28 Jun 2018

To help you better understand the usage of different air compressor types we have categorised compressor range into four types:

  • Single Phase – 240V/10 and 15 amp
  • Three Phase – 450V
  • Petrol – 5.5 & 13HP
  • Diesel – 4 & 10HP

An air compressor converts power into potential energy that is stored in pressurised air and forces more air into a tank increasing its pressure. This potential energy is then harnessed for a variety of uses, making the device a very important tool across different industries.

In early years, an air compressor is commonly seen in big industrial areas and businesses but lately, it has filtered down to the masses and made its way to small shops and home garages. While it maintained its profound value in big industries, it also became in demand for small businesses and even for personal home use.

The growing demand for air compressors paved the way for the manufacturing of more brands and models that are now available in the market. This is a good thing as consumers now have a vast range of options when it comes to purchasing an air compressor.

On the flip side, however, having lots of options may contribute to a dilemma on which make and model to buy. The different types of air compressors, varying sizes and features, and the many available models that offer upgrades can be overwhelming for someone who is not an expert in choosing the right air compressor.

This buying guide will provide you with ideas on how to spot the right air compressor that will suit your needs.

The Different Types Of Air Compressors

Before deciding which brand or model to buy, you need to know and understand the different types of air compressors first. This is so you can have an informed decision on your choice and be certain on what to look for in terms of a compressor type.

1. Single Phase Air Compressors

A single phase air compressor works in a standard 220/240 domestic power supply. This type of compressor normally has under 3.0HP electric motors.

Single phase air compressors are usually used in small shops, home garages, and for small uses that can be overkill when using a three-phase air compressor. It is not as powerful as three-phase of course but it is more preferred by those who only work with a few tools with their air compressors, saving them money in purchasing and electric bill.

As expected, single phase air compressors are cheaper than their three phase counterparts. The cost ranges from as low as $325 to as much as $1500 depending on the brand, model, and features.

A single phase air compressor is ideal for at-home craft projects, small home repairs, use of a few air tools, small businesses like automotive shops, repair shops, dentist’s clinic, beauty parlours, and other small enterprises that use air tools.

2. Three-phase Air Compressors

This is the most common type of air compressor for the tool being used naturally in industrial works. This is the type that can be seen in large manufacturing and production areas and other commercial use. The 380/440 power range consumption of the three-phase provides for a stable power supply that helps extend the life of electric motors. This stability is required of heavy-duty compressor works with lots of air tools harnessing energy from it.

The cost of a three phase air compressor ranges from around $2000 to as much as $8000 depending on the brand, model, and features. While it can be very costly, it is basically important to any manufacturing and industrial works, making it a must-purchase item.

Due to its power and high PSI capacity three-phase air compressors are mostly used in manufacturing and production, big construction works, highlyindustrial processes and large commercial enterprises.

3. Diesel Air Compressors

Diesel air compressors are known to provide the highest level of output compared to electric and petrol compressors. It provides an output that ranges from 185 to 1,600 CFM that far out do other types.

This compressor type provides higher torque and greater capacity for a vast range of simultaneous air tool connections and is usually used for behind truck mounted and towable models. While you may need to take extra fuel with you since many diesel air compressor models are made with smaller fuel tanks than some petrol models so it can easily be mounted on a variety of work vehicles.

Diesel air compressors on average cost the same with three-phase air compressors. Its price ranges from $3000 – $5500, although some brand models may cost more with some added features. Fortunately, there are a wide range of trusted brands of diesel air compressors in the market like Royce compressors distributed by Compressor Care that proves to offer the best performance and high-grade quality that can withstand heavy duty work.

Many prefer diesel air compressors because of its high output capacity compared to petrol compressors of the same size. Its portability is very convenient for working on areas with no stable and consistent supply of electricity. This currently occurs in rural area sites far from electric grids where power interruptions are common or those that often experience adverse weather conditions. Diesel is more economical to use than petrol as fuel, but greatly depends on how much work you need to accomplish. Diesel compressors have simpler ignition systems compared to other compressor types so it requires less maintenance. This is the reason why business owners prefer them even if they are quite expensive to purchase.

There are very few disadvantages in using diesel air compressors that can easily be eased with proper usage and logistics. They tend to be noisier than their electric and petrol counterpart and can be heavier and bulkier which makes transportation challenging and requiring the use of large transport vehicles. It is also advised to use this compressor outdoors due to the toxicity of the fumes it releases. Indoor or at-home use may cause some health problems, especially when the workers are not using protective gear.

Despite these, the benefits of using diesel air compressor far outweighs the disadvantages if you are really looking for high power output, portable and heavy-duty compressor.

4. Petrol Air Compressors

Petrol air compressors are often portable and a very great alternative to rural area works that have no access to a power grid. This multi-stage compressor is good at providing power to simultaneous air tools usage. Depending on the brand and model, many petrol air compressors today provide a better performance in heavy-duty works.

The cost of petrol air compressors range from around $1800- $4500, again, depending on the brand, model, and the included upgrades and features. You may find some brands and models in the market that offer great quality for a portion of the cost of a diesel or electric power air compressor offering the same output.

While some may frown over petrol air compressors in comparison to its diesel counterpart, there are actually many that prefer this air compressor type over diesel or electric of a number of reasons. Primary to this is the flexibility of petrol air compressor engines that allow greater control on the power output and fuel usage. If a particular task requires just a low output, the compressor can be easily calibrated to match the need resulting in low fuel consumption and wastage and lower noise levels. Diesel may be considered economical but petrol is generally cheaper by monitoring output and fuel usage, you may actually save more overtime if you have less work to do. This is on top of the fact that petrol air compressors are cheaper to purchase than diesel or electric, making it perfect for intermittent light and heavy duty works. Moreover, it is highly portable so it is easy to transport to outdoor sites or rural areas where no stable electricity can be used.

On the flip side, although it is cheap to buy initially, it may require more maintenance over its lifetime to make sure that it performs well. Due to its lower capacity than diesel, it may not be able to produce as much as the amount of torque and power as a similarly rated diesel compressor can produce. Like diesel compressors, working outdoors with petrol compressors require the efficient and safe transport and storage of fuel.

Spotting A Quality Air Compressor

Understanding the different types of compressors in terms of their power usage is highly important but it’s just a part of deciding which ones to buy. Equally important are other factors that must be considered when shopping for an air compressor.

  • Pay attention to total air consumption and required tools operation pressure – For your tools to work perfectly your air compressor needs to supply enough air flow. If you have multiple air tools that you will connect to the compressor, you need to know the total air consumption required and find an air compressor that goes perfectly with it. This is the same as the required pressure or psi of your air tools. The air compressor should be able to match the needs.
  • Consider air tools usage – Another factor to consider is your usage of air tools. If your tools are many and need to be used continuously, then you may need a heavy-duty compressor, but if tools are only a few and are used intermittently, you may only need a low-cost simple one-phase power air compressor.
  • Choose a quality brand and model – The reputation of the distributor and the brand is very important to make sure you are getting good quality. Look for distributors like Compressor Core and brands like Royce to make sure you are buying the best, great performing, heavy duty, and high overall quality compressors.
  • Be careful of very low prices– a good quality air compressor must be made of high-grade materials and impeccable engineering, which makes it costly. Do not settle for low-cost brands and models and make sure to buy those at reasonable prices or you will end up disappointed.
  • Ask a reliable friend – If you are still unsure of making the right choice, do not hesitate to ask someone with knowledge and experience in buying air compressors. They will be able to provide you with a more reliable information on your product choices and can advise you well on which to choose.