AIR COMPRESSOR INFORMATION

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Old 05-17-03, 07:13 AM
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Arrow Air Compressor Information

With increasing popularity the number of air compressor questions are increasing so we have decided to offer this information;

Because of the increase in interest in home air compressors, manufacturers are offering less expensive units.
Although these units can serve a useful purpose, caution should be used.

A majority of the cheaper units are the oilless type, but mfr's now offer direct drive oil types of which both types have a very low duty cycle.
This means that they are not designed to run for very long at a time.

Oil free type compressors use a rubber diaphragm rather than pistons to compress the air. What is a problem is the fact that they can be manufactured an an extremely low cost and quality.
Some of these manufacturers, but not all will print the rated duty cycle on the units.

A liquidation store in my area had two huge bins full of air tanks without the pumps from warranty returns. They were from a major brand mfr but they all were oiless types. Printed on the tanks was the duty cycle; 150 sec on, 350 sec off! What this means is that you can run the unit for about two minutes and then have to keep it off for about six minutes. If you purchase a unit like this and use it according to mfr's recommendations it likely will last a while. But as handy as they are I can almost guarantee that a newly purchased compressor will be used for more than expected.
Keep in mind that there are many quality oiless units out there and are quite popular for use with air nailers but you will pay a fair bit of money for them.
For stationary home use though a good belt drive oil type should last a long time.

For general use an oil filled, belt drive compressor will usually give the best service.
This type will work on a 115 volt, 15 amp outlet.
We don't endorse this particular one as there are several different good brands of this type of compressor so shop around:

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Image courtesy harborfreightdotcom


When shopping for a compressor the HP rating that is stamped on most consumer type compressors is totally meaningless.
Commercial motor manufacturers have stiff requirements when stamping their motors with a HP rating. Compressor makers on the other hand don't use standardized ratings when sticking a rating on their cheaper compressors. Often these ratings are "maximum developed horse power" or something similar. What this means is what power the motor can develop before stalling, burning up or tripping the breaker, not the continuous power the motor develops. If you were to look at the tag on the motor on one of these units you will likely see the HP rating either blank or "SPL" which means a non standard rating. Motor makers won't stick their necks out on a phony rating.

Another meaningless rating is the "gallon size" of the air tank.
A larger tank will give you a very small amount of "extra" air but this extra air will have been depleted as soon as the compressor starts.
The main purpose of an air tank is to minimize the on/off cycles of the compressor pump, now it is also used as a marketing gimmick.

CFM is the rating that is more important and one that most reputable compressor makers promote.
For home use, 6 CFM is a good compromise for an entry level compressor. It is large enough to power most smaller air tools, but most can still be used on a 15 amp 120 volt circuit.
If you have to rewire for a 20 amp 120 volt circuit it might be
better to get a slightly larger unit that runs on 220 volt.



Compressor oil:
For use in pretty much any oil type air compressor, 20 or 30 weight non-detergent motor oil can be obtained at most auto supply stores.
Some compressor manufacturers approve the use of 10w-30 synthetic oil as well.
It is not necessary to use oil labeled as air compressor oil.



Previous posts on air compressors:
(If you have a question that relates to any of the posts below please start a new thread with as much detail on your problem as possible in the Tools, Sharpening and Power Machinery forum............Thanks. )


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Last edited by GregH; 07-22-17 at 06:08 AM. Reason: Updates
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