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Compare the Top Rated Air Compressor Brands - 2018 Best & Most Popular Air Compressor Manufacturers

You would be hard-pressed to find an industry that does not use compressed air. Often referred to as the "fourth utility," compressed air is popular because of its usefulness and flexibility. Just about every business, whether it be construction, consumer goods, or manufacturing, utilizes air compressors in some way.

Top Rated Air Compressor Brands

The following are the ten best and most popular air compressor manufacturers.

  • Bostitch: A name you can trust for construction and DIY applications, Bostitch distributes and produces a wide range of tools for different applications. This subsidiary of Stanley Black and Decker has one of the most diverse, expansive product lines in the world.
  • Campbell Hausfeld: Initially making a name for itself in agricultural equipment, Campbell Hausfeld has diversified its product line to include construction and industrial tools as well as home application tools. Over their legacy of 175 years, Campbell Hausfeld became known for producing high quality products.
  • DeWALT: You are no doubt familiar with at least the name DeWalt, as their products fill the shelves and aisles of most handyman and hardware stores. And for good reason; they have proved over the years that their tools perform well in most situations and are utilized by both professionals and non-professionals alike.
  • Gardner: Gardner-Denver has led the way in innovative and well-built machinery for almost a hundred years and is known for their exceptional quality.
  • Hitachi: Essentially a business empire, Hitachi produces a wide variety of products, from appliances and tools to computer parts and other consumer electronics. Hitachi has now included air compressors in their already diverse product line and they are known for their durability and resilience.
  • Ingersol Rand: One of the leading manufacturers of high-end air compressors since 1905, Ingersol Rand offers a variety of compressors ranging from small models to industrial machines.
  • Kaeser: With a product line featuring portable air compressors, rotary screw compressors, rotary lobe and screw blowers, and compressed air piping systems, Kaeser is known as a leading global supplier of the industry.
  • Quincy: Providing a selection of midrange commercial reciprocating and rotary screw compressors, Quincy also has over 20 different natural gas compressors.
  • RIGID: An industry leading brand, RIGID is known for products that let professionals do their job quickly and well. RIGID boasts a best-in-class oil-free pump with maintenance-free performance and can supply whatever you need to get the job done.
  • Senco: First emerging on the scene in the 1930s, SENCO has always shown that they are a brand committed to producing cutting-edge products to be utilized in both a home and professional setting. Initially known for a solution that reduced the noise and vibrations found in vehicles of the time, SENCO has continued to develop solutions and products that make work safer, faster, and easier.

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Air Compressor Types

There are two types of air compressors commonly used in both industry and manufacturing:

  • Reciprocating Compressors: Also known as piston-driven compressors, these machines use pistons to compress air in a cylinder and then force it into a high-pressure storage tank. Commonly used at home and in other portable applications, reciprocating compressors are the oldest and most affordable type of compressor, with over one million sold each year.
  • Rotary Screw Air Compressors: Rather than using pistons like its reciprocating counterpart, rotary screw compressors use twin screws to force air into higher pressures. They contain a cooling system that allows them to compress air more efficiently. While typically considered to be more expensive than reciprocating models, prices are becoming more competitive between the two styles. However, rotary screw compressors are still costly and mainly suited for heavy industrial work, with around 25,000 to 30,000 sold yearly.

Both reciprocating and rotary screw air compressors come in two-stage models that provide increased air flow and pressure by compressing the air a second time.

To figure out which type is best for you, you need to figure out whether you require continuous or intermittent use. For example, a pneumatic nail or staple gun fires a burst of air when needed as opposed to something like a paint sprayer, which is used continuously. For continuous use, you want to go with a rotary compressor. Reciprocating compressors are only designed to run part of the time, whereas a rotary compressor can run all the time.

Pump Type Considerations

The type of pump you need for your air compressor depends on the available downtime for maintenance work and the frequency of use, as well as the maximum required PSI for your project. Each pump type provides a specific advantage and there are four variations of pump:

  • Oil free: Typically lighter and smaller, oil free pumps lubricate via specially coated pistons and rings. They generally have a shorter life cycle that requires the air compressor to be rebuilt or replaced sooner than oil lubricated compressors.
  • Oil lubricated: Oil lubricated air compressors have an oil tank that provides lubrication for the moving parts of the motor. While usually bigger and heavier, they make up for this with a longer life cycle than their oil free counterparts, provided the fluid levels are changed when necessary and levels are appropriate.
  • Single stage: One or multiple cylinders are used to fill the tank as a single function.
  • Two stage: To allow for longer operation without any loss of performance, the initial stage produces a PSI value that is channeled through a second stage that increases the PSI value.

Choosing the Right Compressor

To choose the right air compressor, you need to understand variations in tank size, how to calculate usage, your mobility needs, and what you should expect as regards heat and noise.

Choosing the Tank Size

The larger your tank is, the faster and longer you will be able to work. A small, 2- to 6-gallon tank might be fine for a single nailer, but if you are trying to use multiple you need to increase the size of your tank by the amount of each tool. Having too small of a tank creates a "winding down" period as the tank empties, causing a loss of power for your tools. High horsepower can offset this, but it comes at the cost of wear on the motor. The goal is to be able to work as long as possible without running the compressor constantly. For a bit of perspective, if the only thing you are trying to do is inflate a tire from time to time, you don't have much use for a tank at all, but if you are using a pneumatic tool that operates at a constant rate, a larger tank will give you dependable, smooth results.

Basic Usage Calculations

The standard cubic feet per minute (SCFM) determines how much air pressure you can expect at any given time. When it comes to commercial use and contracting purposes, your compressor's SCFM needs to exceed, or at least meet, the rating of any tools you plan to use. An easy way to calculate this is to take the highest SCFM rating for the tool or tools you plan to use and multiply it by 1.5. Remember that using multiple tools will increase the amount of power required. To allow for this, you will need to increase the rate the tank is able to refill based on the horsepower of the motor, the SCFM of the air compressor, or both.

Mobility

If you are looking for mobility in your compressor, pay attention to the handles, weight, and wheels on the unit. Large-engine, towable compressors used in construction are typically self-contained trailers, which makes it quick and easy to haul them from site to site. Vertically oriented units are worth looking into if moving the unit is not a big concern but you have limited floor space.

Heat and Noise

Air compressors generate quite a lot of heat and can also be incredibly loud. Up to 96 percent of the power that goes into a compressor comes out as heat and they can hit over 100 decibels. Take these factors into consideration when the time comes for the placement of your compressor. If you do not have the space for your compressor, an enclosure might be the best bet to reduce noise, but remember that ventilation is also essential, as it contributes to the efficiency and longevity of the unit. Rotary compressors are usually quieter than reciprocating compressors.

Choosing The Right Air Compressor Brand

After you have decided the type and size of air compressor you need, it is time to pick the brand. Consider these factors to get the best possible performance and use:

How long has the company been in business?

Typically, a company that has been in business for several years will have built a solid reputation. While their products may cost more than a generic model, you are likely get more use from the product, as big brands tend to be more familiar with what a commercial user or contractor needs.

Do they manufacture other products?

Figure out whether the company has a full line of compressors or if they only sell a single model for the purpose of competing with other companies. Be wary, because in this situation it is possible that the unit may not even be made by the brand it is labeled under. Purchase from a reseller is always an option, but avoid purchasing a unit that has been relabeled under a reseller name.

Where was the air compressor manufactured?

It may not seem that the manufacturing origin is very important, but consider the possibilities of repairs or warranty claims. If the unit was manufactured in the United States, you may be able to get repairs done locally. While all air compressors have some type of manufacturer warranty, it may be easier to have it honored when issues can be handled locally.

What materials are used in the manufacturing process?

You need a compressor that can handle your workload. If you need a portable unit, you don't want to buy one made from extremely heavy materials. If the air compressor is going to be used in a location with a lot of work going on or heavy equipment being used, you need to make sure it is durable and can withstand the odd scrape and scratch.

Does the company support the product?

Companies like DeWALT have a large distribution network, through which they sell their brand name parts and accessories either directly or through resellers. While you do not have to go through a major or well-known brand for your air compressor, it is important that the brand you choose is knowledgeable about this type of equipment. Big names tend to have this knowledge locked and loaded, ready to help with any questions whenever you have them. If you decide against purchasing a well-known brand, make sure that the company you choose is able to do the same.

Author: Angela Escobar



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