How Big Of An Air Compressor Do I Need? Let’s Find Out!

Purchasing a home air compressor is beneficial for anyone, especially those who work with air tools on a daily basis. For example, there is no need to visit a mechanic shop when you have a flat tire. If you play sports, inflating the balls now is as easy as pie.

However, the problem is you have no idea what size of air compressor will meet your needs. Oversized units will waste energy, while too small ones cannot cover all the demands.
So how big of an air compressor you need? Scroll down to know.

Why You Need An Air Compressor At Home

Use Air Tools

Use Air ToolsThe number one reason why you should own an air compressor is that it allows you to use air equipment. Battery-running tools cost a lot more than pneumatic ones. Also, the tools used with air compressor are lightweight and easy to maneuver.

Pneumatic tools does not only support car repairs. You can apply the equipment for a wide variety of purposes, including home improvement, home repairs, etc.

Save Money

There is no need to pay the mechanics tons of money to fix some minor issues anymore. With the help of an air compressor, you can manage to finish small-scale jobs at ease. For example, changing out a fuel filter and installing a new PVC valve are relatively simple.

Get A Versatile Machine

There are many air tools which are compatible with air compressors so that you can perform various DIY projects with the unit. The compressed air will come in handy when you have to remove the debris on the craft or woods. It can also make spray-painting on various surfaces a breeze with a spray gun.

On top of that, feel free to inflate unbeaded tires at your garage. The air tank of the compressor has enough air to achieve this task in no time.

Understand Air Compressor Ratings

Understand Air Compressor RatingsBefore digging into the main part, we need to have a basic knowledge of the air compressor ratings.

  • CFM: CFM or cubic feet per minute is the standard measurement unit of the amount of compressed air delivered to the air equipment by the compressor. It is the number one crucial rating when it comes to selecting a high-quality air compressor. Typically, the models with higher CFM figure will have more airflow, allowing them to complete large-scale jobs more effectively.
  • PSI: The term stands for “pounds per square inch”, which measures the air force that the compressor can provide. Most air tools require the PSI of 40 to 90 to function properly, so it is recommended that your compressor has the equivalent rating.
  • Gallons: This rating refers to the tank size, which influences the constant airflow delivered by the air compressor. If the tank has a large capacity, it allows the tool to operate for longer before you need to rebuild the air pressure. This is a critical factor with some particular tools such as spray guns or sanders.
  • Horsepower: HP measures the capacity of the engine in the compressor pump. Generally speaking, the higher the HP is, the larger the CFM output will be. However, the HP rating is relatively misleading.
  • Duty Cycle: Reciprocating air compressor will not work continuously but in an on/off manner. Duty cycle refers to the relationship between working time and resting time of the machine. For example, a 50/50 duty cycle compressor will operate half the time, while a 75/25 cycle is built to run 75 percent of the time.

How To Determine The Size Of Your Air Compressor

Decide What You Will Use The Item For

To best save your budget, the first thing you need to do is to consider your intended use with the air compressor. Would you use it for occasional maintenance tasks or construction projects? Do you need the item for household upgrades? Work out the answer to choose the most energy efficient model on the market.

Typically, air compressors with small or average capacity will fit small-scale projects such as repairs or home renovations. Meanwhile, if the compressor is intended for industrial use, it is essential that you go for larger-sized items. A compact model may overwork and get the lifespan reduced in the long run.

Consider The Types Of Your Air Tools

Consider The Types Of Your Air ToolsThe nature of air tools may determine the suitable air compressor that you are going to purchase. Some particular tools will need a unit with a larger tank and more airflow, for example, the sandblaster.

Determine Your Air Needs

Your total demand depends on the CFM requirements of your air tools. You can find these figures in the manual guide or check on the manufacturer’s website.

If you do not know what CFM is, I got your back! CFM stands for cubic feet per minute, which measures the airflow. It plays a critical role in sizing your air compressor correctly as the unit will provide compressed energy for the tools to work.

Once you have known all the CFM figures of your tools, add them up. The table below is a detailed example.

It does not stop here! Now you need to consider the duty cycle, which means the number of hours you expect your compressor to operate while working. If you want the unit to provide air for your equipment 25% of the time, you have to multiply the total CFM with 0.25. In the above example, 39 x 0.25 = 9.75. This is the CFM requirement you would use to size your air compressor properly.

Consider The Power Source

Consider The Power SourceFind out the voltage and the phase of the power outlet that you are going to connect the compressor. Afterward, compare it with the voltage requirements of your desired compressors. Most models can plug into the standard outlet for households of 220 voltage, but some larger-sized ones may require 240 voltage.

If you cannot find the information, asked a qualified physician for help.

Check The Surrounding Environment

Check The Surrounding EnvironmentAir compressors with a huge tank require a lot of space; therefore, it is better to select an average unit if you live in a relatively small area. Also, bigger compressors will produce loud noise while operating, which may disturb other people. It is recommended to choose a compact model to avoid noise complaints from your neighbors.

You should choose a machine that fits your working conditions. For example, compressors running on gasoline may give off toxic fumes, which can harm your health in indoor space. Meanwhile, electric models cannot operate outside during the rain.

Determine The Tank Size

The tank size will decide how long the air tools can run before running out of compressed air. The common size of air compressors ranges from 1 to 60 gallons or even more.

As some specific equipment, including grinders and sanders, require a continuous airflow, they will need a larger tank than those work in short bursts.

Air Compressor Maintenance

Read The Manual Carefully

Do not underestimate the significance of the manual guide that comes with the air compressor! When you encounter a problem with the engine, for example, the manual will be extremely beneficial. It will advise you on what to do and what to avoid, thereby maintaining the best conditions for the machine. Thus, remember to keep the guide in an easy-to-reach place.

In case the manual is missing, do not worry. You can access the website of the manufacturer and download the manual available online.

Tighten All Fasteners

Tighten All FastenersYou need to check the fasteners on a regular basis to make sure the nuts and bolts are heavily tightened. This is because the compressors will slightly vibrate while operating, which gradually loosen the fasteners.

Lubricate The Machine Properly

Lubrication is critical for the compressor to run smoothly without breaking down. It is recommended to check the oil level frequently and fill up if needed. Note that you should only use the oil suggested by the manufacturer. Other fuels of improper quantity and unsuitable grade of oil will reduce the lubrication properties and cause damages to the components.

Use Heat Exchanger

A heat exchanger will lower both the air temperature and the operating temp of your machine, thereby allowing the compressor to work with stability. The steady temperature will increase the lifespan of the item as well.

If your model comes with an equipped heat exchanger, make sure to clean it frequently. Otherwise, the exchanger may clog and fail to transfer the heat outside.

Drain The Receiver

Drain The ReceiverAs you know, the air contains a certain amount of water inside. As the air is compressed, this water will be extracted and build up in the air receiver. There will be more water accumulated in a humid climate. Therefore, you need to drain the receiver periodically to get rid of the water. Before doing the task, do not forget to release the air pressure first.

Check The Alignment

The alignment between the compressor and the motor will affect the operation of your entire compressor, especially with large units. If there is excessive vibrations or any abnormal noise produced while the machine is working, stop it immediately to check. For accurate alignment data, let’s investigate the manual guide carefully.

Change Air Filter

Change Air FilterA dirty inlet filter will do nothing but harming your air compressor as it will allow contaminated air from outside in. If you find a heavy buildup of dust in the filters, change them as soon as possible to prevent any undesired consequence. A rule of thumb is to replace the filter every six months or so in the event of frequent use.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Where can I install the air compressor in my house?

A: Although the item is quite flexible, there are some cautions that you need to bear in mind. For details, please refer to the manual guide that comes with the machine.

Some typical notices include:

  • The compressor should stay in a well-ventilated room. Closed rooms with no windows are not recommended.
  • The unit should be installed within a certain distance from the walls to achieve expected airflow. This will also ease the maintenance process later.
  • The compressor discharge port size should be BIGGER than the discharge line into the air system.
  • It is an ideal option to include vibration mounting pads.

Q: Why does my compressor run when I am not working?

A: There are some reasons for this situation:

  • The pressure switch has some problems and needs replacing or repairing.
  • There are leaking issues in the air system, and the compressor is working to make up for the air loss caused by leaks.
  • The control is in continuous running mode, which will unload but not stop the compressor.

Q: What is the advantage of using compressed air?

A: Compressed air has a wide array of benefits such as:

  • It provides more safety while working as there is no electricity. Electric shock is no longer a concern. You should consider this feature seriously if you have children around.
  • The compressor is portable, which can be transported to different sites for working.
  • The air tools will be cooler as the heat is dissipated by the expanded air.
  • Users can get various pressure range within one pipe thanks to the compressed air.
  • Leakages of compressed air will not contaminate the surrounding environment.

Final Thoughts

Air compressors are handy machines when it comes to DIY projects such as home repairs or renovations. Although choosing the right size of air compressors is intimidating at first, the process will become easier if you follow the above guidelines. Hope that you can shop for a suitable machine after reading this article.

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