Choosing an air compressorWhen faced with the challenge of getting a new air compressor, people, especially newcomers, are often times baffled by all the different indicators and measurements that can be found on various products’ info sheets.

In order to help you make more sense out of the information presented, here’s what we believe are the most important things you should check before buying a compressor.

Key characteristics

You’ll want to start with checking a compressor’s CFM or cubic feet per minute output. This tells you how much air the compressor is supplying to your tools.

Depending on their consumption, if its CFM is too low, you’ll find yourself having to wait for the compressor to recharge itself before you can use it again.

Make sure that the tools you intend to use your machine with are compatible with its CFM output to avoid these situations.

Naturally, there’s a world of difference between the requirements of a paint sprayer or a nailer for example, so try to get a compressor tailored to what tools you’re using the most.

Apart from this, having a larger tank will save you the trouble of having to compress the air in it more often. This causes work to stop and decreases your effectiveness. Still, a larger air volume isn’t going to help you fix potential CFM issues.

If you want a more pleasant working environment, you should take the machine’s loudness into consideration as well.

Some portable compressors can be as loud as 90 decibels, which is both uncomfortably loud and can damage your hearing if exposed for longer time periods.

Getting protective earmuffs or opting for a more quiet model will mitigate this.

You’ll also need to consider what type of power your machine will be using.

If you know you’ll do most of your work in a garage / with access to power readily available, go for a compressor that has an electric motor. If on the other hand you prefer portability and maximum flexibility, a gas-powered engine is the way to go.

Less important factors

One of the first and most prominent characteristics people check on any given compressor is its psi or pounds per square inch. This is a measure of pressure the machine provides to your power tools etc.

Most models come pretty well-equipped in that department, so it isn’t really a key factor. More psi means that a smaller air compressor can put out the same amount of air as a larger one that has a smaller psi.

After a while, moisture accumulates in the machine’s tank and needs to be drained. Every model comes equipped with some kind of drainage system, but a ball valve chain is the best option since it operates similarly to a faucet and is easy to use.

When talking about portable models, shape can play almost as important a role as the model’s actual weight. If you’re certain you’ll be lugging yours about most of the time, it might be a good idea to go for a slimmer, portable model.

These are just the basics, but if you keep to them picking out a machine that suits your needs will be much easier.