How to Properly Size Your Next Air Compressor

Air Compressor Sizing

Whether you are replacing an existing compressor, adding to your existing system, or starting from scratch, having the properly sized air compressor will save you from headaches in the future. 

PSI (Pounds per Square Inch)

When determining what pressure your air compressor needs to be rated for, you will want to look at all of the tools and equipment that will be utilizing compressed air, and make sure your air compressor is rated for the highest pressure identified, plus 10%.

CFM (Cubit Feet per Minute)

There are two methods to determine your systems’s CFM requirement:

1) Itemize and Add – Make a running list of all tools and equipment that will be utilizing compressed air. Then, write down the required CFM to operate each tool, as specified by the manufacturer. If you can’t find this information, you can look online for a chart of standard requirements for common pneumatic tools. Add together the CFM requirements of all of the pneumatic tools you plan to run at the same time. Increase this number by 25% to allow for additional tools, future growth, and eventual air system leaks.

2) Conduct an Air Audit – With an air audit, you will have kW and PSI monitoring equipment hooked to your existing system. At that point you will allow these units to track data over the course of 2 weeks, which will then be analyzed. During the analyzation you will be able to see (a) how much CFM was produced to meet your facility’s needs, and (b) at what points did your system struggle to meet demand. From that information, it can then be determined the proper amount of CFM that your facility needs to run optimally. 

Controls

Depending on how your air demand fluctuates throughout the day, there will be different types of air compressor controls you will want to consider. If your facility uses a rather constant, steady flow of air, then perhaps a Fixed or Modulating unit along is what you will need. If your demand fluctuates greatly, you will want to consider Variable Displacement, Variable Speed units, or tie multiple units together with a Master Controller. 

Storage

Lastly, you will also want to consider air storage tanks as a way to have consistent pressure, while accommodating bursts of air usage.  There are numerous factors you will want to consider here, so I implore you to visit our Tank Size Calculators page. 

If you have questions or concerns about how to better manage your air system in order to meet the ever fluctuating air demand, please reach out to us. We have branches throughout MichiganOhio and Indiana, to better serve Grand RapidsLansingDetroitToledoIndianapolis, and Fort Wayne.

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