Learning the Lingo of Compressed Air

Just like with any type of specific specialization, compressed air and the tools and components surrounding the compressed air market carry a certain level of jargon that you might need to familiarize yourself with. Understanding what some of these terms means will give you a better understanding of what you are dealing with when it comes to compressed air.

One of the first things you are going to need to learn about are the different parts and components that are found in an industrial air compressor. The air regulator, for example, is used to gauge how much air is being expelled from the tank, which is the largest part of the industrial air compressor unit. The tank holds all the air until it is ready to be compressed and used by the connecting tools. On the tank, there is a pressure gauge which shows how much air is available to use inside the tank itself. There are check valves along the way to make sure that all the air is flowing in the same direction, and a line pressure gauge that measures how much air is in the pneumatic hoses that supplies all your tools with air.

Another set of terms you will need to learn is the difference between a single stage and a two-stage compressor unit. A single stage unit is a smaller machine that compresses air in one stage, hence the name. It can store a moderate amount of compressed air, but any large job is going to need a bigger unit. A two-stage compressor is a larger unit that compresses air in one stage, and then takes that compressed air and compresses it again in a second stage, leading to a much higher CFM and PSI.

After learning about some of the components of the unit itself, now you need to learn some of the measurements that are involved in reading all those gauges on your machine. One of the most important measurements is PSI, or pounds per square inch. This is the measurement of the pressure inside the tank, the hoses, and the system itself. It measures the amount of force being expelled by the machine, and many tools often have a PSI threshold in which your machine needs to produce a certain PSI in order for them to function properly.

Another measurement you need to familiarize yourself with is CFM, or cubic feet per minute. This measures the amount of air being delivered from the compressor to any of the connecting tools. A higher CFM rating means that more compressed air is getting to your tools, and if you want to run multiple tools from the same compressor machine, you are going to need one that produces a high CFM.