How to Pick the Perfect Industrial Air Compressor

From automotive to pharmaceutical, a lot of industries rely on air compressors. These machines push air into things to make them work. This can include powering up tools like jackhammers or staplers or supplying air pressure to industrial equipment.

With so many on the market, it can be hard to know which one is right for your needs. Here’s a quick guide to help you choose the best industrial air compressor for your company.

Types of Industrial Compressors

There are three distinct types of industrial air compressors that you can choose from. Each has its unique benefits that can make them better or worse for specific applications.

Industrial-Grade Reciprocating Compressors

One of the most popular types of air compressors is the reciprocating compressor. These compressors have a piston that moves up and down in a cylinder. As the piston moves down, it draws air into a compression chamber, when the piston moves up, it compresses it.

These compressors are often used in auto body shops and other industrial settings where they need to power pneumatic tools. They’re also quite popular in home workshops.

The Quincy QR-25 is a popular model and is generally considered an industry-standard in pressure-lubricated air compressors.


The reciprocating compressor is a very popular air compressor because it is durable and reliable. It also has a low cost of ownership, making it an excellent choice for businesses on a budget.

Additionally, reciprocating compressors are very versatile. They can be used for various applications, making them an excellent choice for businesses with multiple needs.


The downsides of the reciprocating compressor include its high noise level and limited duty cycle.

Rotary Screw Air Compressor

The rotary screw air compressor is an air compressor that has become very popular in recent years. These compressors use two rotating screws to compress air. As the screws turn, they draw air into the compression chamber and compress it.

Rotary screw air compressors are often used in factories and other industrial settings. But they are also becoming more popular in many workshops. Quincy Compressor manufactures a full line of advanced rotary screw air compressors.


The main advantage of the rotary screw air compressor is its efficiency. They produce less heat, conserve more energy and consume less oil than most compressors, making them an excellent choice for businesses that need to save on energy costs.

These air compressors are designed to run all day with little to no issues. If your duty-cycle need is beyond 60%, then rotary screw air compressors are the perfect choice for your business.

Another advantage of the rotary screw air compressor is its low noise level. When enclosed, these compressors are much quieter than reciprocating compressors, making them better for businesses that need to keep noise levels down.


The main downside of the rotary screw air compressor is that it is can be more maintenance intensive than the reciprocating compressor. While they will not need maintenance as often as other systems, these compressors have intricate systems that require special care from experienced maintenance professionals.

Oil-Free Scroll Air Compressors

Oil-free scroll air compressors are the newest type of compressor on the market. These compressors use two intermeshing scrolls to compress air. They draw air into the compression chamber and compress it as the scrolls turn.

Oil-free scroll air compressors are becoming more popular in many industries, namely in pharmaceutical manufacturing, hospitals and laboratory facilities. This type of air compressor is the right choice for processes that require dry, clean, and oil-free compressed air.

Quincy’s QOF 2-30 hp oil-free scroll air compressor model is specifically designed to work in critical environments where even the smallest quantities of oil can prove costly.


The main advantage of oil-free scroll air compressors is their purity. These compressors do not use any oil in the compression process, making them a great choice for businesses that need to maintain a clean and oil-free environment.

Oil-free scroll air compressors are also known for being efficient and extremely quiet.


The main downside of oil-free scroll air compressors is their cost. These compressors are often more expensive than reciprocating and rotary screw compressors due to its oil free design and newer technology.

Other Considerations

Sizing an Industrial Air Compressor

When choosing an air compressor, one of the most important factors to consider is the size of the unit. The size of the compressor you need will depend on your business’s air demand requirements.

To determine your business’s compressed air needs, you’ll need to know your facility’s air consumption and pressure requirements. However, it’s generally recommended to simply measure twice and buy once. That means overestimating your air demand to account for any future expansions to your business.

Air Demand Requirements

Your business’s air demand is the amount of compressed air your facility needs to run all its equipment at once. This is also known as your peak air demand. To determine your business’s peak air demand, you’ll need to know the CFM requirements of all the equipment running off of your compressor.

Once you have that information, simply add up the CFM requirements of all your equipment to determine your total air demand. For example, if you have three pieces of equipment that require 4 CFM, 5 CFM, and 6 CFM, respectively, your total air demand would be 15 CFM.

Cubic Feet per Minute

Your air compressor’s flow rate is measured in cubic feet per minute, or CFM. When you’re looking for an air compressor, you’ll want to find one with a CFM that meets or exceeds your business’s total air demand. An air system study can be performed to ensure you get an accurate sizing estimate to avoid oversizing your equipment too much.

It’s also worth noting that you may need to have a specific CFM or PSI to operate some machinery. That’s why it’s always better to overestimate your air demand than to underestimate it.

Single-Phase vs. Three-Phase Voltage

Air compressors come in two different types of voltage: single-phase and three-phase. Single-phase compressors are the most common type of compressor. They run on standard 120v or 240v power, which is the kind of power you’ll find in a typical household outlet.

On the other hand, three-phase compressors require more powerful 208v, 230v, 460v, or 575v power. This kind of power is typically only found in commercial or industrial settings.

The main thing to consider when choosing between them is the amount of power your business needs. If you only need a small amount of compressed air, a single-phase compressor will do fine. However, if you need a lot of compressed air, you’ll need to go with a three-phase compressor.

Consider Working With Trusted Brands

Choosing a suitable air compressor for your business is a big decision. There are a lot of factors to consider, from the different types of air compressors to what kind of voltage you require. It’s important to take your time researching to make sure you’re choosing the best compressor for your needs, and this article is a good start.

When looking for the right air compressor, be sure to only stick with trusted brands and models to be certain of the quality of the product you’re investing in. Brands like Quincy offer top-of-the-line air compressors that are available in various models and specifications. JHFOSTER is a leading distributor of exceptional Quincy air compressors that’ll suit any of your business’s needs. Visit our website to request a quote on the many air compressor systems available.