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Thread: Air compressors

  1. #1

    Air compressors

    Where do I start learning the basics of larger air compressors? Thinking of adding a larger compressor and hard piping around the shop for permanent compressed air.

    Weblinks, ideas or???

    Thanks,

    Chris

  2. Depends on what you want to know. How big is the shop, what do you consider "large" and what do you plan on doing with it? I've got an 80-gallon IR compressor that was, and will be again this spring, permanently piped around the shop.

  3. #3
    We have a Eaton Compressor 10hp single phase 120 gallon with air dryer it's been a very good compressor biggest thing for me was they were local to us so I saw the whole thing being built made in the USA.

    this one https://www.eatoncompressor.com/pist...air-compressor

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    "What tools?" matters because of the air requirement they each might have. You want a compressor that at a minimum can satisfy your most demanding air tool's appetite. That said, the average woodworker "usually" can be happy with a typical 3hp or 5hp 60 gallon upright compressor. Single stage can be ok; two stage is better, but costs more. Folks who use things like pneumatic sanders need to go larger because of the air requirements for tools like that.

    My compressor is an Ingersol Rand 3hp 60 gallon and it meets my needs for fastener guns, spraying finishes and assorted utility activities, such as topping off vehicle tire pressure. It's in my DC closet next to the cyclone which mitigates noise for those times when it runs to bring the pressure back up. I also use an IR auto-drain on it so it's basically "maintenance free" in general.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Kamiah, ID
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    What Brian said.
    Air compressors can be surprisingly complicated to get what you need. There are single stage designs, two stage piston designs and rotary designs at least. My BIL does a pumpkin cannon in the fall and has a rotary compressor that has a huge amount of output. I've gotten by with a 5 HP, single stage, 60 gal compressor that I bought from my local auto parts store 20 odd yrs ago. Normal use for me is blowing off sawdust, running air nailers and occasional spray gun. On occasion I've needed more volume than what it puts out, about 20 SCFM @ 90 PSI, so I have a setup where I can hook one of my portable compressors into the system.

    You might try and find a local air compressor repair/sales shop. They would have good insights as to what to buy and/or, more importantly, what not to buy. Maybe even have a good used/rebuilt for sale. If I had to buy a new compressor today there is a larger farm supply store in my area that has a sizeable selection. My new compressor would probably be a two stage. I've occasionally wanted more than the 120ish PSI typically put out by single stage compressors.

    The next decision would be tank size but, from what I've seen lately, there aren't a lot of choices once you decide on compressor output. Typical tank sizes for a "larger" compressor are 60, 80 and 120 gal. Again, it depends on what you expect your air consumption to be and how often you want to hear the compressor run. Excess water should be drained off every day you use the compressor and the oil should be changed way more often than I do.

    Yet one more factor in your decision might be how many electrical amps you have available. If you're already pushing the capacity of your electric supply then you may opt for a more modest compressor.

    Hope that helps!

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    "What tools?" matters because of the air requirement they each might have. You want a compressor that at a minimum can satisfy your most demanding air tool's appetite. That said, the average woodworker "usually" can be happy with a typical 3hp or 5hp 60 gallon upright compressor. Single stage can be ok; two stage is better, but costs more. Folks who use things like pneumatic sanders need to go larger because of the air requirements for tools like that.

    My compressor is an Ingersol Rand 3hp 60 gallon and it meets my needs for fastener guns, spraying finishes and assorted utility activities, such as topping off vehicle tire pressure. It's in my DC closet next to the cyclone which mitigates noise for those times when it runs to bring the pressure back up. I also use an IR auto-drain on it so it's basically "maintenance free" in general.
    Thinking a compressor about your size, and I asked my question inappropriately. More interested in best piping material, best way to hook up some sort of filter and drier, and best sources for quality fittings for things like quick disconnects.

    Run the occasional pneumatic tool and blow down the shop, may also do a small amount of spray finishing. My pancake compressor is running out of capacity and I need to go about two steps up from that.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Center Valley, PA USA
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    20
    Hi Chris - It sounds like your usage is the same as mine. I piped my basement shop (about 1000 sq ft) using the RapidAir system. Fairly inexpensive and easy to install. I ran the tubing around my shop in a loop to help keep pressure and flow up at all points in the system. I installed roughly 12 drops and, when I brought it online, I only had two very small leaks to address. They sell kits that include the piping/tubing and connection blocks. I recommend them (no connection other than as a happy customer).

    For all the other connections, I went to either the big box stores or Amazon.

    Hope this helps.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Kamiah, ID
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Hachet View Post
    Thinking a compressor about your size, and I asked my question inappropriately. More interested in best piping material, best way to hook up some sort of filter and drier, and best sources for quality fittings for things like quick disconnects.
    I use 1/2" copper pipe for my air lines. It doesn't rust like iron, it won't shatter like PVC and it's relatively easy to install. Easy to add connections if needs be. You could use larger diameter pipe to increase storage capacity albeit at increase in material costs. All fittings are NPT so it's easy to pick up fittings or ball valves at the local hardware store. Filter, water trap, regulator and other fittings I sourced online. For me it's a matter of driving 2 hrs, one way, and maybe finding what I need, or sitting in front of the confuser, sipping coffee, and knowing I'll get what I want. In another thread someone mentioned using a one-handed coupler on their air outlets...wish I would have gone with those, just push to connect.

    I have my compressor in another room so I don't hear it but you have to remember to check the oil, drain condensation and turn on/off. I like the idea in another thread of a relay run from the shop lights so the compressor turns on/off with the shop lights but you still have to check oil and drain daily so...

    I rarely change pressure so my filter/trap/regulator is a single unit (with modular components) that I have mounted on the wall next to the compressor. It does cut down on air delivery volume so if you have a high demand tool, or change pressure a lot you could use a point of use regulator. I have one full pressure outlet ahead of the unit, for filling tires, etc., then the rest of my system is regulated. Connection from compressor to shop piping is a 3/4" x 4', rubber air hose also sourced online.

    The Rapid Air system looks pretty cool too! Looks like a turn-key system if you put in a little forethought.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    E TN, near Knoxville
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    Chris, I also plumbed air through my shop with the RapidAir plastic pipe. I think I have 8 outlets, one outside, one on a long reel by a big rollup door, 5hp compressor in the DC closet to keep down the noise.

    I run the air through a trap, water separator, dryer, and regulator and built a manifold to control the lines with three separate valves so I can cut off sections if needed.

    There have been several threads with discussion on plumbing air lines, you might try the search.

    JKJ

  10. #10
    Thanks for the responses this gives me a lot of food for thought.

    Regards,

    Chris

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Hachet View Post
    Where do I start learning the basics of larger air compressors? Thinking of adding a larger compressor and hard piping around the shop for permanent compressed air.

    Weblinks, ideas or???

    Thanks,

    Chris

    What are your air draws? What is the work load of those draws? You need to know many cfm you're using and go from there.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    At the time I did my shop air plumbing, the "quick" products weren't being marketed. Mine is 1/2" copper which is reasonable from a cost perspective and not hard to install if you can sweat pipe.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  13. #13
    Your first step should be to determine your maximum air consumption in SCFM and duration of those peak useages. Once you know what you are using at peak periods you can determine what size compressor you need.
    Last edited by Lee Schierer; 02-17-2017 at 10:23 PM.
    Lee Schierer - McKean, PA

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  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Central WI
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    4,385
    Sanders and grinders use the most air. 15 cfm is minimum for them and that takes a 5 hp motor. If you want absolutely the best compressor that runs slow and quiet forever, look for a used Quincy QR 325. Can run at about 600 rpm and 10 cfm on a 3 hp motor or 900 rpm and 15+ cfm with a 5 hp motor. Quincy had the best valves, a cast iron USA block, and was pressure lubed. A new pump alone costs over 5K but you can find them in good shape for about 1K. Clean up the valves, buy a $75 ring and gasket kit and you will have a compressor that will outlive you. There really is no comparison with any new compressor under 5K. Quincy made single stage as well, 2XX series rather than 3XX. Dave

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