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What Can a 3 Gallon Air Compressor Do? 8 Major Applications!

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Currently, compressors are in high demand; you may find them everywhere, and you may see them in homes, shops, markets, and factories. They are ideal for larger projects and also for small tasks.

The smaller compressor is efficient for use at homes and lightweight projects. In small compressors, a 3-gallon compressor is most common. However, what can a 3-gallon air compressor do exactly?

Well, you can handle hundreds of small scale projects with this small but efficient air compressor. No doubt, getting hands-on the big project is not in the capacity of a 3-gallon air compressor, but still, it can provide a lot of benefits when you’re dealing with small to medium scale projects.

Without further ado, let’s have a look at the applications of a 3 Gallon Air Compressor.

What Can a 3 Gallon Air Compressor Do

What Can a 3 Gallon Air Compressor Do?

A 3 Gallon air compressor can do your various daily life and professional jobs, Such as: 

  1. Blowing Dust 
  2. Nail Gun
  3. Stapling Gun
  4. Bolting
  5. Drilling Gun
  6. Painting Jobs
  7. Inflating Tires
  8. Inflating Mattresses
  9. Sanding & Sandblasting
  10. Spraying Crops

Let’s discuss each application to help you understand it better. 

1. Blowing Dust

For dusting, the required air pressure is very low; hence a three-gallon tank air compressor is best for blowing dust. The compressor is ideal and easily transferable from one place to another. You can easily clean appliances, hardware and tools, furniture and upholstery, and houseplants with a 3-gallon compressor, and it can clean the parts of the machine that are not accessible.

2. Light Duty Pneumatic Tools

With the 3-gallon air compressor, you can effectively perform small and light projects using small tools. Although most pneumatic tools are heavy, some require less air pressure and are smaller.

  • Nail gun, stapling gun, bolting, fastening, drilling gun, timing.

With a 3-gallon air compressor, you can nail or trim efficiently, and you do not need a heavy-duty model.

3. Small Scale Painting Jobs

This 3-gallon air compressor is convenient and small, ideal for a paint sprayer. You can efficiently do personal painting projects with it. Door and wall spraying is possible, but the compressor will need rest before spraying another wall.

4. Inflating Bike Tires

Typically, you can simply do medium-scale inflating with a 2-3 gallon air compressor. To fill tires of mountain bikes, the pressure needs to be 30-35 PSI, the narrow bike tire pressure needs to be 100-130 PSI, and the hybrid tire pressure needs to be 40-70 PSI. So, it is excellent for the house owner to have a 2-3 gallon compressor while shops might need a larger compressor for car tires, SUVs, and trucks.

5. Inflating Pools

The 3-gallon air compressor is ideal for inflating pools, kids pools, and smaller pools, as they need less PSI, which a 3-gallon air compressor can easily do. The bigger ones need a heavy-duty compressor.

6. Inflating Air Mattresses

The 3-gallon air tank is the perfect choice to inflate mattresses, as they do not need a lot of pressure, and you can fill them with small compressors.

7. Medium or Low-Level Sanding & Sandblasting

The tank’s capacity isn’t the only factor to consider; you also need to consider CFM. For commercial or industrial scale, sanding and blasting require 10-100 CFM at 90-100 PSI. The 3-gallon air compressor is not capable of sanding and blasting, and you may need a bigger compressor.

8. Spraying Crops

The 3-gallon air compressor is ideal for spraying crops with both medicines and water. It does not need to be a heavy compressor, and a simple compressor can also do this job.

CFM, PSI, & HP Ratings of a 3 Gallon Air Compressor


CFM gives the measurement of the compressors, which refers to the air volume of the compressor at the given time and pressure The 3-gallon air compressor produces 0.5 CFM at 90 PSI or 1 CFM at 40 PSI. It plays a role in determining the best tools to use with the compressor. Most CFM is between 0.5-1, but it can only be 2.6 in some new models.


PSI determines how much air pressure an air compressor can generate, and it refers to the max pressure of the compressor, at which it shuts off. The maximum PSI of the 3-gallon air compressor is 90-150 PSI, but 110 PSI is the most common.


The horsepower of the compressor determines the power and CFM of the compressor. If the HP is higher, the CFM will be higher. The HP also plays a role in consuming power and noise levels. Mostly higher HP means the compressor is powerful and will generate loud noise. The 3-gallon air compressor usually has 0.33-1.5 horsepower, and â…“ horsepower is the most common.

Will a 3 Gallon Air Compressor Run an Impact Wrench?

The 3-gallon air compressor is not capable of impact wrenches, and even the small impact wrenches need about 1-1.5 CFM. For using impact wrenches, you need a maximum of 4-5 CFM at 90 PSI for a 1/2 wrench. The impact wrench with 1 requires 10 CFM at 90 PSI, and the 3/8 wrench needs 3 CFM at 90 PSI.

Is a 3-Gallon Air Compressor Good?

The air compressor is suitable for dozens of small projects, and it is ideal for brand nailing, finishing nailers, staplers, and inflation. The compressor is lightweight, and most importantly, it is portable. So, yes, the 3-gallon compressor is good if you use it only on small tasks.

What Can a 3 Gallon Air Compressor Do

How Long Does a 3-gallon Air Compressor last?

The 3-gallon air compressor is the most common and convenient compressor for small projects. The compressor has the capability of lasting 10-15 years. However, it can only be possible when you take proper care of its maintenance.

Most 3-gallon air compressors are oil-free, so they do not require routine maintenance, but continuous use can wear them out quickly.

Maintaining it and allowing it to rest, and not using your air compressor continuously will make it last longer.

What is a Central Pneumatic Air Compressor?

The central pneumatic air compressor is manufactured by a very reputed brand, Harbor Freight, who have been in this field for 40 years. They are trusted and have high-quality compressors also the prices of their products are reasonable.

In the brand, the most common compressors are 3-gallon air compressors. It is a low budget, and it is for small projects. The compressor is available in pancake and hot dog shape having 0.6 CFM at 90 PSI.

Airbrushing, brand nailing, stapling, inflating bike tires, and toys are the small things that a small compressor with a 3-gallon air tank can efficiently perform.

How to Choose a Small Air Compressor?

When we talk about small air compressors, we know that we will not do heavy work with the compressor. With small compressors, heavy tools like pneumatic wrenches cannot be used. You should look for a heavy-duty compressor with a great tank size if you want to do hard work.

You can use these tips to find a suitable small air compressor for your needs. Make sure the compressor has the following features:

Tank Size

When choosing an air compressor, tank size is one of the critical factors you should consider. 2-3 gallon tanks are the best small compressors, and the larger tank is for more heavy projects.

A small compressor is ideal for regular use and basic household needs. In addition to the tank size, the CFM is also important.


CFM, which means cubic feet per minute, gives you the speed of the small air compressor. CFM is the primary component to look at when you want to choose small compressors. The 3-gallon compressor, which comes with 2.6 CFM, is the best for small projects and has a maximum of 135 PSI.


When it comes to small compressors, most of them are between 60-80dB. It may seem different to someone who does not know much about this, but it can be the loudest at 80 decibels and the quietest at 60 decibels. If you need the compressor inside or at a quiet place, look for a 60dB or less.


Portability is not only about the weight. The small compressor is relatively light. However, it is also vital to look at the shape of the compressor. The slim air compressors are not awkward and easy to carry. However, the wider one feels and looks awkward while taking from one place to another.

Oil or Oil-Less

Nowadays, almost all the small air compressors which exist are oil-free. Being oil-free, they do not need oil maintenance regularly or ever. However, they get worn out quickly. In this sense, oil-lubricated ones are good and last longer.

Best 3-Gallon Air Compressor For You!

1. Craftsman Air Compressor, 3 Gallon 1.5 HP Max 155 Psi Pressure

The craftsman air compressor is ideal for many projects, and it works best for inflation, painting, stapling, fastening, nailing, bolting, and lawn and garden equipment. Since 1927 they’ve been selling high-quality compressors.

The compressor gives you dependable performance, easy to carry with its rubber handles. The compressor’s motor gives the ideal performance with its 1.5 HP UMC.


  • It is a portable 3-gallon air compressor.
  • The compressor is lightweight.
  • It provides efficient performance with a 1.5 HP UMC motor and a maximum pressure of 155 PSI.
  • The compressor is oil-free, which means it is maintenance-free.
  • The drain valve is at the bottom, making the draining process easy.
  • In addition, it is easily accessible.

2. Makita MAC320Q – Best Air Compressor in Quiet Series

These air compressors are Jobsite tools and are ideal for indoors. It is famous because of its fast recovery timing. This compressor is preferred because it produces less noise, has longer tool life, and provides efficient performance.

Makita MAC320Q is ideal for base installation, trim, finish carpentry, furniture. It works at a lower RPM, making the motor and pump life longer. It has an induction motor with 90 PSI. The compressor is a roll-cage construction, providing protection.


  • It is a quiet series with 60dB.
  • It has a 3-gallon tank
  • Runs at lower RPM (1750)
  • It is a complete roll-cage construction.
  • It is oil-free
  • Dual-piston pump
  • It has low AMP, which protects against incidents of tripping breakers.
  • The compressor is lightweight.
  • It is a quiet compressor.
  • The compressor does not work under 32 degrees.
  • Sometimes, the air stream disappears suddenly.


Compressors are everywhere today: in homes, in industrial and commercial units. The size of air compressor is different according to the project requirements. Mostly in houses, the owner does not need a big compressor, so small ones are recommended. In small compressors, 3-gallon air compressors are most common.

What can a 3-gallon air compressor do? They are capable of nailing, spraying, painting, and inflating tires of vehicles. Blowing dust. They are great for small projects. You can easily use them with a nail gun. It lasts longer when you maintain it properly.


What can you do with a 1-gallon air compressor?

With the 1-gallon tank of an air compressor, you can easily do easy work like trim carpentry. It is ideal for pin brads and perfect for finishing nailers. The 1-gallon compressor is lightweight and small, and one of the best things about it is that you can easily carry it around.

What size air compressor do I need for air tools?

In the case of the efficiency of the compressors with the air tools, the ideal tank size is 8-10 gallons, and CFM should be between 3 to 5. However, this is the standard size of the compressor, and different tools can require different specs.

How big of an air compressor do I need to fill a car tire?

The compressor size which can fill a car tire depends on the size of the tire. The basic PSI to fill a car tire is 32-35 PSI. The portable compressors with a maximum capacity of 90-PSI for filling tires should have at least 1-2 CFM. If you want any tools, look for 4 -CFM.

What can you use a mini air compressor For?

If you have a mini compressor, you can easily use it or inflate the bicycle tire, lawnmower, power nail guns, power staplers, spray guns, painting. The compressor is small and lightweight but can easily do tasks.

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We’re a team of engineers, contractors, technicians, and woodworking experts who use power tools daily and share fact-based information, tips, and recommendations. At thetoolgeeks.com, we debunk myths about power tools and share methods to use them effectively.

The Tool Geeks Team

We're a team of engineers, contractors, technicians, and woodworking experts who use power tools daily and share fact-based information, tips, and recommendations. At thetoolgeeks.com, we debunk myths about power tools and share methods to use them effectively.

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