Air Compressors

How to pick the perfect air compressor

Get rid of complications and move towards the easiest ways.

Making use of air compressors is one of the best ways to make your life easier. Take a trip to the Ultimate Guide on how to pick perfect air Compressors that are used from fixing a small tire to larger companies.

You may get to know the functionalities, how it works, what are the fixing parts of it, How to install this air machine, and What you need to see while buying a good air tool for home use or for your company.

In this article, you may also know about the different sizes of an air compressor for different purposes. Although your air machine makes lots of noise when it’s in use we have some most demanding collections of the Quietest one.

Tell me the best way to buy a compressor?

Why air compressors are needed? Actually, these are needed to keep the pressure up.

This article is the best place to find out how to buy a new air compressor with confidence. Please be consistent, continue reading to learn more about these items with the informative guide here.

Which tools are best for you? Review complete Guide.

How To Pick The Perfect Air Compressor?

What to see while choosing the right air compressor? Determine which one requires the highest CFM at the highest PSI. Add 50% more to the required CFM for a margin of safety, and then look for a compressor that meets the required needs. For example, if a tool requires 3 CFM at 90 PSI, select a compressor that delivers at least 4.5 CFM at 90 PSI actually.

1. What size compressor should I use?

Air compressor, bigger in size is not always the right choice of buying. The main reason behind this is that large air compressors have low air output. And compact air tools have high air output which is the basic requirement of air tools. The most suitable range is 10 to 110 CFM.

What size air compressor do I need to work on cars? The best bet is to shop in the 20- to 30-gallon range.

2. How to choose an industrial air compressor?

Deciding on size, deciding on the feature, and deciding on a solution, your choice must depend.

Features Includes,

1. A cast-iron cylinder,

2. A heat-dissipating head

3. An efficient cooling system

4. Structural protection for critical components and fittings

5. A heavy-duty steel frame and powder-coat

6. Electrostatically applied paint to resist chipping and wear

3. When should I use an oil-free compressor?

To ensure your processes meet the highest air purity standards, you can use oil-free air compressors. The good thing about Oil-free compressors is that provide the best air quality possible. It means there is no risk of contaminating your end product or process with oil.

4. Need More Power? Moderate CFM tools: At least 4 CFM

CFM stands for cubic feet per minute.

Actually, this is the airflow or air volume that a compressor can supply – or we can say its output. Most of the pneumatic power tools require a CFM of about 5, but sometimes, it really varies. For example, a pneumatic stapler needs 0.3 Cubic feet, while a framing nailer may require 2.2 CFM.

All Continuous use tools need more air volume and therefore ask for a higher CFM requirement. Another example that helps you in making decisions is a constantly spinning sander that might have a CFM requirement of 8, (8 Cubic Feet per Mintue @ 90 PSI for example), while a nail gun that requires single bursts of air might have a lower CFM rating of 2.8.

Pro Tip: To find out the minimum CFM, Mathematically: Multiply your tool’s required CFM by 1-½ (CFM X 1.5).

9 Responses to “What you need to know before buying a compressor”

  • Horsepower (HP)
  • Air Pressure (PSI)
  • Cubic Feet Per Minute (CFM)
  • Tank Sizes
  • Single Stage or Two Stage
  • Direct Drive or Belt Drive, Oil or Oil-Less
  • Duty Cycle
  • Moisture Problems
  • Life Expectancy

5. What are the main power sources for air compressors?

Air tools are powered by an electric motor, diesel/gas engines. They’re also powered by an engine that turns electrical energy into kinetic energy. It works like how the combustion engine works. It uses a crankshaft, piston, valve, head, and a connecting rod. And in this way, the pressurized air can be used to power a variety of tools.

6. Small Air Compressor – They are not for ‘high-demand’ tools

We tested small air compressors, which are not good partners for air-hungry tools like pneumatic wrenches, sanders, or paint sprayers. For Such tools, you’ll need a much larger compressor.

7. Ignore horsepower

Does HP matter on the air compressor?

HP is not so important as pressure and flow in determining if your compressor will work for you. Because often compressors are more efficient with less HP as we tested lots of them. Doing more with less HP will save you energy, and give you larger returns throughout the life of the compressor.

8. How much does an air compressor cost?

According to Data by Toolsinsights average cost is $1200, the High-cost range is $2800, and the lowest cost is $800.

9. Direct Drive or Belt Drive, Oil or Oil-Less

In our toolsinsight research, we have declared two types:

  1. Direct Drive
  2. Belt Drive

Direct Drive

  • Direct-drive compressors were designed to keep the cost down for the big-box stores and of low quality.
  • Direct-drive compressors are directly connected to the motor shaft.
  • It typically spins either 1,725 or 3,450 RPM.
  • But mostly decent-quality direct drive compressors are low RPM too.
  • Also, the noise is almost unbearable.
  • But manufacturers still make low RPM direct-drive compressors in smaller sizes. They are excellent for finishing carpenters and other applications where portability and quietness are important.
  • Some direct-drive compressors are oil-less and are necessary for breathing air or aeration.
  • Some European manufacturers make high-quality direct-drive oil-lubricated compressors too that are compact and portable and are ideal for the construction industry.

Belt Drive

  • If you need some higher air volume, The best choice is belt drive oil-lubricated air compressors.
  • The best thing about belt-drive compressors is that the pump can spin a lot slower than the motor, which makes it super efficient with a lot less wear and tear.
  • Belt-drive compressors are splash lubricated
  • For best value, get a belt-drive, oil-lubricated compressor

10. Moisture problems

What are the effects of moisture on Compressed air?

Moisture in compressed air lines can be harmful that cause erosion, and if plentiful, can cause line freeze-up. Water vapor promotes corrosion in these air tools. Both situations can result in product spoilage, equipment malfunction, and system failure. So be careful with both types of problems.

11. Choosing the right rotary union

Many parameters are included in choosing the right rotary union: the media, the fitting material. The number of passages, rotational speed, pressure in your installation, and the operating temperature is all the factors that should be noted to calculate the size of the rotary union.

12.  Possible tanks Sizes according to your needs


What size tank do I need for my compressor? The most important question every customer asks for. Let’s review some:

Air Receiver Tank Size Per CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) Requirement

CFM Requirement1.25 MultiplySuggested Tank Size
202530 gallon
405050-60 gallon
6581.2590-100 gallon
80100100-120 gallon

13. How much Power Do I need for an air compressor?

Normally horsepower ratings are between 1.5 and 6.5, but some larger, stationary air compressors can have up to 15 HP. If ever you need standard electric power outlets, you’ll need an air tool at 2 HP or less. Single-stage and 2-stage air compressors.

Review How To Weld Auto Body Sheet Metal also.

Common Problems

What are the most common problems that can be faced by you with your air compressor? Let’s discuss some problems that may help you in daily life.

Whatever be the cause of the problem, it definitely can be frustrating, costly, and time-consuming. Maybe you can get some relief after reading some of these at home.

Your compressor maybe goes through three main problems:

  • Air Leak

  • Oil Leak

  • Broken Parts

a. Air Leaks: I am facing air leaks in my air compressor…

air leak air compressors


If your air compressor is going through an air leak, you can observe the following symptoms:

  1. PROBLEM: The Air compressor may be constantly leaking

SOLUTION: Apply Soap to the connections

Inspect the tank check valve

2. PROBLEM: Air Leaks From the Oil Fill Tune

SOLUTION: Check the piston seals. Sometimes the piston seals will be badly worn and in need of immediate replacement.

3.  PROBLEM: Air Leaks From the Hood ( Usually happens with small compressors )

Chances are, the leak will originate from the tank valve.

SOLUTION: Remove and clean or possibly replace the valve

Air hoses must meet the specifications of the compressor and the tools you plan to use. Review the right air hoses guide for your air tool here.

Electrical Motor and Power Problems

  1. Compressor Blows Fuses and Breakers
  2. Dimmed Compressor Lights at Startup
  3. Breaker Trips at Startup

Won’t Start or Won’t Stop

  1. Compressor Fails to Start
  2. Compressor Fails to Stop

B. Oil Leak: I am facing oil leaks..

Oil leaking air compressors


We sorted through the specs, tested them, and found Five great models of small Compressors

  1. DEWALT Air Compressor for Trim, 200-PSI Max, Quiet Operation ( Latest guide on Dewalt here.)
  2. CRAFTSMAN Air Compressor, 6 Gallon, Pancake, Oil-Free with 13 Piece Accessory Kit ( CRAFTSMAN Guide 2022 here)
  3. Campbell Hausfeld 8 Gallon Portable Quiet Air Compressor
  4. Makita MAC100Q Quiet Series, 1/2 HP, 1 Gallon Compact, Oil-Free, Electric Air Compressor
  5. California Air Tools 10020C Ultra Quiet Oil-Free and Powerful Air Compressor, 2 HP (California Guide 2022)

Here 9 very important features are discussed for buying good air compressors for the long term:

9 Best Features
What to look for in purchasing a good air compressor

For the industry of for home use.

1. Horsepower (HP)
The power of any engine is measured in units of HorsePower (HP). The HorsePower actually tells you how powerful your compressor is to run your tool.

The ratings of these air tools are available in the market may not be accurate as most of the manufacturers are nowadays marking their products with fake values. However, some industrial brands of air compressors have very genuine ratings of HP and you can trust those ratings. You may have noticed an industrial air compressor of 5HP is very powerful and large as compared to those false-rated cheap brand 5HP air compressors.

An easy way to distinguish if your air compressor has the same power as it claims is to check the power consumption of that compressor. A genuine 5HP compressor will utilize 24 amp on 220 volts whereas a fake-marked HorsePower compressor will utilize only 15 amp on 110 volts which means that the air compressor is around 2 HP.

One more thing to remember. There is a difference between the HP of electrical and gas powered. A gas air compressor will utilize 10HP to do the same work as an electrical 5HP will accomplish.

2. Maximum Air Pressure (PSI)
Air pressure is denoted in terms of pressure per square inch (PSI). How much PSI is sufficient to run your tool depends solely upon the size of the intended tool you are operating with. Mostly PSI of 90 is sufficient for any tool to perform better.

To maintain 90 PSI for your pneumatic tool, you need an industrial air compressor. The industrial air compressors have the ability to provide pressure in 2 stages. The first stage will confirm the pressure of 90PSI and the second stage consists of pressure up to 175PSI.

Some small pneumatic tools air compressors may shut off at 125PSI. apparently, this seems plenty for your tool but when it comes to practical, it fails to provide even 100PSI.

3. CFM
CFM represents the actual amount of compressed air that will keep your pneumatic tool working. It is actually the volume of air an air compressor delivers to your pneumatic tool. The CFM ratings are pre-calculated for every air compressor. These ratings are marked on the basis of the speed and size of the air compressor. These marked CFM ratings are not much significant as they are recorded at zero pressure.

CFM ratings may not be accurate as HP ratings, however, grab an air compressor that has marked CFM of 3-4 at 90 PSI.

Review the detailed Guide here If you need a comparison.

4. Tank Size
Does the tank size of the air compressor matter? I will say not really. An air compressor tank is not the means of producing compressed air, it is only meant for the storage of air. So it is important to focus on the power of the compressor pump and motor rather than the tank size, as these parts of the air compressor will produce much air for your pneumatic tool regardless of your tank size.

You may come across situations where you will have a smaller air compressor with a large tank size. For instance, if there is an air compressor that produces 10CFM, you can take 20 CFM out of it half of the time.

If you need to run a device consistently, for example, a sander, it is vital to deliver as much air as you need. A little tank is more convenient and gets up to pressure faster, though an air compressor with an enormous tank doesn’t begin and stop as frequently and cools the air somewhat better.

An enormous tank doesn’t mean the air compressor runs less; it starts and stops less frequently, however, the running time is equivalent to in the event that it had a little tank. Tank sizes are normally estimated in US gallons.

5. Oil or Oil-Free
Oil-free compressors are less expensive in price, light in weight, and do not hassle you for an oil change on a frequent basis. On the contrary, oil air tools are highly rated for durability.

The oil-free air compressors do not need lubrication, you will not oil its parts to prevent wear and tear. However, these air compressors do not intend to last for a longer time.

Review some important points here about Oil-free and oiled air tools. Which one is the best approach?

6. Duty Cycle
While selecting an air compressor, you must be aware of the duty cycle. A duty cycle represents the range of percentage your air compressor will operate before running out of 10 minutes period. Let’s take an example.

If you have an air compressor that has a duty cycle of 50 percent, this means that this air compressor will not run more than 5 minutes for every 10 minutes period.

Increasing the duty cycle will ultimately heat up the motor and may stop in the middle of work. Most of the high-quality and industrial air compressors have a 75 percent duty cycle or 100 percent duty cycle which means these air compressors will continue operating your pneumatic tool without stopping.

Suppose you have an air compressor with a duty cycle of 65 percent and your friend has an air compressor of 50% duty cycle. Both of you have to operate a pneumatic tool of 10CFM. You will get 30% more of your tool in a day. Your friend will operate a tool for 5 minutes and then will wait for another 5 minutes.

However, you will operate the pneumatic tool for 6.5 minutes and then will wait 3.5 minutes. This will give an extra 30% of output to you.

7. Noise Level
An air compressor is categorized as noise-free and quiet if it operates your pneumatic tools at a level of 85DB. Some air tools can operate at a level of 65DB and these are the quietest air compressors on the market.

Working with the quietest air compressor is healthy for the consumers as it will not cause any hearing fatigue and noise-induced hearing loss. If you are working in a residential area or in a community, the quietest one should be the choice to purchase to keep your neighbors unbothered during your work.

8. Portability
As trending are mobile air compressors so portability matters. Portability is the ability to carry your air compressor where it is needed to operate your pneumatic tool. If you are working out of your residential area, you need to carry your air compressor over a certain distance.

Portable air compressors are compact and convenient to carry, so you do not need to bother how you will carry them towards remote areas.

Operating portable compressors with AC power could bother you to carry the generator as well as an air compressor to the work field that comes out very bulky and difficult.

Most portable compressors function on AC power, extension wire from inside your home, or through a connection with a generator.

On the contrary, battery-operated compressors are a level less efficient than AC power-operated air compressors. They have limited delivery of power and compressed air to your pneumatic tool with a fear of running out sometimes.

However, they are rated at a higher degree for their portability as they don’t require a generator to run them in the work field

9. Electric or Gas power Air Compressor
They are categorized as electric or gas-powered.

Electric are operate utilizing the electrical voltage, 110-120 volts. If the air compressor is running on 2 HP, then 210-220 voltage of household electric current is required.

Electric air compressors are suitable for those consumers who intend to operate the pneumatic tool inside their homes. As electric compressors do not emit fumes and gases, it is the preferred one indoors.

Gas-powered air compressors are very efficient in power and are preferred for heavy-duty work. Due to their emitting fumes, these are better to use at outdoor workstations or better-ventilated workshops.

10. Single Stage Compressor or Two-Stage Air tool

Air compressor specifications feature that two-stage air compressors are more powerful as they are specially designed for industrial use. So two-stage are also said to be Industria choice compressed air machines.

On the other hand, If you want to use it for hone use, for painting purposes or general daily uses then single-stage is a good choice.

Some important Compressor Features

Air-Cooling System: Cools pumping machinery and gives thermal protection to extend motor life.

Thermal Overload Switch: Automatically shuts off the motor if it overheats, ensuring both units, and user safety.
ASME Certification: It is identified on the tank with a certification label stating that the unit meets the standards of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Roll Cage: Shields the important components from being squashed or battered hands-on location.


Before choosing the right air tool you must have knowledge about the four most common types:
  • Rotary Screw Compressor.
  • Reciprocating Air Compressor.
  • Axial Compressor.
  • Centrifugal Compressor.

Rotary screw air compressors are widely used in gas or air conditioning. They are also used to generate electricity.
A rotary air compressor is a type of air compressor that uses screws to pressurize the air. This process increases the temperature and pressure of the air, which can then be used for different purposes.

The rotary screw compressors are designed to allow for greater efficiency and lower cost than traditional piston compressors.
This compressed can achieve compression ratios of up to 160:1 at an air pressure ratio of 6:1. They can produce pressures up to 20 psi (140 kPa

Rotary screw air compressors are machines that convert pressure energy into mechanical energy. They are widely used in various industries like metal fabrication, refineries, petrochemical plants, etc. These help to reduce the cost of production and save energy by compressing the air with less power consumption.

Reciprocating Compressors are industrial tools used to pump air in and out of a tank. They are also used for filling tires on vehicles, or other purposes. The compressors will typically require an external power source, such as a battery, for power. These are professional-grade air tools.

Reciprocating Air Compressors are used to compress air. These are the most common types of air tools, and they can be found in large manufacturing operations like automotive assembly plants.

The reciprocating compressor is a positive-displacement pump that uses pistons to move air within the cylinder, which compresses it for later use. This allows for higher pressure than other compressor types.

Axial Compressor is a versatile process unit for the distribution of refrigerants. It is used for cooling, heating, and drying. An Axial Compressor is a machine that uses rotating shafts and stationary impellers to compress gases. It works by drawing in a gas, compressing it, and then emitting it into the atmosphere.

An axial compressor is a rotating machine that is used to compress air or gas. It is the most basic and commonly used compressor, which uses a rotating mechanism to increase the pressure of the fluid by using centrifugal force.

Centrifugal Compressor is used to produce pressure in fluids, gases, and vapors by rotating a number of blades in a cylinder. The rotation of the blades creates a centrifugal force that accelerates the fluid outward, increasing its pressure.

Centrifugal compressors are commonly used in refrigeration and air conditioning systems. They comprise a gas compressor, the driven motor that spins a set of rotating blades called the impeller.

When the impeller turns, it draws in low-pressure ambient air through an inlet port. Air then passes over the blades’ surfaces and is accelerated by the rotor’s angular velocity to high-velocity air at an exit port. The resulting drop of pressure enables cooling within a home or other building as well as heating or dehumidifying outside air for commercial use.

Review safety home tools.

Make your gardens green and fresh.

What are the four main parts of the compressor?

  1. Piston
  2. Cylinder & Head
  3. Connecting Rod
  4. Crankcase

Main parts of air compressor

What are the features looking for while buying an air compressor for home use?

The features that are most important when purchasing an air compressor for home use are the size of the unit, the power output, and the features available.

Features to look for in a Home Air Compressor:

Size: The size of the unit you buy will depend on what size of the application you are using it for.

The smaller unit of power is ideal for small jobs like cleaning the garage or car, or a small job like cleaning the kitchen or bathroom. The larger the unit, the more powerful it will be and the better it will be at general home maintenance.

Power: The power output of the unit you buy will also depend on what type of application you are using it for.

How many gallons of this tool is the best for home use?

One gallon of this tool is the best for home use.

What are the features looking for while buying an air compressor for commercial use?

As you’re looking at different options, here are some factors to consider:

  • Quality of Instrument Air.
  • Efficiency.
  • Power Costs.
  • Pressure Dew Point.
  • Deepak Vetal is product marketing manager (Oil free Screw and Centrifugal Compressors) at Atlas Copco Compressors LLC.

The features that an air compressor for commercial use should have include a high-efficiency motor, a large tank capacity, a long life span, and a durable construction.

For large industrial sites with continuous high flow requirements, centrifugal compressors are the best choice. These units are most suitable for base loading and supply the constant high flows to industrial processes.

 What is a good CFM for air compressor?

Portable air tools that work with portable air compressors typically require less than 5 cubic feet per minute of airflow at about 70 to 90 pounds per square inch to make them work. Large tools connected to a stationary air compressor usually require more than 10 cubic feet per minute of airflow at about 100 to 120 psi.

Join The Discussion