How to size a Piston Compressor

Date Posted: 10 June 2019 

Learn how to properly size your piston compressor based on your needs

Air compressors should be sized based on the volume of air (cfm/m3h) and air pressure (psi/bar) needed to do the job and not horse power. Single stage air compressors have a maximum pressure of around 130 psi (9 bar) while two stage air compressors have a maximum air pressure of 175 psi (12 bar). Tank size is typically not a critical factor in sizing a compressor.

Calculating your need

  1. What is the maximum pressure you need? (refer to the table below for a general guideline)
  2. What is the electrical requirements (voltage/phase)?
  3. How many people will be using air at any time (maximum)?
  4. Is this a body shop or mechanical shop?
  • Body Shop: 12-15 cfm/person X # of people
  • Mechanical Shop: 3-5 cfm/person X # of people

Now add at least 25% to your total cfm required in order to allow for duty cycle.


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