Things to Keep in Mind Before You Buy Air Compressors

Picture fo a dewalt air compressorBesides a few very small and inexpensive units meant to inflate swimming toys or bicycle tires, most air compressors are serious durable machines that represent a meaningful investment. This means that it is worth taking the time to ensure that you are both getting your money’s worth and getting a reasonable bargain. Though large industrial air compressors remain very expensive, most people today that buy air compressors are buying smaller units for use in private homes, offices, or small work shops. This direct customer retail market is fairly new and is extremely competitive, so if you are willing to shop around it is very likely that you may come across and excellent bargain now and then.

The first thing to keep in mind is obviously your application and ensuring that the air compressor you buy is powerful enough to run the pneumatic (air driven) tool(s) you intend to run off of it. This basically means ensuring that the air compressor generates the appropriate psi (pounds per square inch of pressure) and the correct amount of cfm (cubic feet per minute of air flow). Most modern pneumatic tools specifically state what the minimum requirements are to operate the device properly, often expressed in a statement like “requires a min 4.5 cfm at 90 psi”. This is saying that the machine in question will only work properly with an air compressor that is able to generate 90 psi and deliver 4.5 cfm.

In order to calculate your requirements, look at all of the pneumatic tools you intend to operate and find the one with the highest psi requirement; this should serve as your minimum psi for when you buy air compressors. Further, look at the cfm requirements of each tool. Unlike psi, cfm is cumulative which means if you intend to run more than one device off the compressor at the same time, you have to add together the cfm requirements of the maximum number of devices to be run simultaneously to get your minimum cfm. When it comes to psi, more is generally not better, merely wasteful; so getting an air compressor that matches your highest psi requirement is just fine. When it comes to cfm on the other hand, more is better because frequently at least a little air flow may be lost through the hose or through the mechanics of the pneumatic device. So having a little more cfm than you minimum is probably a good idea.

Next there is the question of horsepower, or the amount of energy the air compressor uses. Generally speaking, the higher the horsepower the higher the psi and cfm, though this may not always be the case. Instead, once you have your psi and cfm requirements, it is a good idea to shop around for an air compressor that meets these minimum standards but does so at the lowest horsepower. The higher the horsepower, the more energy the machine uses and thus the higher your energy expense is. Therefore, if you have a choice between three air compressors that meet your minimum psi and cfm requirements, look for the one that uses the least horsepower.


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