Choosing the Right Size Air Receiver Tank for Your Industrial Air Compressor

Peak efficiency is important for the performance and durability of your compressed air system. One of the biggest contributing factors to efficiency is the air compressor’s air receiver tank size.

An air receiver tank is a pressure vessel that receives compressed air and holds it under pressure for future use. These tanks can range in size and are compatible in vertical and horizontal configurations. The size of the air receiver tank determines the amount of compressed air available for use at any given time. It’s important to choose the correct size tank for your needs. An incorrect or undersized tank can lead to decreased efficiency and increased wear on the compressor due to short-cycling and over- pressurization of the compressed air system.

In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the process of choosing the appropriate air receiver tank size for your industrial air compressor.

1. Determine Your Air Compressor’s CFM Output and Air Demand

The first step in choosing the right size air receiver tank for your industrial air compressor is to determine your unit’s cubic feet per minute (CFM) output and air demand. Simply put, supply vs. demand.

The compressor’s CFM output is the most critical factor in determining the size of the tank needed. CFM is the amount of air the compressor can produce per minute, and it should match the demand of the application is utilizing. CFM information can be found on your data tag of your air compressor. You can also reach out to Air Handling Equipment to inquire about your industrial air compressor’s CFM rating if the data tag has been removed or illegible. You can can measure air demand a few ways.

First, you can time the compressor’s load and unload cycle. This is the least accurate but quickest way to provide a rough estimate. Second, you can place a data logger on your compressed air system for a period of one to two weeks. This method records real-time data and tracks that data overtime providing valuable trends in your air demand. A third option is more permanent. Installing a flow meter in your compressed air circuit will offer continuous monitoring and adjustments whenever you need to address your air demand.

Air Handling Equipment is equipped to help measure your air demand for any of these options that best fit your time and budget.

2. Calculate Your Air Receiver Tank Size

Once you have determined your CFM and air demand, the next step is to calculate the appropriate tank size.

A general rule of thumb is to provide five gallons of tank capacity for every CFM of compressor output. This means that if your air compressor produces 20 CFM, you will need a tank with a minimum capacity of 100 gallons. Remember, an air receiver tank is an extra reservoir for compressed air to cover periods of high demand, protecting both your compressed air and production equipment.

Once you know the minimum recommended storage capacity based on your industrial air compressor’s CFM rating, the next step is to calculate if this size air receiver tank covers the peaks in air demand over set periods of working hours. You can work with the team at Air Handling Equipment to help calculate air receiver tank sizing to cover you in high demand events and protect your compressed air controls. We have several reporting tools that can calculate the appropriate size compressed air receiver tank.

There may be other factors, such as the specific application or operating conditions, that should be taken into consideration. For instance, if you’re working in a small workshop where space is limited, a smaller air receiver tank may be suitable. Large air receiver
tanks may be more suited for bigger workspaces where space limitations are not an issue.

3. Consider Duty Cycle

The duty cycle refers to the amount of time your compressor will deliver compressed air within a total cycle time. Often viewed as run time vs. rest time.

The number of times an air compressor cycles directly impacts the air compressor’s efficiency. A compressor cycling too often will cause premature wear. It is best to have longer cycle times with fewer cycle times per hour to maximize the lifespan of your air compressor. Compressors that run continuously will need a larger air receiver tank size to ensure enough time to cool down between cycles. If you plan on using your compressor intermittently, a smaller air receiver tank size may be sufficient. This information will help you calculate the size of the tank that will work best for your needs.

4. Determine Your Required Pressure

Another important factor you’ll need to determine in sizing your air receiver tank is making sure the air receiver tank is rated to cover the maximum pressure required for your specific application.

You’ll need to make sure that the air receiver tank can handle the pressure your compressor will produce. If your compressor has a high pressure output, you’ll need an air receiver tank with a higher pressure rating. Keep in mind that the pressure rating of an air receiver tank should always exceed the maximum air compressor pressure to ensure safe operation.

5. Take Energy Efficiency into Account

Finally, choosing the right size air receiver tank will increase the compressor’s efficiency by reducing the number of times it needs to cycle. An appropriate sized compressed air receiver tank will provide a longer supply of compressed air, reducing the need for the compressor to cycle frequently. An air receiver tank also can lower the pressure requirements for the air compressor and plant. Lastly, a “wet” air receiver tank placed before the air dryer can increase the efficiency of the air dryer by removing excess moisture. These are all ways air receiver tanks can save energy and maintenance costs.


We hope the steps outlined in this blog have provided a starting point for your air receiver tank research. Choosing the right size air receiver tank for your industrial air compressor can be a complicated process as different air compressor types will require different qualifications for sizing. However, Air Handling Equipment has been in the compressed air business for over 45 years and is ready to help.

Our experienced staff will evaluate your compressed air requirements to determine an air receiver tank size that maximizes efficiency while minimizing energy consumption and protecting your bottom line. If you’re unsure about any of the information presented above, we will happily walk you through choosing the correct air receiver tank size for your needs. With the right size air receiver tank, you can ensure that your industrial air compressor provides the reliable and consistent compressed air supply that your business depends on.

With office locations in Sidney, Milford, and Gahanna, Air Handling Equipment has been providing compressed air system solutions to the Midwestern and Southern Ohio markets since 1977. This includes proudly serving the greater Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Lima and Findlay, Ohio areas. For questions about our selection of used air compressors, call one of our locations or fill out our online contact form and someone from our team will get back to you as soon as possible.