A detailed guide to different types of compressors and their uses.
Guide to buying a Compressor:
The old saying ‘you get what you pay for’ very much applies to compressors. We strongly recommend AVOIDING cheap, far east copies. These oil-less, unbranded compressors in our experience have a poor record of reliability and tend to easily overheat, and often have a poor duty cycle ratio (running time vs cooling time). If anything over compensate and future proof your compressor, with a higher working pressure and solid duty cycle for a consistent reliable and uninterrupted supply of air.
The type of compressor you buy will depend on your budget and how much airbrushing you plan on doing.
Diaphragm Compressors - A pulsating membrane (diaphragm) compresses the air. Diaphragm compressors are fairly noisy and cannot be run for extended periods of time, so they are more suitable for hobby applications than professional use. Attaching a moisture filter to remove condensation from the air supply and to even out the pulsing. Often, some of the very small, cheap imported compressors are based on this system.
Best for very occasional, light use.
Piston Compressors - A piston or pair of pistons compress the air. Piston machines are quiet running and therefore exceptionally well suited to applications where noise would interfere with the creative process or the working environment, such as an art studio or beauty salon. A single-piston compressor has one piston and a twin-piston machine has two pistons. A twin piston compressor is approximately twice as powerful as a single-piston compressor because it is compressing twice as much air at the same time, but the extra mechanical work does mean the twin-piston machines are slightly noisier. Also a piston machine running at twice the motor speed or rpm (revolutions per minute) is compressing more air in the time, so it is more powerful, but again noisier - more decibels in noise with a higher pitched sound which is a little more intrusive to the environment. These piston driven compressors are oil-less or oil filled for cooling, noise reduction and lubrication.
Best for occasional, medium use.
Oil-less Compressors –Piston compressors can be either of the oil-filled or oil-less type. Oil-filled compressors are usually more silent as they benefit from the lubrication of the oil, but oil-less compressors are still very quiet running compared to diaphragm compressors and typical industrial compressors. The main advantage of oil-less compressors is that you do not have to remember to check or change any oil, making them low maintenance, and there is no risk of spilling oil when your compressor is in transit if you are mobile.
Best usage for these oil-less compressors are occasional, light-medium use.
Industrial compressors - If you wish to run a small spray gun (HVLP- High Volume, Low Pressure) with a larger nozzle or at higher pressures then you will usually need a bigger industrial compressor. The disadvantage of a typical industrial compressor is that it is noisier - that's because it has to work harder to compress more air. However, check out our Absolute Compressors that can meet the demands of smaller industrial compressors…. Without the noise!