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 backup power, or need energy for other business applications, an air compressor is an 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?

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

1.    How will you use your air compressor?

The first thing you will need to know is what size and type of compressor you will need. Is an industrial-grade machine needed? How many people will be using the air compressor? How much power is needed to complete your tasks? If a portable unit is required, how large should it be?

We offer portable air tanks from 8-20 gallons, while the 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.

2.    What requirements should I look for?

The most important number to look for when you purchase an air compressor is the CFM (cubic feet per minute). This 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 an air compressor 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.

3.    Where do I find PSI guidelines for my compressor?

You can easily locate the PSI (pound per square inch) 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.

4.    What is the ideal amount of pressure?

Each project demands a different amount of pressure. 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% duty cycle. Dual sanders and shears, for example, require a great deal more power than chisels and drills.

5.    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.

6.    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. A one-stage unit can only attain pressures up to 125 PSI, while two-stage units will usually deliver up to 175 PSI. A one-stage unit is more appropriate for residential projects and smaller jobs.

7. Should I purchase a combination unit?

Our generator and air compressor units give you the efficiency of doing two jobs with just one unit. If you find yourself frequently needing a generator and an air compressor, save money and only purchase one unit. Units are available in either portable or truck mounts.

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.