How Do You Decide What Type and Size Air Compressor to Get?

Top Questions and Facts About Purchasing Auto Shop or Commercial Air Compressors At

There are so many different types and manufacturers of air compressors on the market these days, it can get confusing.

The first task is to determine what type of compressor you need for your application. Do you need a gas powered compressor or electric air compressor ?

If this compressor is going in a typical automotive work shop or auto shop that has access to electricity, then the decision is simple. Go with an electric air compressor. On the other hand, if you are going to be using this away from a power source, out in the field, perhaps on a service truck, then you will need a gas powered air compressor.

The next rule is to research what size you need. To determine this, you must first find out what the air requirements will be of the tools you will be powering with this compressor. First, check out the CFM (cubic feet per minute) requirements of each tool you will be powering with your compressor. The owner's manual will traditionally be the place to locate this information. Sometimes it will state this information right on the tool itself. It should tell you how much CFM the tool requires and at what PSI. Your job is to then get an air compressor that puts out a little more air than your air requirements are. Don't forget that if you are going to be operating more than one tool at a time, such as in a three bay auto shop, you will need to add up all of the tools air requirements together of all those air tools that you may potentially be operating at the same time. Most auto shops for instance, will get a 5 HP to 7.5 HP model. This is a very popular size range that meets the typical auto shop owner's needs. Most models in this size range will put out between 15 CFM at 100 psi to 28 CFM at 100 PSI with a maximum psi of 175. Although there are plenty of larger and smaller models ranging from 2 HP all the way up to industrial air compressors at 40 HP and beyond. You can view some of these models at the following links…

When getting a two stage electric air compressor there are other considerations as well.

Should you get a single stage model, or a two stage model? Single stage compressors are usually less expensive, however two stage models are superior to single stage models in many ways. Two stage compressors operate at lower RPMs than a comparable sized single stage model. This allows it to put out more CFM than a comparable sized single stage compressor. Running at lower RPM's allows for other benefits as well. They will build up less heat, which means less moisture build-up in the tank. They also produce less noise. This is a very desirable feature in any indoor application. Also, you can expect significantly greater longevity out of a two stage model. You may also want to decide between a reciprocating or a rotary screw air compressor. Reciprocating are the more common design sold and are the more affordable option as well. Rotary screw compressors are known for creating less noise and can be expected to last longer, but are significantly more expensive.

Gas driven compressors are primarily used in situations where a power source is not available, where the compressor is being used on a service vehicle, or when portability is desired. Models could have electric start or recoil start features. Look for models with a motor manufactured by a reputable manufacturer, such as Honda or Kohler. Gas drive models typically have a 30 gallon tank, and typically range in size from 9 to 15 HP motor.

Common accessories include air driers to help remove moisture from the air. This is more important in humid environments and when working with sensitive equipment like plasma cutters. Other accessories include a low oil level switch, automatic tank drain and vibration pads to help cut down on vibration and noise.

There are many reputable quality commercial and industrial air compressors manufacturers out there. Make sure to find one with a good warranty and reputation. Make sure the tank is ASME approved. Make sure to get an oil lubricated compressor. Typically, the oiless models are inferior and will not last as long. They will typically be more noisy as well.

You can view our extensive inventory by visiting our air compressor product page online - or request a free product catalogue allowing you to browse anytime, anywhere.

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