Roughly 70% of all manufacturers use compressed air systems, but not all air compressors are created equal. Finding the right air compressor for auto repair shops can be confusing territory to navigate.

If you’re a mechanic looking for the best air compressor for auto repair shops, there are a few questions you should ask to help narrow down your search. Answer the following questions as you go along and soon you’ll have a new air compressor for auto repair shops that meets all your needs.

How much pressure do you need?

Air compressors are designed to handle a variety of pressure levels. You should choose the right air pressure range to support the requirements of the tools in your shop. For most air tools, that’s about 90 psi. However, if you use paint guns in your shop, you may need a compressor that supports something between 35 and 60 psi; tire machines and truck jacks may require anything from 130 to 160 and beyond.

You should keep in mind that each air pressure variation has a “cut-in” point where it begins making air and a “cut-out” point where it stops making air. There’s typically a variance of about 20 psi for the differential. You’ll need to choose the optimum pressure needed to support the highest level of pressure you use in your shop.

How large should your compressor be?

An air compressor’s size can be measured based on the amount of air it consumes in one minute. This volume is represented in cubic feet per minute, or CFM.

The amount of air volume necessary for a given task varies widely, with some functions needing only 2.5 CFM and others as much as 20 CFM. Typically, heavy-duty tasks like painting and sanding need a higher volume, while lighter tasks like cleaning and inflating tires need less.

Where will you keep your compressor?

An air compressor can be stored and used in a number of different places, but there are a few placement restrictions that you should keep in mind.

The room temperature where you operate your compressor should remain stable, and there should be adequate ventilation so the room doesn’t overheat during the day. Around the compressor itself, the temperature should never climb higher than 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Overheating could cause the compressor to shut down and possibly result in damage to your equipment.

There should be at least 36 inches of space on all sides of the air compressor when it’s in use. Besides allowing the compressor room to breathe, that will also give you enough space to crouch down and access its components for maintenance.

For additional placement and use restrictions specific to your compressor, you should consult your owner’s manual.

Do you need a rotary vane compressor or rotary screw compressor?

The difference between rotary vane and rotary screw compressors essentially boils down to the respective lifespan. Rotary vane compressors are designed to last a long time under heavy use — 100,000 hours specifically. They also run quietly at slow speeds and provide the highest CFM for the lowest amount of energy. This makes rotary vane compressors ideal for commercial purposes where they’ll be in use for a very long time, especially in situations where the compressor is in the same room as the workers using it.

On the other hand, rotary screw compressors have an average lifespan of between 35,000 and 40,000 hours. They run at high speeds and tend to be very loud, so they should be kept in a dedicated compressor room when in use.

Whatever your unique needs, you should now be equipped to select the right air compressor for your shop. Don’t hesitate to contact Rapid Air Products for more information about air compressors today.