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Air Compressor Basics: What You Need To Know Before You Buy

Before you buy your first air compressor, understanding what you're getting can be difficult. You may find yourself wondering what type of machine is going to be best suited to your shop and your equipment. Here are a few things that you can consider to help you make an informed choice and get a compressor that's going to fit your needs well.

Think About How You'll Use It

Before you can choose a compressor, you need to have a good idea of how it will be used. Think objectively about the demand that you're going to place on it, because otherwise you may choose a machine that lacks sufficient power for your needs. If that happens, you might burn it up from overuse.

You'll also need to consider the duty cycle when you think about how you're using the compressor. The duty cycle refers to how long you can use the compressor consistently before you'll have to shut it off to cool. If you'll be putting a lot of demand on your equipment, you'll want to choose the compressor with the longest possible duty cycle.

Consider Your Storage Location

As you start assessing each compressor model, you'll need to think about where you plan to store it. If you're investing in something portable, your storage location isn't as big a consideration. When it comes to stationary compressors, though, it's a significant issue. For example, if you're keeping our compressor outside, you need to select one that's outfitted with a weather-proof cover.

If you're installing it indoors, you'll want to be sure that you have somewhere that's close to a few windows. Most air compressors rely on air ventilation for cooling, so you need to be sure that you have enough air movement to keep things cool.

Validate Your Electrical Supply

Once you've figured out where you plan to store the compressor, it's time to make sure that you have enough power to keep it running. If you're installing it in a home garage, you'll want to talk with an electrician before you bring that compressor home. It's important to ensure that your electrical grid will support the power demand.

Assess Your Pressure Needs

Check all of the tools that you'll be connecting to the compressor to determine how much pressure each one needs. That will help you to determine how much air pressure you'll need to have from the compressors that you choose. Make sure that you select a compressor that can withstand the needs of whichever tools have the highest pressure draw.

Make Sure the Tank is Sized Properly

The size of the tank that you invest in will significantly affect the way that the compressor functions and how it serves your tools. Smaller air compressor tanks will make it harder to meet heavier and more persistent use demands. If you are installing it in a busy environment, make sure you opt for a tank that has a large enough capacity to meet the demands you'll put on it.

Choose Your Upgrades

Air compressors come in many styles, and each one typically has added features that you can select to make it work better for your needs. For example, cast iron compressor covers are great for added protection on outdoor compressors. Also, stainless steel hardware is a helpful upgrade if you're concerned about weather damage and other exposure.

As you can see, choosing an air compressor is a complex process. Luckily, when you understand the features that you need to evaluate, you'll be better prepared to select the right equipment for your shop. Talk with an air compressor supplier before you invest so that you can get an expert opinion about your needs. Visit for more information.