How to Choose the Right Air Compressor Size

An air compressor is a device used to convert power into energy which is stored in pressurised/compressed air. Compressors supply the air for all pneumatic equipment including air winches and air chain hoists. This device is incredibly popular throughout manufacturing and industrial applications due to the safety and convenience of using air as a resource as opposed to other power sources. Selecting the right air compressor size will ensure that it’s best suited to your needs and will help to save you time and money in the long run. We’ve outlined the key points you need to consider to make the most out of your equipment hire.

Understanding the Different Types of Air Compressors

Diesel Air Compressor

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Diesel air compressors are most suitable for general construction, industrial applications and civil works. They’re easily towed to and from your site and provide a reliable source of compressed air to drive pneumatic equipment including winches, hoists, chipping hammers, jackhammers, rock breakers and grinding tools.

Because of their portability, diesel compressors are preferred for jobs that involve travelling or where a constant power supply is unavailable. Depending on the capacity of the model being used, a diesel air compressor can operate on its fuel source for approximately 12 hours before requiring a refill.

Winch Hire Australia’s range of diesel compressors is manufactured with the environment in mind. They are built to prevent any kind of oil, coolant or fuel pollution.

Electric Air Compressor

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Electric rotary screw compressors are suited to factory operations such as assembly lines or for powering multiple air tools at once. They are capable of delivering a continuous amount of high-pressured air, as well as being easy to maintain and operate.

An electric air compressor is a great solution for locations where there is a steady flow of power supply. This equipment is highly efficient and works to reduce energy costs by automatically adjusting the air supply to suit demand. As well as being a more cost-effective solution to a diesel compressor, electric air compressors feature a longer working duration and uptime, lower service frequency and produce minimal noise.

Winch Hire Australia’s range of electric compressors offers reliability and efficiency for a diverse range of applications.

Choosing the Right Air Compressor Size

One of the biggest challenges to choosing the right air compressor is to correctly size it. Understanding the application and usage is of paramount importance, as an incorrectly sized air compressor can lead to production issues and increased costs due to wasted energy.

Choosing the correct air compressor size depends on the following factors:

  • The air consumption of the tools being powered
  • The recommended operating pressure of the tools being powered
  • The frequency of use (eg. continuous or intermittent) and,
  • The location where you plan to power the tools

1. Tool Air Consumption

The most important consideration is that the compressor can supply enough airflow to allow a pneumatic tool to work correctly. Each air compressor measures the volume of air it can produce. This is called Free Air Delivery (FAD).

Every air tool also has a recommended cubic feet per minute (CFM) or litres per minute (L/min) requirement set by the manufacturer.  Ensuring that the compressor has the same or higher capacity than the tool being powered is the best way to ensure it will be an efficient solution.

To determine the air power you’ll need in a compressor, you’ll need to consider the rating of the tools you already have, and if you plan to power multiple tools at once, calculate the total CFM. Our recommendation is that you take the maximum CFM rating on your tools and multiple it by 1.5. This will help you find an air compressor with slight leeway in the case of varying operating conditions.

Tip: To covert FAD to CFM, divide the FAD by 28.3. 

2. Pressure

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Depending on the tool’s operational pressure (bar or PSI), you’ll need to select an air compressor size that can deliver the same volume of air. If you plan to use multiple tools, the compressor will require a pressure regulator so that the air supply can be adjusted to the lowest pressure required.

Tip: Never use high pressure on tools that have low operating pressure! Excessively high pressure can damage tools that aren’t built to handle it. 

3. Tool Usage

The Duty Cycle refers to ratio in which your compressor is operating compared to when it is resting or cooling. The general rule is not to operate an air compressor for more than 60% of the time in order to prolong its lifespan. For operations which require a 100% continuous duty cycle, a rotary screw air compressor is the reliable solution.

Because of differing duty cycle requirements, it’s important to consider if you’ll be running the tools in continuous long bursts or intermittent short bursts. Running tools continuously will require a greater volume of air so that they can operate more efficiently over that period of time. If you’ll be using high air consumption tools continuously, consider an air compressor with a higher FAD rating so not to wear it out or overheat the unit.

If you find that your compressor runs out of air too quickly, a bigger tank compressor may be the solution to this. This is where rental equipment can be of benefit, as you can test the equipment for the applications and adjust where needed. For more information on this, read our blog, Industrial Equipment Hire: Why Buy When You Can Rent?

4. Location of Air Tools

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Portability and the availability of a power source are two big factors you’ll need to consider when selecting the right air compressor for the job.

If you have operations that require portable equipment, a diesel compressor may be beneficial as you can equip them with wheels and they don’t require a power source to operate. However, if you have a power source available and won’t be needing to relocate the air compressor, an electric compressor may be the best option.

Hire Air Compressors From Winch Hire Australia

We have a large selection diesel compressors ranging from 75CFM to 500CFM and electric compressors up to 420CFM. If you’re unsure about which air compressor size will best suit your requirements, get in touch with Winch Hire Australia for expert advice. You’re sure to find the right tool for the job.