I was at Harbor Freight today. They had a pancake compressor and compressor
with two tubes for the same price ($90). The compressor seemed to be the
same, only the storage tank was different.
Why do they make two kinds, and why should I care?
I bought the pancake because it was a little lighter. I was a bit surprised
to get it home and find it needed a regulator and a filter; the last
compressor I bought came with those, so maybe it wasn't such a good price.
I think the difference is mainly cosmetic. You just need to make sure
the compressor supplies the amount of air you need -- which is difficult
to tell because the manufacturers lie about the CFM's.
If the compressors are the same price, buy the one with the larger
I usually run my air hoses off the unregulated tank output. But
sometimes I put a regulator and a short whip of 1/4" hose at the end of
the long 3/8" hose (when the nail gun shoots all the way through the
boards, or if I'm spray painting.) No regulator on the compressor
itself is not a big deal. (It does have a pressure switch, doesn't it?)
the air doesnt care what shape the container is in.
a big tank takes longer to fill. a smaller tank will fill quicker, but
needs to be filled more often. in the end the motor is on about the same
amount of time.
beyond a 'reasonable' size which depends on what you are doing with it, all
a bigger tank is gonna get you is a bigger tank. buy a big enough tank, but
after a certain point, the space it takes up is more important.
Why even have a tank at all? Why not use a tankless "air on demand"
The motor is on about the same amount of time, but with a larger tank
you can draw more than the compressor can deliver for short amounts of
time. This is important because consumer air tools all seem to be rated
4 CFM regardless of their actual air requrements, and compressors
usually overstate their CFM by at least 50%. (lying bastards) A larger
tank gives you some leeway with the tools' air requirements and duty cycles.
Even if tools were spec'ed properly, sometimes you need a big blast of
air to seat a tubeless tire bead or to blow dust out of the garage or
something, and you can't do that with a small tank (unless it's
pressurized to 150 PSI or more, but that is extremely unlikely.)
Get the biggest tank you have room for.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.