Large-scale operations using heavy-duty air tools require air compressors to produce massive airflow to sustain the tasks. Therefore, CFM rating is the most important specification you should look at when choosing a compressor for this type of tasks.
I know that lots of people struggling with how to choose the highest CFM air compressor for heavy-duty tasks, so here I am making a list of 6 best items for your decision. Each item is carefully chosen and examined. Plus, you will find two useful answers related to the CFM, PSI and air tank of air compressors.
The products are sorted according to their sizes and users’ demand.
|Our Top Picks|
My Favorite Choice
Read our review
| Makita MAC5200||Read our review|
Highest Max Pressure
Read our review
| DEWALT D55146||Read our review|
Read our review
| California Air Tools CAT-4620AC||Read our review|
Best For Heavy-Duty Pro Users
Read our review
| Powermate Vx PLA4708065 - Single Stage||Read our review|
Read our review
| DeWalt DXCMV5048055 - Two Stage||Read our review|
Highest CFM of Its Size & Type
Read our review
| Ingersoll Rand SS5L5 - Single Stage||Read our review|
Makita MAC5200 Big Bore 3.0 HP Air Compressor
|CFM/PSI||6.5 CFM at 90 PSI|
6.9 CFM at 40 PSI
|Max pressure||140 PSI|
|Noise Level||90 dBA|
- Robust motor
- Quiet functioning
- Transportability with wheels and a supporting handle
- Price is slightly high, but it’s worth every penny
First of all, Makita MAC5200 has an exceptional motor. It features a 3.0 HP engine which can perform a massive amount of work compared to its size. Plus, the motor has a built-in thermal overload detector, adding an extra shield for the engine.
This product offers a tank size of 5.2 gallon, which is adequate to handle light and some heavy air tools. However, it is not suitable for unintermittent air-consuming tasks or multiple tools at the same time.
Regarding capacity, I have to praise Makita MAC5200. It can produce the maximum air pressure of 140 PSI. At 90 PSI the machine creates 6.5 CFM of air volume, and at 40 PSI it delivers 6.9 CFM. This is an impressive number. Those who use air compressors for nail guns will appreciate it since Makita allows them to run two air guns at the same time.
The product specification states that this compressor produces 90 dBA of noise level; however, the reality isn’t so. Thanks to the oil-lubricated pump and stroke, Makita can recover quickly and work quietly. Complaints about Makita being loud is infrequent.
What’s more, this air compressor is highly portable. It has a wheel kit and a handle so that you can carry it around as the work demands. The only problem is this Makita isn’t for tight-budget users. Its quality certainly comes with a high price.
So, if you prioritize capacity and excellence of air compressors, the Makita MAC5200 will satisfy you with every single bit. This is an excellent buy for both intermittent and frequent mechanics.
DEWALT D55146 4-1/2-Gallon Compressor
|Horse Power||1.8 HP|
|CFM/PSI||5.0 SCFM at 90 PSI|
|Max pressure||225 PSI|
|Noise Level||78 dBA|
- Delivers up to 22 PSI of air pressure
- Short recovery time
- Highly portable
- The drain position is hard to reach
This machine features a 1.8 HP motor that is highly efficient. The pump type is oil-free, requiring less maintenance and leaving no dirty oil around your workshop.
DEWALT D55146 is designed with a 4.5-gallon tank. This Hotdog air compressor can generate a maximum pressure of 225 PSI, which is an extraordinary rating given its size. This allows the air compressor to meet the requirements of most air tools in the workshop. At 90 PSI, DEWALT D55146 creates 5.0 CFM of air volume. The rating indicates that you can handle a heavy air tool, a light one at the same time.
When you first start the machine, it will take over 1 minute to fill up, but afterward, the recovery time is only 22 second.
This air compressor is great when it comes to noise level. It only produces 78 dbA of noise. DEWALT explains that their pump, which is operated at a low rate of 1720 RPM (meaning the current speed), generates less noise than other compressors.
As for the transportability, the DEWALT D55146 offers two top-notch features: a collapsible handle and a set of foam tires. Both of them allow you to move around the workshop or garage with ease. Plus, the flexible handle saves space for storing.
One thing I don’t like about this product is the position of the drain. It is down in the rear and hard for the moisture to go out. This is a considerable design weakness in my opinion.
Nevertheless, I do believe that DEWALT D55146 will bring you more bang for the buck given its robust motor, high capacity and transportability. So if you want a high CFM air compressor for various light and heavy-duty jobs, this one is for you.
California Air Tools CAT-4620AC
|Horse Power||2 HP|
|CFM/PSI||6.40 CFM @ 40 psi|
5.30 CFM @ 90 psi
|Max pressure||125 PSI|
|Noise Level||70 Decibels|
- Low amps
- Durable pump
- Extremely quiet
- Bulky design without a wheel kit
This machine adopts the 2.0 HP motor. Not as strong as the 3.0 HP of Makita, but this 2.0 HP draws only 14 amps. It doesn’t increase the electricity bill at the end of the month. The pump is oil-free, meaning less frequent oil check, less maintenance. Plus, California Air Tools CAT-4620AC offers a massive durable pump that can work up to 3000 hours.
As for its capacity, this machine produces a maximum air pressure of 125 PSI. At 90 PSI, it generates 5.30 CFM of air volume, and at 40 PSI the rating increases to 6.40 CFM. For a small size air compressor, the CFM is considerably high, allowing users to work with multiple air tools.
California Air Tools is famous for quiet air compressors. This CAT-4620AC model only produces 70 Decibels of noise, making it the most silent product with the 2.0 HP motor.
I don’t rate the design of the CAT-4620AC model very high. It looks a bit bulky. What’s more, this is not a compressor that you can carry around the workshop or garage. You can still do different jobs with a connecting cord, but this product is not for operations that require moving around.
If you are looking for an average-size air compressor with high CFM rate for various garage applications, the CAT-4620AC will surely satisfy you. This is a product of value given its price, low noise level, robust motor, powerful pump, and high capacity.
Powermate Vx PLA4708065
|CFM/PSI||14-CFM at 90-PSI|
- High capacity
- Robust motor
- Big tank size for longer working hours
- Power cord is not included
This model adopts a powerful motor of 4.7 HP that draws only 15 amps. It is strong but not energy craving. To handle heavy-duty applications, you sometimes need to operate multiple air-hungry pneumatic tools at the same time. The tank size of 80 gallons provides enough compressed air to run the work continuously.
As for the capacity, this compressor produces 155 PSI of max pressure. It delivers 14 CFM of air volume at the rate of 90 PSI. This allows you to deal with different heavy-duty air tools simultaneously. I totally please with the specifications. For a big size air compressor, this model functions excellently.
Powermate Vx PLA4708065 is somewhat noisy, producing over 80 dBA of the noise level. However, given the size and overall capacity, you can’t expect anything less.
This product offers two years of limited warranty. I think this product is sturdily built and features durable fitments; however, it is advised to maintain and check it regularly.
Price is another concern when it comes to big size air compressors. These dudes can be expensive. This product particularly costs over $1000. It is a single stage model, meaning the air is compressed only one time by the pistol. If you don’t need to operate with extremely heavy-duty air tools continuously, maybe a reasonably priced single-stage air compressor is all you need.
Things I don’t like about this piece? It is cumbersome. Plus, the package doesn’t come with power cord, so you have to buy it yourself.
All in all, Powermate Vx PLA4708065 is an excellent quality for those who work with multiple demanding applications in the fixed workshop or garage. Its performance is worth every single penny.
|CFM/PSI||17 SCFM @ 175PSI|
17.9 SCFM @ 100PSI
|Max pressure||175 PSI|
- 5 HP motor works perfectly and creates less noise
- 2-stage air compressor offers higher max pressure than single-stage one
- Not a wallet-friendly option
The 80-gallon compressor offers a massive volume of air to operate multiple air tools at the same time. The air pressure can reach its peak at 170 PSI. This air compressor has an excellent capacity that delivers 17 SCFM at the maximum pressure. At 100 PSI, the air volume settles at 17.9 SCFM. Within this list, it ranks the second when it comes to the CFM/PSI rating.
As I said, this product features 2-stage pump, which of course delivers high power and more compressed air for various tools. However, I want to point out that 2-stage air compressors are quite expensive. You have to pay a fortune to get the best quality. And plus, not so many air tools require highly compressed air to function. It is a trade-off because you need to decide between the cost and the capacity of the machine.
DeWalt DXCMV5048055 uses the oil-lubricated pump. It also features a thermal overload gauge to alert you of any voltage fluctuation.
The price is a significant concern for users on a tight budget, but the quality it offers is exceptional.
If you care little about the money but instead focusing on the overall performance and features of air compressors, DeWalt DXCMV5048055 is the excellent two-stage product that you shouldn’t miss.
Ingersoll Rand SS5L5
|Horse Power||5 HP|
|CFM/PSI||18.1 cfm at 90 psi|
|Max pressure||135 psi|
- High quality comes with a good price
- Durable pump
- No pressure gauge included
This is a single-stage air compressor. The maximum pressure is somewhat lower than the second-stage ones; however, for home-scale operations, single-stage air compressors are the best choice for both value and quality.
When it comes to the capacity, Ingersoll Rand SS5L5 offers a maximum pressure of 135 PSI. It delivers 18.1 CFM of air volume at 90 PSI. As you can see from the list, it provides the highest air volume of all. If you are looking for a compressor generating a massive air flow, this indeed is.
Ingersoll Rand SS5L5 also features a vigorous and quiet motor of 5 HP. The tank size of 60 gallons, providing enough air for different tasks. The oil-lubricated pump does require lots of care, but it is more durable than the oil-free counterparts.
It also features a large belt wheel that works well at lower temperatures. The pump can work up to 2000 hours with regular oil changes. The valves made of stainless steel are also hard-wearing and easy to maintain.
My only complaint is that this product it doesn’t offer a pressure gauge. You have to buy it separately. Plus, you may need a higher amperage circuit since this product is driven by 30 amps when starting.
The Ingersoll Rand SS5L5 is a reliable, durable and reasonably priced air compressor. It is suitable for many types of jobs from pumping tires to painting. Those who look for a versatile air compressor for their workshop should take a look at this model.
How many CFM do air tools use? How much air pressure do you need to run air tools?
CFM/PSI are two factors that directly affect the functionality of your air tools. When CFM is too low, you can’t operate the instruments effectively. When CFM is too high, it means you waste your money.
So how to choose a compressor with the most suitable CFM/PSI rating for your air tools? There are many factors you need to take into consideration. First, you need to take a look at the tool CFM requirements.
In this table, you will see the different requirements of several popular air tools.
|½ ” Impact wrench||4-6||70-90|
But the CFM/PSI requirement is not everything. You need to factor in how you will use the air tools. Take a sander for example. If you want to use it continuously, chances are you should stick with a 100% duty cycle. Otherwise, any air compressor that match the tool’s CFM/PSI requirement is usable.
Plus, if you want to handle several air tools at the same time, the CFM rating should also be changed. Remember to add up the CFM requirements of each tool and make sure that your air compressor can deliver the same CFM.
What size air compressor do I need for air tools
The size of air compressors is another important factor to consider. If you are on a quest for the best air compressor, you’d probably noticed by now that these products come with different sizes. Typically you will find air compressors that offer from 1 gallon to 80 gallons of the air tank. However, which size is the best for your air tools?
Let’s take the air ratchet for example. It needs at least 90 PSI air pressure and 0.25 CFM to run. For a 1-gallon air compressor, it will fill up the tank and produces 90 PSI of air pressure, which is enough to operate the ratchet. However, that will only last for half a minute. So yes, the bigger the size is, the longer the air tool can function.
As you can see in the list, air compressors of 4.5 gallons are enough to run light air tools. When using heavy ones, you may encounter some interruptions. I do not recommend you to use small size air compressors for extremely heavy-duty pneumatic tools with long-time operation since it’s ineffective and that can damage the machine.
If you want to run air tools intermittently, go for the Makita MAC5200, California Air Tools CAT-4620AC, and DEWALT D55146 in the small-size section. Other than that, the big size air compressors I listed above are the best choice for continuous heavy-duty tasks.
It is safe to say that the CFM rating is one of the most important things to consider when shopping for air compressors. You don’t want to either waste your money or waste your air tools. The list of highest CFM air compressors for heavy-duty tasks above will undoubtedly provide you the detailed and carefully reviewed information so that you can make a conscious choice.