Factor to Consider When Buying an Air Compressor

By Ann Hills / 3 years ago

Throughout the decades, air compressors have developed to become a reliable piece of equipment used at home and in many industries. The most common use of a compressor is to power air tools and you’ll find several different models of air compressors to fit a variety of situations. Compressors can come in a wide variety of different types and sizes.

The first thing you would need to consider before buying an air compressor is what you need it for. Your need will influence your purchasing decision. For example, buying a compressor that is too small for the job will use more electricity, and can likely burn out. You can find options from light to heavy weight compressors.

Generally, compressors fall under 3 categories:

  • Consumer grade - These are best for small household usages, such as inflating tires or other inflatables. Hobbyists and crafters often prefer them since these machines are usually portable. If portability is a main concern for you, then check for the best portable air compressor which can be carried or wheeled around.
  • Professional grade -These compressors are designed to be used for more demanding tools. You will find that many auto shops prefer using this type since they also air for a longer time than the consumer grade.
  • Commercial/Industrial - Built with high quality components, these machines is expected to do heavy duty jobs as they come with advanced technology and features.

Below are other points to take into consideration that also contain some jargon that you can familiarize yourself with.

Power Source

You can purchase either an electric or gasoline one. Electric ones typically operate on a standard household current. These are preferred for indoor use since they don’t discharge any types of fumes. If you’re planning for most outdoor use, a gas powered compressor might be your favored choice.


Compressors are often rated by Horsepower (HP). Compressor HP isn’t what determines the performance of the air tools or the optimal air delivery, but it’s an important factor to consider because it’s a rating of the engine’s power. The motor creates the compressed air and delivers it into the tank. The higher the HP, the more efficiently the air tank will be filled.

Air Pressure

Air pressure is often in pounds per square inch (PSI). Most air tools require 90 PSI to function at their best.

Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM)

Air tools require a certain volume of air to keep them functioning. The volume of air that a compressor produces is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). You may see several CFM ratings at different pressures on a compressor.


A compressor tank doesn’t produce air, but only stores it. What you need is a big pump and motor rather than a big tank. With a big enough pump and motor you won’t run out of air even if the tank is small.

Duty Cycle

Knowing the duty cycle is very important before you buy a compressor. The duty cycle is explained as a percentage and tells you the number of minutes the compressor can run during a 10 minute period. For example, a consumer grade compressor usually has a 50% duty cycle. This means that it shouldn’t run more than 5 minutes out of any 10 minute duration.

Before you buy an air compressor, talk to the experts who will help you determine exactly which compressor is best for the job you need. As a resource, they are considered safe, flexible, clean and convenient whether used for hobby or more professional level. Choosing one for home jobs is going to be different than choosing one for heavy duty jobs. You need to make sure to look at the different factors involved in order to make the best use out of your new air compressor.

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About the author

Ann Hills

My name is Ann Hills and I am a food blogger and a yoga teacher. When I was a child, I often got around my mother and watched her cooking in our kitchen. My mom always says to me that: “Kitchen is the heart of any home”. I strongly believe in her saying that’s reason why I prefer spending my money to make my home better than other stuff.

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