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Air Compressors: A Quick Guide

If you’re already in the manufacturing or construction industry, you are likely very familiar with this tool, but perhaps you're looking to compare air compressor price quotes. Air compressors pressurize and compress air and then released the air back in quick bursts. These are used to operate various tools, machines and hydraulic devices. Positive-displacement compressors are more common and include the models used by homeowners, woodworkers, mechanics and contractors.

Compressors for Your Business

There are a number of air compressors types available. While the final result for each is fairly similar, each functions a bit differently than the other. You’ll need to determine your needs before finding the one that will be the best fit for your business. Consider the three most common types used in the industrial industries:

  • Centrifugal Compressors- These compressors utilize a spinning rotor in driving gases to the outer part of the rotor and expelling or storing gases at a higher pressure than they were before they entered the compressor.
  • Reciprocating Compressors- These compressors utilize a crankshaft in turning pistons that are used for compressing air. These can use different pistons and are capable of generating air compressed at very high pressures.
  • Rotary Screw Compressors- Usually non-portable, these compressors function through the use of an internal combustion engine that uses either diesel or gasoline. These use positive-displacement compression by matching two helical screws that, when turned, guide air into a chamber, whose volume is reduced as the screws turn.

Typical compressors come in 1- or 2-cylinder versions to suit the requirements of the tools they power. On the homeowner/contractor level, most of the 2-cylinder models operate just like 1-cylinder versions, except that there are two strokes per revolution instead of one.

Are you working in a warehouse or needing to lift heavy objects? Be sure to check out our skid steer loads, as well.

Compressor Grades

Some commercial 2-cylinder compressors are 2-stage compressors–one piston pumps air into a second cylinder that further increases pressure. As you shop for an air compressor, keep in mind that air compressors come in three grades, each one geared toward a particular need.

  • Consumer: Made for smaller needs, this compressor is great for those who are only looking to inflate a few sporting items or run air tools without large air needs, such as staplers.
  • Contractor: These are often portable. While primarily used to power roadside repair tools and nail-guns, these are built with on-the-go professionals in mind.
  • Commercial: If you need a steadier supply, commercial air compressors are often the most advanced and offer the best performance. Perfect for those with auto shops or in manufacturing, these compressors deliver if your work is demanding – just be prepared for a more demanding price tag.

Before investing in an air compressor, take a look at how it’s powered. There are a number of options available:

  • Electric
  • Diesel
  • Gas
  • Vehicle-mounted PTO.

Fixed installation air compressors are electric powered while towable or skid-mounted air compressors are diesel powered. Hand-carry and portable units are often gas or electric powered. It’s important to consider where you’ll be using the compressor when determining which is going to be the smartest choice for your business.

If operating on a construction site, you may want a vehicle mounted option that can go from place to place, for example.

Air compressors come in a variety of options. The cost per compressor will vary depending on the grade and type of compressor you’re considering. While commercial compressors meet the needs of those who need compressed air on a steady basis, a consumer compressor is perfect for the homeowners who only need the minimum, once in a while.

There is a lot to consider when determine the best air compressor for your business or home, but when you know your needs, an air compressor professional can likely steer you in the right direction.

If you’re interested in air compressors, you may also want to look at power supplies and generators

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