Automotive Air Compressors
The first thing that comes to mind when you think of an air compressor is a unit used to inflate tires. However that is not the only thing it can do. In the shop, it is also used to run tools such as grinders, sanders, screwdrivers, nail guns, and much more. Of course, having a car tire air compressor is a handy piece of equipment to own, especially when you go out and find you have an underinflated tire.
Single-Stage or Two-Stage?
The two types available are single-stage and two-stage compressors. As you would imagine, a single-stage only uses one cylinder stroke while a two-stage uses two—one cylinder compresses the air part of the way and the second cylinder does the final compression. Smaller units only need one stage to get the job done, but larger machines or those used for a consistently long period, benefit from the two stages.
What's Your Style?
The two most common styles are stationary and portable air compressors. Stationary units are larger, hold more air (which keeps it from kicking on and off constantly while in use), and often get installed with the intention of never being moved. A portable or mini air compressor is made to move quickly and easily from one location to another. The smaller size makes it ideal for the do-it-yourselfer who only uses it occasionally.
The two most important pieces of information you need to consider before you make a purchase is the required air pressure and air flow to run your tools. Air pressure is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI), and air flow is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). Tools often have these measurements listed as X amount of CFM at X amount PSI. For example, 3 CFM at 45 PSI means you need an air compressor that will give you at least 45 PSI and 3 CFM. If you plan to run multiple tools off one unit, you will need to add up the CFM for each tool.
Run your tools with a properly sized air compressor that gives you the power you need to not only get the job done but get the job correctly.