You probably don’t notice it much (my wife doesn’t), but air compressors are everywhere around us!
I see one or more compressors almost every day. When going to work, I pass several construction sites, with portable air compressors. And at my job, there are several compressors to supply air to all the machinery.
But also in other places you will find compressors. At your local gas-station or garage. In almost every workshop, in most factories, in trains (you can see them, hanging below the train).
But also on vacation: when you go diving, you need an air compressor to fill your scuba tanks. When you go to the dentist, the dentist will sometimes blow dry your teeth with compressed air. You guessed it: he has an air-compressor hidden somewhere!
Here are some of the most popular air compressor uses and some information about specific requirements of the compressed air and air compressor. In some cases, you will need very clean, dry air. In other cases you don’t really care about the cleanliness of the air, but you need a very high pressure. It all depends what you will use it for.
Scuba air compressor
Let’s start with the most fun use of compressed air: scuba diving! As you might already know, I love scuba-diving. Unfortunately I don’t live in the right part of the world to really enjoy it. But everywhere around the world, one thing is the same: you need an air compressor to fill your tanks.
In the case of the scuba diving air compressor, you will need a very high pressure (you want to carry as much as possible air with you), and of course you need clean air (you don’t want to inhale oil, fumes and smells).
There’s a lot more information about this on the scuba diving air compressor page.
Dental air compressor
Let’s jump from the most fun use of compressed air to opposite: the dentist.
Dentists use compressed air to blow dry your teeth whenever they feel it’s necessary. It gives that undefinable annoying feeling that I personally absolutely hate. Every dentist in every city will have an air compressor somewhere. Sometimes it’s a small one hidden under you chair, sometimes there is a big central compressor that supplies air to all work-stations.
Like scuba air, dentists require very clean air. But they don’t require such an high pressure. Most dental compressors operate at around 7 bars. Read more about dental air on our dental compressor page.
12 volt air compressor
A lot of people have a portable, 12 volt compressor in their car. I have one myself also. It can be used for many different things, but it’s mostly used for inflating tires, especially in remote areas.
There are a lot of different kinds of 12 volt compressors on the market. I’ve devoted a whole page on the 12 volt air compressor. Please read it before buying one.
Another fun (although somewhat painful) use of compressed air: paintball!
Paintball has become a very popular game the past few years. It uses compressed air to shoot balls filled with paint at your opponents (friends).
Like scuba diving, the air used is of very high pressure, since we want a large shooting range and we don’t want to re-fill or change the air cylinder every 5 minutes. But since the air is only used for shooting paint-balls, the air quality is of less important (as compared to scuba diving, or dental air).
There’s a lot more information on our paintball compressor page.
From the very big and rough to the fine and delicate: air brushing.
Compressed air used for air brushing must be very clean. It must contain no oil and no water, as it will create marks and ugly stains on the newly painted material.
Needless to say, an airbrush compressor requires extra attention. Make sure that you have a proper air-dryer (preferably of the desiccant type) and proper air-filters to remove any dust and oil (or buy an oil-free compressor, even better).
As you can see, compressors are used for so many different things. It’s hard to imagine a world without compressors!