Choosing an Air Compressor for Your Workshop | Full Guide

Air Compressor Air Tools
(Last Updated On: January 22, 2022)

Modern-day tools have massively improved efficiency and safety within workshops
worldwide, whether for your home workshop or your business. A trendy staple in many
workshops these days are air tools and air compressors

Not only have speedy advancements in technology and machinery shaped the social-
economic world we live in today, but these pioneering achievements have also shaped the
way we use and build modern-day tools and equipment.

Air Compressor for workshop

Gone are the days when every tool within a workshop was powered by a central power
source comprising of shafts, belts, wheels, and a plethora of mechanical mechanisms.
Today we have the luxury of using more compact, powerful, and well-designed tools than
ever before. So, here is your guide to choosing an air compressor for your workshop.

What is an Air Compressor?
In short, air compressors are mechanical devices that convert atmospheric pressured air to
deliver it at a higher pressure. They achieve this by forcing air into a pressurised container,
reducing the volume around the air, which increases pressure, allowing the machine to use
that excess pressure to power air tools and other equipment, or delivering clean air to help
fill objects more efficiently.

What Can I Use an Air Compressor For?
Air compressors have almost become a staple for many home workshops and homeowners.
They serve many applications and can power a multitude of air tools that make home
improvement projects and general DIY far more accessible and more streamlined.

Air Compressor Tire Pump

Some of the home uses for air compressors include:

  • Inflating bicycle tyres, motorcycle tyres or car tyres
  • Inflating other inflatables like pools, toys, mattresses and so on
  • Blowing up balloons much faster for events
  • Cleaning up dirt and grime around the house or cleaning your electronics using the
    pressurised air
  • Pressure washing your cars or walls with a water pump attachment
  • Spray painting walls or other furniture with an airbrush attachment
  • Giving you a multi-purpose tool to get things done around the house with less hassle
    Using air tools with your compressor will also open up a wide range of DIY uses for your
    home and workshop.

What Tools Can I Use with an Air Compressor?
Air tools or pneumatic tools are power tools driven by compressed air supplied by an air
compressor. A vital consideration when using various air tools is how much power you will

This will depend on how often the compressor will be used and what tools will need to be
powered. Pneumatic tools require pressure (PSI) to function, but more importantly, is the
amount of air volume (CFM) required.

Most air tools are designed to operate between 90 and 100 PSI. However, there are more
comprehensive tools that will demand more. This is where tank size will become more
critical, and we will discuss this shortly.
Some of the air tools available with your air compressor include:

  • Impact Wrenches
  • Ratchet Wrenches
  • Sanders
  • Hammers
  • Drills
  • Nail Guns
  • Grinders
  • Saws
  • Sheers
  • Blowers
  • Sprayers

What Size Air Compressor Do I Need to Run Air Tools?
Air compressors come in many different shapes and tank sizes. Bigger doesn’t necessarily
equate to more power here. Instead, matching your compressor’s size and specifications
with those your tools require is how to make sure you will receive the right amount of
power supply.

Yes, bigger units will most likely offer and convert larger volumes of air, leading to more
power supply and more reserves. However, that doesn’t mean much if you don’t need that
extra power.

You can determine your compressors' size by assessing how much air it delivers, measured in Cubic Feet Per Minute (CFM). Most tools require between 10 to 110 CFM to operate and 90 to 100 PSI so, it all depends on which tools you intend on using.

Luckily, the tools you purchase will specify what power specification they require, which will
help you choose an air compressor for your workshop. Other size parameters may include:

  • Tank Volume (Litres)
  • Power (kW)
  • Physical Dimensions

Again, matching your compressors specifications with those of your tools will allow you to
ensure an adequate supply of power. Regardless of which compressor you choose, remember that 3 phase air compressors need 3 phase power which needs 3 phase
consumer mains and metering installed by a level 2 electrician.

Air Compressor Air Tools

When choosing the actual size of the air compressor you want, there are a few other
considerations to keep in mind that will affect your experience with the compressor overall.
These factors are noise level and portability.

Reducing Noise Level
There are a few ways to reduce the level of noise, measured in Decibels (dB), that your
compressor emits. These include:

  • Installing soundproofing in the room where your compressor operates
  • Installing vibration insulation beneath your unit to reduce the impact on the floor
  • If possible, choosing a smaller air compressor will lead to less noise being emitted

Essentially the bigger your compressor is, the less portable it will be. Therefore, you have to consider all the possible applications you require from your compressor before purchasing one. If you want to move it around the house and workshop frequently, a smaller compressor might be a better fit.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a stationary unit that offers maximum power
output, then a bigger, more mechanically involved unit would be preferable in that

What Should Be Done before Every Use of an Air Tool?
Before using your air tools, there are a few maintenance tasks to implement to ensure the
longevity and safety of your devices and workspace. A few things you can do before using
your tools and throughout the day are:

  • Checking and making sure the tools are oiled
  • Checking the airlines are clear and blowing out any moisture or residue
  • Confirming you are always running the recommended air pressure for your tools
  • Checking for any defections or possible needed repairs
  • Cleaning your tools at the end of the day and scheduling regular maintenance
  • Changing any filters and tightening fasteners or loose screws
  • Draining your receiver tanks and cleaning your feed system
  • Ensuring your compressor is receiving proper ventilation for its cooling systems

Choosing an Air Compressor for Your Workshop – In Conclusion
To wrap up, when it comes to choosing the suitable air compressor for your workshop, what
determines this is the size and specifications your compressor needs to possess to power
the air tools you intend on using.

Before committing to a compressor, take time to consider the applications you require from
the compressor in your home and workshop, which tools you want, how much space you
have, how loud the unit can be, and in general, how you intend on using your air

Black&Decker Stanley Bostitch

Hello, I am Bill, the Compressed-Air-Man. I have years of experience in industrial and residential compressed air applications, air compressors and general pneumatics. I created this site to help professionals, students, and DIYers understand and properly implement and maintain compress3ed air systems.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here