One question that pops up on this website all the time relates to helping folks when they are picking a compressor. What are the things you need to consider?What do you want to know when you, or someone buying a gift for you, is picking an air compressor?

The choice might be a Husky, a Kobalt, a Speedaire, a DeWalt air compressor…  or one of the dozens and dozens of other compressor make. There are more compressors out there for the DIY than there have ever been before.

A variety of air compressors

A variety of air compressors


What is the compressor for?

Give some thought as to what you expect the air compressor to be used for or be able to do for the person you gift it to.

Using a compressor once in a while to blow dust off a piece of woodwork will point to one type of compressor. A compressor necessary to run high-demand air tools like grinders, saws, ratchets and wrenches will point to a different sort.

Take a moment to think your compressor needs through, jot them down even, and read on, for more help.

Where Will the Compressor Be Used?

Is the air compressor location going to be important? Compressor location is important to a business that will have a fixed installation of a fairly large air compressor. If you are picking a compressor for your work, this page is worth reading.

The compressor location is not as important for folks buying a home, or small workshop, do it yourself type air compressor . Many of these types of air compressors are portable and can be relocated when necessary.

What Power Supply Does Compressor Need?

When you power your air compressor with a typical household circuit, in North America at least, you are supplying 120 Volt AC power, typically through a 15-20 amp circuit breaker or fuse.

The page about air compressor power requirements on this site will help you understand why you cannot run larger air compressors from typical household current.

You may have to go to a 220 Volt or larger power supply, if your air needs are large enough. Can you do this if necessary for the compressed air flow you want? Does the added expense suit your budget?

Tool Compressed Air Demand

When picking a compressor I cannot stress strongly enough the need to find out before you buy, particularly if it will be a regularly used compressor, what your tool selection needs are in terms of air pressure (PSI), and compressed air flow (CFM). Not having a reasonable idea of these number may lead to the acquisition of the wrong sized compressor.

If your air tool needs more compressed air to run than your air compressor can deliver, you will be disappointed and may not be able to do the work you wished to do. This is much more important for a business than a DIY’er, but nevertheless, no one wants to buy a tool that will not work for them, and a too-small air compressor fits into that category.

This is useful information, particularly if you are planning on buying an air compressor for someone else and need some help making a decision about the many types of home and small workshop air compressors out there.

Compressor Tank Size

When you go in the store looking for your ideal air compressor, you will see quite a variety of them, in all shapes, colours and sizes.

One thing you will see is that there are quite a variety of tank shapes and sizes. Typically, you will see…

  • longer tank on its side, sometimes with wheels
  • a pancake shaped tank
  • compressors with multiple cylindrical tanks
  • vertically oriented tanks with the compressor on top
What compressor tank size is required?

What compressor tank size is required or suits the needs of the user?

What else would you like to know in advance when you set off to the store for the purpose of picking your air compressor?

Any Compressor Warranty?

What is the warranty of the air compressor you are interested in buying, and what are the steps to be taken when and if you have a warranty repair? You want to find out the store’s policy on compressor warranty because your compressor is going to fail one day.

Does the store just replace the compressor if it fails under warranty, or do they get them fixed?

If they get fixed, where does the compressor get fixed? Do you deliver or do they pick up, an issue for the larger compressor for sure. They are heavy!

When your air compressor warranty expires, who will fix it then? Can the store provide a reference? Ask the warranty repair depot if they will continue long term service.

Compressor Parts Available

There are hundreds of models, and dozens of makes of air compressors on the market. The task of keeping parts for all these compressors is gigantic.

Does the store stock parts for that model of compressor? The answer to that question will almost invariably be no.

If not, then where will you go to get parts for that brand of air compressor next year, the year after, and maybe five years after they stop selling that particular model? Or, is compressor repair even an issue for you? The time and aggravation involved with getting parts and trying to fix a $100 compressor may not be worth it to you. Your call!

Haste Makes… A Useless Compressor

There are many things to consider when selecting an air compressor.

Give the process a bit of thought, will you? A mistake in purchasing the wrong air compressor can be easily made leaving you or the compressor recipient with, essentially, and expensive boat anchor.

More information and questions about picking an air compressor:

Cost of compressors

CFM – SCFM compressor flow issues

Buying an air compressor

Compressed air applications

Is my compressor big enough?

Compressor for sand blaster

Increasing compressor pressure and CFM

Spraying stucco

Inflate a stand up paddle board

Compressor to run 4 nail guns

Compressor and propane tanks to aerate a pond