How Many Watts Does an Air Compressor Use?

Air compressors come in all shapes and sizes, meaning that the wattage and amperage for each unit is always likely to vary. However, before you set up an air compressor for the first time, it is very important to calculate how much wattage your machine is likely to draw or demand!

The smaller or less powerful the air compressor, the less power it is likely to demand. For example, a small air compressor that only uses around 15 amps (and 110 volts) is likely to use 1,650 watts.

An air compressor double the size and power – for example a 15 amp model using 220 volts – is therefore likely to use 3,300 watts.

It’s important to know these details if you intend to use a generator to run your air compressor. That’s so you can work out how long to run your generator for, and how much you will need to budget in terms of fuel costs!

Are you breaking in an air compressor for the first time? Let’s take a closer look at what you need to know about air compressors and wattage.


How do I work out how many kilowatt hours my air compressor uses?

If you’d like to know how many kilowatt hours – or kW/h – your air compressor uses, there is a surprisingly simple formula!

All you need to do is take your compressor’s wattage and then divide it by the amount of time your machine is running for.

So, for example, an air compressor running at a wattage of around 3,300W, running for five hours, would have used approximately 660 kW/h.

How many watts is a small air compressor likely to use?

Wattage will vary from model to model. If you’ve set up a small air compressor for home use, it’s likely it will have minimal HP, or horsepower. Smaller air compressors are likely to run on 0.5 and 1 HP, with running wattage of up to 1,500W.

However, starting wattage for all units is likely to be a lot higher. For an air compressor with a running wattage of 1,000W, it is likely to be at least double, starting up. Therefore, you need to take the higher figure into account when setting up your generator.

What size generator will I need to run my air compressor?

It is all to do with the starting and running wattage of your air compressor. An air compressor running at 1 HP is likely to need no more than 4,500W at startup, however, this may often be less. The running wattage is then likely to drop to around 1,500W – 2,000W, if we stay with our 1 HP model.

The bottom line here is, of course, that you must consult your manual and your manufacturer in the first instance! You may be able to find the exact figures before you start up in the manual provided.

Crucially, you need to ensure that the wattage potential of your generator outweighs that of the starting and running demands of your air compressor. For a very small air compressor, a generator running at around 2,500W should suffice – however, you must make sure to find out the precise figure before investing!

How to reduce the amount of power your air compressor uses

Where possible, it is a good idea to reduce energy expenditure. While it is not always possible, here are a few ways you may wish to try and lighten the load when running your air compressor for the first time.

Regularly maintain your air compressor

Over time, your air compressor may develop leaks, or its washers and fixings may wear down. Any lost air or energy is, of course, going to be wasted power if you don’t attend to it. Therefore, regularly check the inner workings of your air compressor regularly and make sure everything is sealed.

Drain regularly

Regular draining of your air compressor is crucial for its safe running over the years to come. However, you should also make sure your drainage is working correctly, and to avoid pushing your air compressor into using too much energy to keep everything working at optimum performance. Drain at least once a week, wherever possible.

Reduce the pressure you use

Where possible, using less pressure means using less power – so if you can afford to dial things back a little in this regard, you should consume less power.

Switch off when not in use

This one’s fairly obvious – but it stands to reason. Just as you should switch off a light when you leave a room, why should you leave your air compressor running if it is not in use? Leaving your compressor powered on without due cause is, of course, a waste of energy and money. It’s also going to wear your compressor down quicker.


There are plenty of things you need to consider when setting up an air compressor for the first time, and when it comes to generators, working out your wattage and kilowatt-hours can be very useful. 

Do also keep in mind that if you are using your air compressor in the garage or elsewhere in the home off the mains supply, it pays to know how many amps your air compressor uses, too!