Types of Air Compressor

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Air compressors are the most important piece of machinery for any DIYer or contractor. They make life easier by providing you with the power to complete your projects without having to run back and forth from all over town. 

They come in many different shapes, sizes, and prices; however, it is not always easy to know which one best fits your needs. To help you decide on the right air compressor for both office work and weekend jobs around the house we will look at some available types in detail to help you find what type best suits your needs. 

Benefits of Air Compressors

An air compressor has many uses ranging from personal to professional. These include: inflating tires, powering pneumatic tools such as nail guns and staplers, operating sanders and grinders, paint spraying equipment, powering sprayer nozzles for fertilizers or pesticides in the garden or yard, airbrush painting jobs for artistic purposes, powering tire pumps to inflate balls or other sports equipment that require pressurized air to operate properly. 

Regardless of what your project may be, an air compressor will make your job easier and allow you to get it done on time. With an air compressor, you will save time and energy when cleaning out your garage or basement workshop. An air compressor will save you a lot of time and effort on a variety of projects, both large and small.

For smaller projects like inflating car tires, an air compressor is extremely helpful. It will take much less time than manually pumping your tire up to get you back on the road. 

A portable air compressor can also make quick work out of punching holes through sheet metal or cleaning off the grime from floors with ease due to the powerful airflow they produce. 

If you are finishing a large project with nails or screws one of the most annoying things is not being able to find the right size bit for your drill. After reaching into all of your storage boxes and finding nothing but bits that do not fit your drill let an air compressor save the day by allowing you to quickly hook it up to your power tools and fire away.

Air compressors are not only used for DIY projects around the house or office, but are also extremely useful in an industrial setting. They are much more efficient than relying on electric pumps, which means companies can work faster and with less noise pollution. 

Industrial air compressors can be found almost anywhere from construction sites to large scale manufacturing plants. If you are looking for an air compressor to use in an industrial setting make sure you do some research on the requirements because each type is designed for different uses.

Types of Air Compressors

1. Positive Displacement Compressors

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Positive displacement compressors are widely used for household purposes. They are simple in design, easy to use, and very effective at providing compressed air quickly. 

They are also known as oil-less or non-lubricated compressors because they contain fewer moving parts, which means there is no need for lubrication or subsequent oil maintenance. 

These types of air compressors are usually powered by electricity and many have a belt drive that can be attached to other power tools such as sanders, grinders, and drills. 

The main disadvantage of positive displacement compressors is the fact that they can be very loud when in use and they tend to be less efficient than other types of air compressors.

The most basic model of positive displacement compressors. It uses a piston inside a cylinder to force air into its storage tank

2. Rotary Screw Compressors

Rotary screw compressors are also commonly used for household purposes and many professional grade tools but take much longer to build up enough pressure to run power tools, however they store more compressed air than other typical types. 

They work by using a piston, similar to the positive displacement compressor, which forces air out of an intake port into a storage tank. Rotary screw compressors also have two additional ports that can be used for cooling or adding an airline for power tools. These types of compressors are usually powered by electricity and have a belt drive that can be attached to other power tools.

Rotary screw compressors are capable of producing a lot of pressure which makes them ideal for powering pneumatic tools. They can also be attached to larger air tools including jackhammers and air drills. Rotary screw air compressors have the most moving parts out of any other type of compressor and are also the most expensive. Sadly they are not ideal for silent workplaces as they are much louder than other types of air compressors. 

3. Reciprocating Compressors

Reciprocating compressors are the most effective at producing large amounts of pressure, are usually powered by electricity and use pistons to create compression.

You can expect them to take longer than other types of air compressors to reach full pressure, but it allows for longer run times before needing to be refilled. They are not ideal for home use because they are the largest type of compressor and also need more maintenance than other types of air compressors due to their many parts. Lubrication is needed on the pistons, valves, and cylinders to prevent wear. 

These types of compressors are commonly found in industrial settings where they can power larger tools such as concrete breakers, jackhammers, grinders, and saws. Reciprocating compressors are also commonly found on construction sites because they can be connected to stationary tools such as nail guns which make construction much more efficient. 

4. Roto-dynamic compressors

This type of air compressor is a more advanced and efficient type that is designed for large scale industrial applications. Roto-dynamic compressors use pistons to create compression similar to reciprocating compressors but also contain rotors which help generate the additional pressure needed. 

These types of air compressors are powered by electricity and get their name from the counter rotating rotor-stators that generate higher levels of pressure than other typical compressed air systems. 

Roto-dynamic compressors are also much quieter than other types of air compressors and do not need to be lubricated like reciprocating compressors. The roto-dynamic compressor produces the highest pressure but also costs the most, making them ideal for powering large tools in large scale industrial applications.

5. Axial Compressors

Axial compressors are the most efficient and quietest type of air compressor. These compressors consist of a set of fans that rotate around an axle, creating compression to fill up tanks. These types of compressors do not need lubrication and can be powered by either electricity or gas and also produce very little noise when in use. Axial compressor types also have an incredibly high pressure output, allowing it to power many different types of tools from grinders to concrete breakers. 

The axial compressor does not lose a lot of energy while transferring the energy into compressed air and can provide up to 60 times more air than other types of compressor systems. These types of compressors are also used for powering air conditioning units on large ships and surface vehicles. 

They are the most expensive type of air compressor but their efficiency more than makes up for the increased cost. Axial compressors are the most efficient way to produce large amounts of compressed air without losing a lot of energy or requiring much electricity.

6. Centrifugal Compressors

Centrifugal compressors are the most common type of air compressor and can be found in homes as well as large industrial settings. These types of compressors use a set of blades interlocked with a housing which rotates a shaft which in turn uses centrifugal force to push air out of the system. 

Are usually powered by electricity or gas and can produce thousands of pounds. Centrifugal Compressors spin at very high speeds which is the main reason they are so loud when they are in use however they have a variety of uses from powering air tools to being used in car washes to clean cars quickly. These types of compressors are much cheaper than other types and can be found in both large industrial settings as well as small construction sites or shops. 

Centrifugal compressors are an ideal choice for someone who needs a compressor that is not as expensive as an axial compressor but still needs the ability to power many types of machines and tools. They are also much smaller than other types of air compressors and can be fitted in many different locations.

How to Choose The Right Air Compressor?

Now that you know about the different types of air compressors and their uses, you need to decide which type is best suited for your needs. The first thing you need to consider is the power output of your compressor. If you are only looking at powering small tools like nail guns or hand held grinders then a reciprocating type of air compressor will be plenty, however if you need to use tools that require more power like concrete breakers or large scale industrial tools then you will need an axial compressor. 

You also need to consider how much noise your compressor will make when in operation as well as how many hours it operates for before needing to be refilled. Roto-dynamic and centrifugal types of air compressors can run all day without stopping while reciprocating types must stop for a few minutes every couple hours. 

Another thing to keep in mind is the cost and effectiveness of the compressor. Axial compressors are the most expensive option but also the most efficient and produce more power than other types of air compressors as well as being very quiet while in operation.

Centrifugal compressors cost less and can fit into almost any budget, however require refilling more often and produce a much louder noise when running which makes them useful for smaller scale tools like grinders or cut-off wheels and not ideal for larger tools that require a lot of power. Finally, reciprocating air compressors are generally cheaper than other types and produce good enough power to run most air tools.

We hope that you have a better understanding of the differences between all of the different types of air compressors. We hope you find the one best suited for your needs.

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