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Air Compressor Features

Air Compressors Buyers' Guide

There are a number of features you should consider before buying an air compressor to ensure you get exactly what you want.

Power Sources
  • Electric. You can use an electric air compressor wherever you have access to a socket. Electric compressors are also the best choice for interior work where petrol or diesel exhaust may pose a health hazard. Remember to confirm the voltage and phase that you need. You can have a 230V single phase motor that is ideal for domestic and general use, or 200V, 230V, 400V or 450V three phase engines for industrial applications.
  • Petrol and diesel. If you intend to use your air compressor outdoors and want optimum mobility, a petrol or diesel powered air compressor is your best option. Such a compressor is noisier and hotter than a comparable electric model, however.

If you want a small mobile air compressor, ensure you can move it without straining yourself. Larger compressors come with their own trailers and standard hitches. For the heaviest models, you’ll need an open van or a lorry.

General Points
  • Oil-free air compressors. These air compressors don’t require lubrication. This means they’re almost maintenance free.
  • Low oil cut-out. If you have a lubricated air compressor, a low oil cut-out feature stops the machine running out of oil and breaking down.
  • V cylinders. Air compressors generate a lot of heat, but a V cylinder machine reduces the temperature more effectively than a model with in-line cylinders.
  • Belt drive. A belt driven air compressor cuts down on both the vibration and the amount of heat that spreads from the engine to the pump.
  • Horizontal and vertical air compressors. If you’re pushed for floor space, consider buying a vertical air compressor rather than a horizontal model.
  • Auto start/stop. Air compressors with an auto start/stop mechanism work only when you need the air. If not in use, they automatically switch off. Other compressors run all the time.
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