An easy guide to air compressors

When you mention ‘air compressors’ to most people, you are likely to get one of two reactions. Either a look of absolute confusion – like you have just spoken to them in Klingon! Or an enthusiastic nod of the head with a great understanding and knowledge of them.

For those just starting out or curious about compressed air, we hope this simple guide will help you understand how it can be hugely beneficial for your business or your hobby.

What is an air compressor?

In simple terms, an air compressor is a machine that converts power (from oil or an electric motor) into compressed air. The compressed air is stored within the tank of the air compressor and is ready to be used at any time for many different purposes. Pretty cool, right?

Labelled parts of a standard direct drive compressor:

labelled parts of an air compressor

What is a compressor used for?

Believe it or not, in almost every industry there is a need for compressed air. Here are just a few things that a compressor can assist with:

  • Powering air tools such as air drills, air sanders, air ratchets, air grinders and air impact wrenches.
  • Inflating vehicles tyres, air beds and bouncy castles with an air pump.
  • Producing safe, tightly sealed packaging in manufacturing.
  • Powering dentist’s tools.
  • Oil drilling (essential for safety in hazardous rigs).
  • Scuba diving – essential for extended time under water by filling the air tanks.
  • Regulate the air for heating and cooling systems.
  • Supplying high-pressure clean air to gas cylinders.
  • Spray painting (especially large items such as vehicles).
  • Cleaning large areas with a pressure washing.
  • Sandblasting

The type of air compressor you need depends on the job you need it to do. They can range from huge industrial sized machines to small portable ones that are ideal for the home (or garage). Therefore, if you need help identifying the air compressor you need, please give us a call: 01932 348777

The benefits of compressed air

Whether you are considering an air compressor for your business, hobby or just to have at home, it may be worth noting a few key benefits – especially in the current cost of living crisis.

Fact graphic: Using an air compressor will save money on your energy bill.

Firstly, compared to electric tools, using a compressor to power up air tools will consume far less electricity. This is such a huge plus point when you consider how the price of energy bills have soared recently and look like they will continue to do so.

> Browse our selection of air tools

Secondly, air tools are much lighter than electric tools. The design of an air tool does not have to factor in the heavy motors that an electric tool does – making it easier and more functional to use.

Air tools also increase your productivity, it’s so easy to swap from one tool to another incredibly quickly.

Another thing to add is that it’s much easier and cost effective to maintain air tools. With less parts to go wrong (such as the motor in an electric tool) air tools are far more reliable and therefore, have a much longer shelf life than your average electric tool.

> Read more: A complete guide to air tools


How does an air compressor work?

The easiest way to explain how an air compressor works is to liken it to a balloon. Air is forced into the cylinder and compressed by a piston and stored in the tank. This is like the equivalent of us blowing up a balloon and holding the end so that all of the air is stored within the balloon.

If you think about pinching the end of a balloon and just creating the smallest opening for the air to escape, this can feel quite forceful.
The same goes for air compressors, once you plug your tool into the compressor via a hose, that pressurised air is released with great force. That force is so powerful that it can be used to power your tools, or machinery.

Check below for an amazing video from our partners at PCL. This is a complete guide as to how to set up and use your air compressor and what each of the functions are for.

Video screenshot of how to set up an air compressor. Click the image to watch the video.

If you’re just starting out, or need advice about compressors please don’t struggle in silence! We are happy to advise you on any questions you have, simply contact us here.
To start, take a look at our air compressor range and don’t forget to contact us if you need assistance.
Big thanks to our partner PCL for this video, follow PCL on YouTube for more great tips & how to videos.

Shop for air Compressors

Smaller Air Compressors (24-50L):

Original price was: £508.00.Current price is: £230.00. (inc.vat £276.00)
Original price was: £276.61.Current price is: £149.00. (inc.vat £178.80)
Original price was: £826.00.Current price is: £506.00. (inc.vat £607.20)
Original price was: £1,112.00.Current price is: £520.00. (inc.vat £624.00)
Original price was: £363.96.Current price is: £199.00. (inc.vat £238.80)

Belt Driven Compressors:

Original price was: £1,035.00.Current price is: £653.00. (inc.vat £783.60)
Original price was: £1,972.00.Current price is: £929.00. (inc.vat £1,114.80)
Original price was: £1,399.00.Current price is: £775.00. (inc.vat £930.00)
Original price was: £1,107.00.Current price is: £626.00. (inc.vat £751.20)

HELP! Which Air Compressor Do I Need?

Simply let us know:

  1. What you will be using it for.
  2. The dimensions of the space you will be using it in.

We will recommend what you need! Simply give us a call: 01932 348777 


Other Guides that may help You

We have  few other guides which may be useful to you if you are just starting out. Firstly, Choosing the Right Compressed Air Fittings Guide is ideal in getting to grips with all of the different types of air fittings. Likewise, our Complete guide to Air Tools is a great place to start with all things relating to air powered tools.