When you are looking at a compressor of this size, you can either select a single stage or dual stage compressor. The type of compressor that you select will largely hinge on what kind of work you intend to do with it.
Single-stage compressors are named as such because the air is only compressed in a single stage. Once the air is compressed, it is then sent on to a storage tank. Single stage compressors are best used for smaller scaled jobs, such as nailing, sawing, and stapling. This makes them a great choice for a home workshop.
Dual-stage compressors compress air two times. Once the air has been compressed the first time, it is then sent through a smaller cylinder that both cools and compresses the air a second time. This helps to create a higher level of PSI, making dual stage compressors perfect industrial compressors or for automotive applications.
Number of cylinders
When you are choosing your air compressor, you can get one with one, two, or three cylinders. These cylinders will affect how efficiently the air is compressed. This will have a direct impact on how much it costs to run your compressor.
If you are only thinking of occasionally using your compressor, then a single cylinder will work just fine. It will compress quickly but may overheat if you try to use it on extended jobs.
If you want to inflate and run some tools on your compressor, then a two-cylinder model should do the trick. It can run a longer time without overheating than a single cylinder model.
If multiple tools are run off of your compressor at different PSI levels, then you will want to get a three-cylinder model. These models are the most cost-efficient to run, though they do cost more up front.
Oil vs. Oil-free
To ensure that your compressor is working properly, it will need to be well lubricated. To achieve this, you have two different options to choose from. You can either get a model that needs to be regularly oiled or an oil-free one.
With this type of compressor, you will need to add a bit of oil every once in a while to make sure that it is properly lubricated. Compressors that utilize oil are better suited to heavier use, such as in industrial locations.
Oil-free models do not require any oil to be added for lubrication. Instead, they usually have a band of Teflon that provides all the lubrication the compressor needs. Unfortunately, this will break down over time, making these compressors better suited to lighter applications.
Something else that you need to consider when you are purchasing your compressor is how you intend to power it. You can either choose from a gas powered or electrically run compressor.
Gas-powered compressors are more portable than electric models but are also costlier to run. Since you will regularly have to refill them for the compressor to run properly, the cost could become prohibitive if you are running it all the time. There is also the possibility of a gas spill, which is never a good thing.
While electric compressors are not as portable as a gas-powered model, they are generally a better buy. This is especially true if you are going to be operating out of one location, be that your own personal workshop or an industrial worksite. These compressors are usually more efficient and cheaper to run than gas operated models.
The amount of pressure that a compressor can create depends upon the number of stages that it utilizes to compress the air. Single stage models will usually have an upper limit of around 100 PSI, while dual stage models can go much higher.
The amount of PSI that you need is, of course, largely dependent on the type of work that you intend to be doing. If all you want to do is fill up the air in your car tires or run woodworking tools, then you can go for a model that provides a lower number of PSI. If, however, you need to run a ton of pneumatic tools, you might want to look for a compressor with a higher PSI threshold. Otherwise, you might not be able to run the type or number of tools you need to get the job done right.
No matter what kind of application you intend to utilize your compressor for, you will want to get one that is going to last you a good long time.
If you truly want to make sure that you are getting a durable model, then you should be sure to choose one that requires oil every so often. These models will generally last a bit longer than oil-less versions, since there is no limit to the number of times you can refill the lubricant.
You’ll also want to pay close attention to the number of RPM for the motor of your compressor. The higher the number, the faster the compressor will be able to fill up with air. Conversely, the higher the number, the faster the motor might burn out.
No matter how durable the compressor you purchase is purported to be, you should always be sure to get a model with a good warranty. Even high-quality compressors can have parts that fail, and the last thing that you want to do is spend a bunch of money on a compressor, have a part fail, and have no way of getting it repaired for free.
You just need to be sure that you read the warranty as carefully as possible. Some companies will offer a long-term, limited warranty. The limited part is what you really need to watch out for, as this could mean that certain parts aren’t covered under warranty.