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How Many Amps Does an Air Compressor Use? – Breaker Size

Written by Edwin Jones / Fact checked by Andrew Wright

how many amps does an air compressor use

How many amps does an air compressor use? It’s important to answer this question to ensure you use the machine correctly and safely.

Check factors like the size of the air compressor to figure out its amp draw. 12-volt portable air compressors can have amperage ratings of 10 to 30 amps while pancake models may need 7.5 to 10 amps.

Take note that these types of air compressors aren’t the only variants you can find on the market. Continue reading to know about other air compressors and their amp draws.

How Many Amps Does an Air Compressor Draw?


Air compressor amperage ratings often depend on the size of the unit.

1. 12-Volt Air Compressor

Also called a portable air compressor, a 12v model will typically have an amperage range of 10 to 30 amps. This reasonably compact model can usually work when plugged into the cigarette lighter plug of a car to help inflate or deflate tires.

2. Pancake Air Compressor

Generally, pancake air compressors, particularly those that run at 2 HP, need 10 amps to work properly. But the amperage rating can still depend on certain factors, especially when looking at the voltage requirements.

For example, look at one Campbell Hausfeld pancake compressor; it draws 7.5 amps. On the other hand, Porter Cable has a model that draws the standard 10 amps to function properly.

3. 60-Gallon Air Compressor

60-gallon air compressors may demand over 15 amps for them to supply a sufficient amount of power to connected devices. These high-powered models can even supply compressed air to multiple tools at once if the unit allows.

How Do You Check Amp Draw on a Compressor?


Perhaps one of the ideal ways to check the amp draw on a particular compressor is to check the manufacturer’s notes. Air compressor companies often put their models’ amperage ratings on either the unit’s owner’s guide or on the device itself.

Some brands also provide information regarding their air compressors’ amp draws on their websites. For example, DanFoss has the following amp draw chart posted online:

  • 1/10 HP: 0.6 Amps
  • 1/8 HP: 0.8 Amps
  • 1/6 HP: 1.0 Amps
  • 1/5 HP: 1.2 Amps
  • 1/4 HP: 1.6 Amps

Keep in mind that the starting and using amp draws are often different. For instance, a 1.5 HP air compressor may need 9 amps while running. But the same unit may need 40 amps to start.

What Causes High Air Compressor Amp Draw?

If your air compressor draws more amperage from the circuit than usual, it could be an indicator of a bad capacitor. Another potential underlying cause is overloading caused by worn parts like faulty bearings. If you’re unsure of the cause, contact an electrician.

How Do You Fix an Air Compressor Without Power?

An air compressor that doesn’t seem to draw power from its circuit might have a broken pressure switch or check valve.

1. Replacing the Pressure Switch

Take note that some air compressors have automatic power cycling features that should work when they reach certain pressure levels. However, your unit may not turn on and off automatically, which might mean that its pressure switch needs a replacement.

If so, follow these steps to complete this procedure:

  • What You’ll Need
  • Wrenches
  • Nut drivers
  • Thread-sealing tape
  • Replacement pressure switch
  • Step-by-Step Guide
  • Turn off and disconnect the air compressor from the wall outlet.
  • Bleed the air from the compressor’s tank by pulling the safety valve.
  • Unscrew the pressure gauge and tube fittings.
  • Take out the pressure switch tube and cover.
  • Unscrew the pressure regulator assembly.
  • Locate and remove the pair of black wires from the pressure switch.
  • Disconnect the green wires from the pressure switch.
  • Unfasten the safety valve, followed by the rest of the pressure switch assembly.
  • Apply a reasonable amount of thread-sealing tape to the compressor tank’s pipe.
  • Install and secure the new pressure switch to the tank’s pipe.
  • Reinstall the removed parts and check if the problem persists.

2. Replacing The Check Valve

A malfunctioning air compressor check valve may also prevent the machine from functioning as intended. If so, replace this component by following these steps:

  • What You’ll Need
  • Wrenches
  • Step-by-Step Guide
  • Unplug the air compressor from the wall outlet.
  • Pull the safety valve to bleed the air from the compressor’s tank.
  • Unscrew and disconnect the pressure switch tube and outlet tube fitting.
  • Unscrew and remove the check valve from the tank.
  • Install the new check valve and reinstall the removed parts and assemblies.
  • Restore power to the air compressor and test it to see if the issue persists.

Frequently Asked Questions


How Many Amps Does a 220 Air Compressor Use?

It can be ideal to look at an amperage chart to verify the number of amps used by a specific 220-volt air compressor. For instance, certain 220-volt models draw 30 amps to work.

Take note that the amperage ratings may also depend on the pressure used. For example, some 220-volt compressors might require 40 amps from two 20-amp circuit breakers when using their high-powered settings.

How Many Amps Does a 110 Air Compressor Use?

Unlike 220-volt units, a 110 air compressor draw about 15 amps. Take note that 110-volt compressors may draw the same amperage as some 220-volt models. However, 110-volt variants might possess weaker performance because of their lower wattage ratings.

How Many Watts Does An Air Compressor Use?

A 1/2 HP compressor usually needs 2000W to start and 1000W to run. Meanwhile, a 2 HP model often requires 2800W to run and 7770W to start.

These are only estimates, however. You should calculate the wattage of the air compressor by multiplying the voltage with the amperage. For example, a 110V, 15A compressor will use 1650W.

How Many Amps Does A 20-Gallon Air Compressor Use?

20-gallon air compressors typically draw 15 amps.

How Many Amps Does A 5 HP Compressor Need?

A 5 HP air compressor generally demands an amperage rating of about 21 amps. But you should see certain models that may draw 20 to 25 amps.

How Many Amps Does A Small Air Compressor Pull?

You should expect a small air compressor to draw about 20 to 30 amps. Expect this performance for compressors that can provide service when plugged into the cigarette lighter socket of a vehicle.


Take a look at the compressor’s manual or the unit’s body to know how many amps does an air compressor use. You may also check online, particularly on the manufacturer’s website for an amp draw chart.

Knowing the amperage rating of your specific air compressor model can help you determine if it’s giving you the recommended energy for your tools. That way, you can attempt to troubleshoot and repair the unit if you encounter issues with its electrical requirement.

Related: The Most Common Reasons Why Your Air Compressor Keeps Tripping the Breaker.

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