An impact wrench is a power tool that uses the energy it has stored in a rotating mass to deliver high torque output with minimal exertion. You can use it for the repair and maintenance of automobiles and heavy equipment.
And while you can pair it with electric and hydraulic power, most people use air compressors to run their impact wrenches.
Air compressors are mechanical devices that use pressurized air to generate the power required to operate devices like impact wrenches.
Impact wrenches are all the rage today because you can use them to accomplish strenuous tasks without applying much in the way of effort. With the best air compressor for impact wrenches on hand, you can repair your vehicle, renovate your home, and fix your roof on your own without wasting money on an expensive contractor.
Admittedly, some people are not convinced that impact wrenches are as powerful as everyone says. In fact, some people have criticized them for being cumbersome and inconvenient. But such complaints are only true in situations where an impact wrench has been paired with the wrong air compressor.
You need the best air compressor to appreciate the simplicity and efficiency of an impact wrench. However, selecting the wrong air compressor for your project is very easy.
This is because the market is saturated with air compressors. And unfortunately, not all of them are suitable for an impact wrench. To find the right air compressor, you need to take variables such as the airflow and pressure into account, matching them to the needs of your impact wrench and the tasks you want to accomplish.
This is the only way to ensure that your impact wrench delivers on its promises. However, most people don’t know enough about impact wrenches to successfully match them with a suitable air compressor.
That is why this guide was created, to point you in the direction of an air compressor that will make effective use of the various gifts of your impact wrench.
Our top pick
If You Want An Air Compressor That Won’t Disappoint Your Impact Wrench, Try Our Top Pick:
Industrial Air ILA4546065 – This is a monster of an air compressor. The price is somewhat high but that to be expected. After all, this unit has a 60-gallon tank, 240V heavy-duty induction motor, and an oil-lubricated, cast-iron, 3-cylinder pump. It is a powerful compressor that can survive anything you throw at it.
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Our budget pick
If You Want to Limit Your Expenditure, Try Our Budget Pick:
Porter-Cable C2002 – Despite its price tag, this is a highly satisfying air compressor with a 6-gallon tank, 120V motor that can start in the cold, a maintenance-free oil-free pump, and a maximum PSI of 150.
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Our best pick
If You Want a Unit that Balances Affordability and Efficiency, Try Our Overall Best Pick:
Makita MAC5200 – This Big Bore 3.0HP unit has a cast-iron oil-lubricated pump, a folding handle, rugged wheels, and a compartment that will store your accessories. The unit is durable, portable, and quiet, everything you could possibly want out of a compressor.
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Choosing the Right Air Compressor for Your Impact Wrench
As was noted above, finding the right air compressor is no easy task. There are too many brands on the market today, which is why you cannot afford to rush the selection process. Take as much time as you need to consider factors such as the following before you make your decision:
- Single Stage VS Two-Stage
Do you want a single-stage compressor or a two-stage compressor? They are not the same things. A single-stage compressor compresses the air once. The two-stage compressor compresses the air twice. You can technically get by with a single-stage compressor.
However, two-stage units have a reputation for running cooler. They also have more CFM to offer. It is a question of your needs.
Have you seen an air compressor whose specs claim that it has a 50 percent duty cycle? That figure is important. It means that the compressor can run for five minutes continuously within any given ten-minute period.
The duty cycle is presented as a percentage and it will tell you the number of minutes that the compressor can operate within a ten-minute period. In other words, it shows you the amount of continuous work you can do.
Naturally, you want a compressor that offers you the highest duty cycle possible. While most people can get by with 50 percent, 75 and 100 percent are better. No one will stop you from exceeding the duty cycle.
However, doing so will jeopardize your air compressor, compromising the pump and motor. You will lower the lifespan of the unit.
Most manufacturers won’t tell you how long their air compressor will last. They don’t want to publish an exaggerated number that will attract criticism from consumers if the air compressor fails to meet expectations.
The only way to determine the durability and life expectancy of an air compressor is to look at the reviews. The people who have used it will reveal to you the conditions it can withstand.
You can also use their testimonies to build a rough picture of the life expectancy of the unit. A compressor’s durability and lifespan are important because they will affect your decision where the price is concerned.
Some people are easily swayed by cheap air compressors. They do not realize that some compressors are sold at discounted prices because they don’t last long. You are better off purchasing an expensive air compressor with a strong reputation that will serve you for several years.
Where the tank is concerned, you should pay close attention to the size. It will tell you the amount of air the compressor can store. The size of the tank will determine the amount of continuous work you can do before refilling the tank. However, it will also affect weight.
Larger tanks are suitable for heavy-duty projects that do not require the air compressor to move. Hobbyists and homeowners are expected to prioritize smaller tanks associated with portable compressors.
The portability of an air compressor is determined by the size and weight. Your requirements where the size and weight are concerned will depend on the tasks you want to accomplish.
If you need a powerful compressor with a lot of air and your work doesn’t require the unit to move, you should buy the larger models that have to be bolted into the ground to prevent them from falling over.
But if your work requires frequent movement in and around the Jobsite, and you have to carry the air compressor from one Jobsite to another, you should prioritize the smaller, lighter units.
If you are determined to purchase larger, more powerful compressors, find models with wheels and handles.
A lot of air compressors are very loud and you cannot afford to use them indoors, not without deploying ear protection. They are best utilized in outdoor settings. Other compressors have quiet operations. You can use them without disturbing the people in the vicinity. But they are not always as powerful as their louder counterparts.
What is the air compressor’s maximum PSI? To work with a pneumatic tool, you need a minimum PSI of 125. The maximum PSI of your chosen compressor should match the air pressure requirements of your impact wrench.
Lubricated air compressors require oil. They are more powerful and they last longer but they are messy and they require significant maintenance. With oil-free models, you don’t have to concern yourself with oil leaks or maintenance, and neither are you expected to check the oil levels.
Unfortunately, oil-free compressors are not as durable. You have to compare and contrast the pros and cons of both oil-free and lubricated compressors to identify the model that suits your needs.
Best Air Compressors For Impact Wrench Reviews
1). Makita MAC5200 Big Bore 3.0 HP
This Makita unit is a strong contender for the title of best portable air compressor for impact wrench, boasting rugged wheels and a folding handle that simplifies transportation. The compressor is strong and durable, designed to deliver industrial power.
The integrated thermal overload will protect the 3.0HP motor, allowing the compressor to operate for longer periods. The cast iron construction makes the model compatible with difficult job sites and conditions.
- Cast iron pump and cylinder
- 3.0HP motor (6.5CFM at 90PSI)
- Lubricated oil pump
- Folding handle and rugged wheels
- Storage compartment
- 5.2 gallons(140PSI operating pressure)
- 75 pounds
The oil pump is lubricated. It also features a large filter (automotive style) that promises an increase in the air intake which, in turn, delivers greater efficiency.
- Cast iron construction is durable
- Folding handle and rugged wheels simplify transportation
- Built-in compartment provides storage space for accessories
- Lubricated oil pump runs at cooler temperatures and suffers less wear
- Plastic shroud rattles, making a lot more noise
- Poor pressure fittings
- Not cheap
Even with the wheels, this compressor is somewhat cumbersome. That being said, it is still a well-made unit with a strong build, a lubricated pump, and a motor that guarantees increased productivity.
2). Industrial Air ILA4546065 60-Gallon Compressor
This is not the cheapest air impact wrench compressor. But that is to be expected. The product was built for heavy-duty use, which is why it is common in mechanical workshops. Because it has a strong build consisting of Swedish stainless steel reed valves, an aluminum head, and valve plate, and a cast iron crankcase, you can trust it to survive in demanding conditions.
- 240V Heavy-Duty Induction Motor
- Cast Iron Oil Lubricated Pump
- 14CFM at 90PSI
- 155 Max PSI
- 60-Gallon Air Receiver
- 2-Year Warranty
The ASME air receiver provides a lot more air, allowing the unit to run for longer durations. Compatible with a variety of air tools, including spray guns and ratchets, the compressor comes with a heavy-duty motor that can withstand voltage fluctuations.
- 2-year warranty
- Faster heat dissipation
- Can survive demanding conditions
- Large-capacity air receiver
This compressor has a few weaknesses. Not only is it somewhat loud but it heats up with prolonged use. That being said, it is still the perfect unit for anyone that wants a heavy-duty air compressor with a durable build designed to withstand rugged conditions.
3). Craftsman CMEC6150K
The best air compressor is supposed to have an affordable price tag, a variety of features, and a decent PSI for impact wrench. This unit has all that and more. The 6-gallon capacity isn’t exactly the most attractive.
But that is to be expected. This is a portable compressor that weighs just 32 pounds. You have to sacrifice a few features to enjoy such portability.
- 6 gallons
- Oil-free pump
- 150 PSI Max
- 2.6SCFM at 90PSI
- 13-Piece Accessories
- 1-Year Warranty
- 32 pounds
Fortunately, the product’s other attributes are quite impressive. They include a 12-month warranty, an accessory kit with 13 pieces, and an oil-free pump that will last a long time.
- Oil pump requires no maintenance
- 1-Year Warranty
- A little noisy
- Accessories are cheaply made
With this compressor, you get what you pay for. It is cheap and lightweight which is why it cannot work on heavy-duty projects. If you can use it without exceeding its limits, the compressor will meet and even exceed your expectations.
4). California Air Tools 10020C
Is this the best air compressor for impact wrench? A lot of people will say as much because, at 70 decibels, it is so quiet, probably because of the 1680RPM of the motor.
Designed to run continuously for longer periods, the compressor has a durable oil-free dual-piston pump system that will remain in operation for more than 3000 hours before any wear and tear occur.
- 70 Decibels
- Oil-Free Pump
- 6.40CFM at 40PSI and 5.30CFM at 90PSI
- 30-60 Minute Maximum Continuous Run
- 10 Gallon air tank
- 125 Maximum PSI
- 82.5 Pounds
- 1680 RPM
Other units within the same category only offer 500 hours. The oil-free pump allows you to use the compressor in a variety of temperatures and uneven terrains.
- Overheating protection
- Capable of cold starts
- The built-in connectors are junk
- The Wheels are cheap hard plastic
- Rubber feet keep coming off
This isn’t the compressor for you if you want a powerful unit that can perform heavy-duty work. It appeals to people that want a unit with quiet operations, a well-built motor, and portable size and weight.
5). California Air Tools 20040DC
At 75 decibels, this compressor isn’t necessarily ultra-quiet, though that hasn’t stopped the manufacturer from making this claim. However, you don’t need an ultra-quiet compressor for your air wrench.
More importantly, 75 decibels are sufficiently quiet, the result of the RPM (1680) which allows the 2.0HP motor to operate without generating additional noise and vibrations. This, in turn, reduces the wear and tear suffered by the unit.
Expect an oil-free dual-piston pump system that promises durability and longevity. You can use the pumps and motors for 3000 hours without service. The 20-gallon steel air tank is decent, suitable for a variety of tasks.
- 20 Gallon Steel Tank
- Air Dryer
- Oil-Free Pump
- 75 Decibels
- 1680 RPM
- 12.8CFM at 40PSI and 10.6CFM at 90PSI
You can trust the air dryers to protect sensitive components by eliminating water vapor. The aftercooler cools the discharge air from the compressor.
- The oil-free pump requires little or no maintenance
- The unit is very quiet
- It can work for 3000 hours before service
- The air dryer protects sensitive machinery
This is the air compressor to buy for anyone that intends to work at home or in an office. It is quiet enough to operate indoors without annoying the people in the vicinity. Don’t be so surprised to find it in dental offices.
6). Portable-Cable C2002 Air Compressor
This is a small, portable air compressor that is more efficient than it looks. Boasting a pancake style tank, the unit offers longer air tool performance and quick recovery time. The oil-free pump requires no maintenance. The 120V motor will start in cold weather. The upgraded shroud and console cover will extend the compressor’s life by protecting its vital components. With a 6-gallon tank, the unit is easy to carry from place to place.
- 34 Pounds
- 150 Maximum PSI
- 2.6SCFM at 90PSI
- 6 Gallons
- Water Drain Valve
- Rubber Feet
- 120V motor
- Oil-Free Pump
At 34 pounds, it is perfectly suited to jobs around the house and in workshops. The rubber feet will prevent it from scratching delicate floors.
- Motor easily starts in the cold
- The oil-free pump doesn’t require maintenance
- Loud in enclosed spaces
- Not compatible with heavy-duty tasks
This is a small but efficient air compressor that amateurs and hobbyists will love because it is easy to use, durable, and the runtime is decent. You can use it at job sites, workshops, and homes.
7). Eagle EA-5000 Silent Series
The people that have called this the best air compressor for impact tools are primarily attracted to its quiet operations. This unit is definitely one of the quietest in its class. The compressor’s silent operations are surprising because it is a professional grade product.
Suitable for indoor and outdoor use, it has a slow RPM motor that explains the quiet operations, reduced heat, and friction. However, that doesn’t make it any less efficient, not with the dual air intake that gives the unit access to twice as much air.
- Oil-Free Compressor Head
- 5 Gallons
- 6.1CFM at 40PSI, 5CFM at 90PSI
- 125 Maximum PSI
- Dual Air Intake
- 18-Inch All Flat Wheels
- Folding Handle
- Adjustable Pressure Regulator
- 86.3 Pounds
The sleek steel face will protect the pressure gauges. The oil-free compressor head doesn’t require maintenance. The 18-inch tires are compatible with rough terrain. The folding handle enhances portability.
- The wheels are suitable for rough terrain
- The Folding Handle Enhances portability
- Very Quiet
- The slow RPM reduces heat and friction
- Air leakage concerns
- The power cord is very short
This isn’t the cheapest unit but it isn’t the most expensive either. It is a professional grade compressor with a decent motor contained within a small, portable, attractive unit.
8). Industrial Air IL1682066
This is a heavy-duty air compressor with a strong dual voltage induction motor that promises trouble-free operations. At 159 pounds, the unit is heavy. But this is why it has pneumatic wheels. It also has a small footprint. As such, moving it from place to place isn’t quite as difficult as it might seem, especially since it has front handles.
- 1.6HP Dual Voltage Induction Motor
- 135 Maximum PSI
- 6.2CFM at 40PSI, 5.3CFM at 90PSI
- Pneumatic Tires
- V-Twin Cast-Iron Oil-Lubricated Pump
- 20 Gallons
- 159 Pounds
The on-board controls are within easy reach. They include a quick-set regulator as well as tank and tool pressure gauges, not to mention an on/off switch. Despite its power, the compressor is surprisingly quiet.
- Pneumatic wheels simplify transportation
- The heavy-duty induction motor delivers maximum performance and efficiency
- 2-year limited warranty
- Quiet operations
- The cooling solution is lacking
- Shoddy air release valve (bottom)
For the price, this is an amazing unit, more than capable of powering your air compressor impact wrench. Heavy but portable, the compressor can run a plasma cutter continuously. This should give you a clear idea of the kind of power it brings to the table.
9). Powermate VxPLA4708065
This air compressor is durable. The manufacturer used steel and cast iron to make it. The result is a long-lasting unit with a 15-amp motor capable of generating 4.7HP. Compatible with a variety of air tools including spray guns and ratchets, the compressor has a wired-formed belt guard that prevents overheating, encouraging longer run times.
- 240V 15-Amp Motor
- 155 Maximum PSI
- 14CFM at 90PSI
- 80 Gallon Tank
- Oil-Lubricated Pump
- Full Cast-Iron Cylinder Body
- Cast-Iron Crankcase
- 354 Pounds
At 354 pounds, the item is quite heavy. But with an 80-gallon tank, that is to be expected.
- The fully enclosed metal belt guard protects the moving parts
- Large Capacity Tank
- Cast-Iron Body is strong and long-lasting
- The wired-formed belt guard provides efficient cooling
- Because the weight is concentrated near the top, the chances that it will fall over are high
This is a large, heavy compressor that should be bolted to the ground before you can use it. This makes it an inconvenience. However, it is also quite powerful and the noise levels are reasonable. These attributes compensate for the problematic weight.
10). Dewalt D55146
This is a small compressor that weighs just 90 pounds. The tank capacity is 4.5 gallons, which isn’t that impressive. However, it fits the unit’s portable design. It comes with wheels that you can use to drag the robust compressor to any Jobsite where it is needed.
- 90 Pounds
- 4.5 Gallons
- 5.2CFM at 90PSI
- 10-Inch Pneumatic Wheels
- Oil-Free Compressor
- 200 Maximum PSI
- 78 dBA
It isn’t the most powerful compressor but it can guarantee stability and consistency. It is also quiet and easy to use, hence the reasonable price.
- Relatively light
- Pneumatic wheels simplify transportation
- Reasonable Price
- The drain valve is poorly positioned
- Air leakage issues
In a professional setting, this is an average air compressor. But within the confines of a home or in the hands of a hobbyist, it is quite powerful, suitable for everything from roofing to framing nailers.
Frequently Asked Question
Q.How Much Air Pressure Does an Impact Wrench Use?
ANSWER:When purchasing an air compressor, you should look for models that can generate at least 90 PSI.
Q.What is the Best Tank Size for an Impact Wrench?
ANSWER:You should get the biggest size possible without exceeding your size and weight preference. Small tanks are annoying because you have to keep stopping to refill them. You should target tanks of at least 20 gallons.
Q.What is the Best Air Flow Rate for an Impact Wrench?
ANSWER:It depends on several factors, including the drive diameter of the wrench and the tank volume. However, in many cases, you are encouraged to aim for 3-4CFM.
Q.Can You Pair an Air Compressor with a Generator?
ANSWER:It isn’t a good idea because the power provided by a generator tends to fluctuate. This will negatively affect the performance of your compressor.
Q.Are SCFM and CFM the Same?
ANSWER:CFM stands for ‘Cubic Feet per Minute’. It reveals the airflow rate at a specific pressure. SCFM stands for ‘Standard Cubic Feet per Minute’. It measures performance at a specific pressure and temperature.
Based on the buying guide, you can probably tell that finding the best air compressor for impact wrench is no easy task. Fortunately, the list above has some of the most outstanding models in the business.
So you can save yourself some time by making your selection from the products above. Some are better than others. For instance, the Powermate Vx PLA4708065 is very powerful. But it is too heavy and the weight is focused on the top.
The Porter-Cable C2002 is lighter but it doesn’t have as much power. The Makita MAC5200 is balanced, small enough to carry from place to place but powerful enough to take on more strenuous tasks.
Of course, if power is your only concern, you cannot go wrong with the Industrial Air ILA4546065. As you can see, there is plenty of variety in this list for you to choose from.