How Air Compressors Work

How Do Air Compressors Work

An air compressor is a device that converts power into compressed air. This article goes into detail about the parts, how they work together and some general rules to follow when using this tool.

As always, it is important that you consult your manual before working with any air-powered tools or equipment as there are specific instructions on proper use depending on which machine you have.

It consists of five major parts: an electric motor, a tank to hold the pressurized air, valves and piping for transferring the pressurized air from one point to another, an intake filter, and an exhaust filter.

In many cases, there will also be additional components like gauges (to measure how much pressure there is in the tank), a pressure regulator (to control how much air goes to the filter and motor) or an oil-lubricated bearing.

Air Compressor Parts

How do Air Compressors work?

These components work together to make compressed air by pumping in outside air at atmospheric pressure through the intake filter. The intake filters remove any particles or water droplets before they reach the compression chamber.

The pressurized air then goes through the compression valves, where it is compressed with a certain amount of force. The airflow rate inside and outside of the chamber is equalized by an exhaust valve before being released to either power tools or used in industrial processes such as refrigeration equipment.

All five major components work together to make up one complete air compressor.

Types of air compressors

There are two main types of air compressors: single-stage and two-stage.

Single Stage Air Compressors

A single-stage compressor is the most basic type with a simple design, but it’s also the least efficient. It uses one intake filter to remove particles or droplets before flowing into compression valves connected to an exhaust valve and a tank for compressed air storage. Single-stage compressors use more energy than their counterparts because they need more time when compressing within a lower range of pressures. The downside is that this means they produce less pressure in general while using up more energy per square inch, especially at higher volumes of airflow flow rates due to increased friction losses from the reduced speed between each cycle.

Two-Stage Air Compressors

The two-stage air compressor is a more efficient design. It has an intake filter and then the compressed air flows through valves to get pressurized by another set of compression valves that are connected to an exhaust valve, storage tank for compressed air, and pressure regulator before exiting as output gas.

A variable displacement pump can be used in this type of system with either cylinder or piston technology depending on performance requirements. The variable displacement pump will provide continuous operation because it achieves proportional flow rates under varying loads without cycling off like single-stage compressors do when they overload themselves at higher volumes of airflow flow rates which results in greater cooling capacity due to less heat being transferred into the machine housing during times when airflow volume is low.

Most DIY air compressors are of the single-stage type, which means they produce only one pressure stage, in other words, the low-pressure and high-pressure stages are combined together.

Uses for an air compressor

Air compressors are used in many industries, but in the workshop, they can be used for a variety of tasks such as:

  • To blow up inflatable toys or dinghies, car tyres and other similar objects that need to be inflated with air in order for them to work properly.
  • Paint spraying – the compressed air is used to atomize and propel paint onto a surface for painting.
  • Sandblasting – mixing sand and water in order to create a fine mist of sand particles that can then be directed onto a surface for cleaning or removing old paint and rust.
  • Air tools – such as impact wrenches, air drills, paint guns and sandblasters which need compressed air to operate.
  • Drying – compressed air is used in a variety of processes such as drying different types of materials or parts that have been painted or coated with a finish.
  • Blowing away dust – air compressors are often used to blow away dust in order to eliminate it from the air which is useful if you are about to apply paint or finish to a product and do not wish dust to settle on the wet surface.
  • Nail Guns – compressed air can be used in nail guns to fire nails or tacks into parts to hold them together.

Air compressor safety tips

When using an air compressor, it is always prudent to follow some basic safety tips to ensure you remain safe.

  • Wear protective gear such as goggles and gloves when using air tools or working in close quarters with an open compressor tank.
  • Never use the same hose for more than one tool at a time unless it has been detached from the other device first, this will help avoid any potential damage that could be caused by overstretching of hoses that are under pressure.
  • Keep children away from your work area while operating these devices because they can easily hurt themselves on exposed equipment or become entangled if they wander too close to the unit itself.
  • Always follow the instructions for your individual tool and the manufacturer’s guidelines for using air compressors.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of an emergency, such as if there is a sudden release of air pressure or fuel leaks from any part of the equipment.
  • Always shut off your compressor when you are finished working in your workshop as this will prevent wear and tear on the parts as it cycles on and off.
  • Be sure to check your air filters regularly, as they will get clogged with debris over a period of time which can then lead to a decrease in the performance of your compressor.

Final thoughts:

Conclusion paragraph: Air compressors are powerful tools that convert power into compressed air. This article has gone over the different parts of an air compressor, the way they work together and some general rules to follow when using this tool. As always, it is important that you consult your manual before working with any air-powered tools or equipment as there are specific instructions on proper use depending on which machine you have. If you’re looking for a new workshop essential – buy yourself an air compressor!

If you have more questions regarding air compressors and their uses, check out our Air Compressor FAQ.

Video explaining how an air compressor works

How Air Compressors Work

Related Posts

Scroll to top