Air compressors are used in a variety of machines. Choosing the right air compressor is confusing due to the wide availability of different types on the market. In general, an air compressor works by compressing air to move power tools. But each type can come with many different features, which are applicable to you based on your needs. Air compressors work by storing air in a pressurized storage container, which is then released to utilize the kinetic energy of the air rushing out to move parts. Now that you know the general facts about air compressors, here is how to choose the best one:

Piston vs. Portable Air Compressors

There are two types of air compressors out there: piston and portable. Piston compressors are usually gas- or electric-powered. They work by moving a piston within a container, which controls the buildup of air pressure within the chamber. This, when released, powers other parts connected to the compressor. A piston compressor is stationary and sits on the factory floor, while a portable air compressor can be moved around even though it uses the same mechanism. The best compressor for your job depends on your job requirements. If you are going to use an air compressor in a commercial setting to power a large number of tools, then a piston compressor is going to be the best option for you. But if you will use an air compressor for jobs where you need to move around, such as household repair works, a portable one is the better option.

Power specs

Power tool being used to fix the roof

A good air compressor should be able to deliver the power you need. Most power tools used at home and in the factory at least require 90 PSI for functioning. A two-stage compressor is the best option as it builds power in stages, from 0 to 175 PSI. A single-stage compressor usually works for smaller tasks, but it cannot retain enough power for large operations.

A good-quality compressor will not see a drop in pressure after using it for some time. Also, consider the cubic feet per minute (CFM) rating of the air compressor that you are about to buy. CFM refers to the amount of air the compressor produces in volume. A good compressor should produce 3 to 4 CFM at a pressure of 90 PS per unit of horsepower used. But the amount of power you need once again depends on your usage.

Other considerations

These are the main considerations to keep in mind when choosing an air compressor. Some other considerations you should keep in mind is the price range of the compressor, as well as the availability of spare parts in case of maintenance. In case you need some spare parts, check out Gardner Denver air compressor parts. Such companies will ensure that you find parts if something stops working.


Even after you know all about air compressors, you may find that there is yet more to research. You can always consult a mechanic or technician for suggestions. The wide variety and availability of different brands may make the selection process confusing.