Air Compressor CFM vs SCFM | How Are They Different?

Today we have a variety of air compressors available. With each upgraded unit comes a set of new features and applications. Now it becomes difficult to select which would be the best air compressor to buy. Every rating has its use. The two most basic units for measuring the flow of air are CFM and SCFM. There are other units also available and they are psi, gallon, duty calls.

Now most of us don’t know the difference between CFM and SCFM or may be confused. However, it is easy to conclude the difference between the other units but as they seem similar it becomes quite difficult to understand the difference between them. So let us find and clear their differences.

Read this guide of “How To Adjust Air Compressor Pressure Regulator

What do you understand by CFM?

CFM or cubic feet per minute is a unit that describes the amount of gas delivered to the air tool by the compressor. It determines the capability of an air compressor about how much air can be flown through it with regards to the time. Every time we select an air compressor is important to know whether to go with CFM or SCFM. It is the decision making factor that needs to be taken into consideration. The more CFM ratings, the better is the compressor.

Selecting an air compressor is not a tough task. Understand your usability and the power requirements of your device. By this, you can easily understand which type of compressor you need.

What do you understand about SCFM?

Standard Cubic feet per minute or SCFM is another measuring unit that is used to calculate the volume of air delivered from an air compressor. SCFM is measured in the standardized condition i.e. the measurement of mass flow rate. Mass flow rate specifies the quantity of a substance that had passed through the surface at a particular unit of time. 

Comparison Between CFM and SCFM

It is a trend in the US that the volume of flow of air is measured in CFM(Cubic feet per minute) unit. No matter the air can come from any source what remains constant is the volumetric measurements. The amount of power is depicted by the following two factors:

  • Mass flow rate
  • Temperature rise

Although they both are the units of measuring the air-flow there is a difference between them.

CFM rating is longer as compared with SCFM ratings 

Explanation: This is because the cfm value is measured at the time when the air supply is pressurized that is at 90 psi most probably.

SCFM is measured at standard conditions i.e. with regards to temperature, humidity, and pressurization while CFM is measured under non-standard conditions.

CFM= cubic feet per minute and SCFM= Standard cubic feet per minute.

Explanation: cfm is the cubic feet per minute where the value of pressure and temperature remain unknown while for SCFM all the values are known.


Understanding the need for compressors is very essential and if you are searching which one you should buy then understand the power requirement of your tool. Now, as we know there are two units to choose from according to the work required by you. cfm and scfm both are two different things.

If you think a smaller air compressor is better then cfm is the one to choose. Look to decide which one is larger and then your every doubt will be resolved. Like if you know which is larger you would be easily able to select which one is better for.

I hope the information shared in the article gave you the right information and you are encouraged by it. thank you. This was all for the article. I hope you have enjoyed the article and gathered good information.

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