Pass any self-respecting roadcrew who are digging up your street and you will inevitably hear the effect of an Electric Power Tool – a powerful compressor – from a block away. Not the compressor itself but the jackhammer that it is powering. This type of electric compressor is the top end of the range; the heavy duty version that most likely is on wheels and has its own petrol generator to provide the electricity it uses to compress the air that powers the jackhammer.
Domestic electric compressors are often built into other DIY devices, such as spray painting tools. These range from small handheld spray guns to the type that professionals use, which have a cylinder of compressed air maintained under pressure by the compressor. The type that you would expect Banksy to use if he were ever to go legit and open his own masterpiece-on-demand paint shop.
Free standing air compressors come in three types as regards power source: single phase electric motors that plug into standard domestic mains outlets, tree phase that need a special source like your electric cooker has and of course petrol driven motors. Those with petrol motors tend to be at the top end of the price range, which can be anything from around £100 to over £3,000. That’s a lot of puff.
One common measurement that can be compared across all models is the speed at which they pump out air, measured in cubic meters per minute.
Then there are the very useful compressors that plug into your car battery to inflate tyres for cars or bicycles, or pump up an air bed if you are camping, for example. I keep one in my car boot that cost me just £50 and it is an absolute godsend for the tyre with a slow puncture that takes 10 days to deflate. Some day I will have it replaced but for now, 10 minutes with my trusty hand help compressor does the trick.