It’s easy to get lost amid the many figures associated with air compressors – but of all the numbers floating around, two are critical. One is air flow capacity. The other is air pressure.
Air pressure is the force with which the air generated by your air compressor is delivered by the air tool. It’s important to be able to control the pressure – think of the warnings on the air tools at your local garage, telling you not to try using them on your child’s bike tyres or paddling pool. That’s because the pressure is far greater than those items can withstand. Try using the air tool to inflate a child’s rubber ring, for example, and it won’t blow it up; it’ll blow it apart.
Pressure is measured in psi or atmospheric pressure (Bar). 1 Bar is roughly 15 psi and most air tools operate between 2 and 6 Bar (22-35 psi). Many heavier duty air tools will operate at the upper end of that range – with sanders, drills and the like frequently requiring 6 Bar.
Sprayers, however, typically require considerably less pressure. Too high, and the air compressor will atomise the spray to too great a degree, so the paint never reaches the surface of the application.
Pressure vs consumption
The energy efficiency of your air compressor is affected by a number of factors, and the pressure at which the compressor is required to work is a major one. The higher the pressure, the harder the air compressor motor has to work and the more energy it will use.
To reduce costs, consider a variable speed air compressor, which will automatically adjust its performance depending on usage, so there’s always airflow and air pressure when you need it, but without operating at full capacity when there’s little or no demand on the system.
*Please note photos are for illustrative purposes only – we may not stock / provide these exact models.