What Is SCFM Air Compressor? A Simple Explanation

Have you ever wondered about SCFM when dealing with air compressors? Or what is SCFM air compressor? If yes, you are not alone. 

SCFM is one of the technical terms used in the world of air compressors. It is important for your air compressor’s proper working and efficient performance. This term might sound complex or technical, but it is really important to understand what is SCFM air compressor.

Knowing this term is essential to choosing the right air compressor and optimizing the performance of your tasks. Are you interested in exploring this term? If so, you are at the right place!

In this article, we will find out what is SCFM air compressor and explore everything you need to know about this mysterious and technical term to enhance the performance of your air compressor. So, don’t miss out on this informative piece, and keep reading!

What Is SCFM Air Compressors?

SCFM in air compressors stands for the Standard Cubic Feet per minute. It is actually the measure of how much air your compressor can deliver in one minute under specific conditions. To simplify it, you can consider SCFM as the breathing power of your air compressor. 

The more SCFM means your air compressor will deliver more air. Usually, high SCFM air compressors are used for heavy industrial operations. For small household tasks, a less SCFM air compressor is used. 

Standard Conditions for SCFM

SCFM is measured under specific conditions such as humidity, pressure, or temperature. Here are the standard conditions for the SCFM:

  • A relative humidity level of around 36%
  • A temperature of about 68 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about 19 degrees Celsius. 
  • The air pressure measures around 14.7 PSI, equivalent to 760 mmHg.

Why is SCFM Important in Air Compressors?

SCFM is essential in air compressors as it ensures the optimal performance of your compressor. The right SCFM rate is important to enhance the performance and efficiency of your air compressor. 

The SCFM rate also determines the activity of your tool. The higher the SCFM rating the more powerful the performance. Moreover, many pneumatic tools specify their power requirements in terms of SCFM. If an air compressor’s SCFM is too low, it may not be able to deliver power to these tools. This makes SCFM a crucial factor. Besides performance, SCFM also matters when buying an air compressor. If you need an air compressor for a heavy task you should opt for high SCFM. While for small and DIY tasks less SCFM level can be sufficient. 

How to Calculate SCFM in Air Compressors?

Calculating the SCFM in air compressors is not a difficult task. It just involves some simple steps and considering some important conditions. Here is an easy way to calculate the SCFM of your air compressor:

  • Calculate the Pressure Difference

The first step to measure the SCFM is to calculate the pressure difference. For this, you need to subtract pressure 1 (PSI 1) from pressure 2 (PSI 2). 

  • Calculate The Pressure in the Tank 

Now, calculate the pressure in the tank during the refill. For this, divide the pressure difference calculated in the first step with 14.7. 

  • Expand to Standard Conditions

Expand the air to standard conditions of 36% humidity, 68 degrees Fahrenheit temperature, and 14.7 PSI pressure. 

  • Measure the Volume SCFM

Now, measure the volume being delivered to the compressor, and you will get the SCFM air compressor. 

SCFM vs. CFM: What’s the Difference?

SCFM and CFM are used in air compressors to measure the airflow rate. You might wonder, if both SCFM and CFM measure air flow, then what’s the difference? Although both terms are used for air flow measurement in air compressors, they are different. 

The SCFM is the Standard Cubic Feet per Minute. It is used to measure the airflow volume in a standard or controlled environment. In SCFM, the conditions such as temperature, pressure, and humidity are known due to standard conditions. 

The CFM is the Cubic Feet per Minute. It is the measure of the volume of airflow under actual conditions. So, your conditions are not specific under CFM and can vary based on location. The term CFM is mostly used in everyday language without any particular conditions. 

Standard Cubic Feet Per MinuteCubic Feet Per Minute
Measures the airflow rate at standard conditionsMeasures the airflow rate at actual conditions
Standardized conditions are (68°F, 14.7 PSI, 36% relative humidity)Actual conditions can vary based on your location
SCFM values are typically higher because they are measured at standard conditionsCFM values are typically lower because they are measured at actual conditions

What is the Difference between SCFM and ACFM?

Besides SCFM and CFM, another term used in air compressors is ACFM. But you may question, what is the difference between SCFM and ACFM? SCFM and ACFM are used to measure the airflow rate in air compressors but in different contexts. 

As we have discussed earlier, SCFM measures the airflow rate under standard conditions such as pressure, humidity, and temperature. 

On the other hand, the term ACFM is used to measure the airflow rate of an air compressor under real-world or actual conditions. The ACFM could be measured at any temperature, pressure, or humidity. 

Factors Influencing SCFM in Air Compressors

As SCFM is measured under standard conditions, certain factors can influence its optimal rate. Let’s have a look at these factors;


The standard pressure range to calculate the SCFM is 14.7 PSI. If this pressure range changes, it can result in a shift in your optimal SCFM rate. So, make sure to maintain the standard pressure in your air compressor. 


To calculate the SCFM of an air compressor, the standard humidity level must be 36%. Any fluctuation in this humidity level can influence the actual SCFM value and can also affect the performance of your air compressor. 


The SCFM level of the air compressor is measured at a specific temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Any change in this standard temperature can result in a change of SCFM value. 


Maintaining an air compressor is very important. If your air compressor is not maintained, it can get wear and tear and leak over time. It will result in energy loss, decreasing the SCFM, CFM, and PSI levels. However, if maintained properly, it can deliver a high SCFM rate. 

How to Maintain Optimal SCFM in Your Air Compressor?

Maintaining an optimal SCFM in your air compressor is really important for efficient performance and increased productivity. But how to keep the right SCFM? This question might pop up in your mind. Don’t worry! Maintaining the optimum SCFM is not a big deal. To do so, you just need to follow these simple instructions;

  • Regular Servicing 

To maintain the right SCFM rate in your air pressure, keep it in good condition. For this, take it for service or maintain it at home by yourself. The important services include oil changes, checking leaks, and filter repair. 

  • Reduce the PSI

By reducing the PSI range of your air compressor, you can maintain high SCFM. When you lower the PSI, the less energy will be consumed. This energy can be used to increase the SCFM rate of your compressor. 

  • Fix the Leaks 

Another important technique to improve the SCFM is to fix any leaks and clean the filter of your air compressor. Leaks can lead to significant energy loss, reducing the SCFM level. So, to maintain a good SCFM level, you must ensure your compressor is free of leaks. 

  • Add Compressed Air Storage Capacity

If your air compressor has less air capacity, you can use a separate compressed air storage. It will increase the air level and help you maintain an optimal SCFM level. Using this capacity, you can also increase the PSI rate of your air compressor. 

Other Important Air Compressor Ratings

Horsepower HP

Another important air compressor rating is horsepower or HP.  It measures the efficiency of the compressor motor. The higher the HP the more powerful the motor. For heavy tasks, you should choose the high HP air compressor. It will increase the productivity and speed of your tasks. 


PSI is the average pressure range of an air compressor. It is the pounds per square inch. Higher PSI values mean that the compressor can store more air in the same tank volume. This allows it to run longer and support heavier loads.

Duty Cycle 

The Duty Cycle is the amount an air compressor can continuously run without overheating, It is usually expressed as the percentage of an hour. For instance, an air compressor with a 50% duty cycle can run for 30 minutes out of an hour without risking damage. A higher duty cycle means the compressor can run for longer periods

Final Words!

In conclusion, understanding “what is SCFM air compressor” is important to ensure the robust performance of your air compressor. SCFM or Standard Cubic Feet per Minute is the measure of the volume of an air compressor under standard conditions. These conditions are the pressure range of 14.7 PSI, a humidity level of 36%, and a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Any change in these standard conditions can result in a shift in the optimal SCFM rating. Remember SCFM ratifying is important for the efficient working of your air compressor. For running heavy tools you need a high SCFM air compressor. 

Moreover, to maintain the optimal SCFM rate, you must maintain your air compressor. You can also use separate air storage capacity to increase the SCFM and PSI levels.  


  • What is SCFM Air Compressor?

SCFM, or Standard Cubic Feet per minute, is the measure of the volume of an air compressor at a specific condition. It is important for the accurate and consistent performance of your air compressor. 

  • What is a Good SCFM for Your Air Compressor?

The good SCFM for your air compressor depends on the tools you want to run. For example, an SCFM of 4-8 would be good if you’re using a paint sprayer. In contrast, larger devices like a sandblaster might require 10-20 SCFM.

  • Is Higher SCFM Better?

Higher SCFM is not necessarily better. It primarily depends on your task and the tools you want to run. If you want to run a tool that requires a higher volume, you should opt for an air compressor with high SCFM. However, if you want to use tools with less air pressure, fewer SCFM air compressors can be suitable. 

  • Can you Convert SCFM to CFM?

Yes, you can convert SCFM to CFM. However, it is important to note that CFM is not standardized and thus requires specific knowledge and conditions like temperature and pressure for conversion. 

  • Is SCFM Higher Than CFM?

Yes, SCFM is always higher than CFM. This is because SCFM measures the volumetric airflow at standard conditions while CFM measures the volumetric airflow at actual conditions.

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