How Do I Choose the Best Air Compressor System?

Lori Kilchermann
Lori Kilchermann
Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

As you attempt to choose the best air compressor system for your garage or home workshop, you will be required to examine several factors, from the type of tools you will be using to the amount of air pressure you will require from your compressor. Decisions that will need to be made concerning your new air compressor system include the type of compressor pump and the size of air tank you will need. You will also want to decide if your new air compressor system will be mobile or stationary. Another important factor to consider is the cubic feet per minute (CFM) rate of air that the compressor is capable of producing and sustaining.

One of the most important considerations when contemplating an air compressor system is the type of compressor pump that will be used. A single stage compressor will often suffice for a compressor that will neither be used extensively or be used to produce great pressures. For generating large amounts of pressurized air and for a unit that will see extensive use, a dual stage compressor will often be the best choice. If your new compressor will be used for painting, a dual stage compressor typically runs cooler, resulting in less water in the air due to condensation and is commonly the best air compressor system choice.

Another critical decision is made when choosing the size of the air tank on the compressor. For small jobs, such as powering a nail gun, a small tank will suffice. For laborious jobs, such as sanding or painting, a large reserve tank is better up to the task. For garages that will see use of impact wrenches and air ratchets on a regular basis, a large air tank is in order. The greater air supply will not only provide greater amounts of pressure when needed, it will provide sustained air pressure for greater periods than a smaller air tank can achieve.

The decision to choose a portable air compressor system or a stationary unit is another critical factor in deciding on the best compressor. Portable units are available in both horizontal and vertical units, while a stationary air compressor system is typically a vertical unit. The exception to this is when choosing a very large, industrial air compressor system, which is often a large, horizontal unit. If you plan to operate more than one air tool at once, the CFM requirement of both tools should be added to arrive at the proper CFM rating available from your new compressor.

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