An air compressor may not seem like an essential tool for your DIY needs, but once you purchase one, you may wonder how you ever got by without it. Whether it’s in your house, garage or workshop, these nifty machines get the job done effortlessly and quickly.
Direct Air has created a handy guide to advise you how these appliances work, how they can be applied and provide guidance when choosing the right model for you.
Air compressors can power numerous gadgets, they are commonly used for pneumatic tools but they may surprise you with their versatility.
Spray painting furniture, cabinets or any other up-cycling jobs can achieve a professional finish with air compressors and can save a large sum by eliminating the need to hire someone. They can also be used to sand these surfaces.
Air compressors can also be used in auto repair such as changing removing tight or rusted bolts.
You can even use these machines to clean your home, want to remove leaves from the patio or sweep the debris in the garage? Simply use these to blow air and effortlessly get rid of any dirt. If you are looking for a deeper clean, you can use them to power a pressure washer.
You can even use them for some festive fun during the holidays, air compressors are an ideal tool for powering snow machines.
Not only can air compressors make your tasks easier, but they can also save you money. By reducing your energy use, air compressors can lower your energy bills and help to decrease your carbon footprint.
These machines use petrol or electric motors as the initial power source. In turn, this then generates a substantially larger amount of energy with air.
This is achieved with the use of a piston. The piston travels downwards decreasing pressure and forcing the cylinder door open, drawing air in. The piston then travels back upwards and the air is forced out at a much higher pressure point. This is repeated in a reciprocating scroll pattern and is often also referred to as a scroll compressor.
For home use, a similar model is recommended, this is known as a rotary screw compressor. These work in a very similar way, but instead of a piston, rollers are positioned just off the central shaft of the machine. These rollers rotate at an extreme speed resulting in the same action as a piston compressor.
Although rotary screw compressors have a limited cooling ability in comparison to piston compressors, they are easier to maintain as the parts are less complex. They also have a good power capacity and have a lower initial cost.
Before making any decision with your purchase, the most important element to consider is your own safety.
Air compressors generate a considerable amount of noise and can cause long-term damage to your hearing. Invest in a low noise air compressor if you are not wanting to use ear defenders.
These work by reducing the noise level to around 40dB, to put this in comparison, 60dB is considered the safest level for air compressors and anything over 85 dB is deemed unsafe.
These air compressors achieve this with the addition of a separate acoustic chamber.
You will also be faced with the choice of a single or dual phase air compressor. These operate in a very similar way.
Single phase air compressors draw in the air to the cylinder and is compressed with a single piston movement. This is typically compressed to around 120 PSI (pounds per square inch) and is then sent to a separate storage tank until it is required.
Dual phase follow this process, but after the air is compressed initially, it is sent to another tank to be compressed for a second time to roughly 175 PSI.
Dual phase are typically used for larger, industrial applications. You should suffice with a single phase for DIY tasks.
All air compressors require lubrication within the central shaft in order to draw air effectively and safely. This can be managed in two ways, oil or oil-free.
Oil air compressors, unsurprisingly, require oil for their lubrication, they are often heavier and more robust machines. They require regular checks to ensure there is sufficient oil and due to extra elements, are commonly harder to maintain.
For home use, you can use a simple oil-free air compressor, lubrication is achieved with a non-stick coating, usually Teflon. They are used within the medical and catering industry as there is no risk of contamination from oil.
These are lighter and more compact but they will eventually require replacing as this coating does wear away over time. However, unless you plan on using your air compressor frequently and for long periods, these machines can still last 20+ years.
Choosing your air compressor can come down to a variety of factors. Consider how often this will be used and for what applications. There is also the issue of budget and storage.
You should hopefully have a better understanding of what will suit you and you can make an informed choice with your purchase.