August 13, 2018 / by Danny Mavis

With the increased popularity of air-powered tools, the air compressor is becoming a more common sight in workshops, garages, and industrial settings. It’s an extremely versatile tool that utilises a gas engine or an electric motor to power devices by sucking in volumes of air, then compressing it in a confined place and increasing the pressure by reducing the volume. There are three air compressor grades – consumer, contractor, and commercial. Depending on what you want to do with the air compressor, your choice will vary.

Consumer-grade compressors are made for casual use around the house and garage. If you need to inflate a tyre, toys and some sporting goods, or power some air tools that don’t have large requirements (such as staplers or brad guns), then a consumer-grade air compressor is ideal for you. However, if you want to operate larger tools or multiple tools at a time, you’ll need a more powerful compressor.

Contractor-grade air compressors are far more durable and powerful than consumer-grade compressors, and they can withstand harsh job-site environments. They’re typically designed for building professionals, meaning they’re not only powerful but they are portable as well. Some models are hand-carried, others are attached to a wheel-cart or a vehicle. Contractor-grade models can be used for a wide range of purposes, but they’re mainly used for power tools.

Lastly, commercial grade air compressors are used for providing a steady supply of compressed air 24/7. These compressors are the most heavy-duty models available and feature advanced technologies and top performance. They’re commonly used in manufacturing facilities, auto-body shops, powering machinery on oil rigs, etc. However, these models can be extremely expensive, but you get high-performance and quality and you can rest assured all of your demands will be met.

Regardless of what type of compressor you need, you should consider the horsepower rating and the cubic feet per minute. The horsepower indicates how much pressure the compressor is capable of creating, and is typically measured in PSI. More PSI means you can operate tools for longer. The cubic feet per minute indicates the volume of air the air compressor can deliver at specific PSI levels. For heavy-duty applications, the CFM value of the compressor is of great importance. Worth noting is that the lower the PSI of the compressor, the higher the CFM. Lastly, consider the storage capacity of the compressor, which is generally expressed in gallons.