Quieter is better, but why?
Now, you may be asking yourself, why exactly do I need a quiet compressor? What makes them so much better? To understand this, you first need to understand the rating scale for sound. Units of sound are measured in something called decibels, which is written as dB for short. The more dB produced, the louder a sound. Obviously, the higher the dB count, the more likely that the sound can cause some permanent damage to your hearing over time.
However, what lots of people don’t understand is that even a moderately loud appliance, such as a vacuum cleaner, which is usually only about 60 dB, can cause permanent hearing loss over time. Most standard air compressors emit about 80-90 dB, making them a poor choice if you want to operate them over long periods of time without using hearing protection.
To put it plain and simple, the biggest reason to get a quiet compressor is to try and protect your hearing. The last thing you want to do is damage your hearing permanently just because you were working in your shop. A quiet compressor will also make for a happier neighborhood and household. Some of the compressors, like the California Air Tools 8010DSPC, only operate at around 40 dB, which is as quiet as a library!
What makes these compressors so quiet?
So, you might be wondering, exactly how do companies go about making their compressors so quiet, when most of them are so noisy? They do this in a couple of different ways. It all starts in the manufacturing and designing process. By swapping out a couple of materials in the compressor’s construction, the noise level can be greatly reduced.
Rubber components – Some of the sounds that come from the compressor are not actually from the operation of the pump itself. Lots of the sound that you hear during the operation the compressor is the interaction of the tool and the floor it is sitting on. By adding rubber isolation pads, companies are working to reduce these vibrations and the noise that they cause.
While it might seem like a simple step to take, these pads can help reduce the noise level quite a bit. They can take a compressor that would usually operate at 90 dB, which is quite dangerous for our hearing over time, and reduce it to around 70 dB, which is only as loud as a normal conversation!
Sound dampening – If you were to look at the pump on an older model compressor, you would quickly notice something troubling. These older compressors had nothing covering up their pumps, which allowed all of that loudness to quickly and easily spread throughout the workspace.
Nowadays, manufacturers are starting to make compressors with thicker steel or aluminum, which helps to reduce the noise level. Sound-dampening enclosures that completely cover up the pumps are also used in modern compressors, which again help to reduce the noise level by quite a bit.
Power source – When it comes to compressors, you have two different choices for how you want to power it. You can either choose a gas powered compressor or one that runs on electricity. While gas-powered compressors are more portable, they are also substantially louder than electric ones. This makes electric compressors a much better choice if you are looking to keep it as quiet as possible.
It should come as no surprise that there are several key factors that you need to keep in mind when you are looking for a quiet air compressor. In this section, we’ll review everything that you need to know to find the right compressor for your needs.
There are a couple of different compressor types that you can choose from. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages that make them unique from each other. They use different methods to collect, compress, and store air.
Reciprocating – This is by far the most common type of air compressor. This is a straightforward and simple machine that uses a piston to power its motor. This piston moves up and down quickly and captures air.
These types of compressors can either be single-stage or duplex models, with duplex being much quieter. This is because they can produce more air with fewer revolutions and allow for much better cooling. If you choose this type of compressor, be sure that you look for low compressors that are equipped with an aftercooler.
Rotary Screw – These compressors are much quieter than reciprocating models. Instead of having a piston that captures the air, these compressors have a pair of matching helical screws which operate independently of each other.
Since these screws do not touch each other, this helps to keep these models really quiet. It also helps to prevent them from overheating. Rotary screw compressors are great for small spaces since they can be mounted close by without requiring any sort of hearing protection.
Scroll – These are, by far, the quietest and most efficient types of air compressors. They are also the most expensive to purchase. These types of compressors use two spiral-shaped pieces of metal to compress the air. One of the pieces rotates around the other in a circular motion, which creates the desired compression.
This type of compressor is meant for continuous use, though they don’t have a high CFM capacity. They are very quiet, however, and will not overheat, even if they are run all day long.
Number of tanks
The number of tanks that you need on your compressor is largely dependent on what you intend to do with it. You can get a quiet compressor with one or two tanks, depending on your needs.
One Tank – Single-tank air compressors usually have much smaller storage capacities than models that have two tanks. This makes them a good option for light use around the house, but not quite as effective in an industrial setting.
Two Tanks – If you are looking for a higher level of performance from your compressor, then you might want to get one with two tanks. While they are more expensive than a single tank compressor, they have a higher air storage capacity, which makes it possible to complete more work in less time.
Like all engines, air compressor pumps require some lubricant. You can choose a model that uses oil or one that utilizes a specialized type of Teflon for its lubricant.
Oil – If your compressor uses oil for its lubrication, you will simply need to add some every once in a while. These compressors are usually better suited to heavy use and are also much quieter to operate. Their only drawback is that they will cost a bit more to run since you need to purchase the oil to keep them lubricated.
Oil-free – These compressors use a band of Teflon to keep them lubricated during operation. They are usually a bit more expensive upfront than a model that uses oil. They are also louder than oiled compressors, though some models are still pretty quiet, as the California Air Tools 8010DSPC.
When you are selecting your compressor, you have two options to consider when it comes to powering it. You can either go with a gas powered or electrically powered compressor.
Gas – Air compressors that run on gas are more portable than electric models. They are also a bit louder since they are utilizing a combustion engine to power their pump and compress air.
Electric – Electric compressors might not be as portable as gas compressors, but they are still quite effective. They are much cheaper to run than a gas-powered model and are also much quieter to operate.
The tank volume describes how much air the compressor can store at any given time. The amount of volume that you require is completely dependent on the type of work that you intend to complete with your compressor.
If, for instance, you only intend to use it in a home workshop where the compressor will only see moderate use, you can probably go for a smaller tank. On the other hand, if you are going to be running your compressor all the time in an industrial setting, then you will want to get a higher capacity tank so that your needs are met.
Several factors will affect the performance of your compressor. You need to make sure that the PSI, CFM, and the power of the motor all line up with your needs, or you won’t be able to complete the work that you need to get done.
PSI – The PSI is the amount of pressure that the compressor can create. The type of work you intend to do will help you to determine the amount of PSI that you need. If you only want to fill up air tires or run small tools, you can get by with a lower PSI than if you’re going to run more powerful tools.
CFM – The CFM (cubic foot per minute) of a compressor describes how quickly the compressor can refill. The higher the number, the faster the compressor will be able to fill itself during use. You will also pay a bit more for a higher CFM, so keep in mind how often you will use your compressor before you make your purchase.
Motor – The power of the motor is described as horsepower or HP. The higher the number, the more powerful the motor. Of course, the more powerful the motor, the louder the compressor is probably going to be.
No matter how you intend to use your compressor, you want to make sure that you get one that will last a good long time. Make sure that you get one that is well designed and manufactured with high-quality materials. Models that use a less powerful motor tend to be the most durable.
No matter how durable your compressor might be, you should always keep on the lookout for a model with a good warranty. Even highly durable model is going to have some parts that fail, even if the whole compressor itself doesn’t.
You just need to make sure that you select a model that comes with a clear warranty. Some of the warranties offered on compressors only cover certain elements for a long period, while other parts are covered for a shorter amount of time. Make sure you read the fine print, so you are aware of how long of a warranty you are actually getting.
The good thing about air compressors is that they are so versatile. They can be used with a large range of tools, making them ideal for the home workshop or a more industrial setting. Of course, not all compressors can be used for every job.
When purchasing your compressor, be sure that you understand how much PSI and CFM the tools you intend to use require. That way, you can make sure to get a compressor that can give you the power you need. This is especially important to keep in mind with a quiet compressor since they do not have quite as high of a PSI threshold as other, louder compressors.
The other good thing about an air compressor is that they don’t usually require a ton of maintenance. If you get a model that needs oil, make sure that you add it regularly. If you decide to go with an oil-less compressor, keep a lookout for signs of wear on the Teflon, as this will need to be replaced every few years.