How Do You Know What Type of Power Rating You Need for an Air Compressor?

When you’re purchasing a new air compressor, you’ll need to give some thought to how much horsepower you need. There’s no sense in buying a compressor with more horsepower than you’ll ever use, but at the same time, you don’t want to risk getting a machine that can’t do the job you need it to do.

While horsepower isn’t the only factor you should consider, understanding what it does can help you narrow down your selection. Here’s how to figure out which air compressor power rating you need in your Wisconsin facility.

What is horsepower?

Horsepower is one way to measure how powerful an engine is—in other words, how much work it can reasonably perform. You’re probably familiar with horsepower in terms of car engines, but there are distinctions there, too—brake horsepower is another popular measure of engine power.

The term “horsepower” is usually meant to refer to a power unit of 745.7 watts or 550 foot-pounds per second.

How horsepower compares to PSI and CFM

Horsepower isn’t the only measure of compressor power, but it can help you make your selection. Every air compressor has a motor, which is powered either by rotary screws or cylinders. Since this is a complex piece of machinery, horsepower is just one of the driving forces in compressor power. The other two are pounds per square inch (PSI) and its capacity (CFM).

PSI refers to air pressure, while CFM is the maximum amount of air that a compressor can produce at its pressure level. If you want to run several air-powered tools at once, you’d need higher air capacity. Most air compressor tools need at least 90 PSI in order to run properly. Horsepower simply describes the motor’s ability to produce enough CFM and PSI to power your tools or other machinery.

Which power rating to get

Remember, horsepower isn’t the only factor you need to consider. On the other hand, there will be a vast power differential between a 100-horsepower motor and one with only 25 horsepower. You should also think about whether you need a portable compressor, which can plug into your wall outlets, or a stationary compressor, which is wired directly into your electrical system. (There are also gas- and diesel-powered compressors.) Generally, stationary compressors are larger and more powerful—but if you need to bring your compressor along to remote job sites, you’ll need a portable one.

Air compressors usually range from 1.5 to 15 horsepower. The higher range is reserved for stationary compressors and gas- or diesel-powered versions. Ultimately, the best way to determine which type to purchase is to consider the factors above, then ask an expert.

If you need assistance deciding the ideal power rating for an air compressor in your Wisconsin business, the team at Wenniger Compressor Co. can help. We offer a full range of compressors, as well as service and repairs. Reach out to us today to learn more about our selection and services. We look forward to assisting you soon!

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