Air CompressorAir Compressor

Last updated on October 4th, 2023 at 06:28 am

Welcome to your ultimate guide in the world of air compressors! If you’ve ever been curious about how these machines work or found yourself in need of clear, simple explanations, you’ve come to the right place.

In this handbook, we’ve stripped away all the confusing jargon and complicated details. Instead, you’ll find straightforward explanations and practical tips that anyone can understand. Whether you’re a beginner trying to grasp the basics or someone looking to fine-tune your knowledge, this guide is tailored just for you.

From understanding the different types of compressors to essential maintenance and usage tips, we cover it all. No more puzzling over manuals or searching for reliable information online. Everything you need to know about air compressors is right here, in easy-to-understand language.

So, let’s dive in! Together, we’ll unravel the mysteries of air compressors and equip you with the knowledge you need. Get ready to master the art of air compressors – it’s simpler than you think!

What is an Air Compressor?

An Air Compressor converts power into pressurized air, serving a range of tasks. It’s a practical device, transforming energy into versatile functionality,

How Does An Air Compressor Exactly Work?

Let’s break it down into easy steps, no jargon, just plain English.

Step 1: Sucking in Air

First things first, the compressor takes a deep breath, pulling in regular air through a special valve. Imagine it like breathing through a straw.

Step 2: Squeezing the Air

Once inside, the compressor squeezes the air really tight. Think of it like squishing a balloon to make it pop. This squeezing makes the air super strong.

Step 3: Storing the Power

Now, this compressed air needs a home. It’s stored in a tank, like putting energy in a battery. This tank keeps the air safe until it’s needed.

Step 4: Letting the Air Out

When your tools or toys need power, the compressed air is released through a hose, like air coming out of a balloon. This released air can do cool stuff, like making tools work or inflating things.

And there you have it, the simple secret of how air compressors work! They breathe in air, squeeze it tight, store the power, and then let it out to make things happen. Easy, right? If you have any more questions, feel free to ask in the comment section!!

Types of Air Compressor

There are mainly two types of air compressors for home garages: single-stage and dual-stage air compressors.

Let’s help you to differentiate one from the other.

Single-Stage Air Compressor – You can also refer to this type of air compressor as a ‘piston compressor.’ 

  • This equipment initially sucks air into a cylinder and compresses it to a pressure of approximately 120 to 135 PSI (pounds per square inch).
  • It compresses air only once, which is then used to power tools or stored in a holding tank.

Dual-Stage Air Compressor: You can refer to this type of air compressor as a ‘Two-stage air compressor.’

  • It is powerful enough to compress air twice, thereby doubling the pressure efficiently. The pressure reaches up to 175 PSI or even more.
  • This air compressor is an excellent option for continuous operations or more extensive tools with an incredibly high demand for non-stop power.
  • For this reason, you can use dual-stage air compressors to power commercial or industrial pneumatic tools.

Read this to learn –  Best Air Compressors for Home Use or Home Shop

Top usage of Air Compressors 

Air compressors come in different sizes and are put to use for different purposes –

  • Household Chores: Air compressors can help to simplify household chores like blowing out leaves from the garage of a front porch, blowing away dust, dirt, and wood dust from your furniture, driving in bolts, and so on.
  • Construction and manufacturing: Air compressors play a role in construction and manufacturing sites for powering drills, sprayers, and hammers.
  • Agriculture: Air compressors simplify agricultural work as they are used to power Tractors, crop conveyors, and so on.
  • Ventilation: Air compressors are useful for heating and cooling. They are used to cool vehicles and also for air conditioning.
  • Spray painting: Small air compressors are handy for powering airbrushes used in spray painting for commercial and personal use.
  • Inflating: Air compressors are great for inflating tires, air beds, balloons, and other inflatables.
  • Scuba diving: Compressed air is required for scuba diving as pressurized air enables divers to breathe underwater much longer.

Benefits of Air Compressor 

There are different air compressors, and the benefit you get depends widely on why you need one in the first place. If you need more info about the best air compressors for home garage, then keep reading.

Here are some of the benefits of purchasing an air compressor for personal use:

  • It is far easier to maintain air compressors than any other equipment with similar functionality.
  • You can fill your car tires with air at home instead of heading over to the gas station.
  • It helps you to power tools – such as staple guns, hammers, saw, etc. – when working on energy-intensive projects.
  • An air compressor is a piece of excellent equipment to have when cleaning your dusty or dirty walls as well as electronic gadgets.
  • If you have an event and the location needs decoration with balloons, your air compressor can do the honors. Imagine blowing air with your mouth to fill 200 balloons. Your jaws and cheeks will hurt the whole day.

We will look at some of the top air compressors out there that you can use for different purposes.

Not all features are found in one product but based on your requirement, picking one with benefits that match your need would be more practical.

Air Compressor Tools


There are several tools that you can hook up with your air compressor to maximize its usage. Some of these tools include;


  • Air impact wrench: An air impact wrench is essential for loosening or tightening nuts.
  • Air ratchet wrench: Air ratchets are an excellent choice to loosen or tighten low to medium torque bolts. They are mainly for repairing brake parts.
  • Air hammer: Air hammers are excellent for carving in stone or breaking metal objects.
  • Air drill: Air drills are excellent for drilling holes, especially on metals or wood.
  • Air staplers: This is functional for holding together materials that might become easily dislodged.


Air Compressor Parts


  • Actuators: This creates rotary or linear movement that forces compressed air into tools.
  • Bearings: Bearings help ensure durable usage for the most demanding operations.
  • Belts: Belts help to drive the operations of the compressor.
  • Bumpers: Bumpers protect your compressor from impact.
  • Bushings: Bushings create space between your parts and protect the compressor from breakdown.
  • Connecting rods: These ease the movement of the piston up and down the crankcase.
  • Couplings: These help to prevent leakage.
  • Desiccant dryers: These absorb water vapor and purify your compressed air.
  • Other parts include; Gaskets and seals, Gauges, motors, O-rings, Rotors, Shims, and valves.

More to explore –  Top 5 Best Off-Road Air Compressors Reviews

Top Brands

Some brands have made an impact in the industry and have become widely known. Here are some of the best air compressor brands out there –


Raynond DeWalt is the brains behind this great organization. The company was established in 1922 and produced the first woodworking equipment that completely revolutionized the efficiency and speed of cutting wood.

Today, DeWalt manufactures highly durable and innovative products, of which one of the most popular is the DEWALT 20V Max XR Brushless ½-inch Cordless Drill/Driver Kit. And its global presence is felt everywhere.


This company came into existence in Arlington, Massachusetts, in 1896. Bostitch manufactures air compressors, tool accessories, fasteners, and tools. The company is a trusted brand in America, and this is due to its unwavering commitment to innovation and quality.

Bostitch has powerful equipment – and a very impressive, pocket-friendly combo kit – on the market today, the BOSTITCH Air Compressor Combo Kit with Brad Nailer.

California Air Tools

This company came into existence in San Diego, California, in 2002. A relatively new entrant into the manufacturing industry, California Air Tools prides itself on creating some of the quietest air compressors on the market and in the industry today.

One of its legendary products, the 2.0 HP industrial-grade air compressor, the California Air Tools 20020Ultra Quiet, an Oil-free and Powerful Portable Air Compressor, is making waves today.

Ingersoll Rand

In 1872, the Rand & Warring Drill & Compressor Company experienced its birth. By 1890, the organization showcased the world’s electric-powered, direct-connect compressor. Since then, this company has continued to grow in leaps and bounds, expanding its influence across several industries. One of this company’s top-selling products today is the Ingersoll Rand 212, Impact Wrench. 

Air Compressor Pricing

The best air compressors for home garages are available in different price ranges. Therefore, any final choice made needs to be the best air compressor for the money.

Here they are in no particular order:

Less than $200

  • You will get a compact, smaller air compressor capable of delivering less than 120 PSI for this price range.
  • The compressor will have a capacity that is a little less than 8 gallons.
  • Compact air compressors are portable because they are lightweight. However, they may not be capable of powering all your pneumatic tools.

Between $200-$500

  • A wide range of air compressors within this price bracket is available for users.
  • The air compressors will have 8 to 20-gallon capacities, and some of the top producers within the industry are responsible for manufacturing them.
  • Most air compressors within this range are also portable but more powerful than the previous range.
  • And they can also run for more extended periods, making them much better options for DIY and commercial-grade projects.

$500 and above

  • $500 is the price range for most of the heavier-duty and strongest air compressors for home garages.
  • Most air compressors here are within the 30-gallon capacity range.
  • They offer highly significant CFM (cubic feet per minute) and PSI that

The significant features you need – or should look out for – in an air compressor are:

  • Pressure: The presence of a maximum PSI which should not exceed the recommended pressure.
  • Storage Capacity: Tank storage capacity that is suitable for your needs depending on the duration you want.
  • Rate of Air Flow: Airflow rates that are powerful enough to control your tools and also accommodate versatile changes.
  • CFM Capacity: The capacity should be able to handle any level of activity conveniently.
  • Noise level: A low noise level is needed to make the air compressor run silently.
  • Size: Portability to aid movement from one place to another.
  • Manufacturers’ Support:  A relatively decent manufacturer’s warranty to cover at least one year.

Things to Consider Before You An Air Compressor

Thus far, we have discussed the benefits of air compressors, the types of air compressors on the market today, and the top brands making them. However, with so many air compressors on the market today, you may become confused and not know the one to buy.

Therefore, the most critical question in your mind should be, “What are the factors you should look for when shopping for the best air compressor? Here are some of the factors you should consider:


The word ‘capacity refers to the amount of air pressure an air compressor can store per time. The higher the capacity of the air compressor, the more the possibility of running it for extended periods.

For instance, using up a 10-gallon tank along with your air tool will take more time than working with a 7-gallon tank air compressor. So, if you get an air compressor with a small tank, you will need to use the pump and motor repeatedly.

But this is not to imply that air compressors with small tanks are not worth it. On the contrary, everything depends significantly on your usage of the air compressor.


The size of the air compressor matters a lot since those with smaller capacities typically come with compact designs. You can easily fit these types in one corner of your garage. The smaller ones are also easier to store or transport. The larger ones may be stressful, but moving them will not be a problem if you can get one with balanced wheels.

Shape: Vertical or Horizontal?

Vertically shaped air compressors are the perfect options for those who want to save their floor spaces or for easy storage.

Oil-free or Oiled Generator?

For the piston that compresses the air to work optimally, it needs lubrication. And this lubrication usually originates from 2 sources – i.e., Teflon or oil – that permanently coat the piston.

You will face a few pros and cons when you use oil-lubricated air compressors. For instance, it costs more and requires more – and frequent – maintenance. It is also bulkier than its counterpart.

However, it is highly durable and is much quieter than its oil-free counterpart.


Air compressors come with or without accessories. However, an air compressor for your home garage usually comes with a few accessories. These accessories are – in most cases – responsible for boosting the price of the air compressor.

Your budget will determine the type of air compressors you get. But the more accessories any air compressor comes with, the more complete it is. You can also choose to buy the accessories separately, though that is bound to waste more of your time.

Read this article – Top 10 Best 80 Gallon Air Compressors with Buyers Guide

FAQs :

1. What is the difference between PSI and CFM?

PSI (Pounds Per Square Inch) – is a standard unit of pressure used to gauge the pressure rate of several devices. For example, most air tools require a PSI of 70 – 90. Therefore, air tools require PSI rating and may operate incorrectly if the air supply is not indicated.

CFM (Cubic Feet Per Minute) – is used to measure the airflow rate of gas under standard pressure and temperature conditions over a specific time. Smaller air tools require an SCFM rate of O.3 to 10, while more extensive air tools require an SFCM of 10 and above.

2. How Much PSI and SCFM are required for the Air tool?

ToolSCFM Required @ 90 PSI Operating Pressure (PSI)
Pneumatic Stapler 0.370
Air Hammer490
Impact Wrench 3/8″ 390
Impact Wrench 1/2″ 490
Impact Wrench 1″ 10100
Angle Grinder590
Impact Driver 1/2″ 490
Impact Driver 3/4″ 790
Impact Driver 1″ 12100
Brad Nailer0.370
Orbital Sander680
Grease Gun490
Socket Wrench/ Ratchet 1/4″ 390
Socket Wrench/ Ratchet 3/8″ 490
Hydraulic Riveter490
Speed Saw490
Framing Nailer2.2100
Needle Scaler890
Die Grinder570
Impact Driver 1/2″490
Impact Driver 3/4″790
Impact Driver 1″12100
Paint Sprayer490
Tire Inflation280
Disc Sander2090

3. What is the difference between SCFM and CFM?

SCFM stands for Standard Cubic Feet (per) minute. It indicates the airflow rate in a compressor against the ideal or standard pressure and temperature conditions. CFM, on the other hand, stands for Cubic Feet (per) Minute. It is a recognized value for measuring air flow rate and measuring actual airflow rate devoid of any standard or ideal condition.

4. What size of air compressor do I need to work on cars?

When working on a car at home or in a home automotive shop, 20 to 30-gallon range compressors are the most reliable options. However, when it comes to vehicle service, auto body, and repair shops, 5 to 30 HP Air compressors with 80 to 240-gallon air are sufficient to power your pneumatic equipment. Piston or reciprocating air compressors are the most popular compressors for cars.

5. What is an Oil-free air compressor?

Oil-free air compressors are compressors that do not require oil on the cylinder walls. Unlike oil-lubricated pumps, oil-free air compressors do not require adding and changing the oil regularly.

6. What is the Quietest air compressor?

Scroll air compressors are the quietest air compressors. They come with two spiral-shaped metal pieces that compress the air. They are highly efficient and can run all day! 

7. Why is my air compressor not building pressure?

There could be several reasons why your air compressor is not building pressure. Here are some valuable tips to help you fix the problem:

  • Run a Pump Test: A Pump Test will help you know the amount of time your compressor takes to build pressure. Empty your air tank, close the service valve at discharge, and take note of the time it takes to achieve your desiredPSI (pounds per square inch) from 0 and consult your distributor if you aren’t sure of the typically required time frame.
  • Keep your filters clean: first, loosen the wing nut, remove the housing cover, and inspect your compressor filter. Replace if necessary and keep the filters clean regularly.
  • Check your screen for leaks: First, examine your air demand settings and your air tube fittings to ensure the adjustment is to the appropriate level, then check for potential leaks. Replace the tank if there is a leak.
  • Assess all your compressed air system valves: Examine your compressor’s valves and make sure the inlet valve is open. Ensure the drain valve is sealed and make sure the safety valve is not leaking.
  • Check belt condition: If your compressor works with a belt-based drive, make sure you switch off the compressor and disconnect the power. Tighten the bolts on the motor and, if necessary, replace the belt.
  • Inspect your pump rings: if they are faulty, replace them and if they are working correctly, inspect your valve plates for any leaks.
  • Inspect your air/oil separator for any faults and replace it if necessary.
  • Find an electrician to analyze the motor capacitors. 

Wrapping Up

In a nutshell, “The Complete Air Compressor Handbook” is your friendly companion, offering straightforward guidance for beginners and enthusiasts alike. It breaks down the complexities of air compressors into easy-to-understand explanations and handy tips. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a pro, this handbook provides essential knowledge, empowering you to use air compressors confidently and efficiently in your projects. It’s the go-to resource for anyone eager to make the most out of compressed air, ensuring your tasks are done with ease and expertise.