With several different air compressor types on the market, it’s hard to know which one to buy.
Are you looking at buying an air compressor for your home, shop, or office?
We have put together a guide to help you choose the right air compressor.
In this article, we will discuss the basic things that you need to understand what a compressor is and how it works. Further, our discussion on these basic facts will focus on the purpose for which each type is created.
This way, you can make an informed choice in purchasing the perfect air compressor for your tasks.
What is an Air Compressor?
An air compressor is basically a tool or device that makes use of energy (be it electric, diesel, gasoline, etc.) and converts this energy into a mechanism to gather and produce pressurized air.
Pressurized air, in turn, is used for a variety of purpose and application due to its capability of producing force. There’re many ways by which an air compressor fulfills this purpose, one of these is through the use of a compressor, whereby, the compressor stores air into a tank.
When the tank reaches its limit or is filled up, it automatically shuts down and seals the air. Most compressors can simultaneously gather and flush compressed air at the same time.
Otherwise, without this capability, the amount of work is based solely on the amount of stored air. Work has to stop when air has been exhausted and you would have to wait until can store a new set of air into the tank.
Basically, an air compressor works like an air pump that compresses air into a tank in order to produce pressurized air for a certain purpose.
What are its Common Classifications?
Air Compressors are used in different environments and industries in a variety of purposes.
You may have encountered one, or have been working in an environment that utilizes one without even knowing it. In general, the classification of air compressors falls under three different categories:
- Consumer Grade – manufactured for basic consumer use, commonly used for household tasks such as inflating tires and other similar products, and low-grade household tools such as nail guns and staplers
- Professional Grade- Next to consumer grade compressors, they provide higher levels of pressure and designed for longer periods of use, as well as heavier workload
- Industrial Grade- found in manufacturing plants and power source facilities such as an oil rig, these air compressors are designed for more than the regular high pressure and long periods of use.
They also include customized adjustability in terms of adjustments specific to such environments
These three classifications merely focus on the durability and the amount of work that an air compressor is designed for. However, these are not strict classifications.
Take for example, for your specific project; you may need a consumer grade tool for one specific task and a professional grade tool for another task.
Compressors are classified based on their pressure force. Force is measured in “psi” (pound-force per square inch).
- Low- Pressure air compressors discharge compressed air with a force of 150 psi or lesser
- Medium-pressure compressors discharge compressed air with a force of 151 psi to 1000 psi
- High-pressure compressors discharge compressed air with a force of more than 1000 psi
It’s highly advised that you ask the manufacturer or distributor about the psi of the air compressor that you are buying.
Consult with them on whether the psi is advisable for your intended purpose. Aside from that, a compressor is also classified in CFM (Cubic foot per minute).
It’s basically the flow rate of air that a compressor takes in towards the tank per minute. Psi and CFM go hand in hand in classifying an air compressor.
Common Applications of Air Compressor Types
First on the list: your home.
Homes make use of air compressors for a variety of reasons including house and tools maintenance like house and car cleaning, inflating of tires, balloons, and similar equipment.
Also for your hobby related projects such as sculptures, painting using an airbrush for arts and other painting services, etc.
Air compressors for home use usually involve consumer-grade devices which utilize low to medium pressure discharge. You may also use professional grade compressors if you are working on a specialized project that is related to your profession and it is being done at home.
In order to know if your device is designed for home use, ask if it uses a reciprocation piston. Reciprocation piston powered air compressors are usually designed for home because they are very handy.
These are powered by electricity (if it has an electric engine) or gas (if it has a gas engine). Make sure to check the label or ask the distributor on what kind of motor the compressor is running on.
Small to Middle-Sized Businesses
Due to numerous advantages, air-powered tools have become a widely used device among different industries.
The construction industry tops the list of industries that utilizes air-power in its business operations. If you go to one site, you’ll notice that almost all power tools nowadays are compressed air operated.
Depending on the type of industry, and the specific purpose of the device, this field makes use of low to high-pressure compressors.
Modern farming and food manufacturing make use of air compression technology in the spraying of crops, dairy machines, and their ventilation systems.
Cutting, welding, automated machinery, glass blowing and bottle manufacturing inside the food and medical industry use air compression in their processes.
However, these are customized compressor systems. If you’re looking into buying these, for your farming and manufacturing business needs, contact the manufacturer directly. The same advice applies if you’re running a large scale industry for that matter.
Fun Uses of Air Compressors
Inflate your pool tubes and pool inflatables with your air compressor. Cleaning your workspace is simple with a small help from some air.
Enjoying your own snowmaking machine with your air compressor can make cold winter days more enjoyable.
How Much Pressure is Needed?
There’re general guidelines and/or principles in choosing an air compressor for your specific purpose based on psi and CFM. Please take note that these are general guidelines and might include other aspects of your intended project.
- A standard angle grinder needs an air compressor with 5 to 8 CFM running at 90 psi
- Nail guns used to embed nails on floorings, and other household wood works would need a compressor with 0.3 CFM running at 90 psi
- An automatic air chisel (run using air compressor) which is designed for stone, metal, and wood, need an air compressor with 3- 11 CFM and running at 90 psi
- Cut off tools that are used for cutting wood, metals, and sheets of steel can run using air compression – this would need 4 -10 CFM running at 90 psi
- Drills require an air compressor with 3-6 CFM, running at 90 psi
- Sanding tools would usually need an air compressor with 11 – 13 CFM running at 90 psi
- Spray painting devices usually need an air compressor with 3-11.3 CFM running at 90 psi
- Riveting usually need 4 CFM running at 90 psi
- Sawing devices that run on air compression usually need 5 CFM running at 90 psi
- Shearing devices usually need 8-16 CFM running at 90 psi
The most important thing to remember is to check the label and consult with the distributor for the CFM and psi of the air compressor. You’d also want to consider the type of energy that the device is running on.
Consider your working environment and the type of ventilation in the environment you work in. If you’re working in an enclosed space or an indoor workshop, it isn’t advisable to use an air compressor with a gas motor.
However, most air compressors with high CFM and psi run on a gas motor. Those that are electric powered, running on high psi and CFM, are usually more expensive.
Consider Going Green!
If you’re more into electric run devices, you might want to learn about and consider a renewable and clean source of energy. There is a current state of advancement that we have when it comes to producing renewable and clean energy.
Further, you must always place your health on top of all your considerations in designing your workplace. We hope that this article has been informative and practical and meets your air compressor needs!
Take note, when choosing air compressor types, there are three main things to consider: CFM, psi, and energy source.
Check out ways to save on your home energy bills, even if you run your air compressor.