Air Compressors - Understanding The Types, Costs, Functions, And Availability

by Jerrico_Usher

This is a detailed overview of the main types, brands, and even costs of purchasing an air compressor unit. If your in the market for an air compressor you'll be glad you came here

This article is designed to introduce you to the many types and models of air compressors on the market today. You will learn how each type and a few of the most popular brands work and how they're used, how they work internally and more.

You will get a feel for the different types available then in the other articles publish(ed) here you will learn more detailed information on these. This article is the beginning of a series of articles covering all the most popular air compressors available and their workings. The other pages (which I'll link to you at the bottom of this page when they are all published) will be specific information on particular types including more details on each type and brand.

You will also learn about more specific models/brands and where to get them, the average price of that model, and the specifications, comparisons to other types and much more.


Air Compressor Review
Air Compressor Review


An air compressor is a valuable tool for anyone to have. Thanks to its variety of uses, even the average home owner will find many jobs can be completed quickly and easily with the help of These units.

From pumping up tires to installing molding, an air compressor cuts the time needed to complete a project while making the work easier on you. A compressor does nothing more than compress and store air under pressure for use with air powered tools. Available in a variety of shapes and sizes there is a compressor for every need.

Air Compressor Styles

Air compressors come in both horizontal and vertical styles. The horizontal style takes up less space than a vertical one, yet is harder to move from place to place.

If your compressor can be set up and left in place, this is the type to purchase. If you need a model that is portable, it is best to go with a vertical tank compressor.

Vertical compressors can easily be moved from job site to job site thanks to the design. The styling of this type allows two or more people to lift the unit together to place it on a truck or trailer for hauling.

Another major consideration when you compare air compressors is the tank size. Compressor tanks are measured in gallons and the size you purchase will depend on how much air pressure is needed.

A small tank is perfect for repair jobs around the home as those types of tools require less air. Yet if you are using a paint gun or something of that nature, a larger tank is needed to complete the job in a quick and efficient manner.

Not only do you need to look at tank size when you compare air compressors, you also need to inquire about the horsepower of the unit. The horsepower tells you how quickly an air tank can refill. Less horsepower means the tank takes longer to come back up to full operating power which leads to delays.

Make sure you get an air compressor with enough horsepower to quickly refill when depleted as this will keep you and your crew up and running at all times. Although additional horsepower does cost more, it is well worth it in terms of productivity.

Below I'll introduce you to some of the different types and models of air compressors on the market today, how each type and a few of the most popular brands work, and how they're used, and how they work internally.


There Are Three Different Types Of Air Compressors

  • Reciprocating
  • Rotary screw
  • Rotary centrifugal

The most common type of compressor is the reciprocating variety although many prefer the rotary screw type as the price of this style has dropped significantly. Centrifugal air compressors are usually limited to industrial applications as they are much more expensive than the other two types.

Lets compare the rotary screw and reciprocating air compressor styles

Rotary screw air compressors have increased in popularity over the years as their price has become more competitive. Rather than using pistons in the compressor design, this type of compressor uses two screws which are identical to force air into higher pressures.

You can choose a two-stage model with this style to create increased air pressure and flow.

Rotary Screw Technology


Chicago Pneumatic manufactures the Quiet Rotary Screw Air Compressor with Dryer

  • 5 HP
  • 230 Volts
  • 1 Phase
  • Model# QRS5 HPD 230V/1
  • By CP (Chicago Pneumatic)
  • Priced around $5499.99.

For use in aftermarket auto repair applications, this compressor is not only easy to install, it is also very quiet thanks to the sound-attenuating enclosure.

With an adjustable V-belt drive and refrigerated dryer, many love this model as it offers 100% continuous duty even under a full load.

Quiet Rotary Screw Air Compressor with Dryer

- Chicago Pneumatic Quiet Rotary Screw Air Compressor with Dryer - ...
Chicago Pneumatic
Only $11846.15


Reciprocating Compressor Technology

Reciprocating compressors use pistons to compress air within a cylinder. The air is then forced into a high-pressure storage tank and these types of air compressors are often found in home workshops or where portability is a must. These are also the most affordable air compressors as they have been around the longest.  

Quincy Air Master offers the Master Reciprocating Air Compressor: (see right side for image/amazon)

  • 15 HP
  • 460 Volt 3 Phase
  • Model# 2153DS12HCA46
  • Priced at just $4,399.99
  • This unit features an industrial-duty magnetic starter as well as a U.S. made Baldor motor.

The working PSI of this machine is 145-175. These machines are both efficient and cost-effective as they produce more air with lower horsepower.

Not only do they run cooler at a slower RPM, they offer the best-in-the-industry 50,000 pump life rating. It's hard to beat this model if you are considering a reciprocating compressor. 


Determining The Right Type Of Air Compressor For Your Needs

To determine which types of air compressors will work best for you, you first need to consider what you will be using your compressor for. If you use intermittent tools, such as a nail gun, you can purchase a reciprocating compressor.

If you need something that can run tools, such as a spray painter, continuously, a rotary screw air compressor is the preferred type. Reciprocating compressors cannot be used steadily as they need more time to cool down between tasks than do rotary compressors. 


My hope is that this article brought you some insight into the various types of air compressors available, how they worked, and even some example models, prices, includes, and things of that nature. Coming soon will be more focused articles on each air compressor type that you can use to further your research and in determining what you may need. 

These articles will be self sufficient covering several models of each type. They will be linked to below when they are all uploaded (so if you see no links they aren't yet up there).

Thank you for reading! Good Luck!

Links Coming Soon (for more, focused, articles on the various types/brands available).

Updated: 08/06/2012, Jerrico_Usher
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