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What Is SCFM In An Air Compressor?



What Is SCFM In An Air Compressor?

What Is SCFM In An Air Compressor?

You might have probably heard of CFM, which is cubic feet per minute, but what is SCFM? To answer that, we have brought an article that will clarify your doubts about SCFM.

Let’s find out.

What Is SCFM In An Air Compressor?

SCFM stands for Standard Cubic Feet per Minute, which measures the air volume an air compressor can produce per minute under standard pressure, temperature, and humidity conditions. One must note that the average temperature for calculating the SCFM flow rate ranges between 60°F (15.5°C) to 68°F (20°C) (at pressure = 14.7 psi and relative humidity = 36%).

When choosing an air compressor, it’s essential to consider the SCFM rating, as it indicates the airflow volume. The rating can help you determine the compressor’s overall power and capacity.

How To Choose A Compressor Based On SCFM?

One thing to remember when considering SCFM is that it is measured at a specific temperature and pressure. This means that the actual SCFM output of a compressor may vary depending on the conditions. For this reason, choosing a compressor with a higher SCFM rating is more crucial than you think you’ll need to ensure enough airflow.

One can choose from several types of compressors based on SCFM ratings. For example, reciprocating compressors are generally more affordable and better suited for intermittent use, while rotary screw compressors are better for use and high-volume applications.

How To Calculate SCFM?

To calculate SCFM, the actual flow rate is multiplied by a correction factor based on the specific temperature, pressure, and humidity at the operating conditions. This correction factor is derived using gas laws and conversion equations to normalize the flow rate. The resulting value is the SCFM rating, representing the airflow the compressor would deliver under standard conditions.

Is SCFM Important?

So far, you might have guessed that SCFM plays a crucial role in delivering airflow. Different applications demand varying airflow rates, and by knowing the SCFM rating, you can ensure the compressor’s capacity matches your needs.

Tools or equipment may not operate optimally if the airflow is insufficient, causing performance issues or delays. Conversely, using a compressor with excessive SCFM may result in unnecessary energy consumption and higher costs. Therefore, SCFM is necessary as it allows you to choose a suitable compressor for effective operation.


SCFM, or Standard Cubic Feet per Minute, is a crucial metric for evaluating the airflow capacity of an air compressor. Understanding SCFM helps in purchasing a suitable compressor that meets the specific airflow requirements, ensuring optimal performance.


1. What is the difference between CFM and SCFM?

Both are used to check the airflow being delivered; however, while CFM measures the “actual” air flow rate, SCFM bases its measurement on “ideal” circumstances for temperature and pressure.

2. What is ACFM?

Actual Cubic Feet per Minute, or ACFM, gauges air volume under actual vacuum circumstances at a given pressure.

3. What are the applications of SCFM?

Here are the applications of SCFM:

  • In HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) systems, SCFM is crucial for air circulation, cooling, and refrigeration processes.
  • Automotive repair shops utilize SCFM compressors for inflating tires and operating pneumatic lifts.
  • Spray painting equipment, sandblasting machines, and air-powered machinery depend heavily on compressed air supplied by SCFM-rated compressors.
  • Construction sites benefit from SCFM compressors for powering air-powered nail guns and jackhammers.

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Shaleen Ashish

Shaleen is a Journalism postgraduate, and like every other gen-z, loves a good dose of humor, Italian food, fashion trends, and TV series. She is an acomplished author and expert in the field of air compressors. Shaleen discovered her passion for technical products and gadgets early in life, which drove her research and write about it.

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