Compressors come with or without air storage tanks. Compact compressors generally use a diaphragm type pump powered be an electric motor.
Since the capacity of the compact compressor is limited, they are primarily used for hobby and light spray painting. Compact compressors do have the capacity to run glue guns, inflate low pressure tires and sports equipment.
The unit must run continuously, since there is no reserve tank on the compact compressor. Using connecting rods sealed in oil free bearings provides and oil free air supply.
Compact compressors generally have wheels and a handle for easy pulling. They weigh around 30 lbs. and commonly have a ½ hp engine.
Designed similar to the cylinder/piston mechanism of an automobile are the piston type compressors. Utilizing a gas or electric motor to drive the pump unit, these compressors will have either one or two cylinders, depending on the compressor’s size.
Piston compressors are more durable and offer a greater work capacity. These compressors, in the past, required lubrication for the piston and cylinder. Oil free piston compressors are now available and, having self lubricating parts, perform as well as or better than conventional compressors.
Horsepower ratings on compressors refers to the motor that powers the pump unit. The higher the horsepower equates to a more powerful compressor with greater work capacity.
Other ratings include cubic feet per minute (cfm) which is the volume of air that the compressor supplies. The size and number of tools operating from the compressor will determine the amount of cfm required.
The amount of air pressure generated by the compressor is referred to as psi or pounds per square inch. Tools also have a psi rating, which must be considered when matching the tools to the compressor.
Gasoline powered compressors are desirable for use where air tools are needed away from a source of electricity.
Eye protection should always be worn when operating air tools. Air powered tools have high power and fast rotation.
Sizing of the tool intake (1/4”, 3/8”,1/2”,3/4” and 1”) will determine the size of connectors attached to the air hose as well as the psi and cfm required to operate the air tool. Some of the most popular tools include blow gun, drill, grease gun, grinder, hammer, impact wrench, nail gun, stapler, ratchet, sand blaster, sander, saw spray gun, tire chuck, tire inflator, die grinder and riveter. Kits are also available to adapt and compliment the use of air tools.