By Nick Halmond

You may or may not already be aware that not all air compressors are used for all jobs! They vary in both size and of course their power level. The best way to estimate what you will need is to take a careful look at the power requirements of any of the air tools you plan on using. Then its a simple matter of choosing one that is slightly more powerful than youll need so that you have the ability to purchase an air tool that needs a bit higher power level.

For example, one common air tool is the rotary screw compressor. When looking for a rotary screw compressor, you are faced with an array of choices. If you want a powerful screw compressor, don't choose a cheap one. Those are only good for occasionally pumping up your tires with air.

Air compressors are sometimes rated by horsepower or hp. Dont be swayed by the hp listing. It all depends on how much power it draws. Often the hp listed is inflated.

Instead, you should look at the PSI, which stands for Pounds per Square Inch. Generally, youll require 90 PSI for most air tools. However, an air compressor listed at 125 to 135 PSI will not run that air tool properly. You see, the PSI is the shut-off pressure, and even if an air compressor shuts off at 100 PSI, this does not take into account something called pressure loss in the line! Thus, to work at peak efficiency with 90 PSI tools, you should really consider a two stage pressure shut off compressor, that shuts off the first stage at the 90 PSI, but the second stage wont shut off until it reaches 175 PSI.

Also think about cubic feet per minute (CFM). For most air tools you'll find in the store today, a CFM of 4 to 6 is common. This will make your life easier because at 90 PSI you should be getting exactly 3 to 4 HP. The CFM is a measurement of how much air moves through the system.

Tank size on a compressor may be important to you depending on how you wish to use your air compressor. If your work requires you to use it in short bursts, then the typical 30-gallon tank and a normal pump and motor is more than fine. If however, you wish to use it heavily, you would do better with a bigger tank and much stronger pump and motor, taking into consideration air that is stored in the tank.

Because of this you may see professional contractors running multiple air tools at the same time, with the knowledge that using a compressor with a rating of 150 PSI is a better choice for long-term continual use.

Truck mounted compressors, as opposed to portable ones, use the power from the truck to run the compressor, but of course that requires for the truck to be kept running. If a contractor uses the compressor for long stints, hed be better off with a portable one, or a deck mounted one. Deck mounted compressors are the same as truck mounted, except that they are set on a removable bed on the truck, and therefore can be left at the site instead of having to haul it about on consecutive days of work.

There are gas powered and electrically powered compressors. If you are apt to work in an area without having electricity its imperative that you choose a gas powered one. - 29952

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