How to choose the best air compressor for your work

Here at Zelda, we have a huge range of professional and DIY air equipment for numerous applications and requirements. We understand that it might seem daunting to try and pair your air tools with a specific air compressor, especially when the range of choices is so broad. The best air compressor is always the right air compressor for the job, so we’ve put together a simple user guide to help you make an informed decision about which compressor is worth your investment, as well as a check list of considerations to help you narrow the field.

What You’ll Need to look at: Quick Guide

Your CFM requirement – probably the single biggest consideration when buying a compressor. What CFM will your air compressor need to produce in order to power all of your air tools?

Choosing a tank size – with tank sizes ranging from 10 liters to 300 liters+, choosing the perfect capacity air tank / receiver will seriously affect the performance of your compressor.

Oil-less or oil compressor – oil-less compressors are low maintenance and free from contaminants, however a standard compressor will produce a larger output and run quieter.

Professional, semi-professional or domestic use – all compressors comes with specific warranties to cover either DIY/home use or continuous commercial use. Make sure you choose the right compressor for your application.

Why Use an Air Compressor Rather than Another Power Source?

Choosing to use compressed air as a power source has many distinct benefits, rather than say electricity. Air power is becoming increasingly popular for the use in the homes as well as larger, more industrial settings like workshops and garages.

Lower Weight & Ergonomic Tools

Air tools tend to be far more lightweight and smaller than battery or mains powered tools, purely because they don’t need to be fitted with a heavy motor or battery cells. A huge variety of air tools are available and they can all be affixed to one central power source and swapped around as require.

Safer Than Electricity

There are many settings where electric powered tools can’t be used because of the risk of electrical fires or the possibility of operator electrocution. Air tools are safer, simply because they contain no electrical elements meaning there is nothing that can go wrong electrically and potential harm the user. If you work in a moist or damp area, or if there’s combustible gases around, you might use air tools and a compressor to keep working conditions safe – making air tools suited to numerous working environments.

More Economical

Air tools are mostly always cheaper than electric of hydraulic tools, meaning you can build up a collection of quality tools without breaking the bank. In commercial settings you’ll find that air systems are easier and less costly to install than hydraulic systems or upgrading your electric supply. Air tools themselves have considerably lower maintenance requirements, meaning less downtime.

CFM requirements based on number of users and tool types

CFM requirements are shown through each air compressor, and each one has a max CFM output it can generate. Its CFM output has to be more than the requirement so that each tool will operate efficiently, without problems. In general, if you are running a pneumatic tool-based shop for example, you will need about 5 CFM per worker. A 1/2-inch impact wrench will need about 5 CFM at 90 PSI, so your compressor CFM should be larger than that.

And if you have 2 technicians operating these wrenches at the same time, you need 10 CFM minimum. The pattern of usage for these tools is to use it for about 20 to 30 seconds and then stop using it while they change the tier, while body shop mechanics might need sanders and grinders for 20 to 30 minutes per usage. You need higher CFM at constant usage levels, which is why it is so important to first figure out how you’ll be using the machine.

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