Our Top rated Air Compressors
When you are on a hunt for the best air compressor that will suit your needs there are a few important facts about air compressors you have to know before you buy.
Most important facts about Air Compressors
How an air compressor operates.
Air compressors are designed to convert power into potential energy. With the help of an electric motor or diesel/gasoline engine the air compressor forces air into its tank where the pressure increases. Once the pressure reaches its maximum the compressor shuts off until you need to use the energy by releasing the air. Once the pressure drops to its lower limit, the air compressor kicks back on again, in order to re-pressurize the tank. The discharge of the built-in pressure is measured by PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) and the delivery rate is measured by CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute). These two numbers express the effectiveness of the air compressor in regards of the application purposes.
Types of air compressors
There are different types of air compressors depending on the way the pressure is delivered, the design and principle of operation and also depending on the application.
We offer you a short description of the basic types in order to help you when choosing the best air compressor.
Depending on the pressure delivered
- low-pressure air compressors - the discharge pressure is 150 PSI or less
- medium-pressure air compressors - the discharge pressure is between 151 PSI and 1.000 PSI
- high-pressure air compressors - the discharge pressure is above 1.000 PSI
Depending on the principle of operation
- Piston air compressors
By using the constant motion of pistons, this type of air compressors pump the air into an air chamber. Using a one way valve the air is guided into a cylinder chamber where the air is being compressed.
- Rotary screw compressors
They use two helical screws which guide the air into a chamber, where it gets compressed as the screws turn.
- Vane compressors
Here the air is guided and the volume compressed with the help of a slotted rotor with varied blade placements. This is a type of compressor which delivers fixed airflow at very high pressure.
- The air compressors application starts with supplying air to gas cylinders (for diving), goes trough filling tires and supplying moderate air pressure in order to power pneumatic tools and goes to producing large volumes of compressed air for large-scale industrial processes.
3. Types of pumps
There are two main types of pumps which the air compressors comprise of: oil-lubed and oil-less. The oil-lubed type of pump requires maintenance, which sometimes can be time consuming and if not executed properly might lead to the units malfunctioning. The oil-less system is more advanced, requires no maintenance, but on the other hand is more expensive and makes the air compressor louder while operating.
4. Types of powering the air compressor
The two main types of powering the air compressor is by using electricity or by using diesel/gas. The diesel/gas powered air compressors are very noisy and often used in remote areas where there is less or no access to electricity.
Electric powered air compressors are very commonly used in production, workshops and homes. They can operate at 110-120 Volt or 230-240 Volt.
5. Tank size and shape
The tank size actually tells you how much compressed air you have in reserve. The shape of a tank can be “pancake”,which means small tank, “Twin tank”, Horizontal or vertical.
Now that you are familiar with the most important facts about air compressors, here we offer you a Criteria For How To Choose An Air Compressor
There are many brands which bring a range of air compressors and probably will deliver the best air compressor to suit your needs. You can certainly get a unit, if you just want to check the tire pressure or inflate balls, but if you are expecting the same one to be used for air brushing or to work with any air tools, you will be left disappointed.
The first and most essential thing is to know what do you need the compressor for and what kind of tools would you like to use it with.
When choosing an air compressor you shouldn’t left yourself to be fooled by the brand name. Sometimes no-name air compressors are not bad, although brands established at the market like California Air Tools, DeWalt, Makita, Porter Cable, Rolair, Senco and Bostitch deliver quite a big range of products with quality guarantied. We will be looking at reviews of products by all of this brands, so that you can compare and find the best air compressor for you. However, the brand is not the most important thing. What you should be looking at are the power, air delivery rate (CFM), the maximum and working pressure (PSI) and the tank capacity.
As per the comparisons from our air compressor reviews, there may be major differences in performance. The lowest performance is delivered by battery compressors, followed by the mini-compressors. Battery compressors and mini-compressors really should be used only for inflating car or bicycle tires, balls and lilos. California Air Tools, DeWalt, Makita or Porter Cable offer Larger and mobile piston compressors which are very powerful and can be used for airbrushing or working with air tools. The power is usually measured in Horsepower ( HP) and always comes in the specifications for each model.
Air delivery rate or CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute)
In USA the airflow is normally measured in Cubic Feet Per Minute. This value usually shows you the volume of air the compressor is supplying and how fast. Very often the air delivery rate depends on the type of air compressor. When it comes to mini or cordless air compressors the benefits are rather low. However, when we are talking about high quality products offered by California Air Tools, DeWalt, Makita, Porter Cable, Rolair, Senco or Bostitch we expect some good numbers.
What is important to know is that you need pressure for your CFM. In regards of an air compressor specifics, when the pressure goes up, the flow goes down. So when you are looking at air compressor reviews you need to know that the CFM delivered at 90 PSI for instance, will be smaller number than the one delivered at 40 PSI.
Pressure is usually measured in Pounds per Square Inch (PSI). When you are looking for an air compressor every time you will see the maximum air pressure it can get to. However, what is important to pay attention to is the combination of CFM and PSI as the CFM rating of a compressor is dependent on the pressure it has been delivered at. Shortly said, you don’t need such a high pressure when it comes to inflating tires, but if you are planning on using airbrushes or pneumatic tools, you will be looking for an air compressor that can build high pressure.
Maximum power output
This is actually the combination of CFM and PSI. It is usually shown in the technical specifications by the manufacturer and this is the most important thing to know about the air compressor. The maximum power output of your air compressor should always match or even exceed the CFM operational requirements of your tools.
Here we offer you a short example for better understanding.
If you want to get maximum performance of a tool which requires 5 CFM at 90 PSI, then you will also need an air compressor with a CFM output greater than 5 CFM at 90 PSI.
The tank is where the compressed air is stored, so this one is easy, the bigger tank, the more compressed air you will have in reserve.
Obviously, the weight is a factor only when you are looking to get an air compressor for your car or a battery compressor without wheels. Usually the portable air compressors are lightweight, however there are some models on the market, which push the limit of the word “portable” and although they are equipped with wheels, they are quite heavy to be carried around.
The noise levels of an air compressor are measured in decibels (dB). Some brands advertise their products as quiet or ultra quiet air compressors, and usually you are able to find in the unit’s specification the decibels it can get to while operating. This is something to look for when you are planning on buying an air compressor to be used around the house or garage.
The most common types of air compressors we are offering reviews for are:
Portable Gas Powered Air Compressor
With technology moving from one level to another, there is no doubt that there is growing demand for portable gas powered air compressor. There are obviously a number of benefits when it comes to choosing this type of air compressor. They are well known for their low noise even when working to full capacity. They run on gas and hence they do not require any electric outlet. This makes it perfect to move it around and it can be used even in remote locations where electricity could be a problem. When one spends some time and finally manages to find the best gas powered air compressor there is no doubt that it could go a long way in making heavy duty application simple and easy. They are also available in big sizes and capacities which can be towed to remote locations.
Electric Portable Air Compressor
As mentioned above though gas air compressors have their own advantages and benefits, it would be naïve to write off the continuing need for electric portable air compressors. Wherever there is a need to avoid fumes and pollution, going in for a good electric motor air compressor is the best way forward. So, when it comes to indoor use, there is no doubt that this type of compressor is the best to go for. They are available in different sizes and capacities and going through some good electric air compressor reviews would probably help you find the one that suits your needs. You could choose lightweight electric compressors weighing around 34 pounds. On the other hand there are large compressors which run on electricity. They work on 120 volts and also have relatively higher noise levels exceeding 78 DB.
Portable 12v Air Compressor
If you are driving a car, there are many reasons as to why it would make sense for you to go in for a portable 12V Air compressor. They are perfectly suitable for those who drive 4x4 cars. They can help a lot in checking air pressure while on the move and when in remote locations. They are very small and portable in size and therefore can be easily transported in the boot of the car. They can also be carried in a convertible or hatchback. When buying a 12v compressor a few points must be taken into account. You should know how to make use of the portable air compressor 12v or otherwise it would be a wasteful expenditure. It does not require even the basics of mechanics to check pressure of your tires using a good quality 12v portable air compressor. It should also be taken in mind keeping a check of car tire pressure helps to increase the life of the tires quite significantly.
Quiet Air Compressor
One of the biggest challenges with air compressors is that they make lot of noise and they are often notorious for being noise pollution creators. However, this problem can be solved by going in for a good quiet air compressor. They help a lot in performing efficiently without making those big noises. The quiet air compressors are available in different sizes, shapes and configurations and therefore it could be confusing when choosing the right one. However, as an end user, it is worthwhile having a few points in mind before buying a small quiet airbrush compressor or even a super quiet air compressor. The most important considerations are power of the compressor, the tank capacity and the motor which it operates with. You could choose between gas operated compressors and electric compressors depending on where they will be used. The features also should be taken into account and the attachments and accessories are also important. These could include inflators and various other fittings.
Pancake Air Compressor
When we talk about a pancake air compressor we are talking about something that is small in size and also very light. The capacity of the tank ranges from around 1 gallon to 6 gallons. The unique thing about pancake air compressors is that they are specially designed with the best of ergonomics and the best of convenience when it comes to moving around and portability. Further on, if you go through some good pancake air compressor reviews you will also find out that they require very little maintenance. This is perhaps because they do not come with any belts. Another benefit is the fact that the pump that is operated is oil-free. They are suitable for small works like inflation of tires and so on. However, they cannot be used for heavy duty purposes.