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High quality rotary screw compressors such as those offered for sale by Quincy Compressor are designed, engineered and built to provide many years of reliable service. However, a screw-type air compressor is a complex machine consisting of many moving (and non-moving) parts and components. Regular preventive maintenance is essential for ensuring efficient operation, a long air compressor lifespan and reduced downtime due to the need for unscheduled repairs.

Whether you own a high pressure, low pressure or combined screw air compressor, your best source regarding proper machine maintenance is the product manual. Your manufacturer may recommend the performance of routine maintenance at regularly scheduled time intervals or by monitoring the number of running hours. In general, maintenance of rotary screw air compressors entails the following areas:

  • Airends: The airend, or the screw element, is the heart of any rotary screw compressor: This is where the actual compression takes place. Airends can be damaged by excessive heat, contamination in the air and even dirty rotary screw compressor fluid. Your preventive maintenance procedure should include regular airend inspections — excessive noise and vibration can also be a telltale sign of an airend issue.
  • Drive train: Check the rotary compressor’s drive train to ensure it is properly aligned and that the gear drives are properly lubricated. The tension of V-belt drives should be adjusted approximately every 500 hours. Immediately replace frayed or worn belts.
  • Motor: Keep the motor bearings properly lubricated and replace them before they wear out. Also monitor the ampere draw to minimize the likelihood of overloading. Maintaining sufficient ventilation in the compressor room or operating environment can go a long way toward maximizing the motor’s lifespan.
  • Filters: One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to prevent premature wear is to replace your rotary compressor’s filters on a regular basis, as this will reduce airend wear and component contamination. Replacement of air inlet filters is recommended every two thousand hours, and you should change the fluid filters every one thousand hours.
  • Lubricants: Lubricants perform the vital functions of removing contaminants, protecting moving parts from excess wear and keeping the compressor cool. The best advice regarding when to change rotary screw compressor fluid is to adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule. Regular oil sampling can help to lengthen the lubricant’s lifespan, and can affect warranty compliance in some cases.

Other general rotary screw air compressor maintenance tips include keeping the machine as clean as possible. In addition to damaging compressor components, dirt and debris can actually cause the temperature of the compressed air to increase. Also avoid operating the compressor at high temperatures for extended periods of time.

Contact Us for More Useful Rotary Compressor Maintenance Tips and Advice

With nearly 100 years of industry experience, Quincy Compressor is a reliable source for helpful compressor maintenance information. We also offer a wide selection of premium rotary screw air compressors for a wide range of industrial applications. Contact us directly for additional information or get in touch with the authorized Quincy distributor in your local area. Our partners specialize in providing parts and recommendations for a proper planned maintenance schedule. To locate your advisor, visit our sales and service locator.

Learn more about why Quincy Compressor is one of the top rotary screw air compressor manufacturers.

Multi-Stage Compressors

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Reciprocating/piston compressors use a cylinder to force air into a chamber, where it is compressed. The simplest compressor designs feature a singlecylinder/chamber arrangement. While straightforward, this setup is limited in its efficiency and capacity for delivering high volumes of pressurized air.

That’s where multi-stage compressors come in. By increasing the number of cylinder stages, these machines work more effectively and can handle more tools at once.

How Multi-Stage Compressors Work

Multi-stage compressors feature two or more piston cylinders, each of a different diameter. After the first compression stage, air passes through a heat exchanger, where it is cooled before arriving at the second cylinder. Cooling the air reduces the work needed to compress it during the second or third stages.

In a two-stage compressor, the air passes through two chambers total. In the second chamber, it is pressurized to the required extent. In a three-stage compressor, an additional cycle of compression and cooling occurs before this.


Benefits of Multi-Stage Compression

Both single and multi-stage compressors have their benefits. The right one for your application will depend on a number of factors. Specific advantages of a three- or two-stage compressor design include:

  • Improved efficiency: Two-stage compressors perform less work to compress air to a given pressure, which means your operating costs are lower.
  • Better reliability: The intercooling stage of two-stage compression creates less chance of overheating, which in turn means more uptime and better productivity.
  • Less moisture buildup: Cooler air has a lower moisture content. Moisture in compressed air can lead to equipment failure and premature wear. Using a two- or three-stage compressor can potentially save you from having to purchase a separate air dryer.
  • Smaller footprint: For heavy-duty applications, multi-stage compressors deliver greater air pressure (PSI) at higher capacities (CFM) than single-stage machines of comparable size.
  • Few maintenance requirements: Thanks to smaller components and cooler temperatures, wearable components don’t wear out as quickly. As a result, recommended service intervals are longer.

Applications

Clearly, there are benefits to selecting a multi-stage machine. However, their higher cost means they are not necessarily the right choice for every application. Typically, single-stage compressors are best for lower pressure, light-duty, periodic use applications. Two- or three-stage air compressors, on the other hand, offer more efficiency and reliability for continuous use applications, such as manufacturing and auto repair.

Many reciprocating compressors come in both single- and two-stage options. If you’ve already selected a particular machine, you may be wondering whether you need a single- or multi-stage version. Here are six things to consider when choosing an air compressor to decide if a multi-stage system is right for your application:

  1. Pressure required: Before considering anything else, you can know for sure you need a two- or three-stage compressor if you need to produce high pressure. Because air is compressed in two or more steps, multi-stage compressors can deliver higher pressuresTypically, any pressure above 100 PSIG will demand a multi-stage compressor for the most efficiency.
  2. Volume of air required: An industrial multi-stage air compressor can pressurize more cubic feet of air per minute (CFM) than a single-stage compressor. Since most compressors take some downtime between pressure cycles, a higher volume produced per cycle can increase productivity. Machinery and air tools used for significant lengths of time will both require more air.
  3. Need for temperature control: Multi-stage compressors can regulate air temperature. Because they cool air as it passes between each chamber, the output air has a lower temperature. When heat can damage or reduce the efficiency of your air-powered equipment, choose a multi-stage compressor.
  4. Need for oil-free applications: Intercooling, which is used in most multi-stage compressors, it increases the moisture in the airThis moisture can mix with the oil in an oil-flooded compressor and cause issues with the machinery. So, most oil-free compressor systems are dual-stage.
  5. Space you have: The smallest single-stage air compressor will take up less room than the smallest dual-stage air compressor. For a DIY or contracting project, a single-stage air compressor may be lighter and more portable. When it comes to larger air compressors, a two-stage compressor will have a higher output than a single-stage compressor of the same size. So, for industrial applications, a multi-stage compressor will save space.
  6. Initial cost versus lifetime cost: The price of air compressing equipment is only 12% of the total cost of producing compressed air. So, while a single-stage compressor can be more affordable to buy, it’s critical to consider the lifetime cost, too. Most of the cost of compressed air comes from the electricity consumed. In this case, two- and three-stage compressors have the advantage because cool air compresses with less mechanical work. For small applications, the lower initial cost may outweigh the benefits of an efficient design. For larger applications, the lifetime cost of the machine is paramount.


Multi-Stage Machines From Quincy Compressor

Quincy Compressor has been a leading compressor manufacturer for nearly 100 years. We carry a complete range of products, including two- and three-stage air compressors designed for heavy-duty industrial use. Our products incorporate advanced technology to improve efficiency, reduce noise and keep maintenance requirements to a minimum. The best warranty programs in the business back all of our products, and we offer extended coverage on certain components for 10 years or more.

Our flagship product, the QR-25, is available in a 5 HP, 2-stage air compressor configuration. We also sell rotary screw and three-stage reciprocating machines. To learn more, check out our Resources page for more background on the technology and how it works.

To find an authorized dealer near you, please use our sales and service locator.

High pressure screw air compressors serve a wide range of purposes in industrial, manufacturing and other applications. Quincy Compressor has been manufacturing both low and high pressure machines since 1920. On this page, you’ll find a basic overview of high pressure compressor technology, as well as some advice on what to look for when shopping for a unit.

What Is Pressure?

Pressure is the amount of force produced by an air compressor, relative to the surrounding atmosphere. For most commercial or industrial applications, it is measured in pounds per square inch gauge (PSIG). You may also see it rated in bar, or bar(g), the metric equivalent of PSIG.

Any machine delivering more than 150 PSIG is generally considered to be a high pressure compressor. Most handheld tools are rated at 90 PSIG, meaning a standard pressure machine can easily power them.

Compressor Types

Reciprocating and rotary screw compressors are the two main types of compressor design. Rotary screw compressors are best for continuous use, but generally aren’t capable of delivering pressures above 210 PSIG. Reciprocating/piston compressors, on the other hand, can operate at working pressures of 500 PSIG and higher, but are designed for intermittent use only.

Pressure vs. Capacity

One common point of confusion when shopping for a high pressure screw air compressor is the difference between pressure and capacity. Capacity is a separate measurement describing the amount of air a compressor can produce at a given time. We measure this in cubic feet per minute (CFM).

Too often, a user will see a compressor with a high CFM rating and assume it is suitable for high pressure applications. While a high capacity compressor can be useful for running multiple tools simultaneously, CFM and PSIG have no bearing on one another. A high pressure screw compressor can have a low capacity, while a high capacity compressor may only have a PSIG rating suitable for light- or medium-duty use.

High Pressure Compressor Applications

High pressure screw compressors have a number of very specific uses, particularly in industrial and energy applications. You can find them on offshore drilling rigs and remote pipeline settings, where they are used to start engines and motors, or to help convey drilling mud. They are also used to drive turbines and generators in power plants, and for various processes in manufacturing facilities.

Choosing a High Pressure Compressor

The specifics of your application will determine which Quincy compressor is right for you. As one of the leading high pressure screw air compressor manufacturers, we have a full range of products available to meet the needs of any client.

Aside from pressure and capacity, other factors that should be considered when choosing a machine include:

  • The overall efficiency of the unit
  • Whether or not it is lubricated
  • Its operating noise level, expressed in decibels (dBA)

Quincy high pressure screw air compressors are capable of delivering between 150-200 PSIG, with various CFM levels according to the intended application. For heavy-duty industrial use or other specialized applications, Quincy also manufactures reciprocating/piston air compressors, oil-free compressors and other products.

Visit individual product pages for detailed specifications or contact a sales representative directly for assistance choosing the right machine for your purposes.

Learn more about proper screw air compressor maintenance.

Learn more about why Quincy Compressor is a leading rotary screw compressor manufacturer.

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Fuels stored in tanks, including gas and oil, emit vapors that contain methane, propane, butane and other substances. The fumes from these materials are noxious and potentially flammable. In addition to being an environmental and safety hazard, these escaping vapors can also cost the operator money in terms of lost fuel. The purpose of a vapor recovery system is to capture these fumes and return them to the storage tank before they can escape into the atmosphere.

What to Look for in a Vapor Recovery System

There are a number of important factors to consider when selecting the most appropriate vapor recovery system for your operation:

  • Volume and flow rate
  • Chemical composition of the gas or oil
  • Level of liquid content in the fuel
  • Pressure and temperature of the gas or oil to be recovered
  • Discharge pressure and temperature
  • Availability of a power source to drive the vapor recovery pump, compressor and other system components
  • Presence of carbon dioxide or hydrogen sulfide in the gas or oil
  • Potential for contamination from atmospheric oxygen

Quincy’s Line of Vapor Recovery Compressors

A compressor is an important element of any vapor recovery system. Quincy Compressor offers a wide assortment of screw, reciprocating, and rotary vane compressors for just about any vapor recovery process or application.

Quincy rotary screw gas compressors, for example, are designed to deliver maximum gas flow with minimum horsepower. These compressors feature an innovative direct-drive rotor profile that provides consistent and reliable performance. It is also designed, engineered and manufactured to provide the durability you would expect from any Quincy Compressor product. The exclusive triplex bearing configuration offers a calculated lifespan of up to 130,000 hours. The positive displacement gear-type fluid pump keeps the rotors and bearings fully lubricated, which helps to prolong compressor life by keeping major repair and maintenance issues to a minimum.

A number of optional features and accessories are also available for Quincy vapor recovery compressors. These include gas engines or electric motor drives, shaft-driven positive displacement pumps, oil and gas separator tanks and variable displacement lift valves.

Quincy QRNG

The QRNG is a reciprocating gas compressor series featuring heavy-duty cast iron construction for superior strength and durability. These compressors are also equipped with an advanced pressure lubrication system, low-lift valves and rebuildable connecting rods. You can choose between single-stage 2-34 horsepower and 13-33 two-stage units that provide the low-cost gas compression you need.

Other key QRNG features include individual valve pockets that simplify the preventive maintenance process, high-efficiency cast-iron cylinders, intercooler with large circular fins for maximum heat dissipation and lapped cast-iron valve seals that prevent the need for a discharge line check valve.

Contact Us to Learn More About Our Vapor Recovery Compressor Products

Contact the authorized Quincy Compressor distributor in your area to learn more about our selection of vapor recovery pumps and compressor products. You can also contact us directly for additional information.

Contact Us     Learn More        Find a Dealer Near You 

Portable air compressors are a popular choice for both home and commercial use. For a typical do-it-yourselfer or any application in which flexibility is essential, a portable compressor allows you to do more with less. Quincy Compressor is a leading manufacturer of portable compressors for a wide range of industries and applications. To help you make an informed purchasing decision, we’ve prepared this brief guide to portable compressor parts and maintenance.

Portable Compressor Components

All portable compressors are different, though most have several parts in common, depending on the design. Key features of a Quincy single-stage portable compressor include the:

  • Motor: An electric motor powers portable compressors. As with automotive engines, compressors are rated according to the amount of horsepower (HP) their motor produces. However, a more powerful motor does not necessarily mean the compressor will deliver more pressure or be able to power more tools.
  • Valve/piston: A compressor uses its motor to drive a valve and piston assembly, which draws air into a chamber and compresses it. We measure how effective a compressor does this in both pressure (PSIG) and capacity (CFM). Most portable compressors feature a single-stage design, meaning they have only one valve/piston assembly. Multi-stage configurations, on the other hand, contain a series of chambers and pistons, and they’re more common on stationary models. If you need higher pressures/greater capacities, a two-stage configuration is better for you.
  • Storage tank: Most portable compressors feature a storage tank for holding compressed air until it is ready to use. A larger storage tank means you can go longer without running the compressor motor; however, it also increases the footprint of the unit, taking up more space and making it less portable. We measure storage tank capacity in gallons or liters.

Portable Air Compressor Care and Maintenance

Taking care of the various parts of a portable air compressor requires periodic inspections and maintenance. Doing so regularly ensures compliance with your unit’s warranty and helps reduce the risk of unexpected downtime due to equipment failure. Each compressor has different maintenance requirements, though common service items often include keeping the intake vents clean, checking hoses and tightening fasteners, changing the unit’s oil and air filters when necessary and cleaning the fuel tank.

The Quincy Compressor NO-BULL Warranty

Not only do Quincy portable compressors boast low maintenance requirements, we also back them with one of the most comprehensive warranties in the business. You can choose our three-year extended warranty option. Our exclusive “NO-BULL” package comes with everything you need to perform regular maintenance for your purchase, saving up to 15% on the cost of purchasing replacement portable air compressor parts separately.

Ordering Replacement Parts

Need help finding the right part for your Quincy portable air compressor? We carry a comprehensive selection of genuine spare parts, including actuators, bearings, gauges, motors, gaskets and more. A quality Quincy compressor demands quality Quincy parts. Next time your unit requires regular maintenance or other work, purchase the genuine item for performance you can trust.

To order parts or request assistance from one of our team members, use our website to find a distributor in your area or contact our factory stores directly.

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air compressor pneumatic tools

In both home and commercial applications, one of the main roles of an air compressor is to provide power for pneumatic tools. Pneumatic tools include drills, impact wrenches, riveters, sanders and more — in fact, almost any conventional powered hand tool is available in an air-powered configuration.

Manufacturing facilities, automotive shops and other environments where safety, reliability and performance are key all rely on pneumatic tools. Recent years have seen more hobbyists begin to use them as well, leading to an increase in the number of affordable air compressors for pneumatic tools available on the market today.

Benefits of Pneumatic Tools

Compared to electric units, there are a number of advantages to using air tools in your operation. Air powered tools:

  • Are far more convenient — They require no batteries or external power source and, as long as your compressor is operational, your team can continue working at full capacity all shift long.
  • Have a better power-to-weight ratio — They can deliver superior torque and more revolutions per minute than electric tools of comparable sizes.
  • Are lighter and easier to handle, while delivering superior performance — This is just one of the reasons they have long been the preferred choice for heavy-duty applications.

When it comes to versatility, air powered tools are the clear choice. Standardized attachments allow you to switch between devices and attachments with ease, saving time on the production floor and improving your team’s productivity. Because of the smaller size of air powered tools, your team can also store more devices when space is limited.

Choosing the Right Compressor

Ultimately, air powered tools are only as effective as the compressor that’s driving them. Here’s what you need to know to make an informed purchase of an air compressor for pneumatic tools:

  • Most air tools require a pressure level of 90 PSIG to operate properly. Running at pressures below that can cause them to work inconsistently or not deliver the power expected of them.
  • Pneumatic air compressors are also rated by CFM, or cubic feet per minute — a measure of the amount of air they can produce at a given pressure level. A higher CFM rating means more tools can be operated at once.
  • The cost of running your compressor is by far the largest expense involved in using air powered tools. Choosing the most efficient unit available — so long as it provides sufficient power for your needs — is the best way to save money on an ongoing basis.

Air Powered Tools for Home Use

Pneumatic tools used to be almost exclusively for industrial purposes. In recent years, however, more hobbyist mechanics, painters and woodworkers have recognized the value of air power and made the investment in a compressor for their home.

If you’re in the market for a small, portable compressor for pneumatic tools, Quincy can help. For almost a century, we’ve been the professional’s choice in compressed air. We have a number of products available at all configurations and price points, and can match you with the right size compressor for your air tools. Find out more by contacting a sales and service locator line in your area or requesting a consultation through our Quincy Concierge program.

Contact Us     Learn More        Find a Dealer Near You 

Cycling flow schematic

Portable Air Compressors

Quincy Compressor’s portable air compressors offer industry-leading power and efficiency in a small package. They are an excellent choice for home/DIY use, while still delivering the power and reliability necessary for commercial applications. Backed by an industry-leading extended warranty option, Quincy portable air compressors are built for the long haul, providing excellent value in nearly any situation.

If you’re on the market for a new portable air compressor, read on to learn more about why Quincy is the brand of choice for demanding customers.

How Portable Compressors Work

The majority of portable compressors — including those manufactured by Quincy — feature a single-stage, reciprocating/piston design. Piston compressors work by forcing air through an inlet valve into a cylinder, where the reciprocating motion of a piston compresses it. Once it compresses the air to the desired level, it activates a discharge valve, sending it out to power a tool or whatever attachment to which the unit will be connected.

Single-stage compressors feature a single valve and piston assembly. This makes them smaller, lighter and more portable, but limits the amount of power the unit can provide. For this reason, they are most commonly used in garages, workshops, construction sites and other applications where you can sacrifice continuous power for the sake of value or portability.

 

Finding the Right Product for Your Needs

To select the best portable air compressor for your application, you should consider the following factors:

  • Capacity: The capacity of a compressor is the amount of air a unit can produce, measured in CFM (cubic feet/minute). A higher CFM rating means a unit will be able to power more tools at once.
  • Pressure: We measure compressor pressure ratings in PSIG (pounds per square inch gauge). Most tools require a continuous pressure of 90 PSIG to operate properly. Other applications require higher or lower pressures. Be clear on your requirements before making a decision.
  • Power: The horsepower (HP) of a portable compressor is not directly related to its pressure or capacity; rather, it refers to the efficiency of the unit’s motor. More horsepower is required to drive higher capacity or higher pressure compressors, though a high horsepower unit with low CFM or PSIG ratings will be inefficient and costly to run.

Other things to consider include tank size, whether you want a unit powered by gas or electricity and whether you’ll be working in a sensitive environment where an oil-free design is necessary. For more information about Quincy compressors, visit individual product pages, where you can find detailed specifications and potential applications.

Quincy Portable Compressor Products At a Glance

Quincy’s portable single-stage air compressors boast a number of professional features at a price that’s right for any customer, including:

  • A cast-iron cylinder, crankshaft and valve plate, delivering improved durability and strength
  • Aluminum head and fin design for improved heat dissipation, reducing wear on the motor
  • Working pressures between 110 and 135 PSI, with a standard 1/4″ pressure regulator
  • A fully enclosed belt guard and ASME-standard safety valves

Let our team match you with the right portable air compressor for your needs. Contact a sales representative in your area to discuss your intended application today.

At Quincy Compressor, we are also proud to offer high-quality portable air compressor parts.

Learn more about portable single-stage air compressors here.

How to Choose a Portable Air Compressor for DIY Household Maintenance

We’ve all had those projects around the house that were just too difficult to complete without a professional air compressor. Whether you’re painting, working on your car or just inflating some bicycle tires, a portable air compressor is a fantastic investment that will make all sorts of DIY household maintenance projects easier to complete.

What type of air compressor should you look for to help you complete your DIY projects?

Possible Projects Around the House

Household maintenance projects can be completed without a portable air compressor, but why would you put in the extra effort when a little compressed air can make these jobs so much easier?

  • Inflating. Whether you’re trying to inflate bicycle tires, car tires or sports equipment, a portable compressor could make the job easier. Plus, it will save your arms — no more handheld pump for you.
  • Installing. Hardwood floors, trim and crown molding are great options for adding a bit of class to your home, but without a portable compressor and a nail gun, you’re left placing each nail and hammering it in by hand. For a large area of hardwood flooring or trim, this could take hours.
  • Repairing. Do you need a snazzy new fence to surround your property, or do you have one already that is just in need of some repair? A portable compressor, again paired with that nail gun, could make this job a breeze.
  • Painting. You’re already dreading breaking out the brushes and rollers, aren’t you? If you’re painting, why not let compressed air do the work for you? Just attach an airbrush to your portable air compressor and go to town — you might never buy another paintbrush, especially since you can use it to paint just about everything from furniture to walls.

Possible Projects in the Garage

If you like working on your cars, a portable air compressor is probably already on your wish list. You can use it for all sorts of things, including:

  • Tires. Trying to break loose a lug nut on a tire with just the little bitty lug wrench that comes with your car is a nightmare unless you’re a bodybuilder. Get it done with no effort at all with your air compressor and an impact wrench.
  • Maintenance. An air ratchet can be just the thing to break loose those stubborn bolts, or the ones that are just too hard to reach. Instead of busting your knuckles on stuck bolts, bring your compressor along.
  • Painting. Just like painting your house, you can use your portable air compressor and an airbrush to paint your car. Get a shop-quality paint job in the comfort of your own garage.

How to Pick a Portable Air Compressor

How can you find the perfect portable air compressor that fits your need? You need to consider four things:

  1. What you’re doing with the compressor. Are you painting, nailing, working on your car or just inflating some tires? Or are you looking for a multipurpose compressor you can use for all these tasks and more?
  2. The tool or tools you’re using. Inflating tires requires an inflator. Nailing floorboards requires a nail gun, and working on cars requires a variety of different impact tools.
  3. The CFM and PSI of the tool. Air compressors have two ratings, other than the tank size — the CFM or cubic feet per minute, and the PSI or pounds per square inch. The CFM determines how fast the air is delivered to your tools — some tools require a higher CFM than others. The PSI determines how hard your tool drives — how much power is behind that impact wrench or air hammer.
  4. The tank capacity. This variable determines how much air your portable tank can hold before it needs to be refilled. The higher the tank capacity, the longer you can work before you run out of air.

How to Use the Portable Air Compressor

For inflating tires, all you need is a three-gallon tank, unless you’re running a bicycle repair station and are inflating tires all day long. In terms of CFM and PSI, you don’t need a ton of either. Most inflators only require about 0.5 CFM. A 90 PSI tank is more than sufficient for these needs.

For nailing, the tool you’ll need will depend on the job. Flooring nailers are very lightweight pieces of equipment, requiring only 0.2 CFM. Framing nailers, on the other hand, require a little more power — around 3CFM. For running nail guns, you probably shouldn’t need more than a four-gallon tank.

Auto work requires quite a bit of power to run the equipment. An air ratchet, for example, requires an average of 6CFM. The same is required for an impact wrench. Air hammers only require slightly less, coming in at 4CFM.

It’s important to check your particular air tool for its specific CFM requirements. Auto work requires the most air storage, so you’re probably going to need something in the range of an 11-gallon tank or larger. Painting is the most CFM intensive activity. Most paint guns will need between 6-7 CFM and an eight-gallon tank to get the job done.

It is important to note the CFM of your tools — every air tool will have an average CFM rating. The numbers we’ve provided are only estimates. To get the best results out of your portable air compressor, look for one that provides 30-50% more CFM than your tools call for. If you’re going to run more than one tool, combine their required CFM and purchase a compressor that is 30-50% higher than that combined number.

Compressed air is vital to many operations both industrial and otherwise, so you want to make sure you buy a compressor with enough power to meet your needs. If you want to know what horsepower you should get for an air compressor that can handle all your applications, it helps to start with an understanding of what that number means.

Understanding Air Compressor Horsepower

When shopping for a new air compressor, many customers look to its horsepower rating to get a sense of how much power it can provide. The reason for this is understandable — most of us are familiar with horsepower ratings and use them as a factor when buying a car, lawnmower or other equipment.

The truth is, however, that horsepower ratings don’t tell the whole story when it comes to what a compressor can and can’t do. Instead, a compressor’s horsepower is just one rating that should be considered when shopping for a new unit. In fact, it may even be one of the least significant.

air compressor horse power

What Is Horsepower?

Horsepower is a measure of the amount of work an engine can perform. Several different definitions exist for the term. Car aficionados are likely to be aware of the distinction between standard horsepower (HP) and brake horsepower (BHP), which is the measure of a motor’s power without any of the losses incurred by running auxiliary engine components. Most of the time, when we talk about horsepower in a more abstract sense, we are talking about a unit of power equivalent to 550 foot-pounds per second, or 745.7 watts.

All compressors have a motor component that is rated in horsepower. A compressor motor’s job is simply to drive the cylinders or rotary screw that compress air. The process by which this occurs is complex. As a result, the relationship between the amount of horsepower a motor has and the amount of work a compressor can do is not always straightforward.

HP vs. CFM vs. PSIG

Horsepower (HP), pressure (PSIG) and capacity (CFM) are the three main measurements of what a compressor can do. PSIG is a measure of air pressure. To work properly, most air-powered tools require at least 90 PSIG. CFM refers to the maximum amount of air a compressor can produce at a given pressure level. To run multiple air powered tools at once, a higher CFM rating is required.

When all other factors are equal, horsepower is a measure of the compressor motor’s efficiency at producing a given level of CFM and PSIG. For example, if a 5 HP air compressor and a 10 HP air compressor can both produce 100 PSIG of air pressure at a rate of 15 CFM, the 5 HP model is working more efficiently, saving you money on fuel without a loss in performance.

There are, of course, limits to this efficiency. Most well-designed compressors produce approximately 4 CFM at 100 PSIG per unit of horsepower.

How Important Are Horsepower Ratings When Shopping for a New Compressor?

A compressor’s horsepower rating is an important measure of what it can do and how well it can do it. Under no circumstances will a 5 HP air compressor be able to do the same job as a 100 HP air compressor. However, it is important to remember that horsepower alone shouldn’t be the only factor you consider. The “best” 5 HP air compressor may not be the right one for you if it doesn’t deliver the CFM or PSIG you require of it.

Other Factors to Consider

When you’re shopping for a new air compressor, there are a few additional factors to consider, such as portability. Portable air compressors come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Many are light enough to carry, while larger models have wheels so they can be easily transported. Tank sizes for portable air compressors range from 2- to 30-gallon capacities for light-duty to more demanding jobs.

Stationary air compressors are designed to be bolted to a fixed area and wired directly into your electrical circuit. With larger tanks and greater horsepower, stationary air compressors are ideal for workshops and garages.

The tank size of your air compressor also determines the scope of work you can accomplish. Air compressor tank size can range from 2- to 80-gallon capacities. If you’re using tools that require a high volume of air for continuous use, a larger tank is an ideal choice. However, if your tools only use quick bursts of air, the tank will drain much more slowly, so a capacity of 2 to 6 gallons will likely be sufficient.

What Horsepower to Get for an Air Compressor

Air compressors typically have a horsepower rating between 1.5 and 6.5, though some larger, stationary air compressors can have up to 15 HP. If you are using standard electric power outlets, you’ll need an air compressor at 2 HP or less because standard AC cords require lower voltage to function.

The type of air compressor you get also affects the horsepower ratings. If you were running an electric air compressor at 5 HP, you would need to run a gas- or diesel-powered air compressor at 10 HP to do the same amount of work as the electric model. This is because a gas engine actually produces power through its own combustion, while electric motors draw their power from an external system.

Quincy Compressors has a complete selection of 5 HP, 10 HP and larger air compressors for sale. Check out our Resources page for detailed technical information about our horsepower ratings or contact a sales representative for assistance.

Air compressors come in all different sizes and configurations to support a wide range of potential applications. You can find them everywhere from power and manufacturing plants to the garages of avid DIY enthusiasts.

As a result, the cost of an air compressor can vary widely. Compressor machines may range from portable consumer units to large-scale industrial installations. When shopping for a new air compressor, it’s important both to budget accordingly and understand exactly what you’ll receive.

Air Compressor Types

Knowing the various types of compressors and how they work is essential to understanding why certain models cost more than others. Rotary screw compressors are the most popular type, particularly for heavy-duty applications. As the name suggests, they feature a large screw that, as it turns, forces air into a cylinder where it is compressed.

Reciprocating/piston compressors, the other major type, use a series of cylinder/valve mechanisms to achieve the same result. Most reciprocating air compressors cost less than comparable rotary screw models, particularly for light- and medium-duty applications.

Another important distinction among compressors is between lubricated and oil-free units. Most compressors are lubricated to reduce wear. For use in sensitive environments where managing potential sources of contamination is a key concern, oil-free compressors are available.

Understanding Air Compressor Ratings

The cost of an air compressor is directly related to the amount of work it can perform and the efficiency with which it can perform it. This is expressed in several different numbers:

  • Pressure: The job of a compressor is to produce air at a given pressure level. We express this in pounds per square inch grade, or PSIG. Most pneumatic tools require 90 PSIG to function properly. For other operations, more or less pressure may be required.
  • Capacity: Capacity is the rate at which a compressor can produce air at a given pressure level. Greater capacity means you can run more tools or other devices at once. Capacity is expressed in cubic feet per minute, or CFM.
  • Horsepower: Either an electric or gas motor drives compressors. We express the power of this motor in horsepower. An efficient motor should produce around 4 CFM at 100 PSIG for every HP. Less efficient air compressors cost more to run but often have a lower purchase price.
  • Tank size: Most compressors have a storage tank for holding compressed air, measured in gallons. Larger storage tanks add to the cost of an air compressor but increase the amount of time required between compression cycles, saving you on fuel and reducing wear on sensitive components.

Warranty Coverage

Warranty is another important factor to consider when shopping for a compressor. As with any major purchase, it’s important to choose a manufacturer that stands behind their work. Extended warranty coverage, if available, may add to the cost of an air compressor up front, but it’s an investment that can give you peace of mind for the long term.

Matching You With the Best Value Air Compressor for Your Needs

Need help finding the best value compressor for your application? Quincy makes it easy with our exclusive Concierge program. Sign up online and get started today.

Use our sales and service locator to find an authorized Quincy Compressor dealer near you.

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