It can be difficult to know where to begin when you’re buying an air compressor hose. Especially, if it is your first time.

Since the biggest industries in the world have made air compressors a necessity in their work environment, the market has also expanded to include every type of air hose possible. That makes a lot of room for confusion, as well.

Whether or not you are already a professional air compressor user, this article will guide and assist you in finding the perfect air hose.

There is a lot that goes into determining the air compressor hose size. The following figure briefly shows you how to determine the correct standard fitting size based on ID, CFM, PSI, length, and # of air tools. The following sections of the article go into great detail about each. 

Air Compressor Hose Sizes

Standard fitting sizesID (Internal diameter)CFMPSI (Pounds per Square Inch)Length# of air tools
¼” Around 6 mm1-3300 work pressure, 900 burst pressure400 ft / 120 mImpact Wrench – ⅜”
Ratchet – ¼”
⅜” Around 8mm3-6300 work pressure, 900 burst pressure330 ft / 100 mImpact Wrench-½”
Mini Die Grinder
NibblerRatchet-⅜”
½” Around 10mm6+300 work pressure, 900 burst pressure330 ft / 100 mNeedle scaler Dual Sander
Rotational Sander
Impact
Wrench
1” Shears
Orbital SanderAngle
Disc GrinderChisel/Hammer
Cut Off Tool
Mini Die Grinder

What to Consider Before Selecting an Air Compressor Hose

When purchasing a new air hose for your air compressor, you need to consider the following: 

  • the size 
  • the material (depends on preferences)
  • the type (depends on preferences)
  • the length 

We will break these down from the easiest to the most difficult to determine. The easiest to determine is the length of the hose. The longer the hose, the greater distance it will cover. Of course, for standard sizes, up to 400 feet or 300 meters is enough.

The second easiest to determine is the type of hose. There are only two types of hoses to choose between and they both have minimal differences. They are the standard and recoil hoses. This is based on preferences and will be gone over in the upcoming section titled “Information about Standard and Recoil Hoses.” 

The most complex of these to determine and understand are the size and the material. The material is based on preferences, but involves a great deal of thought and will be discussed in the section titled “The Material of Your Hose.” 

We will discuss the size in the following section titled “The Standard Sizes.” It will explain why size is the most complex and answer your questions about which hose to choose.

Understanding these things collectively is important, if you have the correct diameter and length, you can perfectly attach your hose to your air compressor and use it from a great distance to your home appliance or vehicle.

Understanding the type and the material of the hose is also important to ensure you are getting the best experience possible. Check out the following sections for more information. 

The Standard Sizes

Air hoses are measured using their internal diameter (ID). The larger the internal diameter is, the higher the air capacity is and the less friction loss you will experience. Friction loss occurs when the air interacts with the inside of the hose.

However, the smaller the internal diameter, the less heavy the air hose will be. The following three sizes are the standard sizes that air compressor hoses come in:

  • ¼” or 6mm (practical)
  • ⅜” or 8mm (practical)
  • ½” or 10mm

As we mentioned in the previous section, the perfect size for your hose can not be determined by personal preferences.

A great deal of thought has to go into choosing the best size fit for your air compressor. In the following section, we will begin discussing the general rule of thumb for choosing the perfect air compressor hose size.

Standard Vs Recoil Hoses

There are two types of air compressor hoses: standard and recoil. Unlike the size of hoses, the type of hose can be based on preferences. There is little difference between the two, except for functionality, which has different benefits.

On the one hand, recoil hoses can be compressed into coils and easily hidden. This makes for perfect storage. On the other hand, standard hoses allow for more mobility, but can only be stored by loosely wrapping them or mounting them on a hose reel.

Choosing one or the other depends on your personal preferences and the type of work you are planning to do. If you are worried about your workspace being cluttered, the recoil hose will be your better option. 

There is little to no difference in quality. The quality simply depends on the manufacturer of the hose. To ensure the best possible experience, you will have to consider the length and the material of your hose. The length was covered in the “What to Consider Before Selecting an Air Hose” section of the article. The following section will cover the material of your hose.

The Material of Your Hose

The final factor which determines what air hose you select for your air compressor is the material. Like the type of hose, the material of the hose can also be based on preferences. The following are the types of material your air hose can be:

  • PVC (most economical and practical choice)
  • PU (light and easy to use outdoors)
  • Nylon (less likely to experience damage)
  • Rubber (most weather resistant)

Let’s break down each of the above. We will rank each from the least beneficial to the most beneficial. In last place is the rubber material hoses. Rubber is the most weather resistant, but heavy to use and has low mobility. If you have to use an air compressor for your roof, this would be the worst choice hose material.

In third place is PVC material. PVC is the most economical and practical choice, but it has poor weather resistance and is not recommended for regular use. 

Second on the list is PU material, which is available as both standard and recoil types. It is lighter than PVC and it is fine to use outdoors.

Finally, the most beneficial on the list is Nylon material. Nylon has the same functionality and benefits as PU, but it is less likely of the three to experience damage. 

Based on the above ranking, our recommendation would be nylon and PU. However, you can make an informed decision based on your preferences, location, and availability. Remember, this is about whatever is best for your needs.

CFM & Hose Size

Understanding which hose size to select involves a little inspection. The CFM (cubic feet per minute) of your air tools should help determine which hose size is better. The CFM is the amount of air generated by your air compressor at a certain pressure level.

Do not be fooled though, sometimes the airflow ratings on air tools are misrepresented by manufacturers. It does not speak for the unrestricted air volume that can pass through. Thus, it is not always accurate. The best thing you can do is calculate the CFM yourself. It is an extensive process, but the hard work will pay off in the end.

The general rule of thumb is that the higher the CFM, the bigger the internal diameter of the hose needs to be. For instance, tools that operate on 1 to 3 CFM will require a 6mm air hose. Tools operating above 6 CFM will require a 10 mm hose. Most of the time, handheld air tools require a smaller hose size, whereas a heavier one will need 8mm or larger. 

This rule of thumb is enough for choosing the perfect hose. However, to be certain you can always get a second opinion from an expert. In the next section, we will discuss some important information about standard and recoil hoses and which type you should choose.

Conclusion

Congratulations, you have made it to the end of the article! As you can probably see, there’s a lot that goes into determining whether or not you have selected the perfect air compressor hose. 

Luckily, thanks to the contents of this article, you now understand how factors like size, length, type, and material should contribute to your decision. We hope the breakdown of each was helpful. 

We also hope that we have diminished all uncertainty or doubts that you may previously have been experiencing, especially if it was your first time. The first time doing something without any knowledge is always difficult! 

Of course, this is just a guide, but it should get you thinking about how to find the perfect hose for your air compressor. Also, do not be afraid of asking someone for a second opinion. It never hurts to be sure. Good luck on the hunt!