What Kind of Air Compressor Do I Need?

Air compressors are a very popular tool at construction sites and can be very helpful when you are doing a home improvement project as well. Choosing the right air compressor can be an arduous task if you don’t know what you are looking for. It is easy to get confused with so many sizes and models available. But once you know what you’re looking for, renting or buying the appropriate air compressor for your project is quite a simple and easy process. 

Air Compressor Basics

An air compressor, no matter the type, functions by converting a source of power into stored energy in the form of compressed air. They are separated by type based on how they generate compressed air. Which type is right for your job?  

Let’s go into the different types of air compressors and their functions.

Types Of Air Compressors

Rotary Screw Compressors

These work by trapping air between two meshed rotors and reducing the volume of the trapped air as it moves down these rotors. The reduction in volume creates compressed air, which is then used to power air tools, inflate tires, or many other practical applications. 

Rotary screw compressors are known for their high air flow delivery and a long life in a more compact sized compressor. If you have a high duty cycle application, this compressor type is what you need as it is designed to run all the time. Often, screw compressors do not need air receiver tanks to operate and compared to the other compressor types, this one has fewer parts that can wear down. Maintenance is relatively simple, and is mostly relegated to changing oil and filters. 

Benefits of Rotary Screw Compressors

  • Good for commercial and industrial applications that need constant air
  • Long lasting
  • Uses low energy as the compressor operates at the low stage 
  • Its cooling cycle can last quite a while
  • Maintenance is simple

Reciprocating Compressors

These work on the principle of reciprocation, which means to move something back and forth. These compressors have cylinders with pistons inside of them, where each cylinder has a closed end next to the cylinder head and is finished with a movable piston. The piston then reverses and begins compressing air as it does, hence the term “reciprocating.” These are also known as piston compressors

Reciprocating compressors are often used to compress natural gas, supply high-pressure gas for gas lifted oil well drilling as well as in chemical, food, oil and gas, refrigeration systems. 

Benefits of Reciprocating Compressors

  • Many uses at home or at the job site
  • Low installation cost
  • Low maintenance cost
  • Able to produce high pressure and power
  • Easy to operate/repair

Centrifugal Compressors 

These types of compressors work by drawing air into the center of a rotating impeller with radial blades and then pushing that air toward the center by centrifugal force. The radial movement of the air results in the pressure rising and generates kinetic energy which then is used as potential energy in the form of pressure. 

Centrifugal compressors are used in many  different applications, such as refineries, onshore and offshore gas lift and gas injection, chemical plants, and the storage of natural gas, to name a few.

Benefits  of Rotary centrifugal Compressor

  • Lighter weight than the other types
  • Ideal for the continuous supply of compressed air like cooling unit
  • Oil-free
  • Low maintenance 
  • Very reliable
  • Relatively energy efficient
  • Few parts that rub together

As you can see, there is an air compressor for any job you may need one for, just make sure you are getting the appropriate kind for the application you need. 

Elephant Rental Can Lend A Hand

Whether you need scaffolds, power tools, lawnmowers, or anything in between, Elephant Construction Solutions can help you complete your next project. We provide the Rio Grande Valley with the best construction equipment for rent, including oil-free air compressor rental, air tool rental, generator rental, and more. 

Visit us today to get your free quote for any machinery your site may need. Whether it’s as simple as a lawnmower, as important as scaffolding, or as small as a nail gun, we have the tools you need to successfully finish your next project and stay under budget while doing it.


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