How to Choose the Right Air Compressor

We find the best options (we offer free air audits) to fit your air compressor needs, so you can focus on production. But, let’s break it down for you.

There are four most common types of air compressors:

  1. Piston Compressors are best for smaller, non-continuous air users. Examples: auto body shops and small manufacturing operations (where air demand rarely exceeds 100cfm). Pistons are long-lasting, durable, and tend to be less expensive to purchase and maintain. They are also used for specialty applications such as nitrogen, argon or helium gases and high pressure applications.
  2. Rotary Screw Air Compressors provide the best solution for small to medium sized manufacturing companies. They are reasonably priced and energy-efficient when properly sized.
  3. Centrifugal Compressors are an ideal solution for large manufacturers. Most of the units are multi-stage and very efficient when operated at 75% to 100% of full load. 
  4. Scroll Air Compressors provide clean, oil-free air. They are quiet and are typically used in lab and hospitals where low demand is the norm. Scroll applications range from 2cfm to 100cfm.


Once you’ve determined which type of compressor is the best fit, you’ll want to think about two other considerations:

Fixed Speed vs. Variable Speed Drive (VSD)

VSD compressors provides only the amount of air that’s needed at a given time by varying the speed of the motor.

Fixed Speed compressors run at a set speed, while controlling their output by varying the position of the air inlet valve.

If your cfm requirement is varying  throughout the day, a VSD compressor might be the perfect fit. Or, if your demand stays constant throughout the day, a fixed speed compressor could be a better solution.

Oil-Injected vs. Oil-Free

Oil-Injected is better if your end product doesn’t have strict air purity requirements. They are less expensive to purchase and maintain than Oil-Free options.

Oil-Free is best for industries where air purity is critical (like food and beverage, electronics, and pharmaceuticals). This type of compressor has little risk of contamination.