Looking for a air compressor what is important
I'm trying to build my shop tools as I can and I'm looking for a decent entry level vertical air compressor (around $300) all I use my current air compressor for is to blow off dust after sanding & my brad nailer but I'd like to eventually get some pneumatic tools. My current is a small harbor freight pancake compressor.
What should I look for?
Capacity? (20 - 30 gallon or more)
Max PSI? (125 - 175PSI)
Anything else? I have been looking at one at Home Depot I cant remember the specs but it costs $209
Any help is appreciated
Been there done this. Your not going to run any pneumatic tools other than a nailer unless you pay much more than that . Well that being said ,sure you can , but for mere seconds .
I would look at the required pressure for what tools may be of interest to you in the future , and make sure the new one meets the requirements .
I really goofed in the past,as I could have gotten a Campbell hausfeld with 4 cylinders for $700 years ago , as they couldn’t sell it and offered it to me at cost .
It was a single stage and was rated at 19 psi @ 120 cfm. .
Unfortunately I didn’t realize I needed a bigger service to run it, so I took it back . Kicking myself for not storing it .
Now it’s going to cost me 3K for a dual stage
The most important specification is delivered cfm at 90 psi, which is a common working pressure.
Bigger is better. I built my own head using Harbor Freight two cylinder pump and their biggest 240V electric motor (3 hp) and used my old 60 gall tank, inlet and modified the blow off valve. Total cost about $ 400 incl a new pulley and the adjustable belts. To buy something similar to this setup would be $1200+.
It delivers about 15 cfm at 90 psi which is enough to run any of the cheap tools including my sand blasting cabinet and a big impact gun. Compressor is quiet and runs only some of the time with the big air hog tools like the cheap die grinders. Plumbed it entirely in 1/2" iron pipe for safety (I weld and grind in there as well) and access; with plenty of downruns with drains. Make sure your tank has an easily accessible drain - compressing air heats it up dramatically, which will condense inside the tank......which is not bueno for your tools lifespan.
Anything below 7 cfm will end up running all the time while using most tools; having too much compressor means it will be quiet and not wear out prematurely.
If you are on a budget, I would consider the HF 21 or 29 gallon models, although they are both too small to run a real tool. Don't be fooled by the hp ratings, all that matters is how much air volume at real pressure is available. There are plenty of suppliers out there from Craftsman to Husky that should be able to provide you something decent for under $500. Reality is that you should spend more and get something with large pump and large compressor lines and outlets.
If you are going to run air tools you'll want a compressor capable of maintaining the CFM required for your largest air consuming tool, without having the compressor running constantly. For instance, a sander, grinder, or an air wrench will need around 60-70 CFM at 90 to 120 psi. For me, that translates to a 80 to 150 gallon of capacity, a two stage compressor and at least a 7 hp 220 motor. My tank is an 80 gallon and, I don't run out of air but, I only use one air tool at a time. If I had a two man shop, I'd probably need an auxiliary air tank.
Gary, the problem I have with most compressors is the noise. They drive me up the wall. So after shopping around I settled on a Cal-Air Ultra quiet 10gal Compressor. It has 2 compressors run off one motor. (Direct drive one off each end)
It is quieter than any compressor I have ever had, and they are on sale now.
I can run nail guns but not air driven tools off of it. But that doesn't bother me,as I can work around the air tools part.
They are worth checking out,they have lots of options.
Mine's one of those 20Gal portable 129/240 V jobs I think the output at 90psi is about 6cfm. I can run my pneumatic ROS off it but it only takes I think 2cfm...I posted a thread about it when i bought it. It'll also run my die grinder. Having said that it's most definitely too small a capacity. If it was a 3HP 220V oil filled vertical unit I'd be a happy camper.
For $300 you'll have to find a used air compressor to run any real air tools other than nailers. The only way to figure out how big of a compressor you need is to find the tools first. I had a compressor that could just run 1/4" air drills and my small peanut grinder, but it took forever to press up when I started working, and was way overkill when just using the nailers. I realized I had corded or battery tools that did almost everything the air tools did, so I sold it.
In it's place I bought a California Air silent air compressor, which I love. It's small, but it has never failed to keep up with my guns when I am using it. The trade off of capacity for noise has been well worth it.
My co worker had no issues running it, but then the tank blew up because I didnít release the air every time after I used it , and it rusted internally
I have a cobbled together system like Paul described in post 3 also with a 3hp motor. It will run a 1/2” impact and a die grinder but I have to stop periodically and let it catch up. I also have a portable (barely) stacked little twin tank that sells in the price range you are looking at. It’s quick at getting up to pressure but also very noisy. I’m usually wearing ear muffs so that doesn’t bother me that much. It would run a 3/8 air ratchet okay but I’d be doing a fair amount of waiting with a impact or a die grinder. It is big enough to run a spray gun where something smaller might be pushed too hard.
Hehehe I got a small HF compressor a few years back. All I've ever used it for is to pump up some car tires, which was what I got it for in the first place. A bit slow perhaps, but does the job, so I'm content.
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