getting the most for your money in a compressor investment

Selecting an air compressor

The heart of the compressed air system is the air compressor itself. When selecting an air compressor, the most important factors to consider are quality and reliability. Reflected in quality and reliability are overall costs, efficiency, and ease of maintenance. The most cost-effective unit may not be the lowest priced. Components to evaluate in a compressor include:


Look at the package efficiency. Most reputable manufacturers report performance and efficiency using the Compressed Air and Gas Institute's (CAGI) data sheet. This reporting standard helps end users make a one-to-one comparison between similar units.

Cooling system

Coolers and fans must be sized to provide low discharge temperatures in high ambient temperatures. In air-cooled units, low-noise radial fans generally provide better cooling while using less electricity than axial fans. Also consider the ability to easily duct air in and out of the compressor package. Topside exhaust often simplifies ducting for heat recovery and reduces footprint.


Efficiency and simplicity are important. Direct-coupled 1-to-1 drives offer the best efficiency with no loss in transmission efficiency and require no maintenance. Belt drives require only simple maintenance and offer advantages such as flexibility in pressure selection. Automatic belt tensioning devices are a must to ensure transmission efficiency and protect bearings from excess stress.

Operating interface

SIGMA CONTROL 2 compressor controller
The control panel must be reliable, user-friendly, and run the compressor efficiently. It should indicate operational status as well as offer maintenance interval reminders, diagnostic information, and external communications capability for remote monitoring and control.

Interconnecting piping

AIRCENTER SK – removable enclosure cover
Look for rigid piping with flexible connections to eliminate leaks.

Vibration isolation

Vibrations can loosen fluid and air fittings as well as electrical connections. Some compressors mount the motor and airend on vibration isolators to eliminate this source of stress, Additional isolators under the compressor package offer another layer of vibration protection, and for the most rotary screw compressors, these isolators eliminate the need for special foundations.


Motor efficiency affects electrical consumption. Ensure your compressor motor meets or exceeds EPAct standards. TEFC motors offer much better protection from airborne dirt and dust than ODP motors.

Sound enclosures

A noise-insulated enclosure can reduce the compressor noise emissions well below safety limits, eliminating the need for a separate compressor room. This can save you thousands of dollars in site preparation costs.