Air compressors are considered the most versatile tool when it comes to hardware jobs in any respect. They come in handy from operating a nail gun to repair a flat tire, and a wide variety of other tools works. Because of the versatility, there are too many options when you plan to get an air compressor for yourself.
It will leave you lost in a pile of features if you don’t know what you’re looking for. You need to know how to choose air compressor if you want to get the most out of your machine. In this air compressor buying guide, I’ll take you through the things you must consider before you can go get an air compressor.
Benefits Of Air Compressor
There are tons of perks and benefits you can get from an air compressor as it comes with endless possible applications. Here are some of the most important benefits you can look forward to if you get an air compressor:
- The first thing about an air compressor is an obvious one, which is Air as the main drive force for it. Now, Air is free, and so the ongoing consumable with the air compressor tool.
- Air compressors are super versatile in usability. It’s not a tool that you can just use for hobby wood projects or clear debris. You can use it for painting, inflated tier, and power pneumatic tools.
- Simple and quiet, yet a very powerful tool that can help you make super hard works easier than ever.
- You can use an air compressor as a power tool where it’s dangerous to use electric power to drive the work through.
Types Of Compressor
Based on the internal mechanism of the air compressors, we can categorize them into four common types, here they are:
- Centrifugal Compressor
- Axial Compressor
- Reciprocating Air Compressor
- Rotary Screw Compressor
Depending on the usability of the tool and outlook in a most-known way, air compressors also have another four types, such so:
- Pancake compressors
- Hot dog compressors
- Twin stake compressors
- Wheelbarrow compressors
They come with relatable names, and they all come portable for personal or professional use. Read this extensive article on how does an air compressor work if you want to know about all of them.
Air Compressor Buying Guide
When it comes to the big question, what air compressor to buy, the answer gets complicated. It involves a lot of criteria that you will have to take into account. Follow this air compressor buying guide to find the perfect air compressor for your needs:
Consider your power source
It’s the first thing you have to decide if you want the air compressor running an electric or gasoline engine. If you are fortunate enough to have an electric outlet all the time and electricity, you can go with an electric power compressor. Most of the domestic and professional air compressors will require 110 V outlets here in the US. Some large air compressors may require 220 V as well. If you’re planning on working outside and there is a chance of not having any power outlet, consider getting a gas-driven air compressor.
Consider space and portability
Considering the size of the air compressor is important, especially if you’re planning on working on the move. If the plan is not to go outside and the power source is electric, you can go for bulky sized air compressors. But if you need mobility, get a portable compressor with inflatable tires underneath. Getting a portable air compressor will force you to consider losing some power as the size shrinks. But if you’re planning for a nail gun, tier fixture, or a bigger house roof repair, a portable compressor is enough.
Look at the power (HP) of the motor
The power of the air compressor depends on the power its motor has, which is determined by HP (horsepower). The bigger the number alongside the horsepower is, the better it will perform in action. Air compressors come with 1.5 to 6.5 horsepower as a general idea. To get an efficient power form the compressor, make a decent investment to get the HP as powerful as possible.
Consider the air pressure (PSI)
The air pressure power of an air compressor is determined by the unit, PSI (Pound-force per square inch). Most of the air tools require at least 90 PSI to run without suffocating. Make sure you have an air compressor that can produce and maintain more than that, at least 100 PSI. Most of the regular air compressors for personal use can shut off at 125 to 130 PSI, and that’s more than enough power.
look at Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM)
The volume or the amount of Air you have for your air compressor is the CMF, which is very important to determine its power. It’s directly related to the PSI of the air compressor, especially if it’s a compressor for personal usage. Under 90 PSI, you should get at least 3-4 CFM per HP with the machine you’re getting.
Duty cycle and life expectancy
The duty cycle of an air compressor refers to the maximum allowed period that you can operate it for in a single run. The base duty cycle is 10 minutes, and the percentage you’ll get on the machine calculates the cycle with this period. Most of the personal usable air compressors come with a 50% duty cycle. It means you can have a continuous running of the machine for about 5 minutes out of every period of 10 minutes.
If you run it for more than 5 minutes, the tank will heat excessively and reduce the life expectancy. If it’s 75%, you can run it for 7.5 minutes. High-end commercial air compressors come with even 100% duty cycle, which means it can run for all 10 minutes.
Air Compressor Safety Tips
Air compressors are too powerful tools to overlook the importance of safety precautions while using them. Here are the safety tips and rules you should take seriously while operating an air compressor:
- Put on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as safety gloves and goggles while using the compressor. Make sure the equipment is impact resistant so that if high pressure hits your hand or eye, you survive.
- Unless you’re using an electric air compressor and it powers by gas, you must use it outdoors. Gas air compressors can produce toxic fumes that are severely harmful to the human body. If you have to use it indoors, think what air compressor to buy before you get one.
- Use a self-retracting cord with the air hose, so its hose doesn’t lie on the floor and consolidates into a bundle on its own. It will keep the air compressor safe and last longer.
- Keep it on maintenance following the manufacturer’s recommended way so that the compressor doesn’t die or start making trouble before it should.
- Be sure to use it the way you should, don’t start using it unless you know how to use air compressor
Frequently asked questions
Here are the most frequent questions about air compressors that you might have in your mind and want to know the answers to:
Are air compressor hoses universal?
With some adapters, domestic hoses are universal; but the industrial hoses may differ from one compressor type to another.
Can air compressors run backward?
If it’s a single phase motor-driven compressor, it cannot run backward.
How long will air compressor last?
Reciprocating compressors can last for 10 to 15 years, where the rotary compressor will last for 20 to 30 years with proper maintenance.
How often change air compressor oil?
Change the oil every year in general, but for reciprocating compressors, it should be 3 months.
Getting the right air compressor can help you get almost any tool job done if you’re using pneumatic tools. I hope the air compressor buying guide I’ve compiled above has been a help for you to find the right compressor for yourself.
However, if you’re still thinking about what air compressor should I buy, and you’re looking for an air compressor with a budget in mind, visit the review for the best air compressor under 500. You’ll find an extensive review with recommendations for the best air compressor within your budget.