When it comes to choosing an air compressor, it’s very easy to get lost in the many brands available in the market.
This is especially so if you are not sure about what you should be keeping an eye on.
The truth is that most air compressors will power a vast number of air tools over a broad range of application.
However, not all will be suited for your specific needs or fit best with your air devices.
To make sure that you buy an air compressor with the right amount of air supply, you will need to equip yourself with the correct information about air compressors.
To help you do that, here is our well researched and detailed best air compressor buying guide.
WHAT IS AN AIR COMPRESSOR?
Before we go into more comprehensive details about air compressors, let’s start with the most fundamental question. What is an air compressor?
An air compressor is a powerful tool that has a large variety of applications. It can be used in home garages, workshops or industries to power many devices.
The reason why air compressors have become popular and a must-have tool for both domestic and professional uses are that they help handle your projects efficiently and faster.
TYPES OF AIR COMPRESSORS
Air compressors are designed to perform a wide variety of functions. For this reason, some compressors may be superior to others in different work situations.
To help you understand better, let’s take a more profound look into the types of air compressors.
Portable vs. Stationary
One of the most obvious distinctions between air compressors is in their portability.
As you can tell, stationary air compressors are obviously meant to be kept in a permanently fixed position in your workshop.
They tend to have huge air tanks making them extremely powerful. For this reasons, these air compressors are preferred for industrial compressed air needs.
On the other hand, portable air compressors are much smaller with smaller tanks. This makes them very easy to move around.
These air compressors shine on the portability feature which is usually enhanced by inbuilt handles for easier movement. It gives you greater flexibility and freedom to the usage of compressed air.
Oil vs. Oil-free
When choosing an air compressor, you will need to choose between oil-free compressors and oil lubricated one.
So how do you make the right choice?
This makes them ideal for instances where a lot of compressed air power is required. They also provide a much quite operations for a calm working environment.
The oil-free air compressors require less maintenance as compared to their counterparts. Moreover, they tend to weigh a lot less than the oil-lubricated air compressors.
On the downside, they are not as durable as the oil pump and are also a lot noisier.
Pancake vs. Hotdog
The pancake designed air compressors are the lovable unit that incorporates a lightweight design for portability and easy to store.
They work quickly on your small lighter duties at home. Mostly they are also oil-free. However, they are known to be quiet noisy.
Hot dog air compressors have bigger tanks than the pancake air compressors. They are popular with hobbyists who need more power.
This type of air compressors is on the heavier side as compared to pancake air compressor. They also feature an inbuilt handle for easier transportation.
1 stage vs. 2 stage
The main difference between a single stage and a two-stage air compressor is the number of times air gets compressed once it gets into the air compressor.
Needless to say, a single stage air compressor compresses air once while a two-stage compresses twice.
The two-stage air compressor produces a lot of power making it ideal for large tools and projects.
The single stage air compressors are very portable, and they also lend gasoline power while the two-stage compressors are generally electrical.
WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING AN AIR COMPRESSOR?
Specifications are specific parameters that manufacturers use to rate an air compressor. The most common specifications include:
This is measured using pounds per square inch gauge. It measures the continuous power the air compressor inputs into the shaft.
Most home garages will do well with a 120-150 psi. However, professionals may need more than 150 psi to run tools.
This refers to the cubic feet per minute which the amount of air that a compressor can produce. Most air tools require a specific CFM to run.
It’s best to go for a machine that has the most CFM so as to ensure that you can run a wider array of tools in your garage.
You should note that tools like sanders and grinders and others that often run continuously require the highest CFM.
It is the measure of the intensity of the sound produced by the air compressor during operations. Needless to say a lower noise level is preferred over a noisy air compressor.
If you go beyond 85dBA you will need appropriate hearing defenders as exposure to this noise levels can cause hearing problems.
Horsepower or HP
The horsepower rating is the continuous power output from the motor shaft.
Though not a direct measure of the ability of the air compressor but a more powerful motor means higher air flow and pressure.
A larger gallon means that the machine has the air compressor has enough stored air to run your air tools. A bigger tank will hold more air which translates to the amount of work you can do.
In summary, consider a compressor that has a high gallon, produces high CFM, use the least horsepower and lowest dBA. Considering this specs will help you make the right purchase.
The material used in the construction of an air compressor will relate directly to its ability to last for a longer time even when under harsh working environment.
Do you go for a compressor made of stainless steel with less corrosion effect or compressor made of cast iron, which is strong?
Oil lubricated or oil-free air compressor
Most heavy duty air compressors are oil lubricated. However smaller air compressor tend to be oil-free which reduces the level of maintenance needed.
For industrial tasks, an oil lubricated unit works on lengthening the continuous operation without risking damage to the compressor
If you are working in an environment with restrictions on the noise levels then you will need to go for the most silent air compressor.
60dB or lower is considered to be the safest noise level for home air compressors. However for anything above this you are advised to wear ear protection.
Size of the compressor
The size of the air compressor will determine the portability of the compressor.
But also check other feature like wheels and a handle because a compressor can be of big size though it has wheels that enhance portability.
For home use, a portable air compressor is better than a large one.
If you are operating a heavy duty tool you will need to go for an air compressor with a higher PSIG and CFM.
In this case, you will need to go for a large air compressor with a higher CFM and PSI capacity.
The primary goal of an air compressor is to provide compressed air for your tools. The air compressors can be used for domestic purpose, in construction sites or garages, as well as in industries for big projects.
You need an air compressor that satisfies your needs or can handle the task at hand. Look for an air compressor that meets all the requirements before making a purchase.
For instance, if you need an air compressor for industrial tasks then look at a compressor with high PSIG, CFM/SCFM, and gallon.
However, when you are in for an air compressor for domestic use, then go for on with lower decibel as well as low to medium gallons.
So, what are the key things to consider?
You need to go for an air compressor with the right size, power and easily portable.
If you are looking for an air compressor for your DIYer functions then a small unit will do just fine but for large industrial tasks, you may want to go for a larger air compressor.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The above information is very crucial when you want to be confident when purchasing an air compressor. It will guide you towards choosing the right make that fits your needs.