Air Compressor for Home and Garage - FFCars.com : Factory Five Racing Discussion Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-18-2019, 01:30 PM Thread Starter
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Air Compressor for Home and Garage

Hi all. I'm looking for an air compressor that I can use for both home projects (mostly trim nail, blowing out water lines) as well as in the garage for basic light metal work (i.e. rivet gun, die grinder, cuttoff, sander etc..). I was initially leaning towards a 30 gallon variety that I figured could do both and is moderately portable so I can bring it into the house if needed, but looking for suggestions that will work for both applications. Will a 30 gallon 4.5-5 SCFM-ish type work well for this, or am I trying to accomplish too much with one tool? Any recommendations? I don't have a 60 gallon garage compressor in my future and currently don't own any compressor, not even a little pancake. Thanks!
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-18-2019, 02:30 PM
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Here are my thoughts, others may, and probably will differ. If I was trying to pick a compressor I'd go with one that would supply enough air to run my biggest tool, cfm wise. It can be a real pita to only get a couple of minutes of run time before having to shut off and wait for the air pressure to build back up.

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-18-2019, 04:56 PM
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You only need a pancake compressor for a brad nailer or rivet gun. For sanders, grinders etc you need something with more CFM than a typical 30 gal compressor can produce.

Also be careful about comparing CFM and SCFM ratings between compressors and tools. CFM is volume produced at a stated pressure, SCFM is at atmospheric pressure. Think of it this way SCFM is the air volume being pulled into the compressor at atmospheric pressure. CFM is the air volume being produced at the pressure (output) side of the compressor at the stated pressure. The CFM number will be significantly less than the SCFM number. This is important. Tools are rated at CFM at pressure. Often compressors will say 10 SCFM at 90 psi. That does not mean it outputs 10 CFM of air at 90 psi, it means it draws in 10 CFM. The output volume is much less (Boyles Law). If the compressor says 10 CFM at 90 psi then you are getting a true 10 CFM at that pressure.

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-18-2019, 08:39 PM
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As mentioned above, sounds somewhat marginal for a cutoff tool. They pull a lot of air. You might want to consider something bigger and buy a couple extra hoses for working the nail gun in the house.

Also, for blowing lines I suggest a bigger tank. My experience is you need a big slug of air fast not a constant stream like air tools use.

Don't confuse tank size and SCFM/CFM. The SCFM/CFM ratings are for how much air supplied on an extended basis. The tank size is to keep the compressor from cycling on and off. You can get away with a smaller compressor if you have a large tank and only use your tools for short periods of time.

Reminds me of my time working for an industrial gas company. We actually used a pipeline running under the Delaware river and for a few miles on either side for storage capacity to handle fluctuations in demand since the gas supply had two speeds, on and off.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-19-2019, 12:18 PM
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I have a 30 gal/4 hp 35 yr old compressor. It works great for everything except my die grinder. Even there it gives me 30-40 seconds or so and then I wait for a bit and go another 30-40 seconds. Slightly annoying but I am not using it to make a living so no thoughts on moving up. Runs my 1/2 drive impact, my 3/8 air ratchet, and blows out the irrigation system one branch at a time. I do remember it wouldn't run an air sander much but it did paint the car afterwards.

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-22-2019, 05:12 PM
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How far is the house from the garage? Buy extra hose...portability not needed. Sure there are limitations to how far you can go with hose, but anything you'd be running inside the home should operate fine at the end of a few hundred feet of hose.

So, get that 60 gallon and be happy. :-)

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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-22-2019, 07:55 PM
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Power to run it, is something to keep in mind too. Is a 30 gallon unit usually 220V Is your garage already wired for 220V? Is there a 220V outlet in the house, that you can use, without having to pull out an oven or dryer? Hiring an electrician to add an electrical box to the garage, and/or installing a new outlet in the home can add up pretty quickly. A 220V extension cord is expensive too.

I actually have a little 8 gallon unit, I bought for my roadster build. It is very portable. It works just fine for blowing in-ground water lines, rivet gun, air ratchet, nail gun, brad stapler, even my impact gun. It suits my needs fine.

But, I know I wouldn't be happy with it, using some of the tools you mentioned, such as a die grinder or a sander. It wouldn't be suitable for painting either, unless it was a very small item, as it would run out of air very quickly, or be running constantly.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-22-2019, 09:08 PM
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One other re; hoses. When I needed to blow out the sprinkler system I needed an extra 100 ft of hose. Got it less expensively than I expected at HD and added a couple of quick disconnects. This thing only gets used once per year. It's some type of semi-hard plastic rather than rubber. It is the absolute worst thing to deal with either unraveling it to use or re-coiling it. It will cost more but I'd buy several 25-35 ft hoses and connect them together.

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-24-2019, 05:56 PM Thread Starter
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Hi all, thanks for the great replies. I think I'll change my expectations slightly and buy the compressor with the intent of the home use and fundamental garage stuff only but draw the line at air hogs such as grinders/cutoff tools. Those can be bought fairly cheaply as electric plug-in which I think will be fine for my purposes. If I get crazy in the future and start doing more advanced metal work/restorations, then i'll spring for the 60 gal. So I think i'll go with a 30 gallon, or even a smaller 8 gallon type as per AC Bill.
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