Jamon Asks For Help...
       Buying An Air Compressor



It is common for folks to write in about compressors, like Jamon who asks for help buying an air compressor. My response will help most folks if they are undertaking to do the same.

Here is his question: I am in the process of researching air compressors and would like to buy one for operating two air tools, a 3 inch pistol grip dual action sander and a 3 inch pistol grip polisher (recommended CFM is 22-24 @ 90 psi).

I would like start doing plastic restoration and small automotive body work. I am trying to find an air compressor, possilby portable, that will allow me to operate these air tools without delay. Total operating time is approximately 30 minutes between both tools, 6-8 times a day.

The air compressors I've seen are huge and expensive for the recommended CFM range. I really don't need a compressor that big for the work I'm doing. However, my concern is the proper air consumption required to operate these air tools.

What is the difference between actual and average air consumption? Can I get by with an air compressor with a lesser CFM rating, say a 10 or 15 CFM @ 90 psi? If a lesser CFM rating is used, what is expected? Will this be an undesirable result? Would it be possible to purchase a portable or wheel borrow type compressor for these air tools?

I'm trying to understand how much compressor I really need. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Here is how I responded to Jamon. Jamon, if you purchase an air compressor that does not generate the flow needed for your air tools, then you will not be able to run the tools for your required segments without having to stop, fairly often, and wait for the air compressor to catch up. If that doesn't bother you, then buy a smaller portable compressor than the size you actually need though that may lead to early compressor failure due to over use.

If waiting for air from a too small air compressor will bother you, then you must purchase an air compressor that has the flow to supply the largest demand air tool.

Both of the tools you mention are high demand. You will need a high flow compressor to supply them adequately.

You say... "I really don't need a compressor that big for the work I'm doing." but I would suggest based on what you have written is, yes, you do!

Regarding - What is the difference between actual and average air consumption? Can I get by with an air compressor with a lesser CFM rating, say a 10 or 15 CFM @ 90 psi? - typically, on any air compressor, air output is higher at low pressures and lower at higher pressures.

You need to see the specs for the compressor that show the flow of air at the pressure your air tools need to judge that compressors performance.

"Will this be an undesirable result?" Yes, I expect, based on what you have written that it will be.

"Would it be possible to purchase a portable or wheel borrow type compressor for these air tools?" No doubt, if you have a compressor rental agency nearby. I suspect though, for the volume of air you are desiring, that your compressor choice will fall into the 240 volt power range, and those are more difficult to rent and install.

Good luck, and read ALL the sizing pages on this site for more info.