No auto upholstery business is complete without a strong and dependable air compressor powering its pneumatic tools. Next to a quality industrial sewing machine and steamer, I’d argue that it’s the most important piece of equipment that a trimmer will buy. Not surprisingly, it’s also one of the most expensive.
But with all the different makes and models available, how do you know which air compressor is right for you? Hotrod & Restoration Magazine recently published a guide to help you make that decision.
Mike Mavrigian, author of the guide, explains the mechanics of air compressors in simple terms. He makes understanding machine specs, determining necessary power output, distinguishing between models and comparing costs easy. He even compiles a list of pros and cons for every type of machine on the market.
Here’s an interesting excerpt from the guide:
To figure out the amount of maximum air pressure (PSI) you’ll need from your machine, first identify the tool in your shop that requires the highest PSI. For instance, this may be a tire changer/inflator that demands 150 PSI. If only one piece of equipment needs a much higher pressure, you’re better off choosing a compressor for that purpose. Most tools only need 80-90 PSIG. Running them higher increases tool wear and wastes energy.
According to Michael Camber of Kaeser Compressor Inc., every 2 PSIG increase in pressure increases energy requirements by 1 percent. Also, allow for pressure drop between the compressor and points of use. Narrow air pipes and contaminated filters can easily cause a 10-20 PSIG drop.
Interesting stuff! Unfortunately, this guide wasn’t available when our shop dropped a small fortune on an air compressor. However, new shops or old ones looking for an upgrade should take advantage of it. Buy smart and buy once, I always say…
To read the full guide, “Choosing the Right Compressor for Your Shop,” skip to page 30 of Hotrod & Restoration Magazine‘s digital April 2013 issue.