Compressed Air Pipe

4 Techniques to Determine Accurate Compressed Air Needs

Compressed Air Requirements:

How to establish the correct amount of Compressed Air your facility needs.

There are many ways and means that can be used in determining how much compressed air is needed to supply your facility and believe it when we tell you – getting a properly sized compressed air system is very important.

Why do we say that?

  • Under sizing an air compressor will cause the system not to work.
  • Can lead to large budget constraints that management woll dread.
  • Oversizing your equipment can be costly too due to long-term maintenance and higher energy costs.

As you can see, knowing how much compressed air you need is not only important for your day-to-day operations, but critical to managing operating costs. A bad calculation could lead to budget problems and a major set back on production. We’re here to help make sure this isn’t a problem for your business.

There are simple calculations that determine how much compressed air such as an auto repair facility, where the number of bays and mechanics will determine the compressor size. On the other hand, there are large manufacturing applications where the equipment with compressed air is almost 100% custom built for that facility.


Have a new facility? Here’s how to calculate how much Compressed Air you require.

New facilities that have no historical data or baseline to start from can be the most difficult to engineer.

  1. The easiest way to start out is by entering the proposed production equipment into a spreadsheet and break it down by technical specifications. You will need information such as:
  • Minimum and maximum CFM.
  • Minimum PSI requirements.
  • Time or duration that the machines will be running.

When calculating whether total numbers, consider whether you will have all of your machines running simultaneously. For example, if you have 6 air-powered sanders, what is the chance they will all be running at one time – for an extended period.

Quick note: Using this method of calculation is the best way to start when no previous data is available, but often results in a machine being sized on the large side. The likelihood of this happening is increased when there is a mix of manual versus automatic equipment.

How to establish how much compressed air you need for facilities with systems already in place:

  1. Figuring out the best sized compressed air system for existing facilities is typically a bit easier than new facilities. If the air usage is fairly stable throughout the day, simple pump-up timingsand on/off or load/unload timings can be compiled in order to determine compressor system efficiency and remaining capacity.
  2. A more accurate method is to perform data loggingthat records system pressure and electrical usage. This will give you hard data which can then be broken down to show the minimum and maximum CFM requirements. This is extremely useful in applications with varying demands and multiple shifts of operation.
  3. Lastly, there are flow meters that can be installed on individual pieces of equipment to determine their specific usage. These can also be installed on complete systems to give you an instant usage reading.

Important tip: Make sure to have a receiver tank strategically installed near the flow meter so that you get data without a lot of peaks and valleys.

These are a few of the techniques that we use at JAGUAR AIR to determine the correct amount of compressed air a facility needs. If unsure or have a question about your facility, we recommend reaching out to us before making a capital investment.  Being second generation air compressor system engineers, we have most likely seen an application similar to what you are doing, or are about to do. With that experience behind us, we can compare similar industries with similar size operations to make sure you are on track for the right compressed air system size.