An air compressor converts power needed to release pressurized air. Air compressors are used for a variety of equipment from spray paint to refrigeration. The best example of an air compressor is the device inside an air conditioning unit. Other examples of air compressors are tools used for spray painting, impact wrenches, air guns, and tire inflation devices.
Air compressors can be used both in homes, offices, and industrial plants. Air compressor cost is dependent on factors such as size, power, and type. Choosing a compressor based on how you will use it is critical.
Cost of air compressors according to specifications
There are three classifications of air compressors by type. Air compressor cost depends on these factors. In choosing the right air compressor, it is best to know about each type and its specifications.
- Consumer grade compressors – There are two types of consumer grade compressors: single- or two-staged. These compressors are used in households and in small shops. They are used for inflation tools, brad guns, pressure washers, and simple wood working. Reciprocating air compressors are considered as consumer grade compressors. Average range of cost for reciprocating air compressors are from $800 (.7 HP) to $25,0000+ (7.5 HP). Consumer grade compressors can be stationary or portable.
- Professional grade compressors – These air compressors are mainly used in automotive service shops, machine shops, heavy-duty wood working, and in dry cleaners. The compressors are more powerful and emit highly-pressurized air. These compressors are either flooded or oil-free rotary screw compressors. Oil-free rotary screw compressors are easier to maintain and are more cost effective. The compressor price estimation for professional grade compressors starts at $3,900 (5 HP) to $25,000+ (40 HP). They also come in portable and stationary models.
- Industrial grade compressors – These compressors are high-powered and can function during long periods of time. Manufacturing plants and power supply in oil rigs and ships use industrial grade compressors. The high-quality components allow customization based on environment for best performance. Centrifugal air compressor is the type used in industrial manufacturing. The average air compressor cost ranges from $170,000 (470 HP) to $365,000 (1750 HP).
Costs involved in owning and purchasing an air compressor
Compressor price estimation is based on a lot of factors such as the price of the actual equipment, maintenance, installation and other materials. If you use compressors at home, the cost does not end with the actual purchase. For your compressor to be cost efficient, you need to calculate cost based on these important factors:
- Equipment and installation – The air compressor cost depends on what type you purchase and how you will use it. Portable units don’t cost money for installation but you may be charged for delivery. Equipment and installation cost you 12% of the total expenses.
- Maintenance and/or repair – Schedule regular maintenance checks to prevent costs of repair. As the cliché goes, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Don’t think that if your compressor is working properly it doesn’t have to be serviced. Cleaning, lubrication, regular inspection of tubes, cylinders and bearings will help you avoid repair expenses. Maintenance comprises 12% of the total cost. However, repairs will cost you an additional $1,500 to $2,000.
- Cost to operate – Some compressors use gasoline or diesel and other types use electricity. If you will use electricity to operate, it will cost you 76% of the total cost. The average cost to use electricity is $800,000 in 10 years! Calculate costs based on how much you use your compressor by following these formulas:
- Wattage = Watts (amp) x current needed (volts)
- Total kilowatt hours used = Wattage x Number of hours used / 1000
- Cost of electricity = Total kilowatt hours used x electricity rate (varies based on location)
How to Save on Cost
Owning a compressor involves a great deal of money. Think of how and how often you will use your compressor. If you only need it for a short duration, why not rent instead? United Rentals can rent you compressors of different types. The average daily cost of renting compressors is from $156 to $1,086.
You can also purchase used compressors if you will minimally use them. Word of caution though, make sure to conduct a thorough inspection of the unit before purchasing to avoid inflicting damage or causing additional repairs. Best if you can purchase from a trusted source.
Turn off your compressor when not in use. This also applies to air conditioners (it has a compressor inside), airbrush tools, equipment used for cleaning, and pressurized hoses. You’ll save up on energy cost and increase the life span of your equipment.
You should also check the tubing and pipes for air leaks. When you eliminate air leaks, you save money by as much as $0.31 per hour. Check the filters as well – they may need cleaning or replacement. A dirty filter would double the power needed to run the equipment. The compressor may not be that efficient due to a dirty or faulty filter.
In the case of refrigerators or air conditioners, faulty compressors lead to inefficient equipment. However, make sure that you decide whether you need to replace just the compressor versus the whole unit. If your air conditioner or refrigerator is 2 to 9 years old and is still covered by warranty, you may still end up paying for labor. The average cost of labor is $92 to $792 based on required service. Additional costs such as materials and cleaning are not included. If your equipment is already 10 years old, you may consider replacing it as there may not be available replacement parts. Also, most contractors offer only 10-year warranty for parts and 1-year warranty for service or maintenance.
Factors to Consider in Shopping for an Air Compressor
To make sure that you get what you pay for, consider these important factors when shopping for an air compressor. This will help you save on cost because you don’t over spend or buy something that won’t do the job. Contractors offer compressor price estimation based on specifications that you require. Make a list of specifications according to how you will use your compressor.
- Buy from a professional dealer – Maintenance and repair can cost you an average of 12% to 20% of the total cost. Buying from a specialist means that they are very familiar with the product they are selling. They can also give you some tips on how to properly use your compressor.
- Estimated costs – How often will you be using it? How will you use it? Will it be gas-powered or electric? These factors will help you compute the cost of using the compressor.
- Engine power – Higher capacity means lower power requirements. For example, in calculating the cost of using an air conditioner, horsepower (HP) should depend on the size of the room. If your room is large but your air conditioner is 0.5 HP, it consumes more energy in cooling the room.
- Maintenance costs – Flooded compressors are high maintenance. Opt for oil-free ones that are maintenance-free. However, if you will use them for long durations, oil-free compressors are not for heavy-duty use.
Power – What power source will you use? Where will you use it? Diesel-powered compressors are recommended for outdoors since they emit exhaust fumes.