What Is The CFM Of A Compressor?

  What is the CFM of a compressor?

All the compressor measurements like hp, tank size (20 Gallon, 30 Gallon or 60 Gallon), and duty cycle are important to know. CFM is one of the most important measurements and consumers need to be familiar with it.

The CFM (cubic feet per minute) which is actually the volume of a compressor and tells the airflow rate of the compressor. It helps you predict the efficiency of a compressor. We take some cubic feet of air from the atmosphere and then compress it inside the compressor and then utilizing it for the tools.

So, the volume component helps you know, how much flow the compressor is putting into that system. The purpose for discussing "what is the cfm of a compressor?" is to make the users aware of the most important criteria for the selection of a compressor.

When you make a choice considering the CFM of a compressor then there are least chances of disappointment.

  What is SCFM?

Most people get confused in understanding the difference between SCFM and CFM. SCFM is standard cubic feet per minute and basically its a volume of air flow that is measured at standard temperature and pressure. 

Whereas the CFM is the volume of air at any temperature or pressure. The difference is only that the conditions are standardized for SCFM.

  CFM Rating:

The CFM rating tells the value of CFM required by a tool. The tools have a particular CFM rating that is written on it.

When you intend to buy a compressor, note the CFM rating of your tool and purchase a compressor with the same CFM value that the tool is rated for.

  How to size the pump for CFM?

You are asked for what kind of air tool you are trying to purchase the compressor. All manufacturers of compressed air have a specifications for airflow.

So, you should look at your tools CFM rating before you go to the shop. The CFM rating is written on your air tool and if you don't find it there they must be available on the manufacturer's website.

Read Also: 10 Best Portable Air Compressors

  Factors affecting Airflow:

Some of the tools can consume a lot of air. For tools that consume more air you are going to need a larger tank, higher horse power and the more input voltage to run that compressor. The most important criteria for choosing a compressor is the pump size.

i). Horsepower:

The compressor has a motor that produce certain amount of power to deliver a certain amount of air. The power generated by compressor engine is highly valuable feature because the compressors with high horsepower can deliver a greater airflow. 

ii). Duty cycle:

Along with the horsepower, the duty cycle has a significant impact on the airflow rate of the compressors 5 hp horsepower a and a 100% duty cycle will produce more airflow than a 7.5 hp and 75% duty cycle.

iii). Hose size:

Usually when we talk about the factors that the effect of the airflow rate, we consider the horsepower and pressure. But hose size is also very important factor. The smaller hose will not be able to draw much airflow. The bigger the hose the more volume of air will come. There is a possibility for you might not be receiving sufficient airflow due to smaller horse power.

iv). Link between Pressure and CFM rating:

The manufacturers usually suggest two PSI ratings and if you concentrate you can clearly see that the higher CFM value is written with lower PSI and the lower CFM rating is written with a higher PSI. This observation will help you in establishing a relationship between CFM and PSI. By lowering the pressure you can increase your CFM.

v). Two stage compressors:

The compressor type may also effect the air flow rate. The two stage compressors are used as a means of increasing the efficiency of a compressor delivering greater airflow as compared to the single-stage compressor. With a double stage compressor your air tools may get 4 to 5 cfm at 100 PSI instead of 2 to 3 psi with a single-stage compressor.

vi). Twin-cylinder pumps

The twin cylinders and sometimes multiple cylinders are used in compressors to improve the air delivery. The twin-cylinder pumps double the volume of air and deliver larger air volume with greater speed.

Read Also: 10 Best 12V Air Compressors


The purpose of all the above discussion is to make you understand the value of knowing the cfm of a compressor and the role played by cfm in determining the efficiency of the compressor.

After knowing "what is the cfm of a compressor?" It really cleared the concept about the criteria required for making the right choice of a compressor. Here we are summing up the overall discussion.

The importance of cfm among many of the compressor measurements can not be denied because it represents the efficiency of a compressor. The compressors with larger cfm are more efficient than compressors with lower cfm.

The air delivery rate is different in different compressors and it greatly depends on the horsepower. The more powerful engine draws more air to run tools and equipment. The selection of compressors based upon the cfm rating makes it essential to note down the cfm rating of a particular tool and selecting the compressor with the same cfm value.

It is called the sizing of the compressor for the cfm. There are certain factors that may help in making the cfm high and they have been well discussed above. 

This discussion puts an emphasis on knowing the other compressor parameters like horse power and pressure, as well because they have a direct impact on airflow rate and you must look for these features too when purchasing an air compressor.

Further, some strategies like using a longer air hose and using certain types of compressors that improve air delivery have also been discussed.

In order to make a smart decision regarding compressor purchase, it is important to know, "what is the cfm of a compressor?" Because if you don't know what is the cfm of a compressor? you may end up with a useless purchase.

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