Will a 3 Gallon Air Compressor Run an Impact Wrench?

Different tank size air compressors have different air pressure and power. Air tools also need different air pressure. How much air pressure does an impact wrench needed? We want to know that, Will a 3 gallon air compressor run an impact wrench? The answer is No both for the impact wrench project and the air compressor. You must need at-least 6 gallon air compressor tank to run an impact wrench.

Today we will broadly discuss whether a 3-gallon air compressor is suitable for impact wench or not. Besides, we have covered the requirements of different sized impact wrenches from air compressors as well as other relevant information.

So the guide will help you take the right step to complete the impact wrench project properly and precisely by using the right size air compressor.

Can a 3-Gallon Air Compressor Run an Impact Wrench?

Along with the max PSI, tank size is also important for running an impact wrench with an air compressor. The tank size of an air compressor can vary from 1 to 80 gallons air compressor or even larger. The bigger the tank size, the longer the run time between air filling in tank.

Since the three-gallon tank only holds three gallons of air, it is insufficient for operating an impact wrench. Even if you need to run an impact wrench for a short time rather than continuously, a 3-gallon air compressor isn’t good enough. Using a 3-gallon tank will require refilling more often. Besides, it won’t offer the desired power needed to run an impact wrench.

A three-gallon air compressor can be inexpensive, but the savings aren’t worth the project requirements. Choose an air compressor with at least a 10-gallon tank. It will let you complete the project without compromising the air tool. More importantly, a larger tank is better still if the project doesn’t demand it. You will find it effective for other projects, for sure.

What tank size of an air compressor is needed to run an impact wrench?

Many enthusiasts believe that choosing an air tool by measuring air pressure is a better way to go. But the reality is that there are plenty of factors to consider when selecting the best air compressor for an impact wrench. The tank size is at the top of it. 

While using a smaller tank air compressor won’t offer the required service for the heavy task, choosing a larger tank compressor for the lighter job is unnecessary. Despite several tanks, CFM, air pressure and airflow are also among important considerations. So when choosing the right tank size air compressor, considering these features will help you find the ideal one. 

Let’s have a look at the different size impact wrench charts and their required air pressure and CFM:

Tool SizeAir PressureAir Tank Size Recommend
¼ impact wrench90 PSI8 Gallon
3/8 impact wrench90 PSI12 Gallon
½ impact wrench90 to 100 PSI20-30 Gallon
¾ impact wrench90 to 100 PSI28-30 Gallon
1-inch impact wrench90 to 125 PSI40-60 Gallon

Now we will discuss what tank size air compressor is needed for

¼ impact wrench

It is the least size impact wrench available on the market. To operate this 1/4 inch impact wrench, you will need an air compressor with 2 CFM and 90 PSI air pressure. It doesn’t need much pressure to operate and the 8-gallon tank size will be good enough.

3/8 inch impact wrench

Compared to the previous model, this 3/8 inch impact wrench needs a bit more pressure. So you will need to use an air compressor with 3 CFM to run this air tool. Besides, it should have 90 PSI air pressure and a 12-gallon tank size is recommended.

½ inch impact wrench

It’s a medium-size and mostly used impact wrench available on the market. An air compressor should have at least 5 CFM to operate this 1/2 inch impact wrench. Plus, this 5 CFM Air Compressor should be able to produce 100 PSI air pressure and should have a 20-30 gallon tank size.

¾ inch impact wrench

It’s a larger impact wrench that requires high air volume to operate. So you have to use an air compressor that has a minimum of 7 CFM and can generate 100 PSI of air pressure. Besides, if you have to run the ¾ inch impact wrench consistently, then the tank should have a 28-30 gallon air holding capacity.

Air compressor for 1-inch impact

This size impact wrench is used rarely and mostly for construction sites. 1-inch is the largest size of impact wrench which needs the highest amount of air volume. So the air compressor you will need is 10-15 CFM with 120-150 PSI air pressure. Despite this, the tank size should be 40-60 gallons to properly run this impact wrench. So one thing is, you can’t run any size impact wrench using a 3-gallon air compressor.

Why is a 3-gallon air compressor unable to run an impact wrench?

An impact wrench is mostly used to loosen or tighten the ear nuts on vehicles. These air tools apply extreme force to complete the task in quicker and short bursts. Thus, the impact wrench requires a huge amount of air pressure to complete its action. The earlier section also informs us how much air pressure is required to operate the various sizes of the impact wrench.

3-gallon air compressor unable to run impact wrench

Conversely, a three-gallon air compressor only offers 0.5 CFM of air volume. The air pressure of this compressor offers insufficient for operating any size impact wrench. Even an air compressor with a 6-gallon isn’t ideal for running a ¼ inch impact wrench. We have to increase CFM of air compressor.

So what size air compressor is ideal for running an impact wrench? If you need to run the smallest impact wrench, you have to use at least an 8-gallon air compressor. A 20-30 gallon air compressor is suitable for running any size air compressor. It can offer needed air pressure properly and continuously.

Can a 6 gallon air compressor run an Impact wrench?

A 6-gallon air compressor may help you run an impact wrench, but it isn’t recommended. There are plenty of reasons behind it. Firstly, it won’t offer you much run time to operate an impact wrench. Thus, you will need to refill the tank more often, which will hamper the project.

 Then, you won’t be able to run a larger-sized impact wrench using a 6-gallon air compressor. Lastly, this size of air compressor isn’t suitable for commercial use. If you need to use the smaller impact wrench occasionally for home use, then you can go for it.

FAQs on Will a 3 Gallon Air Compressor Run an Impact Wrench?

How much PSI is required to operate an impact wrench?

Usually, most impact wrenches need at least 90 PSI to run properly. So use an air compressor with higher air pressure that will be match with an impact wrench. However, don’t forget about a minimum CFM of 2 to ensure ideal airflow.

Where can you use a 3-gallon air compressor?

So what can a 3-gallon air compressor do? A 3-gallon air compressor is generally used for filling different items, like air mattresses, tires, and balls. If the compressor has a powerful motor and pump, then it can be used for running various light-duty pneumatic tools. For example, you can use a 3-gallon air compressor to run a brand-name nailer and power floor.

What is the best air compressor for impact wrenches?

Some of the best-sized air compressors for home garages available on the market are:
Makita Big Bore 3.0 HP Air Compressor for impact wrench
Industrial Air Hi-Flo Single Stage Air Compressor
California Ultra Quiet Oil-Free Air Compressor
Porter-Cable C2002 air compressor
Powermate Vx 80-Gallon Electric Air Compressor

Select 6 plus Gallon Air Compressor to run an impact wrench

Once again, will a 3-gallon air compressor run an impact wrench? Hopefully, you know the answer. Throughout the guide, we have discussed the various sizes of air compressors and their requirements for running properly and consistently.

So, still, if you are considering a 3-gallon air compressor for an impact wrench, it will be nothing but a waste of money. If you want to complete the impact wrench project precisely and ensure a worthwhile investment, choose a quality air compressor with a larger tank size.

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Sam Morgan is a general contractor based in Charlotte, North Carolina. He does home renovations, extensions, landscaping maintenance, and general handyman jobs for homeowners. He is also the part-time content writer at Machine Handyman and a lifelong tools enthusiast. Sam loves hand tools, power tools, machinery, and DIY gadgets of all shapes and sizes! He is always researching the different types of home improvement tools that will get the best results. This site will cover products like power drills, air compressors, saws, nail guns, screw guns, grinders, cutting tools, and many more.

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