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Definition Recognition: What is ‘CFM’?

Definition Recognition: What is ‘CFM’?

Defintion Recognition!

Every industry houses familiar terms and idioms, maybe not so familiar to others, and the construction and industrial equipment industry is no different. So, we’ve created our new Definition Recognition series to help those less familiar navigate industry terms/phrases, with the purpose to educate and facilitate informed decisions. What does telescopic mean? What does articulating entail? Telematics? We’ve got the answers in our new Definition Recognition series.

In our inaugural edition of Definition Recognition we delve into the ins-and-outs of air compressor “CFM” (cubic feet per minute), what it means for users/owners and how to choose a compressor with the appropriate CFM.

CFM is a measure of air flow and refers to the amount of air a particular unit can expel depending on the pressure valves in use and other considerations, like atmospheric pressure and humidity levels. Sometimes CFM is also referred to as standard cubic feet per minute, or SCFM, because of the potential for slight variation.

When selecting a compressor for the project at hand, CFM is an important consideration. If the compressor will be used to power continuous-demand tools, like pressure washers or similar apparatuses, users should search for compressors that feature a higher CFM.

CFM describes the volume of air a compressor delivers at specific pounds per square inch (PSI, a unit of pressure) levels. The CFM value changes as PSI changes. As you lower the PSI output, CFM increases. A compressor with a higher CFM rating can deliver more air and is better suited for heavier applications such as operating air wrenches and framing nail guns.

Generally, users should calculate the required CFM needed so that each tool/machine can operate then choose a compressor that features a CFM slightly above that number so as to support efficient operation and avoid downtime. Basically, it’s essential to know what the compressor will power before one can select the right compressor for the job.

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