Top Uses of Air Compressors

Air compressors are powerful pneumatic devices that offer a variety of uses. While you might be familiar with consumer-grade air compressors that power airbrushes and other crafting tools, air compressors are also commonly used in construction and commercial environments. Learn more about the different types and grades of air compressors and their uses in this informative guide.

Types of Air Compressors and How They Work

Air compressors have a multitude of uses. However, different applications require different types of air compressors. You will find an extensive range of types, sizes, and power supplies, but there are three primary designs — reciprocating piston, rotary screw, and scroll air compressors:

  1. Reciprocating piston air compressors: These compressors use a piston to compress and deliver high-pressure air for various applications. As the piston moves down, it pulls air in. As it moves back up, the air is compressed and then released.
  2. Rotary screw compressors: In these compressors, two screws rotate to produce compressed air. These compressors are available in fixed and variable-speed models and are quiet and reliable.
  3. Scroll compressors: This third type uses a circular motion to compress and release air. Within the outer shell, there are two circular-shaped components. One component is fixed, and the other orbits inside it. The rotating component has chambers that change in size during each orbit due to its placement. A larger chamber shrinks to compress and release air.

Grades of Air Compressors

Air compressors are available in a variety of sizes and designs. Some have large horizontal tanks and others have small vertical tanks. They can also have single- or double-cylinder tanks and the design is sometimes portable, while other models must remain stationary.

Still, air compressors are grouped into three primary grades:

  1. Construction-grade air compressors: Two-stage reciprocating and rotary screw air compressors are commonly used in construction. These air compressors are designed to manage enormous air pressure demands in construction environments.
  2. Commercial-grade air compressors: These air compressors are found in industrial environments like manufacturing warehouses for plant operations. They can run for long periods and aren’t affected by fluctuating use. Commercial-grade air compressors are built with high-quality parts to ensure maximum durability, performance, and energy efficiency.
  3. Consumer-grade air compressors: Inflating car tires and inflatable products and completing DIY projects around the house are just a few things you can do with a consumer-grade air compressor. These compressors are small and portable.

Construction- and commercial-grade air compressors are typically larger and more durable than consumer-grade compressors that are only suitable for home use.

What Are Air Compressors Used for in Construction?

What Are Air Compressors Used for in Construction?

Air compressors are valuable in construction environments for several reasons. This industry uses various types of air compressors to complete different applications. Here are some of the most common air compressor uses in construction:

  • Jackhammers and drills: Pneumatic jackhammers use compressed air to drive the hammer tool up and down to break through surfaces. These tools are essential in demolition projects, where it’s necessary to remove old concrete and pavement before creating a new surface. Air-powered drills work similarly. Contractors can drill deep into the ground with pile-driving equipment.
  • Impact wrenched: Manually tightening and loosening bolts can take time and effort. Construction teams can tighten or loosen bolts with pneumatic impact wrenches in just a few seconds.
  • Nail guns: Driving nails through different surfaces is necessary in most construction projects. With air-powered nail guns, nails quickly and neatly penetrate surfaces. Because these tools create more uniform results than traditional hammers, they are essential tools in construction.
  • Grinders: Contractors use air-powered grinders to cut, level, and polish different materials.
  • Sanders: Manually sanding down surfaces can take hours, if not days. Producing level surfaces is also more challenging when sanding by hand. In contrast, pneumatic sanders are powerful enough to sand down surfaces in much less time. Results are also far more uniform with this tool.
  • Inflating tires: Air compressors can quickly inflate forklifts, loaders, scissor lifts, and other construction vehicle tires.

In addition to these pneumatic tools, you can find air-powered caulk guns, saws, ratchets, and more.

What Can You Do With an Air Compressor in Commercial Applications?

Rotary and reciprocating air compressors are also common in commercial or industrial applications.

  • Powering water pumps: Air compressors serve as power sources for water pumps. They can support water delivery systems while also serving as a water-pump backup.
  • Food packaging: In food manufacturing, air compressors can assist with packaging processes. They can vacuum-seal perishables to ensure freshness and prevent leakage.
  • Automotive production: In automobile shops, air compressors can inflate tires, power pneumatic sprayers when airbrushing, and operate equipment like vehicle lifters.
  • Sandblasting: Air compressors can power tools that clean abrasive materials from surfaces like rust. The high-pressure air provides enough force to remove rust from metals properly.
  • Operating commercial cleaning equipment: Laundry pressers, steam cleaners, and pressure washers are just some types of equipment that compressed air can power in the cleaning industry.

Air compressors are also used for a variety of other commercial applications, including applications in the pharmaceutical industry.

How to Choose the Right Air Compressor

When choosing an air compressor for your application, you’ll want to keep a few considerations in mind:

  • Size: Air compressors are available in a wide range of sizes. The compressor should be large enough to power your equipment.
  • Portability: Fixed units are suitable if you are looking for air compressors for industrial applications. However, if you’re in the construction industry, there’s a good chance you will need portable air compressors that can travel with you to work sites.
  • Noise: Some air compressor models can be noisy, so it’s important to consider the environment you’re working in. If you need a quiet air compressor, you should prioritize this feature when comparing your options.
  • Compatibility: Tool and equipment compatibility is also a crucial factor to weigh in. Choosing an air compressor that can power the range of tools and equipment you already have is wise. Pneumatic tools have cubic feet per minute requirements, which will help you determine which air compressor is best.

Rent Portable Compressed Air From Thompson Power Systems

Thomson Power Systems has provided crucial power systems to northwest Florida and Alabama for over 65 years. We offer electric and diesel air compressors and compressed air products and accessories for various applications. Our rental power solutions are tailored to meet every construction and commercial need, from diesel and electric power to varying air quality requirements.

We’ll help you choose the right product, deliver it, and install it. Call us at 205-849-4361 to learn more about our compressed air rental services, or find a location near you today.

Rent Portable Compressed Air From Thompson Power Systems

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