2 Tips For Picking Out A Portable Air Compressor


Sometimes you really need an air compressor when you're on the road. You're not always close to an air pump when you need to be, and a slow leak on a deserted country road can be a real inconvenience. If you have a portable air compressor, you can save yourself from losing valuable time waiting for a friend or auto club to reach you. That's why, especially if you're planning any long trips, you need to pick out a reliable portable air compressor. But if you're not familiar with picking out air compressors, it can be tough to tell the difference between one that's going to get the job done and one that won't. Here are a few tips that can help you chose.

Know Which Measurements are Important

When you're picking out an air compressor, one of the first things that you'll notice is that it has a horsepower rating, usually between two and six HP. It's a common mistake to choose the air compressor that has the highest HP. While this measurement may be prominently listed on the package, it's not as important as you might think that it is.

This is because, while the air compressor may be able to provide up to six HP under the right circumstances, in normal operating conditions, it will function more like the two HP air compressor. That's because the air compressor can only provide as much HP as the circuit you plug it into. It helps if you understand that one HP is worth about 746 watts.

The standard circuit that most users will plug a portable air compressor into is a 15 amp, 120 volt circuit, and 15 amps multiplied by 120 volts equals about 1,800 watts, which is only a little over two HP – that's the most horsepower you'll get, regardless of what the air compressor is capable of. So, unless you're planning on using a more powerful circuit, it's fine to go ahead and buy a two HP air compressor.

A more important measurement is the cubic feet per minute (CFM) or standard cubic feet per minute (SCFM). On air compressor, you'll see this rating paired with pounds per square inch (PSI): for example, it may say something like five CFM at 90 PSI. CFM measures how quickly the machine can deliver a volume of air, so in most cases, a higher CFM is better.

Consider Size and Shape Carefully

When choosing the right tank size for a portable air compressor, think like Goldilocks. You don't want one that's too big (because it will be more difficult to transport and store.) On the other hand, you don't want one that's too small (because it may not get the job done.) You want one that's just right for your needs. That means that you can handle and move it easily, that it fits in whatever space you plan to store it in, and that it will store enough air for your needs.

A fairly small air compressor tank, like the ones you'll find on the lightweight, round pancake compressor, is fine if you're just going to fill standard-sized tires on a car. But if you're driving an RV or you need to be able to operate air powered tools, you may want something larger. Twin tank air compressors have the advantage of allowing for more air storage and easy portability – the two stacked tanks have a lower center of gravity than one large tank would, making it easier to pick up and move.

Another consideration is whether your air compressor will use oil or be oil-free. An air compressor that needs oil will be larger because of the oil tank. However, an air compressor that doesn't need oil will typically be less powerful.

For most users, considering these two important aspects – the ratings and the size and shape of the tank that will deliver the power you need at the level of portability you're looking for – will be enough to help you choose the correct air compressor when you are shopping for one at a store like Compressor-Pump & Service, Inc. 


27 April 2015

a checklist for creating a safe industrial workplace

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