jmc automotive equipment – air compressor buyer’s guide

Auto Air Compressors have been around for more than a century and have as many uses as there are tools that use air. They have garnered popularity over the years mainly due to the resource of air being safe, clean, flexible and convenient. Air compressorshave evolved into reliable pieces of equipment that makes them vital in most applications where they are required. They are available in different shapes, sizes, prices and types so read carefully as we will describe the uses, types, categories and additional tips before you go out and purchase your own air compressor.


There are 3 different types of consumers that purchase Auto Air Compressors therefore it makes sense that there are 3 different categories in which air compressors may fall under.

1.Consumer: Consumer grade Auto Air Compressors are designed for those looking for a machine that is capable of completing small air tasks around the house. If you’re looking to inflate the occasional sporting good, tires, toys and limited other products, a consumer grade air compressormight be just what you’re looking for. They are usually either portable or single stage but remember they are only intended for round the house chores.

2.Contractor: If you’re a building professional a contractor-grade Auto Air Compressor might be the compressor you’ve been searching for. They are used for a plethora of jobs but are mostly used to power nail guns as well as roadside repair tools. They are made for those that have larger air demands than a consumer-grade air compressor and are perfect if you are running multiple air tools simultaneously. They are built to last longer than their consumer-grade predecessors and are portable, either hand-carry on a wheeled cart or attached to a vehicle.

3.Commercial: As the name implies, commercial-grade Auto Air Compressors are engineered for businesses or daily usage. They feature the most advanced technology and their performance is superior to both of their predecessors. You can find them at auto body shops, and manufacturing facilities not to mention, are utilized for more extreme applications such as oil rig machinery as well as powering theme park roller coasters. If you don’t know how to tell the difference between commercial-gradeand contractor-grade air compressors don’t worry, the difference is 99% of the time reflected on the price tag. If you have very demanding air compressed needs a commercial grade air compressor is your best bet.


Analyze your Requirements, Usage and Space

This section goes hand in hand with the categories section mainly because after you have isolated where you’ll be using it and how much usage will be given to it you’ll want to know about capacity and volume. If you require an Auto Air Compressor for industrial use to power heavy duty machinery you’ll probably need a piston compressor with a tank and if you just need it for the occasional round the house usage you’ll want a portable compressor without a tank.

You’ll also want to keep in mind pressure as well as volume requirements of the tools you’ll be using. Heavy duty tools will require more pressure as well as volume so remember that if you go for a lower priced air compressor, chances are it might not fulfill your air compressing needs not to mention the time it will take for the tank to fill up will decrease your work efficiency.

Another thing you should ask yourself is, how much space will I designate to my newly purchased air compressor? Air compressors can be small, portable items or they can be large and powerful machines that take up a lot of room in your garage or shop. Think about portability but also think about capacity. Portable Air Compressors are great tools to have around the house and are ideal to pack pressure on some tools, but let’s face it, not all.


Types of Air Compressors

There are 5 different types of Auto Air Compressors we carry hear at JMC which are:  single stage compressors, two stage compressors, portable compressors, truck mount compressors and rotary screw compressors. However, the two types you have probably seen the most are, piston type compressors (single stage and two stage) and portable compressors.

Piston Type Compressors:

These rely on a motor which builds up air pressure when it gets depleted and store compressed air in tanks (keyword being tanks). They are divided into two groups (single stage and two stage).

  • Single Stage Compressors

Both the single and two stage compressors are inline twin cylinders so the difference between the two compressors is not the # of cylinders. The difference is in their capacities. Single Stage Compressors only pressurize up to 150 psi (maximum) and 125 psi standard. One way to identify a single stage compressor is looking closely at the cylinders. If they are the same size, 99% of the time it will be a single stage pump. They are better suited for heavy duty round the house applications. Click here to view our single stage compressors.

  • Two Stage Compressors

Two stage compressors have two cylinders. A front cylinder that is significantly smaller than the one it has on the back. The cylinder on the back has a smaller high pressure piston and the larger cylinder has a low pressure piston. Valves are also different in the sense that the low pressure valve has about 75 psi and transfers air via an intercooler tube to the high pressure piston. This piston goes up to about 100 psi which means these two stage compressors can go up to about 175 psi and even 200. Two stage compressors clearly have more air capacity. These are better suited in industrial settings where the usage is continuous. Click here to view our selection of two stage compressors.


Portable Air Compressors

As we mentioned before portable air compressors are more viable for light home use such as powering caulk guns, spray guns, glue guns and even inflating small tires and rafts. You can use them to power pneumatic nailers in your home, shop or job, inflate pretty much anything and even blow away wood debris. It is easy to use and easy to carry. Portable air compressors are a great alternative for amateurs. Click here to see our selection of Portable Air Compressors.


Truck Mount Air compressors

They are the biggest and most powerful portable compressors available and a better option than heavy trailer mounted air compressors that take up a lot of space. Truck Mount Compressors allow you to bring all the power of two stage compressors anywhere you can drive your truck. These compressors are equipped with multiple air outlets which allow you to run several air tools at the same time. There are also truck mount air compressors that produce 52 CFM which means they have the power of several smaller compressors in one unit. The only setback with these compressors is you can only use them where you can drive. Click here for our selection of Truck Mount Air Compressors.


Rotary Screw Work Compressors

It is a type of gas compressor that is commonly used to replace the aforementioned piston compressors. You will see them where large volumes of high pressure air is needed such as in industrial applications or to operate high powered tools such as jackhammers. They tend to be the most advanced air compressors in the industry and offer significant advantages. They are quieter, offer cleaner air quality and they provide 100% continuous duty air that blasts much longer. Click here to view our selection of Rotary Screw Air Compressors.


Power Source

Last but not least you’ll have to consider your power source. You want to ask yourself if you will have electricity at all times or will the air compressor find itself in places without electricity. If you know there will be an outlet at all times the best option will be to choose a system with an electric motor because if you don’t, you will have to drive the compressor via a gasoline engine. Electric air compressors tend to run on 110V but there are larger ones that run on 240V which is why it’s best to find this out before the purchase.

To wrap things up we want to give you a few pointers before you go out and purchase your new air compressor. Before you go out and purchase your new air compressor we suggest you exercise your right as a curious potential customer and ask all of the questions you deem important even if you consider them to be simple. It is those questions you see as trivial that will be the ones to make the difference. Don’t let a salesmen fool you with terminology; ask them questions using terminology you are familiar with. There are many air compressors being advertised out there that are deceptively or fraudulently rated and it is customers that are compliant that feed to this fraud. So the best advice we can give you is in the end, ask questions and remember that a question left unanswered can lead you to squander money.

If you wish to learn more about Auto Air Compressors or our prices, be sure to contact us directly today.