Air compressors are useful for a variety of tasks, from powering nail guns to inflating tires. To select the appropriate air compressor for your needs, it is important to understand the various specs and operation of the machine, including the number of amps it uses.
The amount of power consumed by an air compressor is measured in amps. The size and type of air compressor you need will depend on the task at hand. A smaller portable air compressor will have lower amps and be suitable for light-duty tasks whereas a larger stationary unit may require more amps as they are built with more power to handle industrial jobs or inflate large tires quickly.
For reference, standard shop-style portable electric compressors typically use 8-12 Amps, while commercial stationary models can draw up to 15 Amps or even more for additional horsepower. If you’re considering multiple units together, expect much higher amperage usage since each unit adds additional watts of power consumption that increases with the number of units in service.
When making your purchase decision, remember that more powerful air compressors will require higher amp ratings than smaller models with fewer capability layouts.
Types of Air Compressors
Air compressors are a very useful tool to have in any garage or workshop. Depending on the type of air compressor you choose, it can be used for a variety of tasks ranging from inflation of balls to running power tools. There are a few different types of air compressors available, so it’s important to understand the differences and know how many amps each uses.
Portable Air Compressors
Portable air compressors are a great choice for those who need to take their compressor on the go. They are lightweight and easy to move, perfect for contractors, mechanics, or other do-it-yourselfers.
A portable air compressor typically runs on an electric motor and uses an oil-lubricated pump. This type of compressor generally delivers between 3 and 15 cubic feet per minute (or cfm) at a maximum pressure of up to 125 PSI. Portable compressors range in size from 12 to 42-gallon tanks with motors as low as 1 HP (horsepower) to as much as 5 HP.
Stationary Air Compressors
Stationary air compressors are designed for hardworking, continuous-duty applications and built to last for powering high-pressure pneumatic tools. All models feature splash-type lubrication, but several different types of stationary air compressors are showcased in our inventory.
Because each application is unique, it’s important to make sure you have the right kind of model to fit your needs.
Before you buy, here’s what you need to know about the four most common types of stationary air compressors that we offer:
- Reciprocating/Piston Compressors: This type is ideal for most general industrial applications as it compresses and releases large volumes of air very easily. Reciprocating compressors run at pressure ratings up to 200 psi and come in single- or two-stage configurations.
- Rotary-Screw Compressors: These are designed with “twin screws” that rotate while a valve system adjusts the volume capacity needed during any application. Rotary screw models run at pressure ratings up to 202 psi and have fewer moving parts than reciprocating compressors, making them very reliable and easy to maintain. These amps draw around 9-14 amps per HP rating.
- Sliding Vane Compressors: Similar to rotary screw models this type relies on vanes sliding along an inner chamber wall that draws in excess air; these compressions handle pressures up to 150 psi, making them ideal for lower-pressure applications. The pressurization system requires less power than other compressor types; these amps draw around 3-7 amps per HP rating.
- Centrifugal Air Compressors: In these types of units, a wheel presses air against a stationary diffuser causing its velocity to increase before releasing at higher pressures (up to 350 PSI). Set up is compact like axial flow designs which result in significant energy savings over rotary screw designs; these typically range between 10-12 A per HP rating.
Factors Affecting Air Compressor Amperage
The amount of amperage used by an air compressor depends on a few factors, such as voltage, power rating, and air pressure. Amperage also varies from one compressor to another, as different models require different amounts of electricity to operate effectively.
The size of an air compressor’s motor is an important factor in determining its operating power. Larger motors tend to draw more amps, meaning that a larger size machine will typically draw more amperage when running than a smaller one.
The size of an air compressor is typically determined by the horsepower rating of the motor in which it runs. Horsepower rating affects the amperage ratings that a compressor draws and can also be an indication of performance.
Compressors with higher horsepower ratings tend to draw more amperage than those with lower ratings, but this is not necessarily always true. Horsepower ratings provide consumers with guidance when selecting an appropriate motor for their job.
The amount of pressure that an air compressor generates affects not only the performance of the compressor but also its amperage. In general, compressors operating at higher pressure typically require more amperage than those at lower pressure.
The amount of amperage your compressor draws depends on a variety of factors such as the type of motor (single or 3-phase, for example) and the RPM it is running at when the pump is fully loaded.
Calculating Air Compressor Amperage
Calculating the amperage of an air compressor can be a tricky task, especially for those who are unfamiliar with electrical circuits. Fortunately, there are specific formulas and tools available to make this process easier.
Calculating Amperage for Portable Air Compressors
When choosing a portable air compressor for your home workshop or professional use, you need to consider how much power the unit will draw from an electrical outlet. Generally, portable air compressors require between 15 and 20 amps when calculating the amperage (amps).
An air conditioner could draw up to 30 amps, while a larger refrigerator with an ice maker may draw 16 to 22 amps. Calculating the amperage is necessary when running compressors on a circuit or generator that supplies electricity to multiple outlets.
Calculating Amperage for Stationary Air Compressors
Motor size is the basis for most calculations. First, determine how much air your compressor must produce in order to meet your workload requirements. This is more commonly referred to as CFM (cubic feet per minute).
The higher the CFM, the larger the motor must be and the more electricity it requires. Check your manufacturer recommendations and look closely at both voltage and amperage data in product specifications.
The operating pressure of an air compressor also affects amperage draw because each unit has different compression ratios for both levels of horsepower and full-load amps (FLA).FLA ratings are given in horsepower as well as other units like watts or volts on product specifications from most manufacturers.
If a 30 horsepower machine has an FLA rating of 40 amps, this is an equation of 1 HP = 1.33 Amps – meaning that thirty horsepower should draw 40 amps or less while running under its maximum limit rating (note: don’t try to draw too many amps or you’ll risk damage).
Finally, consider the length of time you’ll be running an air compressor when determining total amper Air compressors with higher Horsepower ratings usually require higher FLAs ratings; however, this can vary by manufacturer so it’s important to check these details prior to purchasing or during installation.
To conclude, the number of amps an air compressor uses can vary depending on the size and horsepower of the unit, the type of electric motor it is using, and how many cubic feet per minute (CFM) it is capable of producing. Generally, air compressors will draw between 1-20 amps to operate. Smaller units may draw as little as 1-4 amps while large compressors could be up to 20 amps or more.