3/8 vs 1/2 Air Hose: What’s The Difference?

The main difference between 3/8 inch air hose and 1/2 inch air hose are as follows: the 3/8 inch air hose is basically used for tools that require limited and compressed air volume, while the 1/2 inch air hose is used for larger tools that require maximum air flow.

Hose Diameter

ID and OD measurements stand for inner diameter and outer diameter respectively. A flexible air hose is basically measured by its ID. 3/8 inch air hoses are smaller than 1/2 inch air hoses.

A 3/8 inch air hose produces less airflow and more pressure compared to a 1/2 inch air hose.

Significantly, the larger the diameter of the hose, the greater the airflow. Inner diameter that is also wider helps control friction loss.

However, it is important to understand that the inner diameter and the length affect the overall weight of the air hose.


3/8 inch diameter air hose with a 100 feet length typically has a pressure drop of 5% applied pressure while a 1/2 inch diameter air hose with the same 100 feet length can have a pressure drop 10% of applied pressure.


1/2 inch diameter air hoses are used for industrial, agricultural, medical, construction, or semiconductor purposes because they are wider and they produce more air. On the other hand, 3/8 inch diameter air hoses are used for the household.

But in general, they can be applied for both air and water. However, they still have a wide range of applications.

Basically, air hoses serve as air tubes for heating and cooling. They supply compressed air for various controlled applications at high pressure. They can also be used to convey bulk granular and pellets of solid in a gas stream.

Differing Lengths

A typical air hose will measure around 50 feet to 100 feet long. Significantly, longer hoses could increase the pressure drop of the system, which can affect the corresponding apparatus.

Hence, regardless of the diameter of the hose (3/8 inch or 1/2 inch), if they are 100 ft. long, it will most likely lose water than on a 50 ft. long hose.

Aside from its weight and bulk, the length of the hose from the compressor affects the air pressure during the route.


Air hose price may depend on the length per foot. Typically, a 1 foot hose can cost $0.88. So if you are planning to buy a 750-foot hose, it may cost you around $660 to $700.

Is 3/8″ Air Hose Big Enough?

3/8 inch air hose is the standard size to use for the household or for other common purposes. It has an inner diameter of 3/8 inch and an outer diameter of 0.600 inch, which is enough to convey pressurized air to valves or other devices. 3/8 inch is also big enough for an impact wrench with a 1/2 inch size.

On the other hand, 1/2 inch air hose can hold air and fluids from huge equipment, which is big enough to service large industrial plants that require transfer of compressed air from the compressor to the blast pot.

Which Is Better: 3/8 or 1/2 Air Hose?

When it comes to choosing the best air hose to use, you must choose in accordance to what size is needed, and where you would use it. Thus, here are some guidelines to consider.

When to Use 3/8 inch Air Hose?

3/8 inch air hose is the most commonly used size because it fits perfectly to almost all equipment. You can use it for general purposes to convey air, heat, and water.

When to Use 1/2 inch Air Hose?

1/2 inch air hose is not used commonly because of its bulk. However, this type of hose can be used for larger equipment for construction and other similar applications. Since it is wider in diameter, it may also require a higher air pressure, which may be typically encountered in industrial units.

The Final Verdict

3/8 inch air hoses are the universal choice of every household and professional. They are the most common option because of their versatility when it comes to servicing tools and fittings.

However, if you have larger tools and equipment that need maximum air flow and volume, you may opt for the 1/2 inch air hose.

There are several types of air hoses to choose from, but before you decide to make a purchase, you may want consider the following factors:

  • Where will I use it?
  • How long will I need?
  • Which material should my hose be made from?
  • What diameter of the hose will I need to use?

These factors are important to help you identify what type of air hose will best suit your needs not only at present, but also in the future.

Moreover, the fluids and substances like air, water, steam, or oils that will be carried inside your hose must be compatible with its material so as to prevent adverse effects in the overall process and materials involved.

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