The Basics of Choosing an Air Compressor

Selecting the right air compressor is an important decision for anyone doing maintenance or home improvement projects. An air compressor is a versatile tool that can be used to power all sorts of tools, from drills and saws to paint guns and sanders. But with all the different types and sizes available, how do you choose the right one? Let’s explore the basics of choosing an air compressor.
types of air compressors

What to Know When Choosing Your Air Compressor

Types of Air Compressors

The type of compressor you need depends on what type of work you plan to do with it. There are three main types: piston, rotary screw, and centrifugal.

Piston compressors are the most common and are typically used for small jobs such as inflating tires or powering nail guns. A piston air compressor is an electrical device that converts energy from an electric motor into kinetic energy by compressing and pressurizing air. This pressurized air is then stored in a tank or reservoir for later use. The air can be released from the storage tank on demand and used for various applications such as powering tools or providing compressed air for HVAC systems. These compressors come in various sizes and capacities; some are small enough to be handheld while others are large enough to require multiple people to lift them.

Rotary screw compressors are more powerful and are ideal for large-scale industrial use such as running pneumatic tools or operating a sandblaster. A rotary screw air compressor is an extremely efficient and powerful device used to compress air from atmospheric pressure up to pressures as high as 10 bar. It works by converting the rotational energy of a standard electric motor into highly compressed and pressurized air. Rotary screw air compressors are mainly utilized in industrial settings, typically to power pneumatic tools or air operated machinery, specifically due to their reliably high output volume and extremely long service life.

Centrifugal compressors are usually found in large industrial settings where high pressure is needed for things like gas separation or fuel injection systems. A centrifugal air compressor is an energy-efficient choice for delivering large amounts of compressed air. This type of compressor utilizes centrifugal force to rapidly move air through impellers, turning it from a low pressure to a high pressure. Compressed air can be utilized in fields as diverse as automotive production and metalworking, as well as numerous other applications. Centrifugal air compressors are designed with efficiency and cost savings in mind; they are used to quickly provide compressed air while consuming less electricity than traditional models.

Size of Compressors

The size of the air compressor you need will depend on the job you plan to use it for. For small jobs like inflating tires or powering a nail gun, a small portable unit should suffice. If you plan to run larger tools such as a grinder or jackhammer, then you’ll need a larger stationary unit with higher capacity and greater pressure output. It’s important to note that if your job requires more power than your compressor can provide, it won’t be able to handle it efficiently and may cause damage to both your tools and the compressor itself.

Compressor Features

When choosing an air compressor, there are several features that should be considered beyond just size and type. Oil-free compressors can be more expensive, but they require less maintenance since they don’t require oil changes like other types do. Another feature worth considering is noise level; some compressors can be quite loud so if this is a concern for you then make sure to look for models with low noise ratings. Additionally, many models come with additional features like built-in regulators that help keep pressure steady or safety features like overload protection that help protect against overheating or overloading the motor.

Choosing an air compressor doesn’t have to be complicated; by understanding your needs, researching various types and models, and considering all the important features before making your purchase, you’ll be sure to find one that fits your needs perfectly! Making sure you get the right size and type of compression will ensure your projects go smoothly—and safely—for years to come.

Pacific Air Compressors provides high quality air compressors and maintenance services to Portland, Oregon. We can repair your air compressor in house, or we will come to you for installation. Shop our store online or contact us for more information. You can reach us at 503-674-2744 or through our contact form.


Dear valued customers,

We normally keep all our inventory in stock. However, due to backorders from many of our vendors and parts shortages, some items that we have listed may not be in stock or could have a long lead time although they show as available on our store. If you need your items right away, please call or e-mail to ensure availability.