5 Types of Air Compressors: Which is Right for Your Project?


Air compressors are a great tool to be owned by almost everybody, there are a lot of activities you can get execute with air compressors. This includes inflating of bike, car, motorcycle tires. For over a hundred years, air compressors have been used in industry and it has always been considered a safe, clean, comfortable, and versatile resource. They have become highly reliable devices over the years and have become virtually indispensable in many applications.

What is an air compressor?

Air compressors are power tools that draw air from the atmosphere, produce pressure, and release kinetic energy. They are essential equipment for households, workshops, and garages. Air compressors conduct pneumatic operations in factories as well as workshops.

Their large components are one of the features of industrial air compressors. The essential parts of a compressor tool are it components.

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5 Types of Air Compressors: Which Is Right For Your Project?

Centrifugal Compressors

It is a compressor that is turbo or dynamic. They are radially built. This compressor relies on the energy transfer from the spinning wheel to the air. This air compressor works under constant pressure. External changes in temperature conditions at the inlet affect its efficiency. It is a powerful and study type due to its continuous flow.

Also because of the continuous flow through the compressor, this compressor has greater power.

Compared to reciprocating screw compressors, centrifugal compressor maintenance expenses are minimal, and some models may generate oil-free air.

To generate potential energy, this type of compressor slows down and cools the incoming air through the diffuser. The kinetic energy is converted into pressure in the diffuser prior to the gas flowing to the middle of the impeller. Then the air flows to the radial blade core. It is then guided by centrifugal forces towards the wheel.

In a relatively small machine, centrifugal compressors can generate great quantities of energy. This is due to the encoding processes of its multiphase. Every phase depends on increasing the compressor unit’s total pressure. Depending on the pressure required, several measures are put in a row to reach a higher pressure.

Reciprocating (Piston) Air Compressor

Reciprocating air compressors are the most useful tools for several compressed air applications both at home and workshop. This kind of air compressor came with low dynamic settings and its structures are based on a very simple design.

It has a wide number of pressure levels, the reciprocating air compressor is well represented and is convenient and well managed throughout the working load.

To force air into the pressure tank, reciprocating compressors also use a spring-piston. Most models would have connected to the crankshaft more than one piston, which will help the machine make the most of the engine’s power sent to them. The crankshaft can be attached directly to any source of power such as electric, gasoline, or other forms of the engine in most air compressors.

The mode of operation for this air compressor is very basic. You already have a clear understanding of how a reciprocating compressor operates when you are familiar with the operation of a hand-held bicycle pump.

Through inlet and outlet valves, that was arranged for air to pass to another side of the compressor tank, you can move and compress the air in one direction.

Reciprocating compressors are further known as double or unidirectional. A single-action tool can deliberately force air to one side of the piston; it will offer resistance when pushing it down, exactly how a bicycle pump operates. And it other side disclose to the air and when raised, does not compress.

On the other hand, double-acting compressors have both sides of the piston sealed and fitted with valves for the inlet and outlet. During ascending and lowering, this type of air compressor can compress air which possible through the auxiliary valves that are mounted at both ends of the piston tank.

This arrangement not only ensures that the piston’s forward direction and reverse motion lead to air compression but also ensures that the air discharge is smooth so the air can be actively shut off by the compressor.

There is a high PSI for reciprocating compressors and they are still some of the most affordable compressors you can find. They are also straightforward machines, easy to manage or fix. They seem to lag behind CFM and also have superior efficiency compared to continuous flow compressors.

Rotary Screw Compressor

To compress the air, this tool uses two inner rotors. There is an internal cooling mechanism for this type of air compressors, which ensures that the power tool is overheating and it can be used for an extended time. Using an oil or water method, cooling is achieved. The air is compressed by two rotors that spin at a high speed parallel to each other. Rotary screw compressors with power ranging from 5 to 500 horsepower can be employed. Usually, the maximum PSI available is about 150 PSI.

Generally speaking, rotary screw compressors do not have much maintenance, which means they are an outstanding machine for small employees who only need simple tools every day. A rotary screw compressor would come in handy if you don’t need adapters and a powerful air compressor.

Single-Stage Air Compressors

Now we have joined the compressor category that can use pneumatic instruments and we have single-stage systems. For personal and professional reasons, these choices are respected.

These devices typically have powerful motors that allow a nail or paint gun to be used by the compressor.

They are pricey, but they provide a really good option if you are looking to buy something for the workshop.

Dual Stage Air Compressor

The dual Stage air compressor can be used for personal and professional tasks although it is generally used by professional operators and those that have several types of equipment.

These devices are powerful with a great, durable and components of several types of equipment to be used by the compressor.

They are costlier and powerful than a single-stage compressor, and it is good option for professional use.

Which type of air compressor is right for you?

There are several and different air compressors, as you can see. Although, there is no difficult in choosing the right tool for the average person.

You would want to invest in a powerful single-stage device if you are a DIY enthusiast. This option is compact, durable, and your instruments will be able to work adequately. You might also be looking for a Standard Dual-Stage option or something like a truck compressor.

However, as an expert, there is a number of factors you need to study. These factors are what will be the major determinant of the air compressor size and type you will need. Examples of these factors are; your project/task type, usage duration, expertise level, budget, mode of operation, and the likes.


Air Compressors vary in many ways, as you might have noted. Each contains its compression phases, methods of lubrication, and methods of cooling. There varieties depending on operational method and drive modes. You can select the right type of air compressor according to your needs after reading this post.

For more detailed information on air compressors, visit other parts of our blog.