What Is a Vertical Compressor?

Amy Rodriguez
Amy Rodriguez
Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

A vertical compressor is a pressurized air tank used to power air tools that is designed to be used in upright position. This compressor type functions no differently than its horizontally shaped alternative, although the main benefit to the vertical shape is saving floor space. These air compressors offer portable and stationary options in the same space saving shape.

Air compressors use a combination of a motor and air tank to force outside air into the machine. The air collects within the tank, becoming more dense as more molecules fill the confined space. When a user attaches an air tool, such as an impact wrench, to the compressor, the forced air generates the energy needed for the tool to operate. Compressors will continue to compact and expel forced air through the internal mechanisms until the tool is detached or the compressor is shut off.

Many hobbyists use air tools to create home projects, such as woodworking. A vertical compressor can fit into small home workshops, allowing the hobbyist to take advantage of powerful air tools with very little handheld weight. As a result, the hobbyist can work longer hours without injury from holding heavily weighted power tools with individual motors.

The vertical compressor model shape is available in both portable and stationary configurations. Smaller air tools, like nail guns, do not require a lot of air power; a portable vertical compressor matches this small energy need nicely. Portable vertical compressors normally come with wheels, allowing the user to move easily around a workshop.

In contrast, a stationary vertical compressor is for larger air tools, such as a grinder. Bigger tools require much more air power; the compressor must have a more powerful motor and larger air tank for storage. One major drawback to the stationary vertical compressor is its permanent placement. Normally, this larger compressor must be directly attached to an electrical panel for its main power supply, making any movement around a workshop very difficult.

The design of the vertical compressor's shape does not make it a good choice for installation within a pickup or service truck. Tall, cylindrical compressors can easily fall over and become damaged in the truck's rear area, even if the truck owner tries to bolt the machine to the vehicle's chassis. Workers who need an air compressor on their truck should choose a horizontally shaped design, making it more flush with the truck's bed to prevent accidental damage during driving.

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