How big air compressor do I need: everything you should consider

If you prefer to do something interesting at home or pursue your complicated hobbies with air power, you definitely have to get an air compressor, which will give you energy and give you a lot of opportunities. But the air compressor size needs to suit you exactly.

You may not always know which one you really need and choose by chance, but this strategy is incorrect and dangerous. You may think: “Which compressor do I need?”.

Getting the right air compressors of the appropriate size is important for the tools and even for your life, since even one injury from the compressor can be serious and even fatal. But do not worry, in this article you will learn everything you need and will be able to select the appropriate air compressor. 

how big air compressor do i need

Air compressor: why do you even need it?

The air compressor is a powerful and useful resource of energy that provides you with good control of the energy and with just a bigger amount of energy that you can have using the right air compressor than other energy resources. 

The air compressors don’t cost much money. Sometimes, if you select not a big, but small air compressor, you may not pay even two hundred dollars.

It means that you can buy the compressor without spending much money, and you will be satisfied with the compressor’s abilities for a long period.

You can get the air compressors whenever you need them, even if you want to place them in the back seats of the car. They will definitely fit. That means that you can use the air compressor where you desire, and you may not have problems with the transportation of the compressor.

Air compressors are a universal energy resource that can definitely be a great assistant to most of the tools you use. 

So, shortly, these are the advantages of air compressors. The only possible disadvantage is that if you are not careful when you use it, you can be seriously damaged. This is why air compressors are so common as a good resource of energy.

A big compressor doesn’t mean a powerful compressor

Before we come to the detailed process and sides of selecting the size of the compressor, we definitely have to emphasize that the size of the compressor doesn’t define its abilities and performance. The performance of the compressor depends on different factors, which you also need to think about before choosing a compressor of the correct size and power.

So, shortly, we have to take a look at several main factors for getting even a garage air compressor: air capacity, tank size, power supply, air pressure, air volume, duty cycle, and air delivery. We will definitely learn which types of each one exist and then, relying on them, you will get the full data for choosing air compressors.

The tank size and air capacity of most air compressors offer you the next types that will provide you with different power measurements. There is a pontoon, a twin stack, a pancake, and a wheelbarrow. 

The power supply of most air compressors gives you three things which are hydraulic, electric, and gasoline.

The air pressure of air compressors is a factor that you definitely should consider. Many people that apply air compressors at home for their tasks prefer using compressors that have more than 20% PSI of what they actually need. 

The duty cycle is important as well, since it shows how much time the compressor can function before it gets some rest for pressurizing the air again for a new tool. 50% of the duty cycle is actually perfect for you if you use it for home tasks and hobbies. The larger amount is for industrial needs, so, probably, if you apply it at home, it won’t be useful for you.

Air delivery, or CFM, which is cubic feet per minute, can vary from ten to one hundred and ten.

So, this was a short description of all the basic parameters which you have to know to further decide the size of the right air compressor.

The compressor that you can select must be appropriate for the size measurements and with the performance. Now let’s take a closer look at them. 

Which size of compressor do I need?

Defining the right size of the air compressor that you desire to buy for the tasks is a serious undertaking that may take some time and thinking. Fortunately for you, in this part of the article, you will get the full information on how to choose the size of the compressor.

What you get to do is read it carefully and do the measurements depending on your tools, your free space, and other things. 

The CFM air compressor and your air tools: the requirements

As it said, the CFM is cubic feet per minute. It is about air delivery. You definitely have to be aware of the amount of air the air compressor can deliver. 

If you apply the air compressor for your hobbies and other tasks, then the CFM that can be appropriate for you can be from ten to fifteen. You get to note that, just for the future, the air compressor manufacturers recommend getting a little bit higher CFM air compressor, and you may not have to spend your money twice. 

You can say that the compressor model that you are selecting must be with CFM, that is, above the amount that the air tools actually need by ten or twenty percent. 

Another warning, when you apply several air tools at once, and the air compressor CFM is low, then the power will be simply not enough for your work. What to do in this situation then? You should simply multiply the CFM measurements of the air-powered tools and choose what suits you best. 

Speaking of the air tools and their CFM ratings, fortunately for you, there is a very short list of the most common tools and their CFM. Find the tool that you use and keep them in mind when you select the air compressor.

CFM ratings for the air tools (It is the CFM at ninety PSI)

The air tools are different in their CFM. And sometimes they need higher CFM air compressors. They get to have different air delivery levels, for sure. It is considered in creating air compressors.

For example, the hammer has a CFM of 3-11, the drill CFM is from 3 to 6, the needle scaler CFM is from 8 to 16, the shears CFM is from 8 to 16, the crease gun CFM is 4, the nibbler CFM is 4, as well, the speed saw CFM is 5, the orbital sander CFM is from 6 to 9, and the hydraulic riveter CFM is 4. 

These instruments are only several of those that you could use with the garage air compressor. If you can’t find an air tool of yours, then you can search out their CFM rating on the internet without any problem, for sure. You must do that before you get the air compressor, otherwise, your future purchase may be in vain. 

Air pressure, which is pounds per square inch

The air pressure, which is also the PSI, pounds per square inch, is something you need to know, especially in the connection with the air tools and the CFM of tools, also known as air delivery. The air pressure for every tool is different. The size of the tools is defining the power and the air pressure.

With high pressure, more air volume production. And the air volume defines how much-compressed air the air compressor’s capability can take.

Define your free space

Another important fact that will help you to select the size of the compressor is the space that you actually have, and where you can easily put your new compressor. If there may not be enough space for an air compressor with a big tank, for example, then your possible work with air compressors will be not really satisfying. 

The place for air compressors

That is why you need to define the free space that you have beforehand. The place where you can put the compressor must be in the appropriate conditions. There must not be moisture, or very low or very high temperatures, and there must not be anything that can destroy the conditions of the room with the air compressor. 

You definitely get to select the place for the air compressor wisely. 

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Choose the air compressor design and choose the configuration

The air compressor design and configuration are very important factors to think about when it comes to getting the air compressor. Basically, they define how well the compressor will work and which tasks exactly it will perform. That is why you absolutely have to choose it wisely.

So, what kinds of compressor design are there? Look at the five designs below.

The first one is the rotary screw compressors. This compressor produces the energy from the air that is trapped in the meshed rotors and then the pressure of the air. 

What is special about this sample? There is even more compressed air delivered by the compressor, but you have to put in more maintenance, and you have to pay not the usual price. So, if you can afford it, then this air compressor can do a very good job for you.

The next one is the axial compressor. This kind of compressor uses special rotating airfoils that help to make pressurized air and convey the compressed air. You probably have never faced the axial compressor as a home instrument because usually ships and airplanes use them.

The piston-powered compressor gets the pressurized air and conveys it to the special air reservoir. The piston-powered compressors are very widespread as a universal instrument.

The scroll compressor is a model that produces energy with the two special interleaving scrolls. These scrolls convey the compressed air pockets right to the middle of the compressor. These compressors are most commonly used for HVAC units.

They are good for a larger air compressor.

The last one is the centrifugal compressor that compresses the cold air with a diffuser. The power they produce is of big amounts. But, it is definitely no surprise that the compressor itself is quite big. You get to take into consideration the size if you want to get this sample.

Pick the size of the tank of the air compressor

There are several types of tanks that you should get as one of the main parts of the compressor. The size of the tank defines if the air compressor will be able to perform a good job, and how often you will need to run them to maintain and restore pressure.

The first type of tank is the pontoon. The air capacity of the tank is from one gallon to thirty gallons. If you want to purchase a compressor for your hobbies and home tasks, then this compressor may be one of the most appropriate for you, for sure. 

The pancake tank is a small and portable model. The air capacity of the pancake tank is from three to six gallons. Fortunately, this one is another good option for your home hobbies, since the model is lightweight and of little sizes. But, as you could notice, the air capacity is very low, even below the average level. 

The twin stack model is an interesting and unique tank. It has two air tanks, and this fact gives you more opportunities, since when one tank is getting empty, you do not even have to stop until it is full again, because you have the second tank, which is already full.

The tank capacity is from five to ten gallons. The PSI rating of the twin stack is from 135 to 150. 

The vertical tank is a small and very useful portable model. It is a typical home garage air compressor. Unlike the pancake model, the tank capacity of this model is quite high: from ten to thirty gallons. You can easily perform most of your home tasks and hobbies using the vertical tank. 

The wheelbarrow is a heavy and professional instrument that has a capacity of ten gallons. This big size will probably not be for your needs, but it is up to you to decide.

These are the main tank sizes. You have to choose what suits you best. 

The duty cycle

Now you know what the duty cycle of the air compressor means. You need to pick the duty cycle of the air compressor that can be absolutely appropriate for your work and for your tools. 

So, below are the most common duty cycles that your air compressor can have. Now let’s figure out what they mean.

100%: it is for large air compressors, since this duty cycle means that the air compressors will work for hours without taking a break, and they produce new air as quickly as possible. The engines of the air compressors need a cooling system because, with such consistent work, they will get warm very soon.

75%: they are constructed in the way to work for forty-five seconds and then recharge for one minute.

This duty cycle is usually used for mid-sized air compressors.

50%: the air compressor operates for thirty seconds and then recharges for one minute, for sure. The size of the compressors that work with this duty cycle is usually relatively small.

25%: with this duty cycle, the compressor works for fifteen seconds straight, and then the compressor takes a minute to recharge and get new air. This is for small air compressors that usually are used for hobbies and home tasks.

Depending on the type of work you want to perform, you absolutely need to get a compressor with the duty cycle that you need.

The power supply

There are three models of the possible power supply that you definitely have to think about. Read very carefully and choose what you like the most.

The gasoline compressor provides you with energy without any electrical device. You can use them with any air tool. The gas air compressors are useful. You can work with such a compressor where you want. But the size is big, and the sounds are quite loud.

The electric air compressors are very portable. The size is relatively small, and it is simple to use them. Electric compressors are perfect for hobbies and air-powered tools. But you absolutely need to plug electric compressors in, otherwise, you simply can’t use them with the air tool.

The hydraulic compressors require hydraulics on the vehicle because this is where they take energy. The size of a hydraulic compressor is big, and it is not always easy and comfortable to use. If you want it for your home and hobbies, then this model is definitely not for you, and this size will not be appropriate for you. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know what size air compressor I need?

It depends on the things you want to create, the tools, and the quality and speed of performing the tasks you need. It also depends on how much space you need for the compressor. Maybe not really enough for a big compressor. Also, you have to know the air pressure and the air delivery of the tools you use. 

Will a 6-gallon air compressor fill a car tire?

Yes, a six-gallon compressor may definitely be enough to fill your car tire with air.

Is a 6-gallon air compressor good for air tools?

Yes, most of the air tools may work with the six-gallon compressor, and the compressor may not damage it.

What size air compressor do I need to work on cars?

Well, you have to get an air compressor of a big size. The average capacity of the compressor for such work must be from 80 to 240 gallons. 

In conclusion: define your needs and requirements

You get to know everything about the tools, like the air delivery and the air pressure, you get to know how much free space you have to place the air compressor there, how much air the compressor may take, and, certainly, you have to understand why you even need a compressor, for which tasks.

After all of this, and after reading the article, you get to select the best air compressor with the right air compressor size. You may get to have a small-size air compressor, a medium-size air compressor, and a big-size air compressor.

Read More: What Size Air Compressor Do I Need?

James Cole

Considering that most people continue to pay the masters in the service for a consultation, I decided to create my blog.

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