If you love to complete your own renovations and repairs around the home, you know just how valuable having the right tools is. Air tools are swiftly becoming a popular option that can enable you to complete your DIY projects. If you do want to begin using air tools around the home, you first need to ask yourself “what size air compressor do I need for air tools?”
An air compressor is a necessary component that needs to be attached to any air tool, as a source of power. There are many different sizes available, and it can be daunting trying to understand what one will work best for you.
- What are the benefits of air tools?
- How does an air compressor work?
- How do I know what size air compressor I should get?
- What kind of jobs do you need it for?
- What is your budget?
- What are your storage options?
- Where will you be using it?
- Will the noise from the air compressor be an issue?
- Final tips for finding the right air compressor for your air tools
What are the benefits of air tools?
Air tools are also known as pneumatic tools, and they use compressed air as a source of power instead of electricity. There are numerous tools that operate this way, including nail guns, jackhammers, and sanders. The tool itself is not a source of compressed air, this must come from an air compressor, which is a different machine.
Air tools are often cheaper than electric alternatives. Not only are they cheaper to buy, but they are also cheaper and easier to maintain, so your savings will really stack up over time. If you look after them properly they will last just as long as an electric or gas-powered alternative.
Air tools are also safer in almost any situation than an alternatively-powered tool. There is no risk of an electrical short-circuit, and there is less of a risk that your tool will overheat. Air tools can be used in extreme heat or cold with no change in their output.
How does an air compressor work?
An air compressor is essentially a large tank connected to an engine and a hose. Air compressors are either electric or gas, but both options can provide adequate power.
This power sucks air into the tank, compressing it. This tank can then be connected to a power tool, where the compressed air provides enough energy to power the tool when it is released.
When the tank runs out of compressed air, it is simply refilled. There are some types of air compressors that offer constant refilling so that you never have to pause in order to refill the tank. However, these are more frequently used for commercial purposes, as they tend to be larger and more expensive.
How do I know what size air compressor I should get?
If you have looked at the different air compressors that are available, you would know that a large range certainly exists. It can be confusing trying to understand what model is going to be right for you.
When it comes to air compressors, bigger isn’t always going to be the right choice. Here are some factors to consider when buying an air compressor, so that you can be sure you end up with the one that is best for you.
What kind of jobs do you need it for?
Consider what kind of air tools you plan on connecting the air compressor to, and what jobs you will be using these for. The best air compressor for painting cars may not be the best air compressor for a home shop.
Some air tools, such as sandblasters and spray painters, require a constant flow of air. Because they require an ongoing flow of power, they can use through the compressed air much faster, requiring you to refill the tank more often. In these cases, we recommend that you purchase a model with a larger tank, such as the Campbell Hausfeld DC200000.
This 20-gallon model is one of the best air compressors for automotive painting and has the capacity you need to get the most out of your tools with no interruptions.
Other tools, such as a nail gun, only require short bursts of power and therefore use less compressed air. If you need an air compressor for use with these kinds of tools, you can get away with a smaller tank, without having to constantly refill it. The DEWALT Pancake air compressor (DWFP 55126) is one of the best air compressors for a framing crew, or an individual who is getting the job done themselves.
What is your budget?
Along with your intended use, your budget will be a big factor in determining what size air compressor you buy. Air compressors can get quite expensive, and this often stops a lot of people from buying larger models.
For those with limited funds that still want a great level of power, the Porter-Cable C2002 is just under $99, making it the best 6-gallon pancake compressor for your budget. This is one of the smallest tanks available, but it’s still great for small jobs around the home.
If you really need a large tank the best 60-gallon air compressor for the money is the North Star High Flow Electric air compressor, for only $999.99. This larger tank is obviously capable of a lot more than a smaller model, so you can use it for longer without needing to stop and refill it. If you are buying an air compressor for sanding or spray painting, a larger tank is advantageous, but you can still get good bargains.
What are your storage options?
Those who are short on storage space may not want all of their room taken up by a bulky air compressor. If you know that you have limited space for an air compressor, it makes sense to purchase a smaller option.
You should also consider what kind of model you buy. There are two main types of air compressor:
Pancake air compressor is going to be wider and shorter, while an upright model will be narrower but taller.
Pancake air compressors tend to have smaller tanks, while the much larger tanks come in the upright style. Different brands offer different shapes, but the shape shouldn’t have any effect on the quality of the compressor.
Where will you be using it?
If you are just using your air compressor around the home, you don’t need to worry too much about moving it about. But if you need to transport it around work sites, this can become quite difficult if you have a large, heavy model.
If you are likely to move your air compressor a lot, opt for a model that has sturdy tires that can handle uneven surfaces, such as the DEWALT D55146. This is a great option with 10-inch, non-flat foam tires, perfect for moving across any surface.
If you want an electric air compressor, you need to consider the voltage of it. Most air compressors are 120 volts, meaning that you can plug it into any wall outlet to refill the tank. However, larger air compressors may be 240 volts. Although the larger capacity and power of the compressor might be handy, the general lack of convenience that comes from not being able to refill your tank will outweigh this.
If you are using your air compressor around the home, stick with a 120-volt model, even if it is slightly smaller. The Makita MAC5200 Big Bore 3.0 is a great example of a powerful air compressor that you can easily charge from any wall outlet.
Alternatively, you can opt for a gas-powered air compressor. The NorthStar Portable Gas Powered Air Compressor is a great model that offers greater flexibility for you – you can use it and refill it wherever you are, without needing to be close to an electrical outlet.
Will the noise from the air compressor be an issue?
If you are buying an air compressor for use around the home, you may need to be considerate of close neighbors. An unfortunate downside of these machines is that they are not quiet. This is fine on a construction site or if you live in an isolated location, but it may be frustrating if your neighbors live in close proximity.
Final tips for finding the right air compressor for your air tools
- Take your time to find the right air compressor for you and your air tools. There are so many excellent brands to choose from, you can easily find one that will be convenient and long-lasting. There isn’t really a standout brand that you should gravitate towards, so go for a reputable option that feels right for your needs.
- We highly recommend that you purchase an air compressor that comes with a warranty. Although air compressors should last for years if you look after them correctly, manufacturing errors can occur. Protect yourself against this by going for a brand that offers you this kind of protection. There are lots of great options that come with a one-year warranty, so you shouldn’t be too limited.
- Remember, bigger isn’t always better. If you are only completing small jobs, there’s no reason to spend more money on an air compressor with the largest tank, especially if your tools don’t require a constant flow of air (such as a nail gun). Medium-sized tanks will still provide you with enough compressed air that you do not need to be constantly refilling it while you work.
- Look for a higher CFM. CFM stands for “cubic feet per minute” and this number represents the amount of air that the air compressor is producing. The larger the CFM, the more power your air compressor will provide to pneumatic tools. This is important and not necessarily related to the size of the machine.