10 Things You Need to Know When Buying a Reciprocating Air Compressor

Dec 27
My buddy is a handyman. He has a flaw in his behavior. That is, he always rants about his work. This ranting goes to an extreme if he works with his compressor in a particular day.

My buddy is a handyman. He has a flaw in his behavior. That is, he always rants about his work. This ranting goes to an extreme if he works with his compressor in a particular day. This ranting annoys me a lot and I decided to do some researching for him.

After the researching, I found out that a reciprocating 30-gallon air compressor is the best choice for him. When asked he said that he doesn’t know what type of compressor he uses in details. He also said that he bought one recommended by the shop owner.

Now, I can guess that many people use the wrong compressor for the wrong type of job. So, here is your reciprocating air compressor buying guide. 


Do I need a reciprocating air compressor?

It mainly depends on your use. If you go through the air compressor CFM chart, then you will see that reciprocating air compressors produce less CFM than the rotary ones.

Are you a light user of compressors? Are you okay with high oil carryover in your facility? If the answer is yes to these questions then you are up for using a reciprocating air compressor. These compressors are perfect for workshops, garages, home uses, small businesses, and light construction works (e.g. nailers). 


Reciprocating Air Compressor Buying Guide

Now that you know your requirement for a reciprocating air compressor, you should know these 10 things before buying one.

1. Compressor Type

There are three types of reciprocating air compressors. These are Single-stage compressors, two stage compressors, and duplex or twin compressors.

Single Stage Compressors:

These compressors have only one piston or cylinder. In these, air is compressed from ambient pressure to working pressure. These are cheap, simple and designed compressors to have the capacity of 20 CFM.

Also, these can give out 140 psi of pressure. If you need a compressor for home uses then this your thing.

Two Stage Compressors:

Simply put, two stage compressors have two pistons. One is low pressure and the other is high pressure. With the increased number of pistons, the capacity and pressure output increase too. The capacity of two stage compressors are around 50 CFM and the pressure is around 175 psi. Workshops, automotive shops are perfect for this.

Duplex or Twin Compressors:

When two single stage compressors are installed on one tank then it is called duplex or twin compressors. These compressors have more capacity and less pressure than the two-stage compressors. Also, if a compressor breaks down you can keep on working with the other one.

2. Capacity and Pressure Tips

You must consider the work you are doing for choosing a capacity and pressure amount. If you use a higher pressure and capacity compressor for a small tool then accidents might happen. For example, if you use duplex compressors for nailers then nails might get out of control.

3. What is that Horse Power Thing?

You do not need to be concerned about the horsepower thing. Horsepower is the result of capacity and pressure. If you know all about your CFM and pressure then do not worry about this.

4. Electrical Connections Matter

Before buying a compressor please do check what type of connection your home or workplace has. Also, do not forget to check the wiring. Know your home voltage and the maximum amps your wire can handle.

5. Noise Check

Because of the pistons, the reciprocal compressors make a lot of noise. You might even have to store it outside for this noise. Before buying you can always check out the noise level. You can ask the seller to run it and see if you can tolerate the noise.

6. Size of the Tank

Reciprocating Compressors are known for their efficient tank size. Based on the tank size, there is a 30 gallon air compressor to 80-gallon air compressor available. The bigger the tank is the better it is. But you must remember that bigger tanks are not easy to move around. Choose one based upon your work.

7. Filters are Recommended

In compressors, you should install compressed air filters. Compressed air has oil, water and sometimes dust in it. While wall painting you do not want to spray water and oil along with the paint. On the other hand, some oil won’t bother you if you are powering your air tools with it.

So, use the filter that goes with your line of work.

8. Heaviness Matters

How heavy a compressor can you handle? Many people become irritated by using a weighty compressor. However, this problem can be solved by using a wooden pallet. These pallets usually come with the compressors.

But please think about this. You yourself must move the compressor based on your work and storage.

9. What is the Duty Cycle?

The percentage of time your compressor can run is called the duty cycle. A 50 percent duty cycle means the compressor needs 10 minutes cool down for a running time of 10 minutes. Normally single stage compressors have 50% duty cycle.

Duplex or twin stage compressors come with a duty cycle of 100 percent. Look out for written verification in case of 100 percent duty cycle. Do not fall for the sweet talks of the seller.

10. Some Extra Bits

There are some less important things you need to consider before buying a compressor. First, think if you need a pressure regulator or not. If you use a single stage compressor then I guess do not need to regulate this low pressure.

Next, think how many air connections you need. More air connections come with more hassle to control. Check whether the tank is vertical or horizontal. If you generally get a low space for working, then get a vertical tank. 


Final Thoughts: Work Hassle Free

Reciprocating Compressors can ease your daily work only if you choose the right one. Follow this guideline and you will be pleased with your compressors.

Happy Compressing!