How to Choose an Industrial Air Compressor

There are quite a few different types of industrial air compressors. The question is, which one is right for your company? Each compressor is best suited for different kinds of applications and needs.

That is why we created this post. We want to give you an idea of how to choose the correct compressor for your applications and needs. Below, we are going to walk you through how to begin the process of narrowing down the right compressor for you. We will also define the different types of compressors available to you.

Narrow Down Your Results: Ask The Right Questions

To find the right industrial air compressor for your needs, you really just need to ask yourself a series of questions. Below we will walk you through the process of these questions. However, we would like to mention that we always recommend that you speak to a specialist before such an important purchase to make sure you haven’t forgotten to consider any important details.

Do You Need To Worry About Contamination?

In some industries, contamination is an important factor when choosing a compressor. Oil-flooded and oil-less compressors may contaminate products when in use. The food and beverage industry, for example, cannot risk contamination of food and beverage products. The medical industry also must ensure that contaminated air never reaches patients. Air must be pure.

Do You Need Your Industrial Air Compressor To Be Moveable?

Some applications and uses require that a compressor is able to move from one work location to another. If this is the case, an oil-free compressor is likely the best candidate for you. You will also want to consider whether your compressor will be used outside or inside. This influences whether your compressor needs protection from the elements. This may also influence whether you use an electric-powered or diesel-powered compressor.

Do I Have The Manpower For Frequent Maintenance?

Oil-flooded compressors require far more maintenance than oil-free compressors. If you don’t have a team available to frequently service your compressor, you may wish to opt for an oil-free compressor. You may also choose to hire a compressor maintenance service through a service provider. JHFOSTER offers such services!

Will My Compressor Be Running 24/7?

There are control systems that help keep your compressor running efficiently by powering the compressor down when not in use. If your compressor does not need to run constantly, you may want to opt for a variable-speed control.

If your compressor will be running continually, you may wish to opt for a fixed-speed control. Before you put the money down on your compressor, you should consider what control system the compressor has and decide whether that fits your application needs.

Do You Need Peace And Quiet?

Oil-free compressors are LOUD beasts. Oil-flooded and oil-less compressors tend to operate much more quietly. This being said, you can add a noise-reduction system to your oil-free compressor to reduce noise.

Types of Industrial Air Compressors

Compressors are first classified into reciprocating, rotary screw or scroll compressors. They are then classified under oil-flooded, oil-less or oil-free compressors. Whether or not you require oil-free or oil-induced compressors depends on whether a risk of contamination is a cause for worry.

Below we have the first compressor classifications listed with information on what applications these compressors can be used for.


Reciprocating compressors are a bit more high-maintenance than the rotary compressor. These compressors are oil-flooded and are not able to keep up with continual demand. As a result, these compressors are best suited for smaller, less-demanding applications.

These compressors can be used for applications in chemical plants and oil refineries.


Rotary screw compressors are much easier to take care of than the other types of compressors. These compressors can be oil-flooded or oil-free. They include an internal cooling system, so there is no need to worry about adding one onto your system.

These compressors are often used in large industrial plants. In addition, these compressors are very powerful and are great for complex applications. Even more, they are able to run 24-7 when necessary. Chillers and air tools such as jackhammers commonly use rotary compressors.


Scroll compressors are oil-free and operate quietly. They also take up very little room, so if you have limited space, this may be the option for you. HVAC systems commonly use scroll air compressors. They are also used as vacuum pumps or in automobile superchargers.

Contact Us

Do you have more questions on what industrial air compressor is right for you? Contact our specialists by email or phone to ask them your questions!