4 Common Mistakes When Buying Air Compressors


Whether it’s you’re first air compressor or your nth replacement, it’s always best to be informed before shelling out any hard earned cash for your next air compressor.

The 4 Common Mistakes When Buying Air Compressors

Manufacturers have a way of using their product’s specifications to their advantage citing even the most unnecessary detail to enhance the image of a product. Below are a few of the most common mistakes buyers make when purchasing an air compressor, especially for home or personal use. Keep an eye out for these points in your next purchase and I’m confident that you’ll come to a sound decision.

1. Buying Because of Tank Size

An advertising maneuver gaining a lot of popularity is the manufacturer’s need to showcase the product’s tank capacity. A 20 gallon tank may seem impressive on a portable air compressor but with a tiny motor running the machine, the tank will take forever to fill up. The tank capacity is sometimes treated as the main purchasing factor. It shouldn’t be since the tank is just an intermediary between you and the compressor. The right tank size should be proportionate to the capacity of the motor. But when using multiple tools with one compressor, a stronger motor and a larger tank is ideal.


 2. Not Knowing the Right Air Capacity

The air capacity of a compressor is measured in cubic feet per minute or CFM. This indicates how much output air the compressor can produce. This should not be confused with the PSI rating or the amount of pressure the air compressor can create. Although buyers should also take into the consideration the volume and pressure requirements of the tools to be serviced since the CFM will also vary based on these aforementioned factors.


3. Confusing Maximum PSI with Output PSI

Some manufacturers will include the maximum psi of an air compressor when advertising the product’s specifications.

  • The maximum psi is the pressure in the tank.
  • When that is released through the hose, the output psi is greatly reduced.

For example, Dewalt will showcase a specific model with a 200 max psi. However, when used with pneumatic tools, the pressure in the hose drops to about 120 to 135 psi.


 4. More Power Doesn’t Mean Better

Air compressors, especially electrically dependent ones gobble up a lot of energy. The stronger the motor, the more electricity is needed to power the machine. This is a mistake buyers often make since they are easily impressed by a higher horsepower. But when using the air compressor for home use like inflating tires and blowing off dust, or for small DIY projects, one horsepower or less will suffice at the same time lessen the blow of your electricity bill.


These are just a few of the most common mistakes buyers make when choosing and then finally purchasing an air compressor. Tank size, CFM, PSI and Horse Power are all important factors that can easily be confused with one another. A lot of misconceptions shroud these factors and as a consumer, it is best to know your specifics before rushing into your closest home depot for the buy.

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