Air Compressor Opinions - for garage use

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Repairs & Maintenance' started by thethird152, Oct 26, 2015.

  1. thethird152

    thethird152 Active Member

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    This doesn't necessarily apply strictly to campers, but I value the opinion of most folks here so figured this was worth a shot. I've been toying around with the idea of buying an air tank and compressor for the garage. I do enough tinkering around to warrant it, and I've been looking for a few years. My primary uses would be:

    1. Keeping tires on all vehicles properly inflated
    2. Blowing off my workbench
    3. Likely purchasing a small number of air powered tools (for instance, something that would allow me to properly torque the lugs on all vehicles, likely a finish-nailer, rivet-gun, etc) for light-duty use
    4. MAYBE toying around with a paint gun and related items

    My question is, what should I be looking for. I've done a bunch of reading and I know there are a million different things to take into account (volume of the tank, power of the motor (HP), CFM, etc) - I'm aware that those things exist but I'm not sure how much HP I need to fit my needs, for example.

    Any opinions welcome!
     
  2. CamperMike

    CamperMike Active Member

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    Don't worry about HP; concentrate on the CFM and make sure it is enough to power the tools you want to use. Any painting requires a very capable compressor; most of the other stuff you are looking at doesn't require nearly as much CFM. Also note that oil-free tend to be noisiest and don't last as long as the oil-filled. The belt-drive type are quieter still.
     
  3. Keith Hawkins

    Keith Hawkins Active Member

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    CamperMike is correct, HP means nothing.

    I had a Snap-On-Tools franchise for a number of years and sold a lot of compressors. Id you are serious about looking at paint guns then you are going to need a compressor that will run 9-15 CFM for most HVLP paint guns. They will say it works okay with a smaller compressor but only if you are doing very small projects. Hard to start and stop painting waiting on a compressor to fill again.

    You can run an air gun on a 20-30 gallon tank with 5.5 CFM (for putting tires off and on) and just wait for it to fill if your gun requires more air. I would suggest getting torque sticks if you are going to use the gun but would strongly recommend a torque wrench instead when doing the final tightening.

    The other small projects you mentioned can be done with just about any sized compressor with a holding tank.

    Hope this helps.
     
  4. Mogimus

    Mogimus Active Member

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    I second this. Oil-free become quite a nuisance while trying to work, specially if you are in the same room as the compressor.
     
  5. Heartman_wa

    Heartman_wa Active Member

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    Like every other tool I've bought, I planed on only using it for this and found a lot of other things it would work for. Get the largest oil-filled you can afford and have space for. You'll not be sorry in the long run.
     
  6. silvermickey2002

    silvermickey2002 Morris County, NJ

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    I purchased an air comp back in 1982. It's a 1 HP motor with a 20 gallon tank. It can deliver up to 90 CFM. It's not an oil-less comp. So I change the oil once a year. I use it mostly now for checking tire pressure and using the blow gun to clean and or dry things off. I also have a Devilbiss paint gun. I hook up a drier to it when I do paint. Other than that it works great. It runs on 120AC 15A circuit.

    Funny thing is that I paid a whopping $150.00 back then. I think they cost a bit more now!
     
  7. turborich

    turborich Active Member

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    I would really try finding an oil lubricated compressor if you can. I would rather have a 15 year old oil drive compressor vs. a new oil less unit. They are loud and don't hold up with moderate to heavy use.

    15-20 gallon compressor sounds fine for you. Also remember to drain it often. [2C]
     
  8. davido

    davido Active Member

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    I don't like that my oil-free unit is noisy. But for blowing water out of the trailer's lines in preparation for winter, oil-free is the only option.
     
  9. afugazifan

    afugazifan New Member

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    I was faced with the same decision last year. I had to have one that would handle a 1/2" impact so I could rotate the tires on my truck with ease.

    After an extensive amount of research (I'm OCD like that) I ended up going with a NorthStar 2HP, 20 Gallon, 5.0 CFM, single-stage from Northern Tool & Equipment. It was very comparable to an Ingersoll Rand compressor that gets very good reviews, but was a little less and had a much better warranty.

    I couldn't be happier with this compressor. A spray gun or grinder would struggle on big jobs, but could easily handle smaller stuff. The IR has a higher CFM at 5.5, and would also be a very good buy.

    Here's the two models I'd recommend. I would just check around on pricing at other retailers as there are probably some pretty good deals going on right now, and I've since found that Northern Tool is usually high on their prices.

    IR - http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200375221_200375221
    NS - http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200518764_200518764
     
  10. The Hillbilly Hilton

    The Hillbilly Hilton New Member

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    I got this as a present from my dad. I don't usually like Harbor Freight, but I have had it and used it for about 4 years and never had a problem

    I use it to blow out the sprinklers every season, I built a 8x12 wooded shed, I built out my entire basement and chiseled out a concrete tile floor in a bathroom. Just to name a few. Lets not forget filling car tires, kiddie pools and airbeds.

    I did add a permanently mounted 50 ft air house on a self winding reel so I don't have to move it that often and bought an air gun set from Lowes. It has five different guns.

    I don't think it would work a paint gun. Also because it does not have a lot of reserve air, it does not work well with tools that don't stop such as grinders and even the air chisel I used on the bathroom floor. With the chisel you can start and then stop(for only a few seconds) constantly to allow it to keep pressure, but with an air gun, you are not going to want to stop. I think the same thing applies to the air wrenches. I think they need a constant flow.

    It takes only about 1 minute to fill the tanks from empty.

    http://www.harborfreight.com/4-gal-2-hp-125-psi-twin-tank-air-compressor-60567.html
     
  11. adrianpglover

    adrianpglover Well-Known Member

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    I have two. A 2 gallon pancake oil-free Craftsman, and a 15-20 year old ~10 gallon hotdog style one that was sold by Northern Tool forever ago. I barely ever use the pancake. It takes too long to get full and makes a bit more noise. I'd much rather have one of the $500 units, if it could fit under a 30" bench. (have yet to find one...) Both were presents two years ago. The older used one I've had to replace the diaphragm in the regulator, wiring from the regulator to the motor, and the fill tube, but it works well and keeps on running. It's a bit under-powered for the air hammer I have (cheapest one at HF), but works alright on intermittent use. Someday I'll get a larger one, but my shop is limited on space for now.
     
  12. thethird152

    thethird152 Active Member

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    Interesting that this thread came back to life today, as I was just checking the status on my Harbor Freight order. They put this one on an additional sale last week and I figured, for $150 I could figure out what I did and didn't like about it and make a more personally informed choice later on. Some might disagree, but that's how I like to do things.

    In any event, I should have it in a few days and am looking forward to playing around with it.

    http://www.harborfreight.com/21-gal-25-hp-125-psi-cast-iron-vertical-air-compressor-61454.html
     
  13. shfd739

    shfd739 Member

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    I've been using this compressor for a little over a year now and have no complaints. It does what I need it too.

    Typical use for me is running an impact or air ratchet which it does well with. I did use a grinder for a few small jobs and it kept up ok.

    One thing I did do when I got it was to run a conventional/Dino compressor oil thru it for 20 mins at a time doing the break in. After every 20 mins I drained and refilled the oil till it drained clear. Once it drained clear I refilled with synthetic oil. I read in a few different places online that this would help the break in and possibly contribute to a longer life.
     
  14. Wrenchgear

    Wrenchgear Near Elmira, Southern Ontario

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    So, did the OP ever buy one, if so, what did he get? Don't leave us hanging.

    As most people have said, get a belt driven, oil lubricated unit. It should have a cast iron pump on it if you want it to last. Get the biggest one you can afford and and have room for. 220v will operate more efficiently in the long run by using less hydro to get the same amount of work. I have a very big set up of compressed air here at home. I have a 30 year old SpeedAire compressor that I bought brand new, and it still pumps like day one. It's a 220v, 3 hp, single phase, single stage, cast iron pump and head, sitting on a 30 gallon upright tank. It puts out 9.5 CFM at 130 psi.

    It's set up in my rear shop, and supplies a piping system back there, with 4 outlets. It also pumps air to my front garage through a buried 1/2 inch pipe underground. There is a one way check valve to prevent front air from rushing back to the rear shop when I'm using air back there. In the attic of my front garage is 4 x 40 lbs. propane tanks as air storage. These tanks supply air up front so when I'm working in the front driveway, I don't have to wait for air to come from the compressor about 150 feet away to power my tools. My tools get a quick supply of air from the 4 tanks in the attic. The compressor cycles on and off with air pressure in the entire system. I have switching in the front garage to turn the compressor on and off without having to walk way back to the rear shop. I can also turn it on and off in the rear shop. All my lines have drip legs with drains. There is a water separator where the supply leaves the shop to go under ground to come up front.

    This all works excellent, and I have set it all up myself. All the designing, piping, wiring, installing, everything. If you have any questions on how to do any of this, don't hesitate to ask.
     
  15. jdirosa72@gmail.com

    jdirosa72@gmail.com Member

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    Any rotary tools(sanders, grinders, etc ) require mostly air volume ( bigger tank sizes) and so does painting. 20 gallons and above should do for these tools
     
  16. Hoosier Daddy

    Hoosier Daddy Active Member

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    If I forget to shut it off, can hear my oil free 30g Craftsman kick on and run while I am sitting in the house at the computer.... And it is in a detached shop 75' from the house. [V]
     
  17. jnc

    jnc Welcome from New Hampshire

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    this is so true. I have one with a 60 gal tank and it does everything i can ask of it. the best part is my mechanic can work in my garage! So BIGGER is better you dont have to wait for the compressor to catch up with you.
     
  18. sleach

    sleach A short run will get you within walking distance.

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    My brother the cabinet maker and all around build and repair anything guy went with me when I wanted to get an air compressor. Our first stop? Safety equipment- eye and ear protection.

    On his advice I bought an easily storable 10 gallon unit, with all the homeowner accessories. When it came time to re-roof the house we rented a really big unit.
     
  19. FL_Bill

    FL_Bill I'm cooking something yummy!

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    1-most any compressor will do this. Not much of a limiting factor.

    2-A small electric leaf blower may be a better choice...but compressed air will work well, but be cautious of blown particles.

    3-Now you are talking! Most any rig with a tank over 20 gallons will produce enough reserve air to run a number of small air tools in burst. Most likely a 3/8" impact, 3/8" air ratchet, even a 1/2" impact gun. and for sure most nail guns. (All these can operate on 75-90 psi) I do prefer an air compressor that has a belt drive as they are quieter. Older units are much better quality. And you might find a used one cheap, pawn shop for sure! However using a impact gun as a final say in lug nut wheel torque is a BIG NO NO! Get a torque wrench and dial it up the specs for your car and know you did it right!

    4- most paint rigs operate on around 40 psi with no issue. But the electric ones work very well and do not require an air compressor. Which are noisy and can take up a lot of space.

    Good luck.

    FL Bill
     
  20. thethird152

    thethird152 Active Member

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    Thanks to everyone for the input - my compressor and tank arrived yesterday. Have not had a chance to play with it yet - heading out this evening to get a hose and some oil so I can perform the required break in procedure.

    Hooray for new toys!

    Thanks also to everyone for the input regarding using air tools to torque lug nuts - I will very certainly NOT be doing that. Hoping for a nice new shiny torque wrench under the xmas tree this year :)
     

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