Choosing Air Compressors Choosing Air Compressors

Buying an air compressor can be quite a confusing affair, especially with all the different types available and the technical jargon that comes with them. Your task will be made much easier if you follow the easy guidelines that have been provided below.

Determine the Amount of Horsepower You Want

Before leaving your home to go on an air compressor hunt, you should know exactly what you will be using it for. Some of the minor tasks that you can accomplish with the compressor include filling up tires, while the more serious tasks may include using it to power air sanders (say during construction work).

Air compressors, which are to be used in heavy duty tasks like construction work, require sufficient horsepower, with respect to the capacity of the tools to be used alongside it. Choose an air compressor whose horsepower exceeds your tools demands by a factor of one and a half.

On the same point, the nature of the work to be done is another consideration (e.g. when working near an office space quiet air compressors will be the best choice).

Confirm the True Horsepower Rating on the Air Compressor

You will notice that some air compressors have the same horsepower rating indicated on them, but their prices are far from identical; one is cheap and the other quite expensive. The more expensive option will be an industrial unit, which has more power than the other unit (despite the similar ratings).

Industrial units are operated using 220 volt circuits, while the others work with the 110 volt circuit. Only the industrial unit will deliver the true power rating, and as such it will be the best buy.

Determine the Amount of PSI that You’ll Require

PSI is an abbreviation for ‘pounds per square inch’ and has to do with the pressure the compressor requires to operate smoothly. Most air tools will operate well with about 90 PSI, but they will definitely need an air compressor whose shut-off pressure is much higher.

When it comes to PSI issues, industrial units again are the best choice. The shut-off pressure in these units is built up in two stages – first to 90 PSI, and then to 175 PSI. Light duty compressors are ‘single-stage’ instead and will shut off at 100 PSI. This pressure is hardly enough to operate an air tool.

Consider the CFM Rating

CFM is a volume measurement and stands for ‘cubic feet per meter’. When you are using air tools, there is a certain volume of air that needs to be moved. This volume is indicated by the CFM rating. It is common practice for manufacturers to indicate higher CFM ratings than what is fact, just to make sales (you shouldn’t fall into this trap).

In making your choice of air compressor, you should know what CFM you’ll have at 90 PSI. These figures will be indicated on the box as part of the manufacturer’s specs. To be on the safe side, ensure that for each real HP, you get 3 to 4 CFM at 90 PSI.

Consider the Tank Size

The air compressor tank size that you settle for depends on how you are going to use the equipment. If your compressor will be used intermittently, then a large tank and small motor will do just fine. Compressors for continuous use need smaller tanks (and big motors and pumps).  



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