Knowledge about the Important Features of an Air Compressor

If a prospect buyer is still not sure of the right air compressor to choose, he should focus on the most important features that he wants from the air tool. While it’s a fact that every manufacturer has their own bells and whistles to add to their respective product, they are often not necessary or are even seldom used.

In this article, we will highlight the most important traits of an air compressor and likewise discuss other specifications that may add more value to the device.

What’s an air compressor, by the way, and why is it important?

An air compressor, as defined in Wikipedia, is a device that converts power into potential energy stored in pressurized air. Its application range from supplying highly-pressurized clean air for gas cylinders to providing huge quantities of moderately-pressurized clean air for pneumatic tools.

No matter how many features an air compressor has, a good buyer will always look first onto four important things:

  • Power
  • CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute)
  • Size
  • Portability

Important Features of an Air Compressor
Air compressors are evaluated based on Power, CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute), size and portability

Let’s briefly discuss each of these main features to better understand the benefits they offer to the air compression unit.

Power: Prospect buyers should thoroughly analyze where exactly are they planning to use the air compressor. If they intend to use it to power a heavy-duty machinery, they should settle for a large compressor that can offer much more volume and pressure.

Portable air compressors, on the other hand, are highly recommended for non-heavy-duty home use like for powering spray guns and inflating small tires.

High horsepower (HP) is required for industrial purposes, while only about 1.5-6.5 HP is needed for small-scale air tools.

CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute): CFM is a commonly-used rating for the measurement of an air compressor’s power. It specifically refers to the volume of air that’s being delivered to the air tool. The more CFM, the better.

Tip: Buyers may look for a standard CFM (SCFM) label to aid them in choosing the right air tool for their needs. Top brands of air compressors often have these labels on their products.

Size: Before purchasing an air compressor, it is important for one to consider where possibly will he be using the device.

Heavy applications will obviously require an air compressor with a bigger tank, while lighter workloads will only need one with a smaller tank.

Size of the air compressor
Where will you be using the device affects the size of the air compressor

Portability: There are several applications that may require one to use a portable air compressor. Therefore, it pays to choose something that can be easily moved around for optimum efficiency.

Most of the time, portable air compressors are designed with wheels and long hoses for ease of use.

Tip: Buyers may discuss with their vendors some ways of making the air compressor portable. For example, they can ask if the air tool is a trailer-type or if it is installed on a cart.

Here are some other features that could make an air compressor better:

Roll cage: Its primary purpose is to prevent the most important components of the air compressor from being physically-damaged. A roll cage with a low center of gravity is ideal as it will keep an air compressor from rolling when it is knocked off accidentally.

Pressure switch: Its main work is to detect excess pressure in the air tool’s tank. Once the switch senses that the pressure in the tank has reached its predetermined amount, it automatically turns off the motor for security purposes. This gives an operator peace of mind as he wouldn’t have to check air tank pressure all the time and manually turn it on or off.

Thermal overload protection: It is mainly designed to reduce the power that is going to the motor when overheating is detected in the entire air compression unit. This is an essential feature most especially that excessive heat, if not checked, can potentially damage the air compressor.

Thermal overload protection
Thermal overload protection can prevent damage to air compressor

Drainage valve: It is primarily designed to collect all the accumulated water from the air compressor’s tank. An air tool without a reliable drainage valve would likely see corrosion or rust formation on its body most especially if it is made of cast iron.

Air filters: Air filters are replaceable parts whose shape is the same as oil baths. It is often positioned at the intake point of the air compressor to easily filter out tiny particles from the atmosphere.

Although these particles are very tiny, they have high moisture content that could cause significant damage to the entire air compression unit.


Every buyer has varying reasons as to why he will need an air compressor. It is therefore very important for one to take note or list down his preferred features to prevent wasting money on a wrong product.

Moreover, buyers are highly advised to read reviews from authentic web sites to make a good comparison of the available air compressors in the market. (Click on this link now to view a list of best portable air compressor on the market with reliable customer reviews). Reliable products always come with them a detailed user guide that summarizes some safety tips and outlines ways of maintaining the top performance of the air compressor.

Last, but definitely not the least, it is important to make sure that there is an available warranty agreement from the manufacturer in case of some unexpected physical damages.

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