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what air compressor do i need?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by miky2001, Jan 22, 2013.

  1. miky2001
    Joined: Nov 9, 2006
    Posts: 891

    from houston

    i want to buy an air compressor and dont know anything about them.

    i would use it to run tools, maybe some blasting and maybe learn to spray paint.

    space is somewhat of an issue so i dont want something huge.

    i see they come with different voltages, CFM, tank size etc.

    what would you guys recommend i get to be able to do what i need as far as minimum size and that kind of stuff.


  2. jesse1980
    Joined: Aug 25, 2010
    Posts: 1,355


    60 gallon 220 outlet plug. Anything less, you'll always be waiting for air to build up.
  3. ray seelbinder
    Joined: Feb 19, 2011
    Posts: 67

    ray seelbinder
    from carbondale

    Huge air is your friend !!!! Buy as big as you can, you will be very disappointed with a roll-along wheel barrow type or a small pancake type. I have 6 compressors , all for different needs from running a few nail guns and what not, So if your leaning towards sandblasting and maybe paint , running air tools , GO Big , Make room.... My shop compressor is 80 gal. 7.5 horse, it struggles with big sand blasting.. Hope this helps, Ray
  4. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 27,195


    Yep, brand wise it's up to what is available in your area. Here the local farm/ranch store seems to have the best deals on big air compressors that you can actually do something including painting, or running air tools.

    Don't overlook buying a used 220 single phase one either. I've missed out on a couple of deals on them in the past year just because I didn't have the cash at the time.

    I doubt that there is a shop air compressor that will keep up with serious sand blasting as that is the same as opening the valve on an air line and letting it blow while the compressor runs.
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    Joined: Jul 25, 2009
    Posts: 1,121


    Vertical/uprite 60 or 80 gallon tank saves mucho space! DD
  6. tommy
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 14,758

    Member Emeritus

    Invest in a tool that will last as long as you are into cars. I bought a sears 4 HP many years ago and I finally bought a 7 HP DUAL STAGE air compressor. Don't waste your money on a small (That's all I need) unit a few years and you will be kicking your self for copping out on a cheaper unit and you will need to pay more for a real tool and not a toy but you still take a beating on the old one. If you don't need it you will be able to recoup most of your money on a real tool. Only buy one.
  7. I bought a 110 volt 5hp horizontal unit with a 33 gallon tank. I should take myself out back and kick my own ass for buying it. I use pnumatic tools and it falls on its face quickly. I am on the hunt for a good 220volt 2 stage 80 gallon upright unit now. If you are going to run pnumatic tools then it is the one piece of equipment in the garage you should pony up the money for.
  8. 73RR
    Joined: Jan 29, 2007
    Posts: 6,361


    Horsepower and tank size DO NOT equate to efficiency. Air tools consume CFM and need pressure.
    Sand blasters, blast cabinets, DA sanders, air ratchets and such al consume alot of air and each will have a lable indicating needed cfm@ xxxpsi for optimal operation.
    Your absolute best bet is to do more research with your browser to see what you actually need, what is available and where to buy.
    You can have high pressure, high volume and low price but not all three in one machine. Pick two.

    Craigslist and local auctions will be a good source.

  9. Another thing to consider is what tools you use and own require what CFM to velocity. If you are thinking you will buy a plasma cutter someday this info is something you will need to consider to operate certain tools especially plasma cutters.
    Good luck!
  10. Buy as big as you can afford.
    You can't have too much compressed air.
  11. Unlike what any woman would ever tell you.


    I use the crap out of a TP blast cabinet and my 5 H.P. motor finally took a shit.

    I am now revamping to install a 10 H.P. single phase motor on the existing 5 H.P. compressor.

    Once the 5 H.P. compressor blows up I will install a 10 H.P. compressor.

    This shit aint cheap either.

    Your compressor needs will be based upon how much air you will consume.

    Figure out what your expectations are for air useage and get back to us.

    A vertical 80 - 120 gallon tank does not take up much floor space.

  12. Garry Carter
    Joined: Mar 11, 2002
    Posts: 575

    Garry Carter

    You can buy a 60-gal upright unit -- mfg by Campbell Hausfeld -- at Tractor Supply for about $400. It will be "adequate" for most jobs in the home shop, to include painting, but if you're gonna doing a lot of it, or other air-intensive tasks like sand-blasting ... you'll wind up waiting on it a lot and recovery time ain't great. You'll also need to buy a good dryer/regulator and can count on that costing you another $150 - $200.

    Do as most others have advised, and buy MORE compressor than you think you can afford or will ever need. I bought a used 80-gal upright unit with two-stage Ingersol Rand compressor and had it professionally reconditioned. It wasn't cheap but it's the best tool I ever bought!!
    I no longer think about all that money I had to spend ... and I enjoy having a "lifetime" compressor and unlimited air supplies every day.

    Also, the suggestion about multiple compressors is an excellent one. In addition to big honkin' shop compressor, you'll find lots of uses for smaller 30-gal 110 portable units, pancake compressor for nail guns and such.
  13. creepjohnny
    Joined: Dec 1, 2007
    Posts: 871

    from Sunland,CA

    It's true bigger is more useful especially for air tools.
    I have a craftsman upright. Uprights store in corners really well.
    I have a 110v and it does the truck for me since I'm not painting full cars. I can't zip off every lug like NASCAR does because I take my time in the garage. So my 110 35gal works plenty for me.
    Once that's in place you can abs or PVC pipe your garage so you have multiple air connecting spots. It's gets old dragging the hose out everytime.
    Also, take the extra time to get the water separator gadgets hooked up. They are not expensive and they are worth the effort
  14. fsae0607
    Joined: Apr 3, 2012
    Posts: 871


    For 120 volt, 30-gallon is about the biggest you can get. I have a harbor freighter 26-gallon plumbed into my garage with a Kobalt 8-gallon reserve tank plumbed in as well, so I cheated by increasing my storage volume. I run die grinders, impact guns and what not but I have to let the tank fill up pretty often. It works, but I'm going to upgrade to an 80-gallon as soon as I wire up my garage for 240V and get the scratch for a new compressor.

    If you're even thinking of doing any blasting, an 80-gallon 5HP compressor is a must!
  15. Dane
    Joined: May 6, 2010
    Posts: 1,353

    from Soquel, CA

    What he said. Anything smaller and you'll regret it later. Vertical 60 gallon tank takes up no more floor space than the 30 gallon units.
  16. 53sled
    Joined: Jul 5, 2005
    Posts: 5,820

    from KCMO

    I traded a black max (big 220v) for a welder. You can always find a good deal out there. craigslist is your friend. But I get by pretty well with a 35 gallon craftsman. clean, dry air is more important than anything if you paint.
  17. Olderchild
    Joined: Nov 21, 2012
    Posts: 476

    from Ohio

    Two stage 220 outlet 60gal my 2cents
  18. '51 Norm
    Joined: Dec 6, 2010
    Posts: 695

    '51 Norm
    from colorado

    Bigger is way better.

    I tried the "get just what you need" thing. It didn't take too long to realize that I had made "small" mistake.

    The local industrial air compressor place takes used compressors in trade and rebuilds them. As a result I got a really nice machine for not so much money.

    Don't misunderstand it was still expensive but I managed to get a nice compressor that so far I haven't been able to out run.

    As far as having multiple compressors goes; I have the giant shop compressor and a smaller wheelbarrow type for airing up tires, nail guns and such. I also have a portable air tank so that I can air up my trailer tires on the road and cripple home.

    I am in the process of building a new shop and the plan is to put a lean to shed on one end for the compressor. That way I don't lose any floor space and I don't have to listen to that noisy monster.
  19. Tommy is dead on target,, HRP
  20. Dane
    Joined: May 6, 2010
    Posts: 1,353

    from Soquel, CA

    Amen! You MUST have a way to cool the air BEFORE feeding it through the air dryer/water filter. The air has to cool before the water will come out of suspension in the air. 50 feet of black pipe (1/2") is how I did it. This is a good diagram from , give it a few seconds to download onto your compooter -
  21. black 62
    Joined: Jul 12, 2012
    Posts: 1,895

    black 62
    from arkansas

    must be two stage to run air tools right...
  22. hotrod40coupe
    Joined: Apr 8, 2007
    Posts: 2,559


    Get as big as you can afford. Air tools need dry air. Pick up a Fish Eye filter, they are the best on the market and they have a replaceable cartridge. I got one at SEMA and I love it.
  23. goose-em
    Joined: Aug 23, 2008
    Posts: 349

    from Louisiana

  24. lawman
    Joined: Sep 19, 2006
    Posts: 2,666


    I agree with most every thing said above !!!! Some great info.
  25. mgtstumpy
    Joined: Jul 20, 2006
    Posts: 8,157


    I initially had a single phase (240v) 52 litre V-twin head (205 litres per minute FAD) and a 2hp motor. It ran out of air real quick when using tools or painting with a gun.

    I then upgraded to a single phase (240v) 82 litres triple head (320 lpm FAD) and 3.5hp motor. Largest compressor available before going to a 3 phase (415v) unit. It works well when running grinders, blowers, drills, plasma etc.

    Free air delivery (FAD) is what you are after when using air tools. I use this at home however if I had a small shop I would invest in a larger 7.5hp unit with 800lpm FAD. As stated a good filter /dryer will ensure longevity of your tools. I also make a point of oiling my air tools before use, only a few drops though.

    Here's another similar air layout.

    Attached Files:

  26. oldwood
    Joined: Mar 13, 2010
    Posts: 911

    from arkansas

    I have 2 upright Chinese POS compressors but they will not keep up with a bead blast machine . I bought a REAL compressor that they will bury me with.

    Attached Files:

  27. lawman
    Joined: Sep 19, 2006
    Posts: 2,666


    Now, That is a nice one !!!!LOL
  28. 2-stage cast iron 80 gallon upright 28.3CFM@90psi and does everything I need!

    It cost 2 grand, but I feel confident that I will never have to buy another one!
  29. saltflats
    Joined: Aug 14, 2007
    Posts: 10,195

    from Missouri

    Dont buy an oilless one what ever you do. I have a 60 gal 5 HP at home got from a storage unit ended up free after I sold the other shit that came in the unit and I have a 80 gal 5 HP at the shop in town and have worn it out with the blast cabnet need to rebuild the pump if I can find parts for it.
  30. TS057
    Joined: Apr 10, 2012
    Posts: 63

    from Fargo, ND
    1. shoe box hambers

    I'm looking at a 2 cylinder IR from Northern Tool. From what I can find you can't beat the CFM for the price. 18CFM @ 90PSI. 135PSI Max.

    For those of you saying 2-stage, what's your reasoning? A single stage twin cylinder tends to move more air then a 2-stage.

    For example, this 2-stage IR is $200 more but only moves 14.3CFM @ 90PSI and has a 175PSI Max.

    I personally don't see myself needing anything greater than 135 (or 90) PSI so I think I'd take the CFM of a twin cylinder single-stage over the high pressure of a dual-stage. Is there something I'm missing? Honest question - I'm hoping to by one in the near future.

    Also - I currently have a 110v 33gal Craftsman 5hp and it's a POS. Definately hold out until you can buy something that runs on 220v.

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