How much air pressure is enough?

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Forum topic by DylanC posted 02-07-2011 05:03 AM 4089 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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204 posts in 2674 days

02-07-2011 05:03 AM

Topic tags/keywords: air compressor air tool

This afternoon I swapped out pumps on a 60 gallon vertical compressor I got last fall. (See blog post: The new pump is a special purpose pump meant for lower pressure applications so the max pressure it can consistently deliver is 60 psi (90 psi peak). I dont have much experience with air tools so I was wondering if this is enough pressure to run most tools, or am I limited to filling up tires and blowing the dust off my saw?


-- Dylan C ...Seems like all ever I make is sawdust...

6 replies so far

View DrewM's profile


176 posts in 2999 days

#1 posted 02-07-2011 05:30 AM

I think most tools are rated at 90psi, I would assume they would still work at lower pressures but not as well.

-- Drew, Delaware

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3480 days

#2 posted 02-07-2011 05:45 AM

If you are talking air nailers, I run mine at 85-90 PSI which seems optimal for any of them. Anything lower and I start to notice they dont seat the nails properly.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View DylanC's profile


204 posts in 2674 days

#3 posted 02-17-2011 05:09 AM

For the time being I’m planning on running it as-is. If I find that I need a higher, more consistent supply pressure I found a replacement pressure switch at McMaster-Carr with a 15 psi differential. I figure I should be able to push the compressor to 95 psi peak without much trouble, giving me a tank pressure ranging from 80 to 95. That should be acceptable for most tools.

Thanks for the help.

-- Dylan C ...Seems like all ever I make is sawdust...

View Vrtigo1's profile


434 posts in 2991 days

#4 posted 02-17-2011 05:21 AM

I agree – if you look at the manual for most any nailer, it’ll probably tell you the optimal pressure is around 90 PSI. The worst you can do with low pressure is not fully drive the nail, so you may as well give it a try and see if it works for what you want it to do. If it does, great. If not, try out the replacement switch. I’m not extremely well versed on compressors, but would changing the pressure switch put extra strain on the motor leading to premature failure? I don’t know if the motor load is proportional to tank pressure.

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2983 days

#5 posted 02-17-2011 06:55 AM

90 PSI is about average for most air tools. What you will want to be concerned with will be the CMF’s the compressor is capable of and the the CMF’s of the air tools. My 60 gal. compressor is rated for a max. of 12 CMF’s at 90 PSI.

So lets say for example your compressor is running at 90 PSI and at 10 CMF’s and your using a tool that is running at 90 PSI and 12 CMF’s the tool won’t run well during use as the compressor is unable to keep up with the air usage.

This chart may be more helpful to you to see how tools running at 90 PSI have different CMF usage.
Hope this helps.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View DylanC's profile


204 posts in 2674 days

#6 posted 02-18-2011 05:44 AM

The only downside to the tighter differential on the pressure swith would be the more frequent cycling of the compressor. Just like your car, starting an electric motor is one of the hardest things it does, especially if started under full load. Luckily my compressor and most others have unloaders that allow the motor to get up to speed before they really start to compress air. Another thing in my favor is my motor is oversized for the quincy compressor and I had to replace the 6 inch pulley with a 3 inch. So the loads on the motor are pretty light…maybe in the 2-3 HP range on a 5 HP motor.

The Quincy 210QRB is rated at 5.5 SCFM (Standard Cubic Feet per Minute) at 800 RPM. I don’t know off the top of my head how that converts to at 90 psi (or 60) without doing some math (ideal gas law, anyone?). Either way I probably won’t be able to run any grinders, sanders or chisels without a lot of coffee breaks. But my brad nailer should be just fine.

-- Dylan C ...Seems like all ever I make is sawdust...

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