Used by shops, professionals and individuals for everything from inflating tires to powering construction equipment, air compressors are convenient tools that serve a multitude of purposes.
But how do they work?
If you’re like most people, it’s likely you don’t understand the inner mechanisms of an air compressor. Luckily, this article aims to shed some light on that topic.
The Components of an Air Compressor
While there are several different types of air compressors (including reciprocating compressors, rotary screw compressors and rotary centrifugal compressors) on the market, the following components are standard for most:
- Pressure switch
- Compressor pump
- Check valve
How an Air Compressor Works
Most air compressors use either a gas or electric motor. While each air compressor model will work slightly differently, most compressors function in the following way.
When the air compressor is switched on, the inlet at the end of the compressor’s cylinder sucks air into the machine. The piston of the compressor then compresses this air and releases it through a discharge valve.
If a compressor doesn’t use a piston to compress air, it may use various air compartments instead. While they do a good job of compressing air, these compartments also reduce the space compressed air takes up.
Once the air is compressed, it’s stored within the machine’s air tank until it is discharged to a tool. To keep the air at a given pressure, the air compressor’s motor may start and stop on a frequent basis.
Benefits of Air Compressors
The largest benefit of air compressors is simplicity. Not every tool in a shop needs its own motor since an air compressor can take electrical energy and convert it into kinetic energy to run the tools.
In addition to streamlining tool operation, this also leads to simple tools that have fewer moving parts vulnerable to wear and breakage.
The Air Compressor: A Critical Shop Tool
Air compressors power everything from drills to staplers, and they’re an essential tool for any professional shop or well-equipped garage. By understanding the components included in an air compressor and how these unique machines work, you can maintain them more efficiently and better appreciate their operation.