Recently updated on February 16th, 2022
Air Compressors prove useful in various situations, whether you’re at work or in the comfort of your home. You can use them for inflating tires and pool toys. You can also use them to power tools like nail guns, drills, and even spray painting. Air Compressors make for portable, light-weight, and compact tools. They are effortless to use and don’t wear out quickly.
One of the most critical parameters of an Air Compressor is its CFM. The CFM determines the Compressor’s flow rate. Therefore, it is vital to own an Air Compressor with the right CFM suitable for your needs. If you’re a regular user of Air Compressors, you must’ve wondered at some point if there’s a way to increase its CFM. This article will explain what CFM is and how, if at all, you can increase it yourself. Meanwhile, you can also check out our article on the best quiet Air Compressor.
Let’s Understand Air Compressor CFM First
Three primary ratings determine your Air Compressor’s use case. These are PSI, HP, and CFM. PSI refers to Pounds per Square Inch and measures the pressure a Compressor can deliver. HP is short for Horsepower and determines how much work your Compressor can perform. But the CFM is arguably the primary rating you should consider when buying an Air Compressor.
CFM stands for Cubic Feet per Minute. In its essence, the CFM indicates the output flow rate of the Air Compressor. It is the volume of air that an Air Compressor can provide per minute of operation for a certain pressure. Therefore, air Compressors with a higher CFM rating can generally move more air at any PSI level.
Since CFM generally varies with temperature and humidity, manufacturers usually list the Standard CFM. The SCFM is measured at sea level for 68° Fahrenheit air at 36% relative humidity. The SCFM is also listed for a specific pressure – as you decrease the pressure, the CFM value goes up, and vice versa. Therefore, it is vital to know the CFM and PSI levels that your application requires. This allows your Air Compressor to handle situations efficiently and prevents it from working at full capacity at all times.
Ways To Increase CFM On Air Compressor
Even when you buy a suitable Air Compressor for a given application, you might need to increase its CFM in certain other cases. For instance, many tools work at particular CFM levels which may be higher than your Compressor’s rating.
You can also take a look here at the best Air Compressors for a nail gun.
You need to adjust your existing setup to improve the airflow in such cases. Let us now discuss how you can achieve this.
One way to increase the CFM on your Air Compressor is to add another Air Compressor of the same brand and model. This will essentially double the output flow of the system. Since both Compressors will have the same CFM rating, this method doesn’t complicate the handling of the Compressors either. To connect the two Air Compressors, you can use a compressed airline. You can link this to a T-style Air Compressor fitting. Then, you can join the T-style fitting to the desired air tool and enjoy improved CFM levels. This method is great for achieving higher CFM levels for a continuous period. But it might not be cost-effective since you have to purchase another Air Compressor.
You may not want to buy a new Air Compressor and have a spare Compressor from a different brand lying around. You can use that to increase the flow rate as well. However, this method is a little complex. You can still connect the two Compressors using a compressed air line and a T-style plug. But in this situation, you will need additional adjustable pressure switches. This is because both the Compressors will have different cut-in and cut-off pressure levels. Therefore, they will need to be synced manually to work effectively.
The easiest way to increase the CFM on your Air Compressor may be to add a compressed air receiver tank. This increases the air storage capacity of the Air Compressor. This allows it to provide better flow in a single operation. This, in turn, improves the CFM rating. However, this high flow rate is only available for a limited time during each cycle. This is because the Air Compressor’s pump cannot manage this increased demand continuously. Thus this method is useful only when high CFM is required for intermittent usage. Of course, the bigger the tank used, the longer the Air Compressor can run before resting. But it’s still much more cost-efficient than the other techniques.
You can increase the CFM level of your Air Compressor by changing the existing pump and motor inside your Compressor. However, this strictly depends on the make and model of your Air Compressor. This is also not a very affordable option. It requires a thorough understanding of how Air Compressors work to be implemented successfully. This is why this method is only recommended for professionals with technical knowledge.
One last hack to increase your Air Compressor’s CFM level is to reduce the pressure in the system using a regulator. Your Air Compressor’s CFM rating at the given pressure level should still exceed the CFM required by the tool you’re connecting to it. Also, this method is only viable if the working pressure of the tool is sufficiently low. It doesn’t provide more than a 25% increase to the original CFM rating.
Why Exact CFM Achievement Is Important For Air Tools?
Air tools require varying amounts of CFM depending on their specific usage. For instance, small pneumatic tools don’t need a lot of CFM and can operate at low pressures. On the other hand, larger machinery can be very demanding. It can also exhaust your Air Compressor completely. It is also essential to consider whether you can use the tool continuously for a long period or in short bursts. The former will require a larger CFM than the latter and a longer duty cycle.
If the output CFM is too low, you won’t operate your tools at all as they will simply not work. If the output CFM is too much, that probably means your Air Compressor isn’t very cost-effective for the tools you’re using! Finally, it is also essential to know if you’re using a single Air Compressor to run multiple tools simultaneously. Simultaneous usage will also require a larger CFM rating. For various applications with different demands, you should take the sum of their individual requirements. You can then consider an Air Compressor with a 40-50% higher capacity. This is so that the Air Compressor isn’t operating at its full capacity all the time.
Can You Increase CFM On An Air Compressor? Or Increasing SCFM?
As noted, SCFM refers to the Standard Cubic Feet per Minute. It is the rating provided by the Air Compressor manufacturers for a specific set of conditions. This SCFM rating helps in comparing two Air Compressors with one another. The higher an Air Compressor’s SCFM rating is, the bigger and more powerful it is. Therefore, it is irrelevant to increase the SCFM of an Air Compressor. Instead, you should think about increasing the CFM of your Air Compressor concerning the application you need it for.
Air Compressors find use in various day-to-day activities, be it in a workshop or at home. Air Compressors come with three primary ratings from the manufacturer: PSI, HP, and CFM. The PSI and HP describe the pressure delivered and work done by the Air Compressor.
The CFM measures the airflow rate provided by the Air Compressor at a given pressure. Air Compressors are usually rated for a specific set of environmental conditions. This rating is called the Standard CFM. For certain applications, such as while using some air tools, the required CFM levels might be higher than what the Air Compressor is capable of. In such cases, you can increase the CFM rating of the Compressor by adding another Compressor to the system.
You can also add an extra air receiver tank or retrofit a bigger air pump and motor in the existing Compressor. For example, a higher CFM is needed if you plan to use heavy air tools like impacting wrenches or nailing guns.
On the other hand, if all you want to use are more general tools, a lower CFM is more cost-effective. Typical small air tools require 0-5 CFM from a small Air Compressor. Larger tools may require CFM levels exceeding 10. Therefore, it is important to know the exact CFM requirements you need for a project. This helps to ensure the smooth and effective operation of your Air Compressor.