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Which Size Air Compressor is Right for You?

Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or general contractor, an air compressor is essential for completing many home improvement projects. But before investing in one, it’s important to understand the range of available sizes and what each size can handle. Read on to find out how to choose the best air compressor size for your needs.

What is an Air Compressor?

Air compressors are powerful tools that convert electrical, diesel or gasoline energy into potential stored air pressure. By steadily increasing the tank’s compressed air to a predetermined limit and then releasing it when in use, these devices allow for efficient conversion of kinetic power across numerous applications. With each cycle of pressurization followed by depressurization comes an opportunity to unlock the utility provided by this reliable source of forced airflow. Compressed air is in many parts of our lives from inflating to scuba diving to pressure washing.

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What Size Air Compressor Should You Use?


Compressor Horsepower

The first thing to consider when choosing an air compressor is its horsepower rating. The higher the horsepower, the more powerful the motor and thus the more air it can produce. Smaller jobs like inflating tires or running a nail gun may require a motor with less horsepower, while larger jobs like sanding or painting may require one with more horsepower. If you don’t know which type of job you will be doing, then look for a general-purpose compressor that has at least two horsepower rating and can handle most types of projects.

Air Tank Capacity

Another factor to consider is the capacity of the air tank. Generally speaking, bigger tanks can hold more compressed air and thus provide more power over time than smaller ones. The size of the tank will depend on your specific needs; if you plan on using your compressor for short bursts of work such as inflating tires then a smaller tank may suffice, but if you’re going to be using it for longer periods then a bigger tank might be necessary.

Compressor PSI Rating

In addition to capacity and horsepower ratings, look for a compressor with a high PSI (pounds per square inch) rating as this indicates how much pressure is being put out by the machine at any given time. This is important because certain tools—like spray guns—require high levels of pressure in order to work properly and efficiently. Look for an air compressor with at least 90 PSI rating so that it can handle all types of tools and tasks with ease.

Cubic Feet Per Minute (CFM)

When considering air compressors sizes, you’ll want to consider their power ratings. This rating is typically measured in horsepower (HP) or cubic feet per minute (CFM). The higher the HP and CFM rating of an air compressor, the more powerful it is and the better it will perform larger tasks such as painting walls or sanding wood surfaces. It’s also important to look at the overall tank capacity of an air compressor before settling on a unit – bigger tanks are able to hold more air pressure which means they can keep running longer without needing refills. Additionally, check out the noise level ratings of an air compressor – higher CFM units tend to be louder than lower CFM models so make sure you invest in one that won’t disturb your neighbors!

Air Compressor Accessories & Attachments

Another factor to consider when sizing up your potential purchase is what accessories and attachments come with it. Depending on your project requirements, some accessories may be necessary while others are nice-to-haves. For instance, if you plan to use your new machine for painting walls or sanding wood surfaces then investing in an attached spray gun could be beneficial since it would provide additional control over those tasks compared to just using a regular gun attachment alone. Other accessories worth looking into include hose extensions, pressure regulators and nozzles – all of these items could help improve performance when working with certain materials or surfaces.

Investing in an air compressor can be a great way to save time and money when undertaking home improvement projects around your house. To get the most value from this investment though, it’s important to understand which size unit best meets your needs based on what types of tasks you will be performing with it and what accessories come included with that model. Taking all these factors into consideration should help ensure that you select an appropriate sized machine that meets all your demands. With this knowledge in hand now start shopping around for a quality new machine. Pacific Air Compressors has a variety of air compressors in Portland, Oregon. We also provide air compressor installation and maintenance. Contact us today at 503-674-2744 or request a quote online.


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.