Belt Drive vs. Direct Air Compressors

Posted on: June 11, 2021

When you are working on critical projects, you need a reliable piece of equipment by your side. Air compressors are mainly used for powering air tools, so they’re essential for completing quality work on time. There are two different air compressor variants to choose from — belt drive and direct air. Rotary screw and piston air compressors are available in both compression styles.

When it’s time to invest in one of these compressors, consider each machine’s capabilities to determine which one is best suited for your work.

Belt Driven Air Compressors

Belt drive air compressors have a belt attached to the motor of the compressor pump. When you turn the machine on, the belt moves and powers the pump through the pulley system. Belt drive compressors excel in applications requiring you to adjust pressures for a job. For instance, if you have a tool that requires 90 psi and your air compressor reaches a max of 80 psi, you can replace the pulley to increase the compressor’s psi output.

With the simple maintenance practice of regular lubrication to the belt, belt drive compressors are highly reliable, and they run quietly. There’s also the added benefit that belt-driven compressors tend to be more affordable than other compressor options.

However, since this style of air compressor pump relies on a belt and pulleys, it will require attention over time since these parts are subject to wear. These compressors are also more sensitive to environmental and weather conditions, so they perform best in a climate-controlled area.

Direct Drive Air Compressors

Direct drive air compressors do not have a belt or pulley system, as they are powered by a crankshaft connected directly to the motor.

The most significant benefit to this design is its lack of wear parts. Because it has a straightforward design, it requires less maintenance, and you save money on belt and pulley replacements. This compressor can also withstand the elements, including extreme temperatures, so common applications of direct drive compressors include outdoor work and providing air power in harsh industrial environments.

Some factors to consider are your budget and the noise. Because these air compressors have fewer parts, any malfunctions are more costly, and their ruggedness means they tend to cost more upfront. These machines are also much louder, so they’re not suited to confined areas.

Which Should I Choose?

If you’re not sure which style you need, the best factor to consider is your cubic feet per minute (CFM) requirements. The CFM of your tools compared to the CFM of the compressor will help you identify an option with the strength to handle your typical project. If the CFM is not listed on a given device, you can check online or in a manual.

Add the CFM of each air-powered tool together, then take 25 to 30% of that number and add it to the sum to cover any new devices you may add or current tools you left out. Compare your calculated CFM with the CFM of each compressor, and use those number comparisons to make an informed decision.

Quincy Compressor Has the Tools You Need to Do the Job Right

To learn more about the benefits and disadvantages of various air compressor styles, contact Quincy Compressor’s air experts today! We offer excellent customer service to help you invest in tools that make a positive difference in your work.