Find the Best Air Compressors

Find yourself the best air compressor

The best air compressor for you will depend on how you want to use it. It sounds obvious really but it can still feel like a big choice. That’s why we suggest you start with what you know. What jobs do you want to make quicker and easier with your air compressor?

Our Compressor FAQs explains the technical jargon and, if you’re the kind of person who likes to get a proper understanding of what’s what, you will find it is packed with helpful information. Our Air for You pages talk about a few of the common ways people use compressed air for their hobby or around the home but our LiveChat team is here to help too.

Read this if you want a “quick start guide” to help you understand the different types of compressor.

  1. You need a compressor that you can run from a standard 13 amp plug.
  2. Your compressor should have a reasonable size receiver. The size you need will depend on the tools and equipment that you plan to use. You could take a look at our popular uses (DIYspray painting, mechanic/car restoration, boat restoration or furniture upcycling) for suggestions. If you need help, just ask our LiveChat experts.
  3. You need to choose a compressor that can deliver enough CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) to suit your air tools.
  4. The power of the compressor affects how much air the unit is able to produce. Most people find that a 2 or 2.5 HP compressor is enough for home and DIY use. This size of engine will give you plenty of compressed air for a good selection of tools.
  5. The receiver is a tank to store the air produced by your compressor. It acts as a buffer and makes it available to the equipment you are using. You can run a compressor with a receiver intermittently and it will still work efficiently to drive your air tools. Usually, you will choose small receiver if you only need a small amount of air in one go. If you run more powerful tools or use a spray gun, you need a 24 litre or 50 litre receiver. When you start looking at compressors with bigger receivers, keep an eye on the size and choose a system that fits your space. Just ask our LiveChat if you need help choosing the best compressor for you.
  6. Do you need a portable or a stationary compressor? If you need to move your system around regularly, choose a portable, lighter weight, compressor. Our portable compressors are ideal for DIY because they tend to be small and have handles, and many of them also have wheels. This gives you a compressor that you can move around readily and, as a result you will be able to make full use your system for many different jobs. However, some of our DIY customers choose a stationary compressor for their workshops because they bought it for specific tasks. They then buy long hoses if they need to reach something further away.

If you are planning to use your air compressor with a spray gun, read our Tips on Choosing a Spray Painting System. Remember, a compressor that works for spray painting, works for all other air tools. You use it for tyre inflators, chipping hammers, air blow gun, impact wrenches, ratchet wrenches, etc.

Air compressor FAQs

Air compressor FAQs

We have listened to lots of compressor FAQs over the years and we’ve put together a guide to help you understand what you are buying and how it works. We hope it will help you make sense of the terms we use in our product descriptions and help you choose your new compressor.

Compressed air is a source of energy that can be stored in a vessel (tank) and in distribution pipe work. The air compressor draws air from the atmosphere and then compresses this air to between eight and ten times it’s normal pressure. During compression the molecules in the air speed up and this creates our energy source, which is then stored in the tank or pipe work ready for use. Our FAQ helps to explain this in more detail.

Q. What is pressure?

Q. Why are compressors sometimes fitted to a tank?

Q. How do I know which power supply to choose?

Q. What does the “capacity” of a compressor mean and how do I choose?

What is pressure?

Pressure is a measurement of force. We measure pressure by comparing it to our normal atmospheric pressure, which is 1 Bar or approximately 15psi. Most air tools etc. operate at a pressure between 2 Bar (30psi) and 6 Bar (90psi). Most car tyres are inflated to between 1.5 – 2 .5 Bar (22 – 35psi). Most air tools including drills, sanders, nailers and chisels etc. will operate at a pressure of 6 Bar (90psi) approximately.

Spray painting requires lower pressure than some air tools. If you forget to lower the pressure you will over-atomise the paint or material you are spraying. If that happens, the material gets lost to the atmosphere instead of landing on whatever you are painting.

 

Why are compressors sometimes fitted to a tank?

The air receiver or tank stores the compressed air and gives you more control over it. Most compressors include a device that keeps pressure at a pre-determined pressure range. This allows the compressor to operate automatically as the air is used, switching on and off accordingly. The air receiver will also be fitted with a safety device to prevent over pressurisation; a means of draining condensation; and various outlet sockets.

The size of the air receiver (usually measured in litres) will normally be proportional to the size or capacity of the air compressor that is fitted. Some air compressors (e.g. Compy O15) come without an air receiver and these must be switched on/off manually while you are using them.

 

How do I know which power supply to choose for my air compressor?

There are a few questions to ask yourself when you are deciding on the size of your air compressor. All the compressors we recommend for hobbyists, DIY and home run off a normal domestic electricity supply. In the Additional Information tab you will see phrases like “single phase”, “230v” or “13amp plug”.

ABAC sells compressors of all different sizes so can offer you three phase electric air compressors, as well as diesel and petrol driven compressors. These are generally too expensive for DIY and hobby use but please ask our LiveChat team if you’d like to find out more.

 

What does the “capacity” of a compressor mean and how do I choose?

The capacity of your air compressor is measured in Cubic Feet per Minute or CFM. This is generally the most important thing to look at because it tells you how fast your compressor can deliver air – and how much air you need each minute will depend on the tools you are running. So, it’s useful to think about the types of tools you want to run and check the recommended CFM for those tools when you choose your air compressor.

If your compressor is too “small” it won’t be able to keep up with your demand and you will need to stop work while it catches up. However, an air compressor with a big receiver can store compressed air. Basically, the machine keeps on compressing air even if you take a break from using your tools and then it stores this compressed air in the receiver. So you might find that a lower capacity compressor is up to the job if you have a big enough receiver.

All of the air tools or accessories that you use require both a certain pressure of air and a certain volume of air to be supplied. As well as CFM and receiver size, the amount of air your compressor produces will depend on the power of the electric motor and the type of compressor fitted. The motor size of our DIY (portable, small and entry level) compressors is big enough for all the normal home, hobby and garage uses. They are generally direct drive type compressors but you will need a Baseline belt driven compressor for spray painting.

Our DIY compressor range is aimed at situations where you only have one air tool running at a time. ABAC has a wide variety of pro compressors which can run several tools at a time so please ask our LiveChat team if you think you need a higher capacity compressor. If you need a larger compressor, a simple guide is to take the tools that require the most volume of air and multiply these by the number of people who could be using these tools at the same time. The frequency of use is an important factor. When air tools are used continuously you need a larger compressor but if you run tools intermittently the air receiver will provide a valuable buffer of stored compressed air. We can help you choose the right compressor for you, whether you need something big or small. Just ask the LiveChat experts!

Air Compressor Maintenance

Tips on air compressor maintenance to extend its life

The time you invest in air compressor maintenance is never wasted. You will improve its life and efficiency by looking after it properly. The good news is that following our advice on Air Compressor Safety is good for you and it’s good for your equipment.

Draining the water from your air receiver is a quick, simple and very important step. Water collects at the bottom of the tank/receiver during the compression stage. The amount will depend on how humid the air entering the system is but even dry air contains water. Drain the water manually by opening the drain valve located at the bottom of the receiver.

Here are 3 simple ways to keep your air compressor running properly:

  1. Lubrication: it is important that the oil level is checked regularly and “topping up” undertaken when necessary
  2. Filtration: intake filters need to be changed annually or when they become too dirty
  3. Service: an annual service is advisable especially on the larger units. During the service, someone need to check valve plates, gaskets and Non Return Valves (NRV) and replace them if required. If your compressor is belt driven, the belt(s) need to be tensioned or replaced. You should always call in an approved engineer for any service work you require.

You also need to choose the right type of hose, filtration and connections.

Hoses

We provide different types of hoses available for compressed air. Always make sure you choose a hose with a rating that is equal to, or higher than, the maximum pressure of the compressor. Standard compressed air hoses are usually rated at 10 Bar.

Note: Never use hoses not rated for compressed air.

A simple 10m coil hose or flexible rubber hose is ideal for use with a small direct drive compressor. You can use it while you are operating a spray gun for fence panels, decking etc. If you are going to be using a bigger compressor or if you are using your air tools further away from your compressor, you will need a longer hose. Please remember that it is dangerous to use an electrical extension on your compressor; choose a longer hose instead.

Regulators

A regulator is fitted as standard on portable compressors and you can buy one as an optional extra on larger compressors. If you are unsure, check the Additional Information tab to find out whether or not a particular model is supplied with a regulator. The regulator lets you adjust the pressure of the compressed air. This is important when you are using spray guns or air tools which need a recommended pressure to work effectively. If you have any questions, just ask our friendly LiveChat team.

Filters & Water Traps

If you need better quality air for car panel spraying or professional finishes, you need extra filtration for your system. Oilless compressors don’t need oil filters but you might want extra water filters. Just ask the LiveChat experts if you aren’t sure what you need.

Connectors

We love quick connector couplings and we’re sure you will too. With quick connector couplings you can quickly and safely switch from one air tool to another. The couplings stop the air escaping when the hose is disconnected so you can simply switch tools. We love this kind of flexibility when we’re working on projects that need multiple tools.

Troubleshooting Air Compressors

Air compressor not working? Get help with our maintenance and troubleshooting guide

How to maintain and store your compressor

  • Before you start using your compressor, read through the manual and make yourself familiar with the instructions on general maintenance.
  • You should drain the air receiver regularly while you are working. It’s a simple but important step.
  • When you finish with your compressor for the day, drain and empty the receiver.
  • Read our detailed guide to help you maintain your air compressor

How to get your air compressor started and running

  • Connect the hose to the compressed air outlet. Check the coupling. If it is supplied loose, you must screw it securely into the thread before you use it.
  • With the compressor OFF, connect the air-operated tool you intend to use to the other end of the hose.
  • Insert the plug into a suitable size and rated socket. This means a 230v socket with a 13 amp fuse for our DIY compressors but you must check the instructions with your equipment. You must always use an earthed electricity supply.
  • Press or rotate the button of the on/off switch.
  • Use the regulator to adjust the air flow to the appropriate level for the air operated tools. Check the tool manufacturer’s guidance to find out the specific requirement.
  • Always switch off the compressor when you aren’t using it. If you intend to re-use the compressor, always wait for at least ten seconds before switching it on again. Always pull out the plug when you have finished work.
    For safety, the winding of the electrical motor incorporates a thermal cut-out RT that automatically switches off the electric current if the motor overheats. The motor restarts automatically when it has cooled to normal temperature.
  • Q. My compressor will not stop and is not building up pressure:
    A. Is the drain plug under the receiver fully closed? Check and close it.
  • Q. My compressor makes a small hissing noise when the receiver is empty and the compressor starts:
    A. This is quite normal. The (ON/OFF) pressure switch is designed to depressurize the pump before starting and will discharge some air as the compressor is building up pressure.
  • Q. My compressor has stopped and will not restart:
    A. The electric motor has a thermal protection. If the compressor has been running for too long, or has been used with an unsuitable extension lead or adaptor, the thermal protection will activate. It will reset itself once the electric motor has cooled down.

Compressed Air Safety

Compressed Air Safety

Follow our simple guidelines on compressed air safety and you will get the best from your system. Your air compressor is a tough and versatile source of power but you do need to treat it with respect.

Please read and follow these important safety guidelines.

You need to use your compressor in a suitable place where it is well ventilated and the ambient temperature is between 0°C and +40°C. You also need to operate it somewhere that is free from dust, acids, vapours, explosive or flammable gases, rain or snow.

Do

  • Make sure that the mains supply you are using to run your compressor complies with current safety regulations and is correctly earthed.
  • Always use the carrying handle to transport your portable compressor.
  • Always leave sufficient space (at least 5 meters) between the compressor and the work area. This is particularly important if you are using tools for spraying of liquids.
  • Always put your compressor on a stable surface.
  • Always wear goggles to protect your eyes from flying objects that may be lifted by the jet of air.
  • Keep children and animals at a safe distance from the work area.

Don’t

  • Don’t expose your compressor to the weather (rain, sun, fog or snow).
  • Never clean the machine with liquids or solvents. When you clean it, switch it off and pull out the plug to disconnect the machine from the electricity supply; then wipe it with a damp cloth.
  • Don’t use adaptors, multiple sockets and extensions, even if they appear to have a suitable capacity. Even a cable with a cross-section area of 2.5 mm is not appropriate for air compressors. Instead, you must use a longer air hose.
  • Don’t use your compressor for anything other than compressing air. This is what it is designed for and it must never be used for any other type of gas.
  • Never direct the jet of air towards people or animals or your body.
  • Don’t use the appliance if you have bare feet or wet hands or feet.
  • Never direct the jet of water or other materials sprayed by tools connected to the compressor towards the compressor.
  • DIY compressors must not be used for pharmaceutical, food or sanitary purposes.
  • Don’t use your compressor for filling the air bottles of scuba divers

When using compressed air, you must know and comply with the safety precautions to be adopted for the single applications (inflating, pneumatic tools, painting, washing with water based detergents only, etc.)

Best Selling Air Compressors

Best selling compressors

You get a reliable air compressor system when you choose our best sellers for DIY. We provide you with excellent support for your compressor so you can rely on it for years to come.

When you buy a best selling ABAC air compressor you get more than just a great reputation. You get an air compressor system that  you can service and maintain at home. Best of all, you can buy them here at very competitive prices.

If you haven’t used one of our best selling compressors before, find out more about ABAC.

Baseline/Entry Level Air Compressors

Buying your First Compressor?

ABAC created the Baseline air compressor range with you in mind. This range of affordable, compact compressors is ideal for your first system. They all run with a 13 amp plug and you will find a model for almost any DIY application. You also get a compressor with ABAC quality, low costs of ownership and great value.

This range includes direct drive receiver mounted air compressors. If you only need your compressor occasionally, this can be an affordable starting point. You will also appreciate our competitive online pricing. These compressors suit most DIY projects including garden uses, cleaning, inflating tyres, or upholstery projects. The smallest and lightest Baseline compressor is the Vento B15 which is small enough to take in your car. If this is a bit too small, there are many more to choose from.

The Pole Position B15 has a 1.5HP motor, like the Vento B15. However, it has larger receiver which gives you a greater volume of usable air.

The Pole Position B20 and the Montecarlo B20 both have 2 HP motors but the Montecarlo has a 50 litre receiver. This is more than double the 24 litres offered by the Pole Position. You will find this useful if your air tools demand quite a lot of air but you only use them in short bursts.

Shop for Baseline Compressors on our secure shopping site

If you plan to use your air compressor for bigger projects or more demanding tools, you need a bigger unit. You will find the belt drive Baseline compressor is ideal for spray painting and running bigger tools. All our belt drive Baselines will give you 10 Bar of working pressure but the receiver sizes and displacement vary:

If you are new to buying compressors and you aren’t quite sure what you want, please ask our LiveChat experts and they can guide you to the best system for you.

Shop for Baseline Compressors on our secure shopping site

Small Air Compressors

Small compressors

The chances are that you are looking for a small or mini air compressor that doesn’t take up too much space. Not many of us has unlimited space in our garage, workshop or shed so we need to find a compressor that is small but effective. (Many of our small compressors are also portable.)

In addition to our small compressor range, you can buy a mini air compressor, called the Compy O15, which is a tougher version of the compressor that might come with your car. Although it is small and light, it is powerful enough to cope with inflating tyres on a 4×4 or motorhome.

Shop for Small Compressors

All our air compressors are rated according to the air delivered (CFM or litres per minute) and the Free Air Delivery (FAD). As a guideline a 2HP compressor will deliver about 7 CFM and a 3HP compressor will deliver around 10.5 CFM FAD. When you buy a small compressor you also need to think about its capacity. The capacity of your air compressor is a combination of actual volume output, duty cycle, and tank size. The Free Air Delivery (FAD) figure tells you how much air the compressor will actually deliver. (Take a look at our air compressor FAQs if you aren’t sure what this means).

You need to be confident that your small compressor will provide enough free fir for your air tools. If you are uncertain, please ask our LiveChat experts. Explain what you need and they will guide you to the best small air compressor for your needs.

Shop for Small Compressors

The amount of air you need and how long you need to run your compressor will affect the duty cycle you require from it. For intermittent use, for example for spraying a garden fence or kitchen cupboard a small direct drive compressor will be more than adequate. A project that requires a more sophisticated spray gun and heavy duty (many hours of use over several days) will require a compressor producing much greater CFM. This normally means you need a belt driven compressor of 3HP or above. If you are using HVLP spray guns or you think you need a lot of compressed air, please ask our LiveChat team for advice.

Portable Air Compressors

Portable compressors

Portable air compressors with handles are ideal for most DIY uses.

It seems obvious to say that you can carry your portable compressor around and all them have handles to make them easy to lift. You can also choose one of our slightly larger portable air compressors with wheels. A compressor on wheels is very useful if you are simply moving it around a workshop but size matters if you want to move it to different rooms or up and down stairs. If you want a truly portable compressor, check its weight in the Additional Information tab and choose one that you can pick up and carry fairly easily.

Shop for Portable Compressors

You will find all the ABAC portable compressors are ideal for DIY, home and hobby uses. In this range you will find several different receiver sizes but they all offer 8-10 Bar of working pressure. At the simplest level, you need a bigger receiver if you want to run tools that need a lot of air. Click to find out more about getting the best compressor or ask our LiveChat team to guide you towards the best system for you.

Portable compressors come complete with regulator and outlet coupling and they deliver between 5.7 and 9.5 CFM (take a look at our Air Compressor FAQs if you aren’t sure what this means). They are direct drive so you might want to look at a different range if you need a belt driven compressor for spray painting.

Shop for Portable Compressors