Air compressors can carry out a wide range of applications — from your garage to inflating a tire, from large manufacturers to using a nail gun. These reliable and powerful devices are crucial in running commercial and industrial businesses.
However, choosing what air compressor to buy can be quite tricky. There are a variety of factors you have to take into account so you can choose the best air compressor for your business’ needs. These factors include the type of application, the duration of use, and the work environment, to name a few.
To make it easy for you, here is an air compressor buying guide you can use:
- Type of Commercial User
When purchasing an air compressor, it’s essential to ascertain where it will be used and who will be using it. This ensures that you acquire the device suitable for its intended applications.
- Commercial – For contractors, the best air compressor is portable and can save you money on both maintenance and energy bills. Construction workers, for example, need a compact but durable device that can withstand their worksite demands.
- Manufacturers – At an industrial level, the function of air compressors is extensive. The machine needs to be powerful enough to meet continuous demands and maintain optimal efficiency levels and a steady flow of production. Choosing a heavy-duty air compressor is a worthwhile investment in the long run, allowing you to facilitate the growth of your facility.
- Types of Air Compressors
Air compressor varieties differ in terms of cost, size, noise level, and maintenance needs. Understanding the differences in air compressors allows you to identify which unit you need and how to optimize its use in your facility or worksite.
The most common types of air compressors in the market are:
It is the most widely used type. The pistons in the cylinders move back and forth, which creates a vacuum to suck air when retracting and pushes the air into the tank when extending. Because of this motion, these compressors create friction, making it hotter and louder than the other types of compressors.
Rotary compressors have 2 screws that rotate in opposite directions to compress air. The air is sucked in and compressed as the screws rotate and then pushed to an outlet on the other side. It is considered less noisy and more energy-efficient than a reciprocating compressor. It can also provide a continuous supply of air. Nevertheless, due to its complex design, it is also more expensive. Maintenance is required to avoid rusting.
In addition to function, you should also consider whether you need an oiled or oil-free compressor and other factors including air quality and flexibility of control.
- Power Supply
Sources of power to operate air compressors are also an important basis for selection. There are 2 ways you can power compressors: electricity and gasoline.
Electric compressors are more common. They also need less maintenance than gasoline-powered ones. Another advantage of an electric device is it’s quieter, which makes it excellent for indoor use. However, the mobility of electric compressors can be an issue. You may need a longer extension cord to allow a wider reach. Also, they should not be installed in areas prone to moisture.
Gasoline-powered compressors are more portable and powerful than electrical compressors. They are good for working outdoors and in areas where electricity is unavailable. Nevertheless, you cannot use gasoline-powered compressors in an enclosed or unventilated space since they produce heat and smoke.
The performance and rating of compressors are determined by 3 main specifications:
- Horsepower (HP) – HP indicates the power output of the compressor to turn on the pump.
- Air pressure (PSI) – Air pressure, measured in pounds per inch or PSI, represents the ability of the device to pressurize the air. Normally, it would take 90 PSI for pneumatic devices to operate, although heavy-duty ones may require more.
- Cubic feet per minute (CFM) – CFM is the amount of air the compressor can produce. That means if the compressor has a 10 CFM rating, it can release 10 cubic feet of air in a minute.
The higher the HP of the compressor, the greater the PSI. A higher PSI means that your device can store more air, allowing it to operate longer. The value of CFM is dependent on the PSI. As you reduce the PSI, airflow increases. Well-designed compressors can produce 4 true CFM at 100 PSI per HP.
- Duty Cycle
How long you expect the air compressor to operate before it needs to shut down is also an important factor. The duty cycle tells you the number of minutes the compressor is allowed to function for every 10-minute cycle. It is expressed in percentage. For example, if a device has a 50% duty cycle, it should only run for not more than 5 minutes out of a 10-minute period. Exceeding that number of minutes can heat up your compressor and affect its life expectancy.
The duty cycle of industrial air compressors is usually at least 75%. Some can reach 100%, which means they can function continuously.
- Portability and Installation
How and where you will use it can also be a deciding factor on what type of compressor you need to buy.
Stationary air compressors are usually large and industrial-grade. They are designed for proper placement or installation. Because of their size, they have higher horsepower and can store more, which makes them excellent choices for extended and uninterrupted usage.
In comparison, portable air compressors are small and light, letting you carry it wherever they are necessary. Portable air compressors are best for contractors because it makes them easy to move around work areas.
Deciding on the best portable air compressor can also come down to its shape and size. There are several styles to choose from based on your need — pancake compressors are flat and round, hot dog compressors are cylindrical, and wheelbarrow compressors come with wheels for better mobility.
- Life Expectancy
What use is 20% savings if the air compressor will only last half as long as the more expensive unit? Retailers do not usually advertise information about the shelf life of a product, but it pays to ask. Choosing a high-quality air compressor may be more expensive, but they will allow you to save on repairs and part replacement costs.
For reliable air compressors, turn to Commercial Air Compressor. We offer an extensive selection of air compressor models and parts from leading brands. Your satisfaction is our priority. Call our toll-free number 1-800-853-8249 for inquiries.