Eight Questions to Ask Before Choosing an Air Compressor

Posted on: April 20th, 2021 by McHenry PCS

Whether you’re pumping up tires, running power tools, spray painting equipment, running back-up power, or need energy for other business applications, an air compressor is the ideal tool.

At McHenry Pressure Cleaning Systems, our wide variety of air compressors fit the bill for all your automotive, commercial, and industrial needs. But with so many to choose from, how do you know which piece of equipment is best for your needs?

We hope the following eight questions help you determine what works best for you. You can also contact our friendly and experienced team for additional air compressor tips.

1.    What is an air compressor?

An air compressor takes in atmospheric air and delivers it at a much higher pressure. In other words, this machine converts power into potential energy stored in air.

2.    How will you use your air compressor?

Before you select the size and type of machine, ask yourself how it will be used. Do you need a portable model or an industrial-grade machine? How many people will be using the air compressor? How much power will you need to complete your tasks? If you want a portable unit, how large should it be? For example, we offer portable air tanks from 8-20 gallons. Our shop air compressor tanks include sizes ranging up to 120 gallons. Remember that even commercial air compressors are not designed to run over 60% duty cycle.

3.    What is CFM?

CFM stands for cubic feet per minute. This is the most important number for you to consider when purchasing an air compressor. CFM is a measurement of how fast your machine can supply air. As a baseline, all manufacturers test their machines at 90 psi. You need to select a machine that can meet the needs of your projects. If your tools suck up more energy than your air compressor can supply, you’ll have to keep pausing to allow the machine to catch up. This results in lost productivity for your business.

4.    What is PSI?

PSI—or pound per square inch—is a unit of pressure. You can easily locate the PSI guidelines on the nameplate of all our air compressors. This rating is critical as it shows the types of tools that each compressor can power. Be aware of the recommended psi your air tools require. If you have constant psi requirements of 120 or above you will want to go with a two stage unit.

 5.    What is the ideal amount of pressure?

This depends on the specifications of your project. Since every tool has varying air requirements, you’ll need to select an air compressor that is best suited for your tools. Many air tools are ranked by “average CFM” or 25 percent duty cycle. Dual sanders and shears, for example, require a great deal more power than chisels and drills.

6.    Should I choose an electric or gasoline model?

This question goes back to how and where you plan to use your air compressor. Gas-powered compressors, for example, are ideally suited for pneumatic uses on job sites where power is not available. Electric models—both single- and two-stage compressors—are plugged into outlets and are best in enclosed spaces where gas fumes would be dangerous.

7.    Which is better: a single-stage or two-stage pump?  

If you’re a commercial business, a two-stage pump is definitely a wise choice. They’re more efficient, store more air, generate less heat, and extend the life of your compressor. Two stage units will usually deliver up to 175 psi.  A one-stage pump, by contrast, can only attain pressures up to 125 PSI. They’re more appropriate for residential projects and smaller jobs.

8.    Where is the best place to install a shop air compressor?

Flat is where it’s at. Use a solid smooth surface and install your machine atop vibration pads about two feet away from nearby walls. Since it’s an indoor machine, make sure you have plenty of ventilation throughout your facility.

Keep in mind to choose a location that protects the unit from any dirt or pollutants that your work area creates or generates. You do not want the compressor constantly drawing in dirty air.

Contact McHenry Pressure Cleaning today for a quote. We’ll answer all your questions and help you select the ideal air compressor for all your industrial and business needs. For more air compressor tips visit our website.