Air compressor : what is it for ? How to choose it ?

The air compressor is a compressed air device that allows you to perform a wide range of jobs that require inflation or pressure. Very useful for professional and amateur DIYers, it comes in several types and categories to meet all needs. Let’s take a look at the features and uses of this tool and discover our tips for choosing it well.

What is the use of an air compressor?

The air compressor is a device that produces compressed air that can be used for simple inflation or to operate tools requiring pneumatic pressure, such as drills in particular.

It consists of an electric motor or a heat engine which, once actuated, rotates a cylinder so as to compress the air in a tank. When the compressed air has reached the desired pressure, the motor stops and the compressor can be used.

The uses of the air compressor

  • It inflates: the air compressor can inflate vehicle tires, inflatable swimming pools, balls, inflatable mattresses, etc.
  • It blows: it can clean surfaces and objects through the action of blowing.
  • It staples: the compressor staples thin objects on all types of media.
  • It nails: to facilitate the nailing of any object, the air compressor works efficiently thanks to the pressure of the air.
  • It grinds: to smooth, soften and round your wooden and metal parts, the compressor is very useful.
  • It paints: thanks to the air compressor, you can paint your walls with a spray gun.
  • It pierces: with pneumatic power, it pierces all supports with precision.
  • It chisels: to break hard surfaces, the air compressor is a powerful ally.
  • It sands: it is ideal for stripping your surfaces by sandblasting or for polishing your metal parts.
  • It screws and unscrews: thanks to its impact wrench function, it screws and unscrews the imposing bolts.

Categories of air compressors

There are three categories of air compressors:

  • The most powerful jobsite compressor that performs inflation, blowing, stapling, painting, grinding, chiselling, drilling and impact wrenching all in one.
  • The workshop compressor, which is content with inflating, blowing, stapling, painting, grinding and chiseling.
  • The hobby compressor, which is limited to inflating, blowing, stapling and painting.

What are the different models of air compressors?

There are three types of air compressors:

  • The single-cylinder compressor: this single-cylinder model, as its name suggests, is the most common. It is suitable for long and regular jobs. Its airflow can reach 40m3 per hour and it can offer a pressure of 8 bars.
  • The twin-cylinder compressor: this compressor designed for the pros activates at least two cylinders to operate. It is dedicated to continuous work in the workshop. Its airflow exceeds 40m3 per hour and its pressure can reach 13 bar.
  • The portable compressor: this electric model is the least powerful, but it remains the most practical and the lightest. Transportable everywhere, it is suitable for occasional inflation and cleaning work. It offers a maximum airflow of 8 m3 per hour.

How to choose your air compressor?

To choose an air compressor, it is recommended to base yourself on certain criteria.

  • Air flow: the more the compressor can ensure a high air flow, the more it extends the panel of usable tools and increases their power. To estimate more accurately the air flow you need, multiply the air requirement of your tools by 1.5. For normal household use, 150 l/min is sufficient. Aim for 300 l/min for big jobs.
  • The volume of the tank: the volume of the tank is of direct importance depending on your use. The bigger it is, the more air it holds, but the longer it takes to recharge once empty. As a result, a small tank is useful for simple cleaning or inflation and a large tank is better for longer jobs.
  • The interview: while portable models do not require maintenance, it is imperative to regularly oil the cylinders of the most powerful compressors. It is therefore also necessary to plan to drain them regularly.
  • Operation: for large compressor models, the energy used is thermal. On the other hand, electric models can run on battery or mains power. The battery makes them more mobile, but the plugged-in models are more durable.

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