When it comes to air compressors, there's a lot to keep in mind. Between the industry jargon, technical terms and units of measurement, it’s easy to confuse the details. The following is a guest post from the Zero Sick Days blog by RolAir Systems, detailing the top five most common air compressor myths reported by customers. Don't let the headlines fool you, the devil's in the details.
1. Focus on displaced CFM.
Displaced CFM is calculated by multiplying the pump’s bore and stroke by its RPM. The result might look good in marketing collateral, but it won’t give you an accurate idea of how much air you’re actually getting out of your air compressor. Delivered CFM (or free air delivery) is what really matters, as it factors in the regulated pressure setting (PSI). It’s a measure of the actual air you have at your disposal.
2. It’s all about tank size.
Tank size is an important factor, but it won’t make up for a small pump. If the pump doesn’t deliver enough CFM, the reserve air will get used up very quickly - and you’ll have to wait while the tank refills.
Determine the amount of delivered CFM you need, and then think about how your pneumatic tools operate. If they operate in quick bursts like nailers and staplers, you’ll be fine with a tank that holds 10 gallons or less. If they run for longer stretches, like grinders, sanders, or spray equipment, go with a larger tank. RolAir offers models ranging from 30 to 120 gallons.
3. Single-phase vs. single-stage. Same thing, right?
The terms single-phase and single-stage have a similar ring to them, and, for someone with limited air compressor experience, it’s easy to confuse.
Single-phase refers to the power supply in most homes and small businesses throughout the U.S. The alternative is three-phase power, which is commonly found in industrial and manufacturing settings.
Single-stage refers to the number of times air is compressed in a reciprocating pump. Single-stage pumps compress air one time. The alternative is a two-stage pump, which compresses the air twice. In general, two-stage pumps produce more CFM and operate more efficiently.
4. Overvaluing PSI.
Some people focus solely on the maximum PSI rating of an air compressor. They know the pressure at which their tools operate, and assume as long as the air compressor can meet those requirements, they’re good to go. The problem with this scenario? A key factor is being overlooked. You can’t have pressure (PSI) without flow (delivered CFM). As your pressure increases, the flow will decrease.
All pneumatic tools use a certain amount of CFM while in use. If your air compressor doesn’t produce enough air for a particular tool, that tool won’t function properly - regardless of the pressure setting.
5. Hung up on horsepower.
Comparing size of an air compressor based on horsepower equates to asking your pharmacist for any medicine available in 250mg pills. Clearly that’s not very effective.
Now imagine calling Nail Gun Depot and asking for a 2 horsepower air compressor. Not all 2 horsepower air compressors are created equal, so you’d likely receive a flurry of questions like, “portable or stationary? Direct drive or belt drive? How many, and what types of tools are you using?"
At the end of the day, you may not end up with a 2 horsepower compressor.
A simple line of questioning is usually enough to clear things up. Before you buy, arm yourself with information. Know the tools you’ll be using. Know their CFM requirements. Know what type of power is available at your job site. Knowing the answers to these questions will help ensure you end up with the right air compressor.
~ The Nail Gun Depot Team