Will a 3 gallon air compressor run an impact wrenchWill a 3 gallon air compressor run an impact wrench

An impact wrench requires a lot of air to operate, and larger air compressors have the ability to deliver that air. A smaller air compressor will not deliver enough air, and the tool won’t be able to function.

The main question comes here will a 3 gallon air compressor run an impact wrench? The simple answer is no.

When using a 3 gallon air compressor, I remember that I could not use an impact wrench. The power of the impact wrench depends on the flow of compressed air and the speed of rotation of the impact wrench.

If you want to use an impact wrench with a 3 gallon air compressor, it will be just a waste of time because it will not deliver that required level of air for an impact wrench.

Are you thinking about how big an air compressor do I need to run an impact wrench? 

The simple answer is at least you need a best 6-gallon air compressor to run an impact wrench. But still, it’s not enough to run an impact wrench. If you want to use it more frequently, then you better go for a bigger one, like a 20-gallon air compressor.

So, now that we’ve cleared up the confusion regarding whether a 3-gallon air compressor can run an impact wrench, let’s move to the next step, and that is how to choose the right air compressor for an impact wrench.

What to look at when choosing an air compressor for an impact wrench

Many people think just air pressure is the only thing to consider when buying an air compressor for an impact wrench. But that’s not true; you have to look for cfm and tank size along with air pressure.

Air pressure

Air pressure is usually measured in “PSI”. The higher the number, the more powerful it is. In general, an impact wrench needs 90 PSI, but some may not be powerful enough at 90 PSI.

So, you should consider the PSI required by your impact wrench too. According to my experience, there is no need for high psi between 90 to 120.

CFM Rating

This is another important factor you must consider. CFM stands for “cubic feet per minute of air. Since the amount of air a compressor can produce determines the impact wrench’s performance, you should check this when purchasing an air compressor. The most popular size is one with a CFM rating of at least 4.

Tank size

This refers to the tank’s volume, which stores compressed air. It is measured in a gallon. A bigger tank can store more compressed air so that it will run your tools for a longer time.

Usually, compressors are available in sizes starting from one gallon and above. If you want to use an impact wrench more frequently, then it’s better to go for larger tank size, like 20 gallons or more.

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What Size Air Compressor For Impact Wrench?

Impact wrenches come in different sizes, which means that no single air compressor can run them all. You will need to know the right size of impact wrench before choosing the right one.

The size you choose will ultimately depend on how often you plan to use the impact wrench. We will go over the different types of impact wrenches and their compatible air compressor sizes.

You can refer to the chart below to know what size air compressor you should buy for your impact wrench.

Tool Size, Air Pressure, CFM, Air Tank Size Recommend

¼ impact wrench – 90 PSI – 2 CFM – 8 Gallon

3/8 impact wrench – 90 PSI – 3 CFM – 12 Gallon

½ impact wrench – 90 to 100 PSI – 5 CFM – 20-30 Gallon

¾ impact wrench – 90 to 100 PSI – 7 CFM – 28-30 Gallon

1-inch impact wrench – 90 to 125 PSI – 15 CFM – 40-60 Gallon

Let’s look at each one in detail.

1/4 – Inch impact wrench

It is the minimum size you can get for your money. To operate an impact wrench size of ¼ inch, you must have a compressor with 90 PSI and 2 CFM. If your compressor size doesn’t match the tool, it won’t generate enough air pressure.

3/8 – Inch impact wrench

If we compare the 1/8 inch impact wrench with this one, it requires more cfm to operate. For operating this, you need a compressor for 12 Gallon capacity.

So there is no chance of using 3 or 5 Gallon air compressors with this one because a 5 Gallon compressor can never generate enough air pressure for this tool.

It is also recommended to have at least 90 PSI, 3 CFM air compressor. If you are only planning to do minor jobs, then you can consider this one.

½ – Inch impact wrench

This is the most preferred type of average use. The ½ inch impact wrench is the most used size in any workshop or garage. For running an ½ inch impact wrench, you need a compressor with 90 to 100 PSI and 5 CFM.

If you want to use your impact wrench for a long time, then it’s better to go with ½ inch impact wrench. This size is ideal for both DIYers and pros.

¾ – Inch impact wrench

This is a heavy-duty tool for professionals. For running ¾ inch impact wrench, you need a compressor with 90 to 100 PSI and 7 CFM.

This is considered the most reliable source of power in the market. A 7 CFM compressor can handle heavy-duty work like removing lug nuts, changing tires, and breaking stubborn bolts.

1-inch impact wrench

It is the biggest size available in the market. These tools are mostly used in construction sites. For operating this, you need an industrial-grade air compressor. An industrial compressor can smoothly run this 1-inch impact wrench.

You must have at least a 40-60 Gallon tank capacity with 125 psi and 15 cfm. If you’re working with heavy-duty tasks, it’s better to go for this.


So, the above information will help you to pick the right size impact wrench for your compressor. As per our experience, ½ inch air compressor is the most recommended one.

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Can a 6 gallon air compressor run an Impact wrench??

A 6-gallon air compressor can run an impact wrench. The larger tank will generate more compressed air than a 3-gallon one. But it also has a limited amount of air it can produce at one time.

The air pressure generated by a 6-gallon compressor is not enough for an impact wrench. It will also lead to wear and tear of the wrench. You have to refill the tank before every use. So better to go for a compressor with specs compatible with the tool you want to run.

Beginners Guide

What is an impact wrench?

The most common handheld air tool that people want to use with a small air compressor is the impact wrench. An impact wrench is a pneumatic tool that uses an internal hammer mechanism to deliver an incredibly strong impact for loosening or tightening nuts and bolts.

Types of impact wrenches

The most common impact wrenches available are Air-powered, electric, and cordless impact wrenches.

Air-powered impact wrenches are the most common type of impact wrench that people use with their small air compressor. 

Air-powered impacts can either produce short, fast and forth impacts like a drill or deliver destructive impacts. Electric impact wrenches work similarly to an electric drill and simply require you to pull or push a trigger to deliver an impact. Electric impacts are widely used in vehicle repair shops, where the fast repetitive impacts of a cordless drill may be impractical to deliver due to the fast-moving parts of a vehicle.

Cordless impact wrenches are usually battery-powered and use an internal mechanism to deliver their impacts. They are designed to loosen or tighten nuts and bolts like air-powered impact wrenches.

The most important thing about these tools is that they are designed to deliver short, sharp impacts that can generate a lot of power in a short amount of time.

Final word for can a 3 gallon air compressor run an impact wrench.

As I mentioned above, a 3-gallon air compressor is good for household purposes only. You can use it for spray painting, inflating, and sandblasting. However, it will not deliver the powerful blow needed by an impact wrench in its fast repetitive mode of operation.

You need a high-powered compressor for an impact wrench to deliver continuous high pressure. You can purchase a high-quality air compressor for an impact wrench from brands like California, Craftsman, Makita, and Porter-Cable. They are designed to be compatible with the impact wrench you want to use.

I hope this article on will a 3-gallon air compressor run impact wrench helps you. If so, please share it with your friends and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

FAQs Related to Impact Wrench

Do I need an oil-lubricated compressor for running my impacts?

If you want to run your impacts (whether wrenches or guns) for a longer duration, you need to go for an oil-lubricated compressor. An oil lube compressor will help your impact run smoothly without any interruption of work.

Why is it recommended to have a 40-60 gallon air compressor to run an impact wrench?

For running impacts, you need a lot of pressure. The pressure depends on the standard of your impact wrench. If you want to use an impact wrench for a long time, you need a 40-60 gallon tank compressor. This tank size can provide enough air pressure to operate an impact wrench for a longer duration without any interruption of work.

Why small air compressor can not run an impact wrench?

A small size air compressor does not produce enough amount of air pressure. This can affect the performance of your impact wrench. So, it’s recommended to have a compressor with at least 40-60 gallon capacity for running this tool

By Matthew

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