Power Tool Buying Guide for Air Compressor

Air compressors are great power tools to have around.  They pump up tires, power nail guns, spray guns and many other air powered tools.

Compressor Types

  • Inflator – This is the smallest and lightest.  Typically this isn’t really a compressor since it doesn’t compress air.  There is no storage tank on inflators, so they continuously to supply air.  They are also good for sports equipment, light inflating or keeping in the car for a flat tire..
  • Piston Type Compressor – Has a tank that stores the compressed air.  Once the pressure reaches a certain point in the tank the motor will automatically shut off.  Once the air in the storage tank is used, the motor will start up again and replenish the compressed air.
  • Single Stage Compressor – Has a single piston that compresses air and sends it to a storage tank.  These are very good for home use.
  • Two Stage Compressor – These have two pistons that deliver air to a storage tank.  The first piston compresses the air and sends it to the second piston where is further compressed.  The second piston delivers it to a storage tank.  These are used in the professional are and are design for continuous use.

When buying a compressor there are certain items you want to consider.

Horse Power – This is what the motor produces in order to compress the air.  Usually the more horsepower the more PSI the compressor can produce.

Compressor Storage Tank – This is how many gallons of air the storage tank can hold of compressed air.  Large tanks store more compressed air at a higher compression rate.  You need to figure out what tools you will be using and what there PSI ratings are before you buy a compressor.  Make sure your compressor can handle the tools.

Storage Tank Configurations


  • Oil Free Compressors – The bearings are sealed and you do not need to add oil, good for residential
  • Oil Lubricated Compressors – You need to change and add oil often. These are for industrial use.

Power Supply

  • Electric – Good for all most any application.
  • Gas – Look at buying if you will be using in new construction where there may not be electric.  Gas compressors produce a lot of power.
  • Battery – Great for smaller demand projects.