Choosing an air compressor is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. In addition to selecting the right type — piston or rotary screw, electric or gas-powered, portable or stationary, single vs. two-stage — it’s also important to determine the most appropriate air compressor size to properly power your pneumatic tools. To select the proper air compressor size, you need to:
- Understand compressed air volume: Unlike other industrial equipment, pneumatic tools do not rely on horsepower as the primary unit of power measurement. Instead, compressed air volume determines the tool’s power efficiency, which we express as cubic feet per minute (cfm) at a specific pound-force per square inch gauge (psig).
- Determine cfm for each tool: Your air compressor must have the capability to power several or all of your pneumatic tools simultaneously. Collect your tools and jot down the manufacturer’s cfm for each one. If the cfm isn’t listed on the tool, check the product manual or the manufacturer’s website.
- Calculate your total cfm requirements: Once you have the cfm requirements for each tool, add the cfm for the tools you plan to operate simultaneously together. Add 25% to the sum to provide a margin for error and room for future growth. For instance, if you need to power five tools with a combined cfm of 500, your air compressor should have a total capacity of 625 cfm.
- Determine psig requirements: To determine the appropriate psig to operate your pneumatic tools, simply use the tool that requires the highest amount of pressure as your baseline measurement. Keep in mind that the majority of single-phase air compressors offer a maximum pressure rating of 135 psig, while most two-phase compressors top out at 175 psig.
- Determine air compressor motor compatibility: You air compressor’s motor must be compatible with the available power supply at the facility or job site. If you’re working in a commercial or residential structure, expect it to have single-phase, 115-volt, 60-cycle power. Industrial facilities typically have a three-phase power supply.
- Determine air compressor tank size: Smaller air compressor units normally require a storage tank. As a rule of thumb, the air compressor tank size should be a minimum of five gallons per cfm.
- Consider the environment: Compressors with electric controls should be operated in a climate-controlled room. Footprint and sound levels should also be considered before making the final selection.
- Make your final selection: Take all of the above information to a reputable air compressor dealer and review the models that meet the specifications. As when purchasing any product, quality can vary greatly from one model and dealer to another. A lower-priced air compressor could save you money upfront but may not provide the best value in the long run.
Contact Quincy Compressor to Explore Your Air Compressor Sizing Options
Quincy Compressor manufactures and sells high-quality air compressors featuring the legendary performance and reliability that has been our hallmark for nearly a century. Industry-leading warranty programs back all of our products without a service contract required. We’ll be happy to assist you in determining the most appropriate air compressor size and type for your pneumatic tool applications. Contact us for more information today.
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