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One of the most powerful tools available to both professionals and weekenders DIYers alike is the impact wrench. Used for loosening or tightening lug nuts and large bolts, it’s an invaluable tool to have as sometimes a power driver isn’t enough. The high torque output with minimal exertion is critical for some jobs. Although cordless options are available, impact wrenches are usually air-powered. The fact that they are pneumatic means you need a source of air.
If you’re looking for a new pancake air compressor, check out our guide.
Can a pancake air compressor run an impact wrench?
Yes, a pancake air compressor can run an impact wrench. Assuming your compressor is powerful enough, the compressor will generate enough air to loosen or tighten the large bolts you need to. To give you some numbers to think of, a 4 to 5 CFM and 90 PSI pancake air compressor will run a ½ inch wrench. It will need a 20-gallon tank to avoid delay.
The performance figures
The best way to find out if your pancake air compressor is capable is to find the performance figures on your air compressor. They’ll be in the box or instruction manual if you still have it. Sometimes they’ll be displayed on the actual device.
There are several important numbers to pay attention to. One is PSI, or pounds per square inch. This is the raw power of the air compressor. You’ll want a minimum of 90 PSI. This shouldn’t be an issue because most pancake air compressors meet this figure.
CFM, or cubic feet per minute, is another important number and is how much air the compressor is delivering. If your CFM is too low, your impact wrench might only operate for short periods before needing to be recharged. This issue will be related to tank size.
Both are determined by how powerful the motor is. A motor with a horsepower of between 1.5 and 3 generates 120 and 150 PSI.
Another big factor you’ll need to look into is how large your tank is. The size of it determines the length of time a wrench can run.
A small air tank is considered to be 3 to 6 gallons. A lot of pancake air compressors will be of this size as they are designed to work in small spaces. Due to the lack of air reserve, you might need to wait more often for the compressor to recharge and the job might take longer than if you had a large, stationary air tank.
The impact wrench manual will have the recommended specifications for the air compressor. These are the best figures to go by as the manufacturer will have tested the device under rigorous conditions.
That’s why you should always keep your instruction manuals. Professionals to DIYers keep them in a manila folder or some other easy to access place.
Only one way to find out
Sometimes the best way to do things is just to try them. Hook up everything properly and test things out. Make sure that you can use the impact wrench for an adequate time before recharging.
For lug nuts and large bolts, an impact wrench is a critical device to have. A pancake air compressor can power it but it’s important to pay attention to certain performance parameters.
Yes, they can also inflate tires, in case you were wondering.