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About Air Compressor

All About Air Compressors

Air Compressor Selection

As some of the most versatile machines on any job site, air compressors can tackle countless jobs and come in a wide range of sizes. Yet not all models are alike. To get the results you want, it's important to rent the right model and use it safely.

If you aren't sure whether you need an air compressor, or you want to know which model is best for your job site, this article will tell you everything you need to know about these machines. Find out how to choose the right air compressor for your next job, learn safety tips, and get answers to all your pressing questions.

History of Air Compressors

Today, air compressors are complex machines that provide pressurized air for a range of tough tasks. However, they haven't always been so advanced.

Instead, these machines evolved from very simple tools. The first version appeared thousands of years ago, in 1500 B.C. Workers had to use their hands to use this early machine, known as a bellows. This simple machine was designed to create a sharp burst of air that made fires more intense.

More than 3,000 years later, a British civil engineer took air compressors to the next level. By the late 18th century, workers no longer had to operate these machines by hand. Instead, water wheel technology made them more powerful and easier to use.

A few years after that, the first version of a mechanical air compressor appeared. Known as a blasting machine, this early model was designed for the mining industry. It could also move air and ventilate job sites with limited airflow.

In the 21st century, you'll find these machines on many types of job sites. Positive displacement machines hold air in compression chambers. When they release air, they transfer pressure at the same time. This pressure can power countless other machines and tasks.

Patents Related to Air Compressors

Over the past century, air compressor technology has evolved in many ways. Two key patents cover these machines and their main features.

U.S. Patent US2280845A

U.S. Patent US2280845A

This 1938 patent is the earliest to reference air compressors. It describes the invention as a machine that generates efficient air compression. Since 1938, over four dozen others have referenced inventor Humphrey F. Parker's original patent.

U.S. Patent US5518262A

This 1995 patent refers to one of the most important parts of commercial air compressors. It covers the towing setup that most contractor-grade machines use today.

It also covers a frame that supports the machine while in use. Inventors William R. Hutchinson and Louis A. Gibbons later assigned the patent to Ingersoll Rand, a leading maker of air compressors.

Air Compressor Types

  • Rotary screw air compressors
  • Reciprocating air compressors
  • Oil-free air compressors
  • Natural gas air compressors
  • Portable air compressors
  • Multistage air compressors

Current Air Compressor Manufacturers

Over a dozen manufacturers make air compressors today. However, only some produce commercial-grade machines. Get to know the biggest makers of commercial air compressors.

Atlas Copco

Atlas Copco CQ5DAM

For more than a century, Atlas Copco has produced a line of advanced compressed air systems. The company makes both high-pressure and low-pressure machines for a range of tasks.

Atlas Copco also makes air pressure-powered machines for construction and compaction. The company produces custom machines for projects, too. Atlas Copco's main office is in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The company and sells equipment around the world.

Doosan Portable Power

Doosan C185WDZ T4F

Doosan Portable Power has also been in the business for over 100 years. The company focuses on high-quality air compressors and light compaction machines. It produces everything from small models to large, high-pressure machines and utility mounts.

Doosan has been in Statesville, North Carolina, since 2008. The company sells machines around the world but makes them in the United States.

Ingersoll Rand

Ingersoll Rand Air Compressor

Since 1871, Ingersoll Rand has been a leading maker of commercial and industrial equipment. The company has made a wide range of small and industrial air compressors for nearly 100 years. In 1927, its machines powered the creation of Mount Rushmore. The company also makes a large line of pneumatic tools and material handling equipment.

Ingersoll Rand's global headquarters are in Dublin, Ireland. Its American offices are in Davidson, North Carolina. The company sells centrifugal compressors and other machines all over the world.

Kaeser Kompressoren

Kaeser M125

For nearly 100 years, Kaeser Kompressoren has made high-quality machines and parts. In 1919, the company started as a machine workshop. In 1948, the company reorganized and began making air compressors. Today, the company makes a full line of these machines with several mobile options.

The main Kaeser office is in Coburg, Germany. The company has offices and sells machines worldwide.

Quincy Compressor

Quincy QR25

Quincy Compressor has been in business since 1920. For almost 100 years, the company has specialized in industrial air compressors for commercial jobs. The company has a full line of machines, including rotary screw and oil-free air compressor models.

Quincy Compressor is located in Bay Minette, Alabama. The company sells machines in dozens of countries around the world.

Sullivan-Palatek

Palatek Compressor

Sullivan-Palatek is one of the newest companies in the field. It's been in business since 1984. The company started out offering engineering services for air compressors. In 1991, the company launched its first air compressor. Today, it produces a range of electric motor and diesel air models.

The main Sullivan-Palatek office is in Michigan City, Indiana. The company sells machines across North America.

Most Popular Air Compressor Models

As a contractor, you'll find air compressors in many capacities and sizes. That means even if the most common models don't meet your needs, you can still find the right one for your job. Browse some of the most popular models:

  • Atlas Copco XAVS 900 JD8: This 250 hp machine offers variable airflow and pressure. That means it can do a range of jobs. It generates cool, dry airflow up to 850 cfm at up to 150 psi. Its simple controller makes fine-tuning the pressure easy.
  • Doosan C185WDZ-T4F: This portable air compressor can produce airflow up to 185 cfm at up to 100 psi. Its compact size makes it ideal for smaller jobs. Your crew can also tow it to locations across large job sites.
  • Doosan P425/HP375WCU-T4F: This mid-range machine can produce airflow between 375 and 425 cfm at 100 to 150 psi. The dual pressure options make this compressor more flexible than other models. Its small size and portability make it ideal for many jobs.
  • Doosan XHP1170WCU-T4F: This large machine can produce 1,170 cfm airflow at up to 365 psi. Its easy-to-use controls and durability make it a popular choice for big jobs. Its efficient design also makes it cost-effective and sustainable.
  • Kaeser M125: This powerful machine can create airflow up to 400 cfm at up to 200 psi. Its power makes it ideal for breaker and cable-blowing jobs. Thanks to its low-emission engine, it can work in many settings. Its efficient features can help you lower your costs, too.
  • Quincy QGD Series: These machines boast 40 to 60 hp. They can produce airflow up to 280 cfm at between 100 and 150 psi. You can use them alone, but they're also easy to network. That means you can link two or more air compressors when you need more power for larger jobs.
  • Sullivan-Palatek D185PDZ: This portable air compressor can generate 185 cfm airflow at 100 psi. It includes a 49 hp engine for added power. With its 29-gallon diesel tank, it can easily tackle jobs throughout your crew's shift.
  • Sullivan-Palatek D1800PCA4: This heavy-duty twin screw compressor can produce 1800 cfm airflow. It's rated at 125 psi, and its operating range falls between 70 and 150 psi. Despite its capacity, this air compressor is designed to be quiet. It has a maximum decibel level of just 76.

Air Compressor Reviews

If you're comparing two models, reading air compressor reviews can help you decide. Reviews can also show you the benefits and drawbacks before you rent one of these machines.

Most review sites focus on small air compressors for homeowners. However, a select few feature reviews for contractors. Get to know some of the most helpful air compressor review sites.

Contractor Talk

Contractor Talk has countless forums and articles on all types of heavy equipment. Read through the site's towable air compressor forum for discussions that center on contractors. You'll find reviews, learn about maintenance problems, and get insight into durability for various brands and models.

My Quincy Story

If you want to learn more about Quincy air compressors, take a look at My Quincy Story. This site has a range of videos and blog posts that detail both new and used models.

As you browse, you'll learn how contractors use Quincy air compressors. You'll also get insight into some common problems with these machines and how to fix them quickly.

When to Use an Air Compressor

Air Compressor in Use

Air compressors use high-pressure compressed air to tackle an impressive range of tasks. Discover some of the best ways to use these machines and find out when to use them at your job site.

Power Heavy Equipment

Air compressors can use their high-pressure compressed air to power heavy equipment. In fact, some contractors use them to power machines across a job site.

When you use compressors this way, your other machines don't need motors. Instead, the compressor motor can turn electricity into kinetic energy. That energy can power machines like jackhammers and compactors.

Compressors can cut down the number of motors you need for a job. That means the air tools your crew members use tend to be lighter and quieter. They often last longer, which helps you save over time.

Bore Through Surfaces

When you connect an air compressor to the right tool, it can bore through surfaces. You can use these machines to break up cement and drill through concrete. You can also use them to tunnel through rocky material.

If you need to prepare a foundation or resurface an area, these machines are ideal. Towable models tend to work best for these large-scale jobs and high-powered tasks.

Distribute Materials

You can also connect air compressors to air tools that distribute liquid materials. Small models can spray paint, and larger versions can spray concrete into place.

These high-pressure compressed air machines can also work with commercial air tools like nailers and staplers. These tasks make air compressors ideal for construction work.

Potential Hazards When Using Air Compressors

Using an Air Compressor Safely

In most cases, air compressors are very safe to use. However, these machines can put workers in danger if your crew doesn't know how to use them. Learn about some of the most common hazards and find out how to avoid injury.

Oil Leaks

Not all air compressors use oil. Yet those that do can develop leaks. If an oil leak happens near other machines that create sparks or flames, fire can result.

In some cases, explosions can happen, causing serious injury. Have your crew monitor equipment for oil leaks, and never use these machines near open flames.

Air Leaks

Air compressor hoses are designed to be durable. If damage occurs, however, punctures and ruptures can happen. In some cases, air leaks and explosions can result.

To avoid these dangers, make sure your crew avoids using damaged hoses. Air compressor pressure valves can also let your crew know when a serious problem is happening.

Foreign Objects

When liquids like oil and water get into the compressor’s air tank, they can affect how the machine performs. When under pressure, these fluids can even cause explosions.

To protect the machine, your crew should strive to keep liquids and other particles out of the air tank. Your team can do this by making sure to tighten all connections before use.

Overheated Equipment

Overheated air compressors can lead to poor performance and breakdowns. Delayed projects and missed deadlines can result.

To prevent overheating, check manufacturer guidelines for recommended use. Avoid using air compressors for shifts longer than eight hours.

Accidental Contact

If any of your crew members come into contact with highly pressurized air, serious injury can result. To prevent harm, make sure your workers know how to attach and detach hoses safely.

You should also encourage them not to put air compressors to personal use. Make sure they don't use these machines to clean their clothing or exposed skin.

Safety Protocols for Using Air Compressors

When using heavy equipment, workers should always put safety first. Make sure your crew members follow these safety protocols for air compressors.

Pre-Shift Inspections

Your crew should always inspect air compressors and other heavy equipment before starting a shift. They should check the hoses for damage and make sure the fittings are secure.

They should also confirm the hoses are rated for the machine's pressure and inspect the machine for signs of damage, rust, or other maintenance issues.

Personal Protective Equipment

Your team should always wear personal protective gear when using or checking an air compressor. These machines can create highly pressurized airflow that may cause particles to travel through the air at high speeds. Workers should wear protective eyewear to prevent eye injuries.

Monitoring During Use

To keep the air compressor running safely, your crew should monitor it during use. Watching the pressure valve is an easy way to make sure the machine is working correctly. Make sure your team knows the pressure range for the machine and what to do when the pressure climbs too high.

Safety Features

To keep the job site secure, your crew should know the air compressor's safety features. Use secure devices to prevent injuries from decoupled hoses. Never stretch hoses across active traffic areas. Make sure a crew member is always near the shutoff valve in case of an emergency.

Air Compressor Training

As a site manager, you should always train your crew members before they use equipment at a job site. You should offer classroom-style learning and hands-on training. Make sure any training program you offer includes a few important aspects.

Functions and Parts

Any air compressor training course you choose should teach your crew how these machines work. Training your crew on basic functions and key parts will help them learn how to use air compressors safely. When your team members know how the parts work together, they can also handle easy fixes when necessary.

Basic Controls

Many air compressors have similar functions, but each model has unique controls. That's why the training program you offer should cover operations and controls for the machine your crew will be using. Many manufacturers offer training for their models. However, you can also provide a custom program on site.

No matter which type of program you opt for, make sure it includes hands-on practice. This type of training allows your crew to get familiar with the controls and display features before using the machine on the job.

Essential Maintenance

When you rent an air compressor, your crew won't have to do full tune-ups. Instead, your Rental Coordinator can schedule maintenance or repairs when needed. However, your team should still know how to do basic maintenance. Simple tune-ups can keep your rental running smoothly.

Before maintaining an air compressor, workers should know to turn off and disconnect the machine. Your crew should learn to clean and lubricate the machine regularly. They should also know how to empty the receiver frequently to prevent liquid buildup.

Frequently Asked Questions About Air Compressors

Renting the right air compressor is key to the success of your project. With the right information in hand, you can rest assured that you're making the right choice. Check out some frequently asked questions to feel confident you're making the right decision.

Which Air Compressor Size Should I Rent?

Start by checking the equipment you need to power. Jackhammers, boring machines, and other heavy machines usually make their power needs clear.

Always make sure the model you rent provides enough power without going over any limits your machines may have. Think about renting a model with variable pressure if you need to power a few machines.

How Soon Can I Rent an Air Compressor?

In many cases, you can rent equipment tomorrow or even right away. BigRentz can often schedule deliveries the next day, and we may be able to plan same-day deliveries. That means you may be able to get started right away.

How Long Can I Rent an Air Compressor?

You can rent an air compressor for as little as one day or as long as several months. BigRentz offers daily, weekly, and monthly rentals to meet your needs.

Note that one-day rentals cover a single eight-hour shift over 24 hours. One-week rentals include five of these shifts over seven days. One-month rentals cover 20 of these shifts in a 28-day period.

Where Can I Rent an Air Compressor?

No matter where you are in the United States, you can rent an air compressor in your area. BigRentz has over 8,000 rental locations across the nation and partners in every state. Browse our equipment rental locator to find your closest outlet and start planning your project.

Will Renting Help Me Save Money?

In most cases, renting is a much better deal than buying. It can be an especially good deal if you only need an air compressor for certain tasks or for a limited time.

For example, you can rent one of these machines for under $200 per day. In contrast, owning an air compressor can cost $5,000 to $50,000 or more with interest fees and insurance costs.

No matter how long you need an air compressor, BigRentz can help you do the job right the first time. With day-, week-, and month-long rentals across the country, we're at your service for big and small jobs alike.

From compact air compressors to some of the biggest models on the market, we have the power you need. Reserve your air compressor rental online or contact BigRentz to schedule a delivery today.

More About Air Compressors

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