5 Questions Answered About What is SCFM on Air Compressor?

Among all the features that an air compressor comes with, SCFM is probably the most important. Not only is it necessary to get the one that comes with a good SCFM rating but also choosing a bad one can ruin the entire experience.

SCFM which stands for Standard Cubic Feet per Minute is a metric that measures the volume of air being passed from the compressor to the air tool. A compressor’s capabilities depend mostly on its SCFM rating. An air compressor that comes with a higher SCFM raring is capable of providing more air to the tool. In return, it’s capable of running heavy tools that require a large volume of air being passed to it.

Needless to say, your need might not require an air compressor with super high SCFM. It all depends on the workflow you have in mind. In this post, we’ll try to answer all things SCFM.

What is a Good SCFM for an air compressor?

This doesn’t have a straight forward answer. To get the best air compressor for your need, you need to consider what type of workflow you have. If your workflow varies, look for the tool that requires the most amount of air. Based on that choose an air compressor that supports it. That way you can easily run all the tools you need.

For an instance, If you plan on using an impact wrench that must have a constant 5.8 SCFM flow, then choose an air compressor with at least 5.8 SCFM or more. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

What is the difference between SCFM and CFM?

SCFM and CFM are perhaps the most used metric to measure the performance of an air compressor. But where do they defer?


Well, the main difference is that CFM ratings are smaller in value than SCFM. Why? Because they are measured under 90 PSI power. So, the volume of the air gets crunched. As a result, you get a smaller reading.

On the other hand, to calculate SCFM the 90 PSI pressure is removed. So, the air gets expanded to standard ATM. That’s the main difference between SCFM and CFM.

Which one should you look for? Well, as per the industry standard, following SCFM would be a wiser decision for you. Especially if you are a beginner.

How much SCFM do I need?

As mentioned earlier, the answer depends on your usage. If you do heavy-duty work and run lots of tools that require high pressure, then choose something that can cover everything. Choosing an air compressor that has a CFM@90 PSI of 2.8 or more should be enough.

However, if you are a hobbyist and don’t run tools professionally, you can cut some slack there and save up some money. But you should always keep in mind how much pressure your tools needs.

Which is better CFM or SCFM?

Both actually serve the purpose for which they were designed for. If you know what you are doing you can get away with either of them. However, if you are new to the air compressor game and don’t know how things work, then go for SCFM. It’s a safer choice.

Study different products and see what suits you the best. If you are not sure where to begin, we have a guide on choosing what’s best for you. Check this post for more details.

How do I increase the SCFM on my air compressor?

To increase the SCFM of your air compressor you need to build less pressure inside the tank. Now, how do you make sure there’s less pressure inside the tank? Well, to achieve that you need to dial the regulator counter-clockwise. When you do that air slowly goes inside the tank and reduces the pressure inside. This change in pressure allows you to achieve an increased SCFM rating.

Final Thoughts

So, there you go. That was all the answers to the most common questions about SCFM of an air compressor. I hope I was able to cover most of it. If you have any more questions regarding SCFM and CFM feel free to drop a comment below. I’ll give my best to answer that.

As always, work hard to stay safe.

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