The Ultimate Air Compressor Buying Guide for Novices


While shopping for an air compressor, you need to ask yourself some questions. There are so many options that may overwhelm the buyers. Probably you are not sure where to buy the garage air compressor, or maybe you are afraid of buying the wrong size or model. Having the right information helps the buyer make the right choice.

The Ultimate Air Compressor Buying Guide for Novices

Air Compressor

Worry no more! Here is a detailed guide on things to consider while buying an air compressor.

How Does An Air Compressor Work?

An air compressor converts power into potential energy which is stored in a pressurized tank. The compressor uses electricity, gasoline, or diesel as a power source.

Guide to Finding the Right Air Compressor

  • Finding the right compressors

The air compressors come in various models and sizes, and that may confuse a potential buyer. Also, the various models and types have extra options such as filters and dryers. Understanding the different types of compressors and how they work best makes the process straightforward and simple.

  • Capacity vs. Pressure

The right type and model of air compressor depends on the required capacity and pressure. It is crucial to understand the difference between capacity and pressure, and how the two work together. The difference between a small and large compressor is the capacity. The pressure needed to operate the machine is determined by the tools and equipment used. Air consumption dictates how much capacity the compressor should have.

  • Rotary screw series and brands

Different manufacturers have different series or lines on their compressors. They come in different capacities and pressures. Examples include the Quincy QGS series which has the option of a tank-mounted or base mounted. Some even have an integrated dryer. The Quincy QGD series is more professional and has digital controlled panels on all models.

  • How will I use the air compressor?

It is important to buy an air compressor based on the expected workload. There are two options; for heavy/high-end users for industrial use or light duties around the home. Once you decide on the air compressor purpose, it becomes easy to evaluate the right tool for the job.

  • The required maximum pressure for the job

Different air compressors have different operating pressures. Do you want the single stage or double stage compressors? If you are looking to do heavy work, you will need a compressor with more pressure and more volume. Also, the tank size will determine if the compressor is ideal for heavy or light work.

  • What air compressor will suit my needs?

Are you looking for an air compressor for heavy industrial usage? The piston type compressor is the best option. It is motor-powered which creates air pressure build –up. The compressed air is stored in the tank.

For light-duty functions such as caulking machine, your options narrow down to the light-weight and portable air compressors. The portable compressors have no air storage container. They consistently provide the required compressed air supply for the job.


  • What is the ideal tank size?

The size of the tank will depend on the specific use of the machine. How long do you intend the use the air compressor? For small duration works with concentrated air bursts, a compressor with a small tank will work fine. However, for a long duration of work that requires sustained pressure, a big-sized tank comes in handy.

  • Horsepower of the air compressor

The ideal horsepower required determines the intended usage.6.5 HP is ideal for industrial use and 1.5-6.5 HP for less heavy usage.

  • The CFM requirements

How do you determine the ideal CMF requirements for an air compressor? Here is how to calculate; add the value of all the tools used together and add 30 percent to the final CMF tally. Pay attention so that you do not get an inflated CMF value or else you will buy an extra-large compressor

  • The best drive system

Do you have a consistent power supply and backup? The electrical system would be ideal in such a case. Alternatively, one can use a gasoline engine which has the advantage of mobility and flexibility.

  • The job site matters

Where do you intend to use the air compressor? Choosing a portable or non-portable machine depends on the mobility requirement of the user.

  • Space at the workstation

How much space do you have in your work area? The work station space affects factors such as the size of the tank. It is important that you have enough working space for better performance.

  • Budget

Even before deciding on the best model or size of the air compressor, it is important to have a budget. Compare the different prices, features, and brands from different manufacturers. Having a comprehensive comparative study enables you to make the best buy that fits your needs and budget.

  • Features to look out for

While buying an air compressor, here are some of the key features to look out for:

The ball valve drain: When water condenses in the tank, it causes rusting and pinhole leaking. Manufacturers recommend that you get a tank that drains water regularly. All the tanks have drains, but they come in two types; drain cock and valve drain. The valve drain is the most ideal since it works like a faucet, unlike the drain cock which sometimes needs pliers to function.

The Ultimate Air Compressor Buying Guide for Novices

  1. Cord wrap: The cord wrap offers a convenient way of wrapping the power cord which makes it easy to carry around.
  2. Two outlets: Some of the air compressors have a single outlet that connects to an air hose. Air compressors with two outlets allow two people to work together.
  3. Accessories: Go for compressors with an extra hose or inflation accessories such as nail gun. It gives you value for your money

Common Mistakes To Avoid

  • Not paying attention to the specs

Ensure you understand the specs of the air compressor before making a purchase. By not paying attention to the specs, you will buy a product that will not meet your needs. Some of the aspects to look out for include the mode of operation. Is it petrol or electricity powered? Learn about the pros and cons of each type before buying it.

  • Not reading reviews

Reviews say a lot about a particular product. It is important to read through the reviews and learn something about the machine. Identify the potential pitfalls and the strengths of the air tools before buying.

  • Pay attention to the consequences

What happens when you buy a lightweight air compressor for heavy industrial usage? Sometimes, cheap is expensive. As a buyer, understand that there are consequences when you opt to take shortcuts. Ensure you buy the right tool with the right specifications for the right job.

Where To  Buy Air Compressors

There are various places where buyers can get air compressors. The compressors can be found in physical and online stores. However, when making an online purchase, ensure that you are not dealing with scammers. Ensure the machine in the right condition before using it. Compare the various prices across the online and physical stores.


Purchasing the ideal air compressor based on individual needs is not rocket science. The buyer needs to pay attention to some aspects that will affect the operation of the machines. While at it, read reviews and seek the opinion of a professional when in doubt.

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