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Old December 29th, 2013, 12:28 PM   #1
mikesova
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Default What's the bare minimum for an air compressor running air tools?

I have been interested in getting an air compressor to be able to run impact tools/air ratchets, etc. in my garage. My wife's brother and sister bought me a Porter Cable 6 gal. 150 psi pancake compressor for Christmas. I'm pretty sure that isn't adequate for doing what I am wanting. So, what numbers should I be looking for when shopping for a different one. 20 gal, 30 gal? how many HP?

Any info is appreciated.

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Old December 29th, 2013, 12:30 PM   #2
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If you hook up an extra tank for increased air volume you will be surprised what a small compressor can do
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Old December 29th, 2013, 12:35 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 93trackaddict View Post
If you hook up an extra tank for increased air volume you will be surprised what a small compressor can do
I suppose that's probably true, but wouldn't I be better off getting the "right" thing in the first place rather than cobble together something?
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Old December 29th, 2013, 12:39 PM   #4
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Impact tools take short bursts of high pressure so most small compressors will work if you are patient enough for it to charge back up. I have a small pancake like yours that I carry in the motorhome and have used it to change tires, etc. But for constant garage work, you will get frustrated waiting for it. The worst culprits are sanders and die grinders. They will kill most any single stage compressor.

I would get as large as your budget will allow. IMO, volume is key because it will give you the longest usage before it runs out of air. In reality, from a HP standpoint, you are limited to your power supply. A 115V, 20 amp circuit @ 80% efficiency will only produce about 2.5 HP. So, the ratings you see on compressors at Home Depot are misleading when they say 5 or 6 HP on a 115 V motor.

Here's a simple calculator
http://www.onlineconversion.com/motor_horsepower.htm
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Old December 29th, 2013, 12:47 PM   #5
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So the tank size is going to be more important than the HP rating of the compressor.

Thanks Jim.

How do you think something like this would work?

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Husky-20-...VWD/203187354#
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Old December 29th, 2013, 12:55 PM   #6
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Avoid direct drive/oilless. They are ok for staple guns but will not last for heavier tools.
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Old December 29th, 2013, 12:59 PM   #7
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CFM and psi are most important in running tools HP doesn't mean much. Tank volume is a big deal as well and bigger is better. It's not the answer anyone wants but you get what you pay for on these. Buying a cheap 20-30 gal compressor will do what you are wanting but a day will come when you wish you went bigger. If its inside of your work area it running alot will get old.

At the same tone if you are just running am impact to change tired ect you will be fine. If you plan on ever running a DA sander ect you will hate the smaller ones. If you have that small pancake and can wait and save you should and go big and be done. IMO buying the mininum to do a said job is the most expensive option in the long run.
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Old December 29th, 2013, 01:07 PM   #8
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BTW, even if you get a bigger compressor, hang on to the pancake. They are handy as hell for airing up tires and other small stuff that you don't want to fire up the big pump for.
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Old December 29th, 2013, 01:15 PM   #9
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For a $200 budget, I think most are about the same. All will exceed 100 PSI and none will have enough CFM to stay ahead of a DA sander or die grinder. But all of them will run an impact fine or a sander for a while. I agree about the oil-less but don't think you will avoid it in that price range.

Both comments above are right. Bottom line, any 20 gallon compressor beats the shit out of no compressor at all. But if you can stretch to a 30 gallon, do it. I would do some shopping around on Ebay, HF, TSC, etc.
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Old December 29th, 2013, 01:17 PM   #10
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Do the 1199.00 model. Bigger is better, right? Large tank, and free shipping.
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Old December 29th, 2013, 01:25 PM   #11
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I was told when looking at "pancake" styles or portable ones look at the PSI of the tools you wanna run. Then get something of a higher number. That way there is less waiting for pressure to build back up.
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Old December 29th, 2013, 01:35 PM   #12
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What is your budget? If you don't mind me asking? And of your credit is good you can always get a tsc card, pay some with cash and make payments on the rest, they have good ingersol rand compressors, I bought the 80 gal. For around $1000, but I use mine a lot and for long amounts of time, they have very nice smaller compressors for cheaper, also look online at reviews before you buy any home depot compressor I've seen some not so good stuff about them
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Old December 29th, 2013, 01:48 PM   #13
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I've used smaller wheel around compressors before. Using a DA will tax it quick because it's always trying to keep up with demand. The bigger stationary ones fare better because of the bigger tank. The oil less and direct drive models can be loud too.
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Old December 29th, 2013, 01:53 PM   #14
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Good info guys, I appreciate it.
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Old December 29th, 2013, 01:53 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michigan maniac View Post
What is your budget? If you don't mind me asking? And of your credit is good you can always get a tsc card, pay some with cash and make payments on the rest, they have good ingersol rand compressors, I bought the 80 gal. For around $1000, but I use mine a lot and for long amounts of time, they have very nice smaller compressors for cheaper, also look online at reviews before you buy any home depot compressor I've seen some not so good stuff about them
X2, I killed my 26 gallon oil less in less than two years.
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Old December 29th, 2013, 02:44 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michigan maniac View Post
What is your budget? If you don't mind me asking? And of your credit is good you can always get a tsc card, pay some with cash and make payments on the rest, they have good ingersol rand compressors, I bought the 80 gal. For around $1000, but I use mine a lot and for long amounts of time, they have very nice smaller compressors for cheaper, also look online at reviews before you buy any home depot compressor I've seen some not so good stuff about them
Probably not more than 300$. I am ok with going used. The one I linked to I actually found locally used in good shape for $100.
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Old December 29th, 2013, 09:50 PM   #17
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Buy used

I can't complain about my $5 air compressor. The motor relay likes to trip, but whatever.
That was how I accumulated it
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Old December 29th, 2013, 10:18 PM   #18
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21 gallon oiled direct drive from harbor freight is gonna be on sale for 160ish in their sidewalk sale, if you can afford more the one im saving for is their 29 gallon belt drive oiled,

http://www.harborfreight.com/25-hors...sor-67847.html

http://www.harborfreight.com/2-horse...8127-8026.html

The refill time of the larger one is extremely quicker.
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Old December 29th, 2013, 10:22 PM   #19
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My entire flatfender was built with this one. I used impacts and air ratchets with it, but it definitely was NOT ideal.

A 20/30 gal oiled unit is fine for most things that is what my dad has. I will bet getting a 60gal soon though now that I have a barn.

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Old December 30th, 2013, 12:44 AM   #20
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My listing.
http://saginaw.craigslist.org/tls/4182472954.html

Some guy says he wants to look at it after 5:30p today but I couldn't tell you how many times I've been stood up or jew-balled on the thing since I listed it for sale. I think every craig-tard who's asked about it has asked if it's oil less and the decal on the front clearly says "Oil-Lube".
















.

Last edited by vr; December 30th, 2013 at 12:48 AM.
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