While horsepower indicates how powerful the compressor is, CFM ratings at specific PSI levels can help you determine if the compressor has the power to handle your task.
You may need a bigger air compressor if you have a larger task that requires sustained air flow. Automotive work and remodeling projects are two examples of tasks that would require more compressed air.
For example, if you need to power a pneumatic tool with high air flow requirements—such as an impact wrench or nail gun—you may want to consider a compressor with a higher CFM rating.
What Are the Benefits of a Bigger Gallon Air Compressor
A bigger air compressor—such as a 5-gallon model—can offer a variety of benefits over a smaller model. Larger compressors are typically able to handle more tasks and offer more consistent performance than their smaller counterparts.
Those models can provide longer running times and have the ability to consistently produce more air pressure. They are also able to do so at a lower RPM, meaning they are quieter and emit less vibration during operation.
A larger air compressor will also offer more flexibility when it comes to choosing accessories for your tool.
For example, a larger air compressor can be connected to an air tank for continuous use—which is not possible with a smaller model.
Additionally, a larger air compressor will often have a higher PSI and HP rating than a smaller model, allowing it to perform better with larger tools.
What Does the Gallon Size Mean for Air Compressor
The gallon size of the air compressor refers to its liquid volume. In other words, it’s the amount of liquid that can be held by the tank. However, it’s not always a good indicator of how big the compressor actually is.
If we take the example of two compressors with the same gallon size—such as the Porter-Cable C2002 and the Ingersoll Rand 131—they will actually have different sizes. The Porter-Cable C2002 has a tank of 4 gallons, while the Ingersoll Rand 131 has a tank of 6 gallons.
So, it is important that when you are choosing an air compressor, you check the actual volume of the tank instead of just its gallon size.
In our reviews, we always indicate the liquid volume of each compressor, so you can easily compare them. This way, you’re sure that you are choosing the best air compressor for your needs.
Why Do Air Compressors Come in Different Gallon Sizes
The main reason air compressors come in a variety of gallon sizes is because of the amount of air they can produce per minute—or their CFM. It’s important to note that air compressors are measured by their peak horsepower—not the continuous horsepower.
Another reason for the different sizes is that some air compressors are designed for a single purpose or task, while others are more versatile and can handle a variety of tasks.
And finally, the last reason is that some air compressors are simply larger than others—meaning they have a larger tank and can produce more air per minute.
How Many Gallon Air Compressor Do You Need
The answer to this question really depends on how much air you need to compress. If you’re only using the compressor to inflate tires or small items, a 5-gallon air compressor should be more than enough.
However, if you plan on running some air tools—such as a staple gun, air gun, air-powered paintball gun, air hammer, or air nailer—then you’ll need a 10-gallon air compressor to ensure there’s enough air to go around.
In the end, the amount of air compressor you need is really up to personal preference and what you plan on using the compressor for.
However, if you’re looking for the best options out there—whether you’re a DIYer or someone who just needs an air compressor for small jobs—I recommend the compressors listed above.
How Do I Know if My Air Compressor Is Big Enough
An air compressor should run continuously when under load—but should not be overloaded. If you are using a compressor for heavy-duty applications, such as running a pneumatic nailer or framing gun, you will likely need a larger compressor.
If your compressor is constantly running and making a lot of noise when under load, it’s time to upgrade. If your compressor is constantly running and making a lot of noise when under load, it’s time to upgrade.
If you are just looking to run some air tools—such as impact wrenches, nail guns, and brad guns—a smaller compressor will do the job.
Can I Put a Bigger Tank on My Air Compressor
The answer to this question is yes—but only if you have a compressor that is rated for large tanks. Some compressors are designed to run big industrial tanks, while others can run only small ones.
If you have a compressor that is rated for large tanks, you can use a tank that is up to 5 times larger than the one recommended for your compressor.
If you have a small compressor—under 7.5hp—you’re better off sticking with the small tank that’s recommended for it.
You can also consider buying a compressor specifically designed for large tanks—such as the Quincy Air-EZ5HP and the Ingersoll Rand 2HP—which have higher horse power and stronger motors to run bigger tanks and compress air faster.
Is a Bigger Tank Better for an Air Compressor
No, a bigger tank is not better for an air compressor. An air compressor’s tank size is primarily determined by the amount of air it needs to compress at any given time.
According to my friend Tom—who has been in the HVAC industry for over 20 years—the larger the tank, the longer it will take for the compressor to reach its maximum pressure, which means it will take longer to fill up tires or air tools.
It may also take longer for the compressor to run after being turned off—because it will have to use some of its stored air to get back up to full pressure.
However, if you have high-demand needs, such as filling up a large volume of tires or airing up several air tools at once, a bigger tank should be considered. It will allow you to run for longer periods of time before needing to refill the tank.
And it will allow you to have more air stored up for those times when you need it most.
How Big of an Air Compressor Do You Need for Air Tools
Air compressors are designed to provide a certain amount of air pressure—measured in pounds per square inch (PSI)—at a given flow of air. If you have a small compressor that can only provide 5 PSI at a low flow, it’s not going to be powerful enough to drive an air impact wrench.
If you want to use air tools that require higher pressure, you’ll need to get a larger compressor.
But before you go out and buy a large compressor, consider if you really need one. Unless you plan to use air tools that need high pressure regularly, a small compressor is fine for most DIYers—even if you have a large collection of air tools.
If you own a small workshop, a 1-gallon air compressor is probably a great choice. As a 1-gallon air compressor, the Campbell Hausfeld FP20300 has decent performance and comes at an affordable price. However, it’s not suitable for continuous heavy-duty jobs. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.