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Understanding the Main Types of Industrial Air Compressors

industrial air compressor

When it comes to selecting an industrial air compressor, it can be quite overwhelming. With so many options available, it can be difficult to know which one is right for your specific needs. In this blog post, we’ll break down the main types of industrial air compressors and help you understand which one is best suited for your business. Whether you are starting a new business or looking to update your current equipment, choosing the right type of industrial air compressor can make all the difference in efficiency, power, and cost-effectiveness.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the main types of industrial air compressors on the market, their features and advantages, and how they differ from each other. By the end of this article, you will have a solid understanding of the different types of industrial air compressors, and which one might be the best fit for your unique application. Nevertheless, before selecting your air compressor, we suggest consulting with an air compressor expert who can help identify which might be right for you.

Main Types of Industrial Air Compressors


Reciprocating Air Compressors:

A reciprocating air compressor, also known as a piston compressor, is a type of compressor that uses pistons and cylinders to compress air. The reciprocating motion of the piston creates a vacuum chamber, which pulls in air and compresses it through the cylinder. This type of compressor is best suited for applications that require high pressure and low volume, such as manufacturing or metalworking.

Advantages: affordable, easy to maintain, and durable.



Rotary Screw Air Compressors:

A rotary screw compressor is a positive displacement compressor that uses two interlocking helical rotors to compress air. The rotors are synchronized to meet and compress air, which is then pushed out of the compressor and into the system. This type of compressor is best suited for applications that require continuous air flow and consistent pressure, such as food and beverage processing or automotive manufacturing.

Advantages: quiet operation, energy-efficient, and low vibration.



Centrifugal Air Compressors:

A centrifugal air compressor is a dynamic compressor that uses a high-speed impeller to generate kinetic energy. This energy is then converted into pressure as the air is forced into a diffuser and slowed down. This type of compressor is best suited for applications that require high volume and low to medium pressure, such as air conditioning or power generation.

Advantages: high efficiency, low maintenance, and can handle large volumes of air.



Scroll Air Compressors:

A scroll air compressor is a type of positive displacement compressor that uses two spiral-shaped scrolls to compress air. As the scrolls rotate, the pockets between them decrease in size, compressing the air and discharging it out of the compressor. This type of compressor is best suited for applications that require low noise levels and a reliable source of clean air, such as medical or laboratory settings.

Advantages: energy-efficient, low noise, and low maintenance.



Portable Air Compressors:

A portable air compressor is a compressor that can be moved from one location to another with relative ease. This type of compressor can be powered by electricity, gas, or diesel, and is ideal for applications that require on-site air supply, such as construction or air tool operation. These are normally used for businesses that require lower power output.

Advantages: easy to transport, versatile, and multi-purpose.



Choosing the right industrial air compressor is crucial for the efficient operation of your business. By understanding the different types available, their features, and advantages, you can make a more informed decision and ensure that you choose the right compressor for your unique needs.

When shopping for an industrial air compressor, consider factors such as the amount of air required, pressure level, frequency of use, and portability. With these factors in mind, you can choose the right compressor that provides the performance, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness you need.

Pacific Air Compressors in Portland, Oregon can help identify which air compressor is right for your business. We can install and maintain systems if you have a large operation. Contact us to make sure you are making a smart purchasing decision. You can reach us by phone at (503) 674-2744 or online. Do you know what air compressor that you are looking for? Shop our online store to find hundreds of specialty air compressor products and parts.


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.