Types of portable air compressors
These are compact and portable devices that are commonly used to inflate toys, small vehicle tires, and bicycle tires. These have corded and cordless battery powered versions. Note that air pumps are not designed to be used with pneumatic tools or to inflate the tires of larger vehicles.
Pancake air compressors
These small air compressors are characterized by a pancake-like metal tank or cylinder. They are light, easy to use and portable. Pancake air compressors are used to drive small air tools and for smaller projects at home.
Note that the tank has a small capacity due to its small size, although it is useful for smaller household purposes. You may have to wait for the tank to fill up again if you work for several hours.
Hot dog air compressors
You can see hot dog air compressors with their elongated metal tanks that look like … well, hot dogs. The size of these hot dog tanks is between 1 and 7 gallons.
They are ideal for most small household projects and are often used to power most air tools. Get the largest hot dog compressor tank you can afford if you want to use it with high-performance air tools.
Double-stack air compressors
If you use high performance air tools in professional environments and don’t want to wait for the tank to fill up before you can use it again, a double stack air compressor is the ideal equipment for you.
This is characterized in that one elongated tank is stacked against another. These are portable too, but not as light or compact as pancake or hot dog air compressors.
Portable vertical and horizontal tank air compressors
These air compressors are supplied with larger tanks and are ideal for tough and professional use. If you are remodeling your kitchen or adding a new area to your home and using it with tools that require a lot of continuous airflow, these are the ideal air compressors for you.
The tanks are aligned vertically or horizontally. The wheels on the base ensure that they are portable.
Wheelbarrow air compressors
Wheelbarrow air compressors are ideal for large construction sites or those with uneven terrain. They are portable and durable with handles that resemble those of wheelbarrows.
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Buying guide for portable air compressors
Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM) indicates the maximum airflow that an air compressor delivers during its operation. All air tools have the required airflow to work. Therefore, the most important information to look for when choosing the best portable air compressor is the CFM or specifically the SCFM.
Before going to the hardware store or before clicking this button, it is best to check the CFM airflow requirements of your air tools and choose an air compressor that exceeds the airflow requirements. If you cannot find the required pneumatic tool CFM in your user manual, you can check the information on the manufacturer’s website.
Let’s say your air tool runs at 6 CFM. Multiply it by 1.2 or 1.5 to get the air compressor with the right CFM for your air tool. This is to ensure that the air compressor can deliver the required CFM and the tool is not live.
Air pressure is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). Most air tools on the market require 90 PSI for optimal performance. However, to ensure that the pressure is kept at 90 PSI, make sure you have a compressor with a high shutdown pressure.
Single-stage pumps rise to around 125 to 155 PSI before switching off. High performance air compressors often have two-stage pumps that shut off first at around 90 PSI and then at 175 PSI or more.
Portable air compressors with smaller tanks are ideal for tasks that require short bursts of air during operation. If you use a pneumatic frame nailer or ratchet wrench, a large hot dog or a double-stack air compressor will do.
For example, if you use a grinder and use it continuously, it is better to buy a portable air compressor with a larger tank.
Some high quality air compressors run on electricity, others on gas. If you have access to an electrical outlet and want to do many of your indoor jobs, an electrically powered portable air compressor is ideal for your application.
Gas powered air compressors, on the other hand, have the advantage of portability and versatility. They are ideal for outdoor construction sites or for those who have no access to electricity.
Check out This video to learn more about how air compressors work.
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