A Guide to Portable Air Compressors and Accessories
Air compressors convert atmospheric air into potential energy that is stored in the form of compressed air for later use. Used in both commercial and domestic settings, air compressors are perfect for delivering energy to tools and equipment such as air wrenches, spray paint guns and angle grinders. Portable air compressors are usually used for small jobs such as spray painting, stapling, nailing and filling tyres with air.
The length of operations of an air compressor depends on the size of their air tanks — the larger the tank, the longer an air compressor will run. Best portable air compressors are usually fitted with wheels and handles. They run on either electricity, petrol or diesel. Many air compressors come with integrated power regulators.
Air Compressor Accessories
Regardless of whether you are using a portable air compressor or its industrial equivalent, you may have to invest in air compressor accessories. Here are some of the most essential air compressor attachments to help you get the most out of your device.
- Hoses: Air hoses come in a variety of materials, lengths and diameters.
- Couplers: Couplers are used to connect air compressors to air tools. They act as a seal to prevent the loss of air pressure as it moves from the compressor to the tool.
- Filters: Filters are used to remove contaminants such as rust or condensation from the hose and other attachments. Filters can prolong the life of equipment.
- Pressure regulators: Pressure regulators minimise the risk of pressure output fluctuations.
- Lubricants: Lubricants prevent air compressors from overheating during use and keep them in a good working condition.
How To Select an Air Compressor
What will you be using the air compressor for?
Not all air compressors are created equal. Are you looking for a portable air compressor to complete small DIY jobs at home or are you looking for a larger air compressor that can be used in an industrial setting? Many air compressors — especially portable air compressors — come as a part of a kit that contains all the bits and pieces required to get a project off the ground.
What are the cubic feet per minute requirements?
How many cubic feet per minute does the air compressor need to power a tool or unit of equipment?
What are the tank size requirements?
Air compressor tank sizes start at six litres and go up to hundreds of litres. It is essential that your air compressor’s tank capacity fits the job at hand. As a rule of thumb, the larger the air compressor’s tank, the longer your tool or equipment will run.
While most tools will run with a six-litre compressor, they will work in short bursts, making them unsuitable for larger jobs. As such, if you need to complete a sizable job, it is always better to opt for an air compressor with a larger tank rather than a portable air compressor. To calculate the minimum compressor tank size multiply the tool’s cubic feet per minute requirements by six.
What is the required working pressure?
The working pressure of an air compressor is calculated in bar and pounds per square inch (PSI). Compressors generally come with a working pressure of around 8 bar or 115 PSI. This is more than enough to power most tools outside and even in industrial settings. If you are looking for a powerful industrial-style air compressor, select one that has a working pressure of 145 PSI or more.
Oil or oil-less air compressor?
While an oil air compressor produces a larger output and is less noisy, an oil-less compressor requires less maintenance and runs a lower risk of contamination.
Silent Air Compressors
Working in a noisy environment for prolonged periods of time can take its toll. It can also be hell for your neighbours. As such, if you are looking for an air compressor to power larger jobs, it is important to take into account the level of noise it produces. When investing in an air compressor, look for information about its decibel rating (dB). While there are no silent air compressors, 40 dB units are low noise — they are usually compact and suitable for home and office use. Air compressors that produce 60 dB are the industry average. Meanwhile, air compressors with noise levels of around 85 dB are considered dangerous to hearing if run over long periods of time.
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- Setting up a portable air compressor: Air compressors come with user manuals that will guide you through the setup process. While different air compressors are usually set up differently, most models require a connection between the air hose and the compressor’s regulator valve.
- Checking oil and fuel levels: Oil both lubricates an air compressor and cools its engine. An insufficient level of oil in a portable air compressor can break down its engine. As such, it is important to keep the level of oil above the fill line. It is also essential to regularly check your air compressor for any air leaks.
- Keep all air outlet valves closed: To ensure constant pressure of air and prevent any air leaks, it is crucial to close all air outlet valves.
- Starting the engine: Depending on the air compressor type, either connect it to a power outlet or ensure that it is filled with enough fuel before switching it on. Take a few minutes to let the compressor engine warm up before starting the compression of air. Ensure that the tank drain valve is closed to stop any air leaks.
- Using compressed air to power your tools: Connect a hose to the air inlet and release the pressurized air to power your tools and HVAC units or fill gas cylinders. Portable air compressors can even be used for small jobs such as filling tyres and inflation mattresses.
There are a number of reasons that LED lights are superior to traditional work lights. Firstly, they have a much longer lifespan with up to 100,000 hours of use and are less likely to break down (they will not start flickering or get dim). They are also much more energy-efficient, which translates to a lower electricity bill. With this in mind, here are some of the more common types of industrial LED lights.
- High Bay Lighting: Ideal for ceilings above 6 metres, high bay fixtures come with a high lumen output. They can be used with different types of reflectors.
- Low Bay Lighting: Ideal for ceilings under 6 metres, low bay fixtures have fewer lumens than their high bay fixture counterparts.
- Recessed Troffer Lights: These come in either new LED light fixtures or LED tube retrofits. Recessed troffer lights are surface mounted or pendant mounted. For a smaller version of recessed troffer lights, opt for linear strip lights.
- Task Lights: Lightweight and portable, task lights deliver highly concentrated illumination.
- Area Work Lights: Used to illuminate parking lots and walkways, area lights are important for ensuring employee safety after dark. If required, area lights can be affixed to poles.
While air compressor hoses are universal in that they all connect compressors to tools, there are multiple considerations that should be taken into account before buying one. This is because different tools and devices may require different hose styles. Some of these considerations include hose length, internal diameter and material.
- Length: The longer the hose, the less airflow will reach the tool.
- Internal diameter: The larger the internal diameter of the hose, the greater the airflow.
- Material: Most air compressor hoses are made from PVC, rubber, hybrid polymer, polyurethane or nylon. All of these materials differ in durability, flexibility and weight. They also have different price points and perform differently in extreme weather conditions.
- Couplings: Install male and female couplings on your air compressor, hoses and tools for fast tool changes.
Routine maintenance is essential if you want to keep your portable air compressor running at its optimum. With this in mind, here are some of the most common air compressor maintenance procedures. Do not forget to check your air compressor manual for any further maintenance instructions.
- Inspect for any air leaks and repair if required.
- Inspect the air filters and clean or replace them if required.
- Check oil and fuel levels and refill them if required.
- Check the compressor’s temperature to prevent overheating.
- Check the compressor’s body for dents.
We stock a wide range of portable air compressor products from trusted brands, including ABAC, Puma and Synairgy.