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Tankless Air Compressors – How Does A Tankless Air Compressor Work?

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The decision on whether to purchase a compressor with or without a tank typically comes down to your budget and specific jobs you have in mind. This article will provide you with all the relevant information on tankless air compressors, including the advantages vs disadvantages.

compressor, tire pump, tyre pump
Tankless Air Compressor

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Tankless Air Compressors

A tankless air compressor is the cheapest option when it comes to choosing an air compressor and will work continuously while using a tool. Most air compressors have a tank, in fact, the air tank more often than not is an integral part of the design of an air compressor.

For instance, the pancake compressor, hot dog compressor and vertical compressor are all named after the configuration of their air tanks. The structural design of an air compressor is often based around the shape of the air storage tank.

The roll cage and the protective shroud are welded directly to the air tank on the compressor as part of the integral structure. Even the pressure gauges and connectors are often attached right on top of the air tank.

It may seem strange at first, but it is possible to buy tankless air compressors. Many of the smaller 12-volt tire inflators, along with a series of ultra-quiet air compressors, don’t have storage tanks.

Even some of the heavy duty gas powered air compressors are designed as tankless air compressors. So why would you want a tankless air compressor? There are some good reasons to buy a tankless air compressor! Let’s get into the advantages of these types of air compressors.

Advantages of Tankless Air Compressors

The three key advantages that tankless air compressors boast are that they:

  • do not need certification
  • are lightweight and portable
  • have instant airflow

No need for certification

An emerging issue nowadays is the certification of the compressed air tank for many compressed air users. When it comes to the ongoing safety management, the regulatory statutes may require an inspection regime for compressed air vessels.

This can be a hassle to maintain a properly certified air compressor. Tankless air compressors allow you to not have to worry about having the machine tested and certified which can save you all that hassle.

Lightweight and Portable

The biggest advantage of a tankless air compressor is that they’re lightweight air compressors – most storage tanks on air compressors for air are made from heavy materials such as stainless steel or cast iron.

A tankless air compressor therefore, can save a lot of weight which in turn makes it a portable air compressor. Not only are these types of air compressor far more portable, but they generally tend to be a lot smaller.

This small size can be a great advantage when it comes to storing a air compressor when not in use. But also, a small lightweight air compressor is much easier to handle and carry around wherever you need to go, including loading and off loading it in the trunk of a car or truck for transport.

Instant Airflow

Another advantage of these air compressors is that you get instant air delivery, meaning there is no need to wait around for the air compressor to build up pressure to its operating pressure.

With a tankless compressor, the air is delivered directly from the air outlet at your desired pressure. As soon as you turn on the electric tankless compressor it’s ready for action! It is also possible to buy gas powered compressors that don’t have air tanks, however, it may be wise to let these machines build up to operating temperature before starting work.

Disadvantages of Tankless Air Compressors

So what benefits do storage tanks boast over tankless compressors that can be considered as disadvantages of tankless air compressors? Well the two main disadvantages are that tankless compressors:

  • run continuously
  • suffer from air fluctuations

Run continuously

The key role of a storage tank on an air compressor is to act as a reservoir for the compressed air. When the air compressor pump has filled the receiver to the maximum operating pressure, it can simply shut off. Not only does the automatic shut-off save power, but it also helps reduce the wear and tear on the machine itself.

The benefit of having a large reservoir of compressed air is that you can draw down on the air supply, allowing you to continue using air-powered tools without the air pump running continuously.

When the operating pressure drops below the threshold, the air pump automatically cuts in and recharges the air supply, allowing you to potentially buy an air compressor with less horsepower than you actually need. The additional power can be supplied from the air storage tank when you actually need it.

When it comes to maintaining an air compressor, the amount of running time is extremely important. The maintenance interval typically depends on the number of hours that the machine has run. When an air compressor shuts off automatically, there is no accumulation of running time—and when the running time is reduced, there is less wear on the compressor and less maintenance required.

Therefore, the disadvantage of tankless compressors is that their pump runs continuously. You cannot get an air supply without the motor and air pump being switched on, meaning the device is drawing energy at all times, and the components continuously work – even if you are not using the compressed air supply.

Suffer from air fluctuations

Another benefit of the storage tank is that the air supply is regulated by the size of the receiver tank. For instance, fluctuations and irregular flow of air from the air pump are smoothed out by the air tank. The storage tank will absorb any pulsations or fluctuations that occur from the air pump.

When this air is discharged into the reservoir, the compressed air is smooth and regulated at the desired operating pressure – leaving no peaks or spikes in the operating pressure, just a steady air supply at a regular air pressure!

The disadvantage here of a tankless compressor is that its air supply is subject to fluctuations in its airflow. This will depend on how fast the motor is running, or whether the air pump is driven by a piston.

There can be noticeable fluctuations in the air pressure when you use tankless air compressors. For example, if you’re working with an airbrush, you may, unfortunately, be prone to pulsation, which will lead to defects in your projects.

Top Tankless Air Compressors Available on Amazon

If you’re wondering where to buy a tankless air compressor, Amazon is a great place! It has many different types all readily available for your purchase. I have picked out a few of the best ones on Amazon for you here:

  1. Iwata-Medea Studio Series Ninja Jet Single Piston Air Compressor

This compressor boasts zero-maintenance, oil-less piston motor along with a carrying handle allowing you to take this anywhere!

2. California Air Tools 10TL Ultra Quiet Tankless Air Compressor

This ultra quiet tankless compressor only reaches 65 decibels, and is only 25 lbs in weight making it very easy to transport. The compressor has a power foot pedal which allows you to control the air compressor power with your foot, leaving your hands free!

3. Master Airbrush 1/5 HP Cool Runner II Dual Fan Air Compressor Kit Model TC-320

This tankless air compressor is portable, lightweight and compact. It features an air-on-demand system that automatically shuts off air when not in use. The dual fan combo allows the compressor to run for longer continuous periods of use without overheating.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How does a tankless compressor work?

Tankless compressors work just like normal compressors, with the key difference being that they have to work continuously, drawing energy at all times rather than storing air for use when switched off. There is no air supply unless the motor and the air pump are switched on.

Can you use an air compressor without a tank?

Yes, there are many tankless air compressors readily available for purchase. They draw air continuously when powered as they cannot store air so offer instant flow. They tend to be lightweight and small which makes them very portable!

If you have any questions regarding tankless air compressors, please leave a comment below, with a photo if applicable, so that someone can help you!

By Aidan Weeks

A passionate Mechanical Engineer with endless enthusiasm for fluid power - building off the back of over 18 years of high quality contribution and discussion stimulated by Bill Wade here at About Air Compressors. With both practical and theoretical experience in pneumatics and hydraulics, I'm putting my knowledge to work - and working my grey-matter through my research, assistance and publishing work here at About Air Compressors. Feel free to reach out any time! P.S. A HUGE shout out to Doug who really offers such great value to all visitors to About Air Compressors - once again, feeling like I'm standing on the shoulders of GIANTS by getting to work alongside such a great community

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