5 Types of Air Compressors: Which Is Right for You?

Do you require a reliable source of compressed air at your job sites? An air compressor rental can provide the ideal solution. Use it to power your pneumatic tools and equipment such as wrenches, drill and air hammers quickly and easily, so you can keep your projects on schedule. The Cat® Rental Store in your area carries various types of air compressors for rent at competitive rates, so you're sure to find the right model for your applications.

What Are the Different Types of Air Compressors?

As you conduct your search for air compressors, you'll likely come across some or all of the following types:

  1. Reciprocating: These compressors rely on a crankshaft-driven piston and cylinder to deliver compressed air. They come in single-stage versions, which pull air into the cylinder, compress it with one piston stroke and send it to a tank for storage. Two-stage models have a second piston that provides an additional compression step. The former offers an air pressure capacity of up to 120 pounds per square inch (PSI), while the latter produces up to 175 PSI.
  2. Rotary screw: A rotary screw compressor features two identical screws and rotors that turn in opposite directions. They also have a lubricant that fills the space between the two rotors, which creates a seal and transfers energy. The rotating and meshing screws propel the air through the unit.
  3. Centrifugal: This compressor type works by pulling air into a rotating impeller and uses centrifugal force to push it to the center. The movement of the air creates a rise in pressure, which produces kinetic energy. Typical uses for these compressors include oil and gas processing, wastewater treatment and low-pressure, single-stage compressed air applications.
  4. Oil-free: Removing any trace of contamination is essential in many compressed air applications. Oil-free compressors do not use oil on the cylinder walls. Instead, they rely on self-lubricating materials that enable the pistons to slide into the cylinder. Along with minimizing the risk of contamination, these models require less maintenance and provide lower operating costs.
  5. Dynamic: These compressors are continuous flow machines that draw air inside via rapidly rotating blades. They create pressure by restricting the airflow. Dynamic compressors serve the needs of heavy-duty compressed air applications at facilities such as chemical and steel manufacturing plants.

What Industries Require Air Compressor Rentals? 

Air compressors play important roles in the following industries: 

  • Construction: Air compressors are essential to powering equipment in the construction industry and serve as a portable source of power for jackhammers, pressure washers, air conditioners, spray-painting equipment and more. 
  • Automotive: The automotive industry has relied on air compressors to power tools for decades now. Air compressors are commonly used for assembling, detailing and painting automobiles at an efficient pace.
  • Agriculture: As the field of agriculture has become more complicated, air compressors have seen use in water production, pesticide spraying, fertilizing and greenhouse gas eradication. They can even be used to power dairy equipment for milking cows.
  • Pharmaceuticals: The pharmaceutical industry uses oil-free air compressors with sterile air to form almost every medicinal tablet and pill on the market. Air compressors and pneumatic equipment are ideal for portioning medications as well as spraying on the necessary hardening and coating materials. 
  • Food and beverage: Air compressors give the food and beverage industry a considerable leg up when it comes to increased productivity and product uniformity. With an air compressor, you can peel and cut produce, cool hot products, inject fillings, freeze products, remove crumbs and move your finished products across the assembly line.

We'll Help You Select the Best Air Compressor Type

The Cat Rental Store carries a wide selection of stationary and portable air compressors in a variety of air pressure, air output and power capacities. The rental specialists at any of our more than 1,300 worldwide locations can help you select the right model for your applications. We'll also provide comprehensive repair and maintenance service for the length of your rental term.

Feel free to browse our complete selection of air compressors for rent today. Don't hesitate to call us at 1-800-RENT-CAT for additional information — we're available 24/7 to assist you. We'll also be happy to provide a quick online quote.