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Frequently Asked Questions about Air Compressors

Mystified about air compressors? Heres some background on air compressor features and uses.

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Untitled Document Those contemplating the purchase of an air compressor for business use often have a lot of questions. Here are some of the most frequently-asked questions about air compressors and some straightforward answers.

Why Does a Business Need an Air Compressor?
An air compressor is useful if air-powered tools can improve the efficiency of an operation. An air-operated nail gun is much more productive than a framing hammer; a spray paint gun is far more efficient than a paintbrush.

What Uses do Air Compressors Have?
Air compressors have an almost infinite range of uses. High-pressure air can be used for cleaning, operating hand tools, inflating tires, spray painting, sandblasting, operating robotic machinery, and many other tasks.

What is PSI?
PSI stands for Pounds per Square Inch, and is one of an air compressor s primary specifications.

What is CFM?
CFM stands for Cubic Feet per Minute, and is the measure of the maximum volume of air delivered by an air compressor.

What Does the HP Rating Mean?
Many manufacturers rate air compressors by horsepower. Theoretically, the higher the horsepower, the more powerful the air compressor. However, when determining usage requirements, the PSI and CFM measurements are more meaningful.

What Capacity Is Needed?
To determine the required air compressor capacity, first determine how many air tools will be used simultaneously. Add up the CFM requirements for each tool, and then multiply that number by 1.5 as a safety factor. If all tools combined require 30 CFM, then make sure the air compressor provides at least 45 CFM. Next, determine the highest PSI requirement of the air tools that will be used, and add ten percent to this. If the highest-rated tool requires 80 PSI, you need an air compressor that gives 90 PSI minimum.

What Type of Air Compressor is Best?
The type of air compressor that is best depends entirely upon usage. If a business occasionally uses air tools (air wrenches, sanders, air chisels, and so on,) then a light-duty electric air compressor will probably do the job. However, if running a full-time painting operation, or there is heavy use of nail guns on jobsites, a much heavier duty unit will probably be needes, such as a truck-mounted gas air compressor.

What is the Cost?
Costs range from under $100 for a mini air compressor suitable mostly for inflating tires or pool toys to six figures for a custom-built rotary air compressor system designed for running a factory. Air compressors designed for small shops and contractor applications are usually in the $500 - $2,000 range.

Where Can More Information Be Found?
The Internet is a rich source of information on the use of air compressors. It is also a vast marketplace for new, reconditioned, and used air compressors. A few hours of research on the internet can help narrow the search for an air compressor that will satisfy both operational and budget requirements.


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