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Posted: 12/25/2005 7:07:59 PM EDT
Does anyone know about air compressors for air tools? I need to purchase an air compressor to run air tools in my garage. I do all my own wrenching on my Jeep and have been using CO2 to run the air tools from a refillable tank.

However I would like to purchase an electric air compressor with a tank. What is the minimum I need to do this? The air tools are supposed to run at about 90 PSI. Remember this is only shadetree mechanic stuff so I dont need anything like Snap On. Just something for the weekend mechanic in me.

Thanks for nay help.
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 7:09:12 PM EDT
All I know is an Airhammer is fun.

What you running and how long you gonna be running it?
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 7:12:33 PM EDT
Campbell hausfeld makes decent air compressors. Depending on how much you are going to use it will dictate the size of the tank/motor. I've got a small 13 gallon 5 hp air compressor. Works good enough for me(use it to work on my Scout).
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 7:12:55 PM EDT
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 7:13:36 PM EDT
I'am not an expert, However, I work with air tools alot. Get at least a 60Gal tank with 5HP or more. Anything else you get, you will be disappointed with. Also remember that most people do not maintain their compressors like they should.
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 7:14:06 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Taxman:
All I know is an Airhammer is fun.

What you running and how long you gonna be running it?



Most draining tool I use is a angle grinder which drains most tanks really fast, this is for cutting up metal.

I use my ratchets and impact wrench a lot.
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 7:17:12 PM EDT
I have a Campbell Hausfield for a few years that I have been very happy with, one of the most useful tools in my shop now.
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 7:23:46 PM EDT
Check the cubic feet or air per minute rating of your tools and compare it to the compressor you are considering. I primarily use impact wrench, air chisel, and air drill. I don't do grinding, but just remember to actually compare the true use of your tools with the ratings. Are you really going to grind balls to the wall for 10 minutes. You'll probably use it in shorter bursts and such.

The size available at Home Depot, Lowes, or Wal Mart are all acceptable--usually a 20 gal tank. Also, if space is a premium like in my garage, get an upright compressor rather than the horizontal tank--mine is cumbersome and always a little in the way.

You'd probably do very well to spend less than $300 and get either a tool starter set or some extra air hose and fittings.
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 7:23:54 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/25/2005 7:24:36 PM EDT by Redcap]
Get the biggest one you can afford.

Look at the CFM ratings of the airtools you plan on using and buy accordingly.

I use a little 4gal Hitachi compressor at work and when I get going with my 83A2 nailer, I can outrun it pretty easily when sheeting a house.

At home, well...that setup is a different and more complex story.
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 7:42:12 PM EDT
Get something with a 60 gallon tank, at least. Air volume is your friend.

Just a friendly warning...some air compressors claim to be 5 h.p. but they really aren't.

Look on the motor and if it says "SPL" instead of the actual H.P. rating on the data plate, it really isn't what the manufacturer claims.

Scott
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 8:11:15 PM EDT
Don’t fall victim to the ‘HP wars’. Most everyone rates their motors at ‘Locked Rotor HP’ so that 5 HP motor is really about 3 HP. CFM rating is what you are interested in.
8 to 10 CFM @ 90 psi. will do just about anything a ‘Back Yard Mechanic’ will need to do. As others have said, volume is your friend. Get the largest tank you can find / fit in your shop. Replace the cheap drain valve on the tank with a ¼” ball valve piped outside. Drain often, water in the air tank is your enemy.
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 8:19:51 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Wraith:
Don’t fall victim to the ‘HP wars’. Most everyone rates their motors at ‘Locked Rotor HP’ so that 5 HP motor is really about 3 HP. CFM rating is what you are interested in.
8 to 10 CFM @ 90 psi. will do just about anything a ‘Back Yard Mechanic’ will need to do. As others have said, volume is your friend. Get the largest tank you can find / fit in your shop. Replace the cheap drain valve on the tank with a ¼” ball valve piped outside. Drain often, water in the air tank is your enemy.



+1 tank volume = very important

A small tank means your compressor has to work harder -> faster burnout (and more thermal shutdowns)....

HP is a side-note, because you can mix/match HP and compressor efficiency to produce the same CFM output... CFM + tank volume are the things to consider...
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 8:32:34 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Dave_A:
Originally Posted By Wraith:
Don’t fall victim to the ‘HP wars’. Most everyone rates their motors at ‘Locked Rotor HP’ so that 5 HP motor is really about 3 HP. CFM rating is what you are interested in.
8 to 10 CFM @ 90 psi. will do just about anything a ‘Back Yard Mechanic’ will need to do. As others have said, volume is your friend. Get the largest tank you can find / fit in your shop. Replace the cheap drain valve on the tank with a ¼” ball valve piped outside. Drain often, water in the air tank is your enemy.



+1 tank volume = very important

A small tank means your compressor has to work harder -> faster burnout (and more thermal shutdowns)....
quote]

Just like a rifle or.... Bigger is better!
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 9:01:35 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/25/2005 9:02:01 PM EDT by KA3B]
Don't use an extention cord or a long wire run, use more air hose.
Don't forget the in-line filter and water seperator either.
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 9:14:13 PM EDT
CFM is everything. Check the tools cfm (or similar ones at store) and make sure the compressor is more. Do not use an oiless cylinder compressor for nuematic wrenches period. For constant air use tools with a high CFM rate. You will want a 2 stage type compressor, they stay cooler because thet don't work as hard. An on board cooler is also nice for high CFM tools because it cools the air before it enters the tank. Tank volume also helps to work motor less to keep air cooler. Cooler means less condensation in the tank and less water to the tools. Tools don't function well with water, nor do they last very long. Use an in-line all purpose oiler/water filter about a 100 ft of hose away from the compressor. This allows the air to cool down enough for the steam to turn to water to be captured by the filter, steam goes straight through filters. You can just coil a hose to achieve this. Make it so you can unhook it easily and thoroughly drain it frequently. DO NOT use PVC pipe. The oil breaks down the glue in the fittings. If possible Ingersoll Rand with an electric purge valve on the bottom of the tank to blow out moisture every few minutes during use. I have a decent amout of experience with setups like this in my shop so IM me if you have any specific questions.
Clippen
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 9:20:07 PM EDT
I have a 5HP compressor with a 20 gallon tank. Works good for most tools I have, except I went somewhat cheap on the airtools. I bought a $50 CH started set with blowgun, airchisel, impact wrench, and ratchet. I figured I'd upgrade over time, but at least I'd have usable tools when needed. The tools are somewhat inefficient, which means I use up the air faster than if I'd have bought better tools. The worst if the impact wrench, it's rated for 250 Ft-lbs, however I can't loosen the lug nuts on my car, I torqued them to 100 ft-lbs.
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 9:30:10 PM EDT
Thanks for the help.

Seems like I need.

1.) Highest CFM @ 90 PSI I can afford or at least at what my tools run on

2.) Largest capacity tank I can afford

3.) Oiless is noisy and not as good as oiled system but it should be fine.

Link Posted: 12/25/2005 9:38:40 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/25/2005 9:47:55 PM EDT by Wraith]

Originally Posted By Dace:
Thanks for the help.

Seems like I need.

1.) Highest CFM @ 90 PSI I can afford or at least at what my tools run on

2.) Largest capacity tank I can afford

3.) Oiless is noisy and not as good as oiled system but it should be fine.




1. You want at least 1.5 times the CFM of your highest air use. Every elbow, tee, filter, quick disconnect, etc., reduces air flow.

3. NO NO NO, stay away from oiless. To get a unit with the CFM you need, and have a life span longer then 200 hrs., will cost way more then you will want to spend. Belt driven reciprocating, single stage if money is tight, two stage if $6-$700 is an option. If you want to cut the noise, pipe the intake outside, that will cut it alot.

Link Posted: 12/26/2005 7:11:44 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Dace:

Originally Posted By Taxman:
All I know is an Airhammer is fun.

What you running and how long you gonna be running it?



Most draining tool I use is a angle grinder which drains most tanks really fast, this is for cutting up metal.

I use my ratchets and impact wrench a lot.



This won't please the 'professionals' or the hard core but it works for me. I got mine slightly cheaper on a sale.

It will work for Joe Average Homeowner and run about anything I've got without giving up in normal everyday use. I don't use mine everyday or even everyweekend. But I can tell you it will spray paint like a sumbeech! I also find myself rotating tires and things way more than I should just to hear the tools run.

Just be sure to drain the thing everytime you finish using it.

http://www.sears.com/sr/javasr/product.do?BV_UseBVCookie=Yes&vertical=TOOL&pid=00916732000&subcat=Air+Compressors+%26+Inflators
Link Posted: 12/26/2005 7:26:43 AM EDT
If you're doing bodywork yuou'll need LOTS of CFM.
A 5 hp,30+gal will do for most weekend work.
Look for usedas well.My brother's old shop was updating a few years back.Went from 4 80-100gal 2 stages,to a huge central system.We graciously hauled off the old ones.
Link Posted: 12/26/2005 7:27:23 AM EDT
I picked mine up about 6 years ago and a local place similar to Sams. I ended up with a devilbiss 60gal.. IIRC it was rated for 9.5@90psi I bought it because my 15gal craftsman wasnt big enough to run my D/A.. I think I paid about $300 for it.. Not sure what sams has not, but I was on Harbor Freight;s site and they have something similar for about $500. If you don;t plan on running a D/A something like a 20~30 gal Craftsman will be plenty sufficent as I still use it occasionally when I am not at the house, and it runs my IM5100 impact just fine.
Link Posted: 12/26/2005 7:41:45 AM EDT

Originally Posted By LesBaer45:


This won't please the 'professionals' or the hard core but it works for me. I got mine slightly cheaper on a sale.

It will work for Joe Average Homeowner and run about anything I've got without giving up in normal everyday use. I don't use mine everyday or even everyweekend. But I can tell you it will spray paint like a sumbeech! I also find myself rotating tires and things way more than I should just to hear the tools run.

Just be sure to drain the thing everytime you finish using it.

www.sears.com/sr/javasr/product.do?BV_UseBVCookie=Yes&vertical=TOOL&pid=00916732000&subcat=Air+Compressors+%26+Inflators



+1 That's the same compressor I own. It's never failed me on any project, but I'm just a weekend wrencher. If I were using it more frequently than once or twice a week I would invest in a two stage compressor.
Link Posted: 12/26/2005 7:46:43 AM EDT
As mentioned, body work, which usually requires a lot of Double Action disk sander work, eats up over 12 CFM. Your largest chain store compresor will barely keep up, and if you do this all the time, it will burn up. I have that compressor at home, and it will work, a 60 gallon Devilbis two stage.

At work, I bought an IR 2475N7.5 which runs very little and keeps up with everything I do. It runs on single phase 230 Volts. If more than one person is using air, a larger capacity will be required, and I would buy one of these for the house in a heartbeat if I was still building cars. This is an industrial rated compressor and has a tremendous duty cycle and comes with a great warranty, starter, etc. IR has a cheaper line that you can get through Sears, but doesn't have the same air-motor, or warranty. I tried to get the cheaper line, but Sears gave me the run-around. I really like the one I ended up with.

The DA sander is one of the largest consumers of air. A plasma cutter eats a lot too, and a sand blaster is an air hog. For intermittent use, a smaller compressor will work, but if you have a big project and need to get it done in an efficient manner, larger is better.

Linky
Link Posted: 12/26/2005 8:35:03 AM EDT
Just like any product on the market, there is crap, and there is good stuff. Where a certain brand or model falls into that range is subject to opinion.

I would opt for a oil lubricated compressor, they can typically run longer and stay cooler under heavy use. I wouldn't pay any attention to horsepower ratings, almost all are smoke and mirrors. Some are continuous ratings, others are peak.

Look at the hard data: CFM rating at 90 psi, duty cycle, and gallons of storage.

Some companies will market a 5 hp compressor but it will only have a 50% duty cycle, meaning you have to let it cool for 1 minute for every minute it runs. (or 30/30 as the owner's manual might read)

Personally, I'd rather have a small compressor with a 100% duty cycle than a large one with a 50% duty cycle.

So what do I have? A small Porter-cable that is oil lubricated, rated at about 5 cfm at 90 psi, and only had about 4 gallons of storage. Because it's small I can plug it into extension cords that larger compressors shouldn't be running on because of too much voltage drop. Is mine 100% duty cycle? No, it's 50%, I couldn't afford 100% duty cycle one at the time. I had just bought my home and didn't have $$$ to spare. I think I paid about $150-$200 for mine. It willl runa wrench just fine. Unless you're planning running an air hammer or air grinder or something like that, a smaller unit should serve you well.
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