strength compressor. These bad boys can cost anywhere from $500 – $3000, making them expensive for the average home DIYer/hobbyist. However, they also have no problem running all day and will provide plenty of power for multiple users at once; they are perfect for things like auto shops where lots of mechanics need quick access to air tools regularly.
8 Benefits of Using a Compressor with Your Impact Wrench
The benefits of using a compressor with your impact wrench are many. They include:
- Reduced fatigue while working – Whether you're an occasional user or a professional, using your impact wrench with an air compressor will allow for less fatigue over time and increase performance in the long run.
- Compression capacity is always available – Do you use compressed air on other tools? With a quick connection from your impact wrench to the compressor, there's no reason why you can't have ready access to high-pressure air whenever you need it.
- Keeps lubricant properly pressured between uses – One of the best things about using a powered gun is that it allows more control over lubricant delivery during and after work. This helps protect against damage from friction and helps wear parts last longer overall. An example of this would be wind turbines – you can use a compressor to lubricate between uses and reduce the wear rate, saving your company time and money in repairs.
- Convenient for confined spaces – An impact wrench with air pressure is much lighter than regular electric models. This makes it ideal for confined areas where hooking up electrical power isn't feasible. Powered wrenches have adjustable torque settings, too, so you have ultimate control over setting the amount of force needed for each job.
- Minimal kickback from non-inertial loads - Adding more speed through compressed air, less recoil results in airborne debris or foreign objects moving at high speeds towards workers' faces when attempting to remove stubborn bolts and nuts.
- Works well on any material surface – Whether you're using your impact wrench on steel or aluminum, the vibrations are significantly reduced over a standard electric model. The result is better control and less strain on your wrist for repetitive motion jobs.
- Less oil residue/easier cleanup – One of the most significant benefits of using air-powered wrenches is reducing mess and clean up afterward. Since there are no hazardous chemicals or other chemicals involved in compressed air tanks, you'll eliminate those risks when using an impact wrench with air pressure.
- It allows for more precision work – Using pressurized air allows for more precise control over applications and speed variations that traditional battery-operated models can't achieve. This makes it perfect for industrial uses, especially where workers need some extra help without sacrificing quality.
There are a few different sizes of air compressors that will work for an impact wrench. However, it's essential to keep in mind the power and how big your tank needs to be so you don't end up with something too small or too large. We recommend going over some reviews before making a decision about which compressor is best for you.
Related: How to Use a Crowfoot Wrench?