If you are interested in buying an air compressor, but are yet to choose one, then you have come to the right place. Use the information below as a guide to the right air compressor for your intended purpose. Below we have created a comparison table of the best air compressors in the UK for 2019.
Our Best Air Compressors for 2020!
How Do Air Compressors Work?
To have a good chance of choosing the right air compressor for your needs, it’s important for you to have a simple understanding of how these machines work. An air compressor is designed to suck air from its surroundings, mechanically squeeze it to reduce its volume and increase its pressure using internal components, before making it available for use in powering power tools or even inflating tires among others.
One of the most important factors to use in choosing an air compressor is the CFM (Cubic Feet Per Minute) rating. This simply refers to the total volume of air a given compressor can produce.
Now that you have an idea of how air compressors work, read on below to learn more about how to choose the right option for the intended purpose.
Common Air Compressor Applications
As previously stated, air compressors come in a wide variety, each one designed to perfectly fit the needs and requirements of its intended purpose. Without the right machine, it would be quite difficult for users to get the most out of their new acquisition. Here’s a brief description of some of the common applications of air compressors.
Domestic Air Compressors
With a top performing air compressor, homeowners can be able to complete common DIY tasks on their own and in a fraction of the time. For instance the smallest, portable air compressors can help ensure that you never have to deal with the frustration of having a professional fix a flat tire.
Seasoned DIY enthusiasts on the other hand can use larger domestic air compressors or even professional machines to complete their most demanding projects, such as the replacement of old trim boards, easily, while ensuring a great professional look at the end of it all.
With the power and compatibility of a high quality domestic compressor in your hands, any DIY home improvement projects become much easier and fun to complete.
Commercial Air Compressors
Professionals, such as contractors and other commercial enterprise owners, who need to use air compressors in furtherance of their daily operations, making the right choice from the first go is essential. The right machine will not only help you complete your daily tasks on time and with the necessary quality, but also keep costs as low as possible.
High quality commercial air compressors are designed to be strong and durable. They should be able to stand up to the demands of everyday use without fail. Furthermore, these machines should be easily portable, as and when needed.
Industrial Air Compressors
Air compressors are also widely used in a variety of industrial applications. Since large scale industrial applications call for the use of high powered compressors, buyers need to take extra care when choosing their perfect fit. While choosing a small unit might mean that you end up overworking it, therefore running it into the ground faster than necessary; choosing a larger than necessary unit means that you have to contend with higher energy bills; both of these situations are bad for business.
Furthermore, in the case of these large businesses, buyers need to choose easily scalable options as the needs of the business are likely to grow into the future.
Types Of Air Compressors
Understanding how different air compressors work is essential in making the right buying decision; even though this might not be so obvious. As you will see below, each type of air compressor has its own strengths that make it a suitable option for specific operations.
Scroll Air Compressors
To pressurize air, scroll compressors are designed with two spiral shaped components, one fixed and one moving. The moving scroll, designed to move in a guided circular pattern, is fitted within the stationary one where it moves without rotating.
Since they come with silent and oil free operation, they are capable of generating the cleanest air according to industry standards as per ISO certifications. These attributes make them the perfect option in the dental, food handling and electronic design applications. They may also be found in turbo chargers of high efficiency vehicles.
Rotary Air Compressors
These compressors reduce the volume of air, pressurizing it, through the use of two male and female screws that are helically opposed. As air enters the compressor, it is compressed through the inter-meshing action of the rotating screws.
They are designed to be low maintenance and are oil sealed for the best performance over an extended duration of time.
These compressors are designed to perfectly suit demanding applications that require a high output of pressurized air for extended duration. They are mostly used in the auto industry.
Reciprocating Air Compressors
These are the most commonly used air compressors they use pistons, driven by an internal crank shaft, to suck air in and force it into the tank when retracting and extending respectively. Traditionally, these machines produce a lot of noise due to the friction between the internal components which regularly come into contact.
However, the development of dual piston and oil free variants has worked to resolve overheating and noise production concerns to a large extent.
Factors To Consider When Buying A Compressor
Now that you have an idea of the type of compressor best suited to your intended application, let’s look at some of the main considerations to consider before making a final purchase decision.
Type Of Pump
There are two main types of compressor pumps as determined by the technology used, single stance and two stage pumps. The former compresses air in a single stroke, while the latter doubles the efficiency level.
In most cases, single stage compressors are suitable to the less demanding domestic applications, while two stage machines are suited to more demanding commercial applications. To ensure that you have the level of performance needed for the intended purpose, it is recommended that you choose the compressor pump type carefully.
PSI, or Pounds per Square Inch is basically a measure showing how fast a compressor can fill the tank. Machines that come with a higher PSI usually fill up the tank faster than those with a lower PSI. The minimum rating stands at 90 PSI, with different machines coming with variable maximum ratings.
Although the minimum PSI rating might be enough for a domestic compressor that will be used for one off projects, a higher rating is required for commercial machines that will be used for larger jobs throughout the day. With a higher rating, you do not have to wait for the compressor to refill the tank while you are midway through the job.
Compressor tanks vary in capacity. A smaller tank might be enough for a machine that is meant to be used at home every once in a while for small jobs. However, a larger tank is the best option for a machine that is meant to be used professionally.
Even though a machine with a high PSI rating and a smaller tank might be sufficient for commercial use, it means that the compressor will have to run more frequently, using up more energy, and causing added wear and tear to the moving components.
Before buying a compressor, be sure to consider its noise rating. If you intend to use the machine at home, your neighbours will definitely not be happy with a loud machine. It is worth mentioning that a smaller machine does not necessarily have to produce a lower noise level. As such, be sure to check the noise rating on your chosen compressor.
Since some low noise compressors are known to produce a horrible screeching sound when in use, it is also recommended that you check some online videos of the machine in action to get a better idea of how it sounds.
Some machines are even built with different operational levels, where the power to the motor is limited to reduce noise level while delivering on the necessary performance.
Compressors can either be powered by an electric motor or internal combustion engine. Be sure to choose the right option as per the needs of the intended application. If you intend to use the compressor indoors, or close to an electricity power source, then it is best that you choose an electric unit.
However, if you intend to use the compressor away from any electrical outlets, it’s best that you opt for a unit that is powered by an internal combustion engine. It is worth mentioning that this option might be louder than the electric option due to the noise produced by the internal combustion engine.
Over the years, technological advancements have brought about significant design improvements that have revolutionized air compressors. Today’s machines now come with a wide variety of features meant to enhance their performance and safety.
For instance, thermal overload switch and air cooling features help prevent the unit from overheating during operation. While a roll cage is used to prevents the physical damage to the tank and compressor that would be otherwise caused by regular bumps during everyday use.
If you intend to carry the compressor around with you then it’s important to think about its weight. Larger compressors that come with big tanks and a host of features usually weigh upwards of 80 pounds; this makes carrying them around quite a challenge. Smaller units weigh as little as 30 pounds, making them highly portable.
It is however important to note that this consideration should not outweigh those described above when it comes to choosing the right unit.
Portable compressors come in all sizes and designs. For instance you can find a small hand held unit designed to be used in inflating tires, as well as large truck mounted units designed for commercial purposes.
Some units are built with wheels and conveniently positioned handles to make them more portable. Heavier units can even be mounted on a wheelbarrow to make the task of moving them around much easier.
As such, you should be able to find a portable unit that suits your requirements, regardless of its size and weight.
In case you end up settling on a fixed compressor as opposed to a portable one, you will need to think about its installation requirements. It is recommended that you find a qualified installation professional who understands all the necessary building and installation regulations codes relating to the installation of such a piece of machinery. Furthermore, the installation should satisfy all the necessary safety codes as well.
If the seller does not offer installation as an after-sale service, it is upon you to find such a professional.
Even with the right compressor you might need to buy a number of accessories to ensure optimal operation even in the most demanding applications. For instance, you might need to buy air dryers and filters to prevent any damage that might be otherwise caused by dirty or moist air making its way into the unit and eventually your air tools.
Other common accessories include additional air tanks, extension cords, hoses, gauges and oil among others.
With the advent of air tools, air compressors are slowly becoming part and parcel of regular, everyday power tools. This means that at one point or the other, regular home owners and various professionals are considering buying these powerful machines. After reading the above guide on buying air compressors, you should have all the information you need to make a well informed purchase decision.