How to Choose an Air Compressor?

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If it was formerly only intended for professionals, the use of compressed air extended to personal use. Over the years, pressurized air has emerged as one of the best alternatives to electricity and is present in various fields.

As its name suggests, the air compressor is the ideal device for “compressed air”. It is powerful, compact and practical, and facilitates the accomplishment of some everyday tasks. It is also versatile and provides chipping, painting, dismantling, cleaning, inflating, etc.

The air compressor consists of a steel tank (for storing air under pressure), one or two pistons (direct drive or belt) and an electric motor. Using a specific hose, it can be connected to different pneumatic devices (chipper, sander, impact screwdriver, stapler, spray gun, drill.

You might need a quality cable for air compression, and it is advised to check online for some reviews. Keep informed by reading opinions like Porter cable air compressor review on, one of the most well known brands.

The flow

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This criterion is closely related to the performance of the device, and varies depending on the engine power and the capacity of the tank. For intensive tasks, it is advisable to buy a device with a flow rate higher than 300 l / min. If you only want to do small jobs at home, choose a flow rate between 100 and 200 l / min.

The power

First of all, it is important to specify that the power has no influence on the air flow at the compressor outlet. Indeed, it determines the time taken by the device to fill completely. It usually ranges from 3 to 8 bars.

The tank capacity

Give importance to this criterion because some air compressors are not equipped with a tank. If you opt for a device of this type, you will not be able to adjust the airflow according to the work to be done.

In any case, choose a tank capacity taking into account the tasks to be performed. For home use, a tank with a capacity of 5 to 10 liters will do. If you want to use your machine for larger jobs, choose a capacity between 30 and 60 liters (ideal for cleaning, stapling or painting). For sanding or chipping, you will need a model with a capacity of 80 to 120 liters

The type of device

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3 types of air compressors are available on the market. It is therefore important to study them to find the one that best suits your needs:

  • Single-cylinder air compressor: suitable for those who want to perform difficult tasks for several hours in a row. It delivers a high power and its tank has a good capacity;
  • Twin-cylinder air compressor: its power and the capacity of its tank are greater than those of the previous model (it also costs more). It is suitable for professional use and allows to feed several pneumatic tools at the same time;
  • Portable air compressor: individuals appreciate this device because it is suitable for domestic use. It is particularly lightweight, compact, easy to use and handle. It is ideal for cleaning tasks with the blower, tire inflation, gluing, stapling, …

The number of pistons in the pump

This criterion is closely related to the power of the engine. It is expressed in m3 / h or liter / min and determines the amount of air drawn and diffused through the pneumatic equipment.


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When used incorrectly, the air compressor can cause explosions (due to the appearance of sparks) and have a negative impact on the health of users (no one would like to breathe air under pressure). For a better comfort of use, choose a device delivered with a mask and goggles.

When using, make sure that the air compressor is not near flammable products, chemicals, welds, gasoline vapors, etc. Before cleaning, also remember to unplug it beforehand.

Pitfalls to avoid when buying

Before opting for an air compressor or another, it is advisable to determine beforehand the frequency of use, the type of equipment required and the nature of the tasks to be performed. From one device to another, the necessary capacity in pressure and air is indeed likely to vary enormously (a stapler and a pneumatic impact screwdriver for example require more pressure and compressed air than a paint diffuser and a pneumatic inflator).