You’ve got a job to do, you know how to do it, and you’ve got enough time to get it done. In other words, you’re winning — that is until you realize you don’t have the right tool to get the job done efficiently. 

Epic fail.

Specifically, whether you’re trying to inflate tires or operate nail guns, you need an air compressor. But it’s not enough to simply have a compressor on hand — you need to have the right one.

Of course, choosing the right compressor can be stressful given the large number of options available in the market, which has grown half a percent over the past five years, reaching $11 billion in revenue in 2017.

However, selecting an air compressor isn’t hard when you know what to look for. We’ve compiled a guide on how to choose an air compressor for your job.

Let’s get started!

How to Choose an Air Compressor: First, Ask Yourself What Job You’re Trying to Complete

The kind of job you’re completing ultimately dictates the kind of air compressor you should choose.

For instance, a portable compressor is appropriate for a single person who is operating an air tool. Meanwhile, a single-stage, stationary air compressor is perfect for facility maintenance, automotive maintenance and restoration, small businesses and wood shops.

Two-stage compressors are ideal for automotive shops with multiple bays, industrial applications and commercial shops.

Also available for purchase is a rotary screw compressor, which you should select for an application that requires constant amounts of air. This type of compressor will run without stopping so that your tools can keep functioning as you strive to complete your job.

In addition, look for the compressor’s horsepower rating before you purchase it. This rating indicates how much power the motor or engine will put out.

The higher the horsepower, the more air pressure you’ll have, measured in pounds per square inch, or PSI. If your compressor has a high PSI, the tank can hold more air, meaning that you can operate tools longer.

Also, note that when a compressor’s PSI output is reduced, the cubic feet per minute, or CFM, increases. The higher the CFM rating is, the more air that the compressor can deliver. For this reason, a compressor with a higher CFM rating is most appropriate for a heavier application, like operating a framing nail gun or an air wrench.

In addition, a smaller tank — one that is between four and six gallons in size — is ideal for operating a brad nailer or a nail gun. Meanwhile, a larger tank is recommended for tasks requiring a sustained flow of air, like remodeling projects and automotive work.

Which Air Tools Do You Intend to Use?

Take a close look at the types of air tools you’re planning to use for your job as well, as they also dictate the type of compressor you should select.

First, determine which of your tools requires the most standard cubic feet per minute, or SCFM. Then, multiply this SCFM figure by 1.5. Doing this will help you to ensure that your compressor will not only accommodate your current tools but also handle heavier tools in the future if needed.

If you plan to operate multiple tools simultaneously, you can add together their SCFM requirements and then multiply this by 1.5 as well.

How Frequently Will the Compressor Be Used?

How often you’ll be using the compressor will also determine which machine you should get.

For instance, let’s say that you intend to use your compressor multiple times weekly. In this situation, choose one that has a 50% duty cycle — for example, a contractor compressor or a cast iron compressor that is portable.

Meanwhile, let’s say that you’re planning to use the compressor for industrial or commercial use. In this scenario, you should look for a compressor whose duty cycle is higher than 50% — for instance, a rotary screw, single-stage or two-stage compressor, or a cast iron compressor known for its high performance.

Keep in mind that any air tool that requires a greater consumption of air needs a bigger compressor. Otherwise, it won’t operate properly.

What Kind of Power Do You Have Available?

This is another essential question to ask yourself before you make your next compressor purchase.

A portable compressor usually operates on a 15-amp, 115-volt circuit.

A single-stage compressor that is stationary, along with some big compressors that are portable operate on single-phase, 230-volt power. Meanwhile, a two-stage compressor that is at least 10 horsepower runs solely on three-phase power.

A two-stage compressor that is 7.5 horsepower or 5 horsepower is available for either three-phase or single-phase power.

However, if you don’t have access to electrical power, you’ll need a gas compressor.

Are You Planning to Expand Your Business in the Future?

If you intend to expand your company down the road, you may want to buy a larger compressor than you need right now. This is more cost-effective than purchasing a second unit later.

Of course, this is necessary only if your business expansion plans will demand more air than you’re using right now.

How We Can Help

In addition to spelling out how to choose an air compressor, we offer a wide range of other tips and advice related to hydraulics, automotive, instrumentation, engineering, pneumatics, robotics and manufacturing.

For instance, we can tell you how to tell if it’s time to replace your business’s current air compressors.

We can also show you how pneumatic valves operate. In addition, we can tell you who fabricates the best selection of pneumatic valves for today’s heavy industries.

Furthermore, we can help you to determine the right industrial vacuum pump to buy. You can additionally find out from our site the major industries today that rely heavily on hydraulics.

Take a peek here to find out more about how the above mentioned devices work and how to choose the right ones for your jobs long term.