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Air Compressor Terminology

air compressor nozzle at Dearing Compressor

Air compressors represent a ubiquitous part of the industrial and building industries, so understanding the terminology is important. As an independent contractor, an air compressor is one of the most important pieces of equipment you can invest in, as it will serve to power a multitude of common tools. Yet that doesn’t mean that just any old air compressor will deliver the results you want. Contemporary air compressors come with a wide range of features and capabilities. Unfortunately, many people struggle to identify the best air compressor for their needs simply because they haven’t caught up with all of the new terminology. If you would like to increase your knowledge of air compressors on the market today, read on. This article will discuss two frequently encountered terms.

Variable Speed Drive

Air compressors require a large energy input in order to generate the pressure necessary to power tools such as pressure washers, orbital sanders, and grease guns. Gasoline and electricity are the two most frequent power sources for air compressors. Regardless of which type of compressor you choose to invest in, the rate of energy consumption can be quite staggering.

Fortunately, manufacturers have been vigilant in recent years about finding ways to reduce the amount of energy required to power an air compressor. One of the most exciting developments is the variable speed drive. A lot of the inefficiency surrounding traditional air compressors stems from the fact that they operate at a single power level at all times.

An air compressor equipped with variable speed drive, on the other hand, has the ability to tailor its energy input to the task at hand. Not all jobs will require that the compressor run at full bore. For less demanding tasks, a variable speed drive compressor will curtail a portion of its energy input, thus reducing your overall energy costs.

The nature of a variable speed drive air compressor gives it several other key advantages. For one thing, when running at less than full power, it will be much quieter than a regular air compressor. It will also exert less wear and tear on sensitive internal components. This allows variable speed drive compressors to go for much longer periods of time without the need for maintenance or overhaul.CFM

The most common method of denoting the power of an air compressor lies in terms of pounds per square inch, or PSI, a useful metric when shopping for a new air compressor. However, be aware that PSI does not paint an accurate picture of a compressor’s power under all conditions.

The important distinction here involves the number of tools powered by the compressor at any given point of time. PSI does a fine job of representing power when it comes to powering a single tool. Yet many contractors will utilize a single air compressor to power multiple tools simultaneously.

CFM, or cubic feet per minute, is the most accurate way to express a compressor’s power capabilities when it comes to handling multiple tools. Unlike PSI, CFM allows you to calculate power needs in an additive fashion. Here’s how.

Simply add together the CFM rating of all of the tool combinations you plan to use at one time. Now multiply this number by 1.25. This will leave you with the air compressor CFM value necessary to power all of your tools.

While individual tools also possess PSI ratings, these cannot be added together in the same manner. As a result, it can be extremely difficult to estimate the power capacity of an air compressor based on PSI alone.

Compressor Experts

Recent advances in the world of air compressors stand to benefit anybody who uses this versatile tool. For more information about selecting the best compressor for your particular needs, please don’t hesitate to contact the experts at Dearing Compressor.


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