Industrial Equipment 101: Types of Air Compressors and Their Uses

Air compressors are used for all kinds of things around the home, like air conditioners, drills, or nail guns. Is there any difference in the types of air compressors people use?

Needing an air compressor, but not knowing what type to buy can be a little overwhelming.

Luckily, understanding the science behind how the different air compressors work can help with that decision.

If you want to learn about the differences between air compressor types, keep reading and find out about the main characteristics of each compressor.

Three Types of Air Compressors

There are three different types of air compressors, but each of these air compressor types also have subtypes with certain characteristics. Learn more about how they differ below.

Rotary Screw Air Compressors

These air compressors have two rotors in a casing and the rotors compress the air internally. They also don’t have any valves. Because of this, the compressor itself is not going to have any issues with extreme temperatures while it is operating.

One of the great things about the Rotary screw option is that it is really easy to maintain. It has a smooth and pulse-free air output, which is a huge advantage over other types. People find this one to be really easy to operate as well.

Rotary Centrifugal Air Compressors

This is a different type of air compressor in that it is dynamic and depends on energy transfer from a rotating impeller out into the air. These air compressors rotate at higher speeds and are designed for higher capacity since the flow is constant.

Rotary centrifugal air compressors don’t use oil to operate like other air compressors may. This is a popular option for many reasons, but mostly because it can function at really high capacities.

Reciprocating Air Compressors

When using a reciprocating air compressor, you will find that the pressure of the air will be increased and this is done by the piston within the cylinder. The piston is able to compress and positively displace the air flow.

There are single-stage and two-stage options for this type of air compressor, so you would want to choose the one that will fit your capacity needs if you choose this compressor.

Other Characteristics to Consider

Although those are the main three air compressor types, there are additional factors that set each air compressor apart from the next one and impact their efficiency.

Different air compressors may have different amounts of compression stages, which directly impacts the pressure it is used with. There are also a few different types of cooling methods that can have different pros and cons, including water and oil.

You can get custom air compressors built just for your needs if necessary, but there are also benefits to getting the packaged types as well from reputable stores. It depends entirely on what you plan to be using the air compressor for.

How to Choose the Best One

As you can see, there are a few different types of air compressors and they all have their own pros and cons for specific jobs.

Doing a little bit of your own research relating to what you need to do with the air compressor can help you make the right choice if you need to buy one.

If you want to find some of your own projects to use your new air compressor on around the house, check out our DIY section to gain some more inspiration.