What Is SCFM On Air Compressors?

What Is SCFM On Air Compressors?Are you a little lost on your journey of air compressors and SCFM’s and are on a hunt to find out as much as you can about them?

Well, here is your golden chance!

Today is all about air compressors and SCFM’s, and you can finally get behind all of it after just a few scrolls too!

I will be telling you everything and more that you need to know about air compressors and SCFM; not only this, but I will also tell you what is SCFM on air compressors in a very brief way.

Along with all this, I have given you guys a small FAQ section that you can read and understand the situation a little better and also a conclusion.

Each and every step of this article is carefully crafted so that you don’t feel left out at any given moment.

So let’s dive right into it!

What Is An Air Compressor?

Before going all-in about SCFM, we will first go through the basic stuff, like air compressors.

Now, you might find it hard to understand a few things here and there, but I promise you once you get the hang of everything, learning about air compressors and their accessories will feel like a piece of cake!

An air compressor is a tool that is used to turn power into potential energy, aka compressed air, through the help of an electric motor, diesel, or a gasoline engine.

This air is then forced into an air tank which is usually attached to the air compressor; when the tank becomes full with air, the air compressor shuts off.

This compressed-air then rests inside the tank of the air compressor until it is used in a different types of works. There are three main types of air compressors,

  • Low-pressure air compressor
  • Medium pressure air compressor
  • High-pressure air compressor

What is SCFM?

If you are someone who is not new in the world of air compressors etc., then I’m pretty sure you are aware of the term “SCFM,” and you might also have heard it a lot.

Now, this precise term is known as “standard cubic feet per minute,” which is a calculated measurement for air compressors.

These are some other acronyms that are used alongside SCFM that are CFM and PSI.

If you are someone who is shopping for an air compressor or wants to know and understand an air compressor fully, getting to know these measurements will help you a lot in this journey.

Now, SCFM is a way to measure the flow rate of gas that is under standard pressure and also temperature conditions.

The normal scale of both temperature and pressure is somewhere from 60 degrees to 68 degrees FC and 36 percent humidity on sea level.

This means the pressure is inverse with SCFM so, if your PSI is 120, then your SCFM will definitely be lower than if your PSI is 80.

There is an alternative measurement to SCFM, too, known as ACFM, which is known as actual cubic feet per minute, which is the actual flow rate of gas that is independent of temperature or pressure.

Why is SCFM On An Air Compressor?

When buying an air compressor, SCFM is probably your most useful measurement at that point.

You need to understand that understanding the rate of airflow as compared to your air compressor is a very important and equally necessary step you must take.

If you know the SCFM of your air compressor, then you will have no difficulty in seeing that whether your air compressor is fit for your work project or not, or if it is too small or too big for your use.

Your air compressor’s SCFM can help you determine if it can do your job perfectly or not.

So let’s say that you buy an air compressor without checking its SCFM, and then you later find out in the middle of your work project that your air compressor is not capable of doing this kind of heavy work and is unable to push out that much air, scary right?

This is why SCFM plays an important role in an air compressor.

One thing that you should be keeping in mind is that an air compressor that has a horsepower of 11 or more is capable of producing 3 to 4 cubic feet of air per min at a PSI of 90.

Differences Between SCFM & CFM

Once you have a clear view of what SCFM is, you will now start to get confused by CFM; since both SCFM & CFM are the most basic ratings that are used to scale the capacity and capability of an air compressor, most people do confuse both of them, which gives me the opportunity to explain to you how SCFM & CFM are different!

An air compressor’s SCFM rating is always higher than that of CFM; it is because the former value is measured at the point where the air supply is being pressured, which usually is at 90 PSI.

How to Calculate SCFM & CFM

SCFM is usually calculated through a process that spreads the air to accommodate the intervening factors of pressure, humidity, and temperature.

To make it easier for you to understand, you should select a tool that has the best factory settings and the highest SCFM rating and then go on and choose an air compressor that yields an output that is 150% of the previous rating.

Another example is that if you choose a tool with a need of 5.3 SCFM, you should choose a compressor that has an 8.0 SCFM or more.

How Is SCFM Written?

SCFM is most usually expressed in pounds per square inch, which means (psi); as an example of this, an SCFM rating might be given to you as 3.0 SCFM at 90 psi.

You need to understand that when the Psi rating is reduced, the SCFM rating will be increased; similarly, if the psi rating is increased, the SCFM rating will be decreased.

If you are still confused by the concept, then let me give you a practical example.

If the project that you are working on requires an airflow of at least 450 SCFM, then you need to understand that an air compressor that has a CFM of 450 will not be enough to do the job if the temperature, humidity, and pressure are not standardized.

How To Find Air Compressors CFM Value

  • Find the volume of the tank of your air compressor in gallons.
  • Divide the value you find on your tank by 7.48; it will give you your tank’s actual volume.
  • Then release all the air from the tank of your compressor.
  • Refill air into your air compressor and note how much time it takes to fill your tank, also keep an eye on the tank gauge.
  • Record the psi of when your compressor starts fillings and when it becomes full.
  • Minus the first recorded psi from the second recorded psi and then divide it by 14.7, it will provide you with the value of the pressure in the tank during refill.
  • Take the volume you obtained earlier and multiply it with the pressure value you just found
  • Divide the remaining value by the minutes it took your tank to fill.
  • Multiply the amount you then have with 60, and you will have your air compressors CFM value.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I increase the CFM on an Air compressor?

There are a few ways from which you can increase the CFM of an air compressor

  • Decrease the pressure
  • Add another compressor with the same CFM
  • Attaching two compressors with different CFMs together
  • Increasing the size of the tank you are working with.

What are the other important air compressor ratings to consider?

After SCFM, there are a few other important ratings that you need to consider before you go on and buy your air compressor; these ratings are

  • CFM
  • PSI
  • Gallons
  • Horsepower
  • Duty cycle

Why is SCFM important for an air compressor?

SCFM is important for an air compressor because it is the only way of legit measurement; in other words, when you are out to buy an air compressor, its SCFM will help you determine whether the air compressor is capable of your work project or not.

If you want to read more about the importance of SCFM, make sure you scroll up and read the article! 


Now that we have reached the end of the article, I hope by now you know all about the tricks and tips of air compressors and SCFM/ CFM.

If you still feel like you are missing out on something or if you don’t understand anything, make sure you give this article another read! Good luck!

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