9 Reasons You Should Ditch Your Tow-Behind Air Compressor

Tow-behind air compressors took the world by storm a few decades ago when they met a simple need: available compressed air, wherever you want it. It was a game-changer for a lot of industries.

But once the novelty of tow-behind air compressors wore off, their limitations became apparent. Manufacturers began to look at innovative ways to solve these problems and, in the 1980’s, companies began to invent new air compressors that would revolutionize mobile air once again.

Today, workers who need compressed air have a medley of compressor options, many of which make more sense than a tow-behind. Let’s talk about 9 reasons you may want to ditch your tow-behind air compressor:

9. Enjoy hassle-free driving and parking

If you have a tow-behind air compressor, chances are you’ve become a bit of a pro at dragging your trailer through busy freeways, reversing without jack-knifing, and circling job site lots until you find a suitable parking spot. This might even seem normal to you. But there’s a better way!

When you ditch your tow-behind air compressor and switch to a vehicle mounted air compressor instead, you’ll feel liberated. You’ll suddenly have more freedom! Driving, reversing, and parking all become second nature again, and you won’t be restricted by your trailer’s capabilities or driving expertise.

If you’re a business owner, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your staff aren’t trying to negotiate your expensive equipment in heavy traffic, park in precarious situations, or backup in environments where space can be highly limited.

Speaking of which…

8. Improve your access to job sites

Dropping your tow-behind can also improve your access to important job sites, as tow-behind compressors are clunky and can limit your work opportunities. A lot of mobile service work is in remote or off-road areas, requiring vehicles that can navigate the challenging terrain. Trailers don’t tend to do well in tricky environments, requiring additional time and care to get to the work site—if accessible at all.

7. Free up your hitch for other equipment

Tow-behind compressors take up a seriously underrated asset on your vehicle: the tow hitch! Many workers have equipment that can only be transported by a hitch, while others simply prefer to tow a trailer with their tools. If your air compressor is taking up that spot on the hitch, you’ll need to make other compromises to get your equipment where it needs to be.

In some cases, business owners send out an extra vehicle and driver just to get all the right equipment in one spot. In others, favorite pieces of equipment are left behind or require extra trips to retrieve. When you mount your air compressor to the truck itself, you free up your hitch and improve your productivity.

One fantastic example of this improved productivity is with asphalt crack sealing, where cracks need to be blown out before they can be sealed. A truck-mounted air compressor can be used to blow the dirt out of the cracks, as the hitch pulls the asphalt applicator immediately behind.

6. Have an air compressor that’s always with you

Imagine this: you’ve just arrived at your next job only to realize it needs the air compressor you left behind. You have to actively plan for every trip with your tow-behind compressor, and decide whether it’s worth bringing along. What a hassle!

Alternative mobile air compressor systems have the compressor mounted to the truck itself, which means it goes everywhere the truck goes. If you need air, it’s there. You’ll never have to experience the frustration of needing the air compressor that’s halfway across town.

5. Need fewer safety checks & measures

You probably already know that there’s more than just physical baggage with a tow-behind, and they carry the need for extra safety precautions everywhere they go. The hitch, taillights, and tires all need to be checked frequently and, if any of these parts are failing, you’re not going anywhere until they’re fixed.

In addition, tow-behind air compressors make it harder for vehicles to stop quickly and safely. That means you need to reduce your speed whenever you’re towing your compressor, wasting valuable time that could be spent on the job or with your family. Throw in tow bar regulations, a larger blind spot, and the need to monitor the compressor itself, and you’ve got a lot of extra safety checks in your day.

And let’s not forget about thieves. Tow-behind compressors are often targeted by thieves because the units can be stolen in just a few minutes. By contrast, compressors that are mounted directly to a vehicle are significantly harder to take, while UNDERHOOD air compressor systems are practically impossible to steal.

When you stop towing your air and upgrade to a mounted air compressor, a lot of these safety concerns are instantly eliminated. Your compressor becomes a part of your truck or van, requiring fewer checks and precautions, and driving becomes safer.

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4. Less engine maintenance

Tow-behind air compressors require their own engine, in addition to the engine that’s included in the vehicle that’s doing the towing. That means two engines need to be maintained for every tow-behind compressor. This maintenance takes up valuable time and money that could be used elsewhere.

While some mobile air compressors require their own engine, many don’t. Recent air compressor innovation has been highly focused on utilizing existing energy sources to power mobile air compressors. For example, gas and diesel vehicle engines, transmissions, and PTOs that run hydraulics can all be used to power an air compressor.

3. Finish your jobs fasters

Time is money. The faster you finish your work, the more time you have to wrap up your “to do” list, take on more jobs, or even just enjoy an extra long break or two. Tow-behind compressors take time to properly position, set up and use.

When you upgrade a tow-behind to an UNDERHOOD, underdeck or abovedeck mobile compressor, you’ll be amazed at how quick and easy it is to get a job done. In some cases, the prep is as fast as flipping the “on” switch and grabbing the tool, while the job itself can be just as quick.

If you’d like more time in your day (and who wouldn’t), it might be time to give your tow-behind the boot.

2. Enjoy fuel & weight savings

Tow-behind air compressors are beasts. They’re notorious for being overweight monsters and they got that reputation for a reason… The Atlas Copco XAS 110 is a relatively small tow-behind compressor that can produce 110 CFM and weighs in at 1100 lbs. By contrast, the VMAC UNDERHOOD 150 air compressor provides similar air power and weighs about 200 lbs. That’s a huge difference! Choosing a lightweight air compressor means you’ll be able to add more tools and equipment to your truck, carry more materials, or take advantage of better fuel economy.

1. Discover more innovative alternatives

One of the best reasons to ditch a tow-behind air compressor is because there are much better options out there! Tow-behinds have the luxury of being overweight space-hogs, while other compressor styles have continually adapted to market demands with fresh innovations. For example, vehicle-mounted compressors can deliver more than enough air for light to medium duty applications, and do so in a system that’s significantly smaller, lighter and more compact than a tow-behind.

With modern compressor technology, you can enjoy all the benefits of having mobile air, while also freeing up cargo space, reducing gross vehicle weight, and working more efficiently. These benefits are why you’ll see onboard air compressors mounted to the vehicles of hard-working people like construction workers, military personnel, public works and utility workers, and fleet managers.

Vehicle mounted compressors are the smart choice for people who:

  • Need mobile air regularly
  • Have light/medium-duty applications, such as
    • Post pounding
    • Pressurizing gas lines
    • Road repair & crack sealing
    • Pavement breaking
    • Sandblasting
    • Sprinkler irrigation
    • Fiber optic cable shooting
    • Utility servicing
  • Want more space for cargo or other equipment
  • Prefer less weight and strain on their vehicles
  • Have the budget to make a long-term investment

At the end of the day, you deserve equipment that helps you get your job done quickly, easily, and safely. Tow-behind air compressors are necessary for some types of work, but there are a lot of downsides that you may have to endure. If you have the option to upgrade to a modern mobile air solution, then it’s time to ditch your tow-behind air compressor!

View this post as a shareable infographic here!

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Compressed Air Filtering Basics – Contaminants, Filters & More!

Take a deep breath. Breathe out. Breathe in… Now, let’s talk about all the contaminants in that air you’re breathing!

Atmospheric air is naturally contaminated. In addition to oxygen, air also contains water vapor, dust and dirt, and a medley of other filthy particles depending on the surrounding environment. The average metropolitan area, for example, contains approximately 4 million dirt particles per cubic foot of air.

When air is compressed, some of those contaminants need to be filtered out. Contaminated atmospheric air can cause damage to air compressors and air tools, and isn’t acceptable for certain medical and industrial applications.

But atmospheric air isn’t the only source of contamination for compressed air. Air compressors contribute their own share of pollution from wear particles and, if the compressor is oil-lubricated, carbonized compressor lubricant.

Between atmospheric air contamination and air compressor system contamination, there’s a lot of particles dirtying up our compressed air. Fortunately, we have compressed air filtering to save the day.

A Bit of Dirt Never Hurt Anyone…

Don’t worry about that dirty air you’re breathing. Your lungs act as your body’s filtration system, removing contaminants after they’re inhaled. Air compressor systems obviously don’t have lungs, but they do filter out air contaminants in other ways. Better still, a little contamination is usually okay.

Contaminated particles are measured in microns. The bigger the particle, the bigger the micron. Most fine particle tests use 0.3 micron as the standard to measure liquid or solid particle filtration. If a filter tested on this particle size proves to be 100 % efficient, then it’s fairly safe to say this filter can remove any particle above this size.

Many compressed air applications can handle contamination levels well above 0.3 microns. Tire service, construction, and most other mobile air compressor applications tend to tolerate quite a bit of contamination without problem. Operators with these types of jobs can get away with a more basic filtration system, such as an intake filter, which eliminates contaminants in the 30 to 40 micron range.

Industrial air compressor applications tend to be less tolerant of contamination than mobile applications and up to 80 % of industrial contamination is smaller than 2 microns. Therefore, many industrial air compressors need better filtration than mobile air compressors. Industrial air compressor systems often utilize advanced dry particulate and coalescing filters that can clean air down to 0.01 microns. For applications that require super-clean air for OSHA purposes, an additional charcoal activated filter may also be used.

However, these industrial applications are the exception. Outside of massive factories and industrial enterprises, most people use mobile-style air compressors that can tolerate quite a bit of contaminants and don’t need to think twice about their air compressor’s filtration capabilities.

What Contaminants Are In Compressed Air?

Now that you realize just how contaminated our air is, let’s talk about what it’s contaminated with.

Compressed air contains three types of contaminants:

  • Dry particulates
  • Vapors
  • Aerosols

Dry particulates are exactly what they sound like: dirt and other tiny solid particles. Vapors are the gas-forms of particles that condense into liquids at lower temperatures—for example, water. (The gas state is what allows these “liquids” to exist in air.) Meanwhile, aerosols are very fine solid particles that get trapped in air or gas, becoming suspended. Airborne dust is one familiar example of an aerosol.

Each type of contaminant has its own unique characteristics and properties, requiring their own filtration methods.

There are two primary types of filtration that are used in compressed air systems:

  1. Dry Particulate Filtration
  2. Vapor & Aerosol Filtration

In the next couple sections of this article, we’ll talk about these filtration types and the filters used to eliminate dry particulates, vapors, and aerosols.

The Principles of Dry Particulate Air Filtration

Here’s where we get technical. We already know that most contamination in a compressed air system can be removed simply by filtration. However, it’s important that your air compressor systems use the correct type of filtration for the particles being filtered.

Dry particulate filters rely on three principles to separate contaminants from the air:

  • Direct interception
  • Inertial impact
  • Diffusion & Brownian movement

Direct interception affects the larger particles in an air stream, which are literally sieved out through a filter.

Inertial impact occurs when a particle traveling in an air stream is eventually unable to negotiate the torturous path between the filter fibers and cannot change direction as quickly as the air stream. The contaminants then collide with a fiber and become attached to it.

Diffusion or Brownian movement affects fine particles. With diffusion, small particles merge with other gas particles and begin to move erratically. This erratic movement is called Brownian movement. As these particles move separately from the compressed air flow, they are more likely to become trapped in the filter.

Air Filtering though diffusion

All three of these principles work together in a dry particulate filter to capture and trap contaminants from the compressed air.

If you’re interested in reading more about the principles and physics behind air filtration, check out this “Mechanism of Filtration For High Efficiency Fibrous Filters” report by TSI.

Vapor & Aerosol Filtration for Compressed Air

Vapors and aerosols slip past dry particulate filters, which may require their own filtration systems. In this case, there are two options that may be utilized:

  • Coalescing
  • Adsorption

Coalescing filters trap moisture and oil. The compressed air enters through the inlet port and travels down into the filter, passing through a filter media before it leaves through the discharge port. Moisture and oil droplets bond together during this process, forming larger droplets that then drip into a moisture trap below.


Coalescing filters are commonly used in oil-injected air compressors, such as rotary screw air compressors. In VMAC systems, these filtration methods include a couple types of dry particulate filters, as well as a coalescing filter.

Adsorption filters help eliminate vapors and lubricants, using activated charcoal or similar chemicals to bond with the vapor molecules. Adsorption comes into play when vapors must also be eliminated from a system. Adsorption filters are typically only used in specific industrial applications.

Filtration Systems of Rotary Screw Air Compressors

Reciprocating air compressors that don’t use oil can often get away with just a dry particulate filter. That’s because the contaminants in atmospheric air are negligible for most construction and automotive applications, travelling through the air compressor without causing much problem.

However, oil-injected rotary screw air compressors require additional levels of filtration. The oil used to lubricate the rotors is necessary for this style of air compressor, but that same oil needs to be cleaned and separated from the air.

Therefore, rotary screw air compressors require two types of filtration systems:

  • Dry particulate filters
  • Coalescing filters

In a typical VMAC air compressor, you’ll find both types of filters throughout the system:

  1. Air filter: atmospheric air entering the system goes through a dry particulate air filter.
  2. Coalescing filter: Air that leaves the rotors, now mixed with oil, goes through a coalescing filter, which separates the oil from the clean air. The oil gets recirculated while the air exits the system.
  3. Oil filter: The separated oil then goes through the oil filter, which is another dry particulate filter that separates particles from the oil.filters

It’s these same filters that occasionally need to be replaced and will be included with VMAC’s service kits. Replacing the air filter, oil filter and coalescing filter ensures the air compressors continue to trap contaminants and keeps your air compressor in tip-top shape.

FAQ: Air Compressor Regulations in California

California has some of the toughest regulations in the United States across many industries and air compressors are no exception. Further, California’s legislation often pioneers the laws adopted by the rest of the nation. From anti-idling laws to air receiver tank sizes, we’ll help you understand all of California’s current air compressor regulations in this FAQ.

Who sets air compressor regulations in California?

Regulations are typically set by the U.S. government or state governments. California’s clean air regulations are currently determined by the California Air Resources Board, which has 12 members appointed by the Governor and formalized through the Senate. Other regulations, including air compressor regulations, are currently decided by the California government’s Department of Industrial Relations.

Can I idle my diesel truck to run an air compressor in California?

The short answer is “yes.” California has some of the toughest anti-idling laws out there, restricting the idling of heavy-duty diesel vehicles over 14,000 lbs for more than five minutes. Light- and medium-duty diesel trucks under 14,000 lbs are currently excluded from the restrictions.

However, even heavy-duty vehicles can idle if they are operating a power take-off device. Direct-Transmission Mounte air compressors and hydraulic air compressors are both examples of power take-off devices. In addition, the UNDERHOOD™  70 Green Series has intelligent digital controls that turn your truck engine off when air isn’t needed and turn the engine back on when air is needed again, giving you yet another option in spirit with California’s clean air regulations.

Can I idle my gasoline truck to run an air compressor in California?

Yes, there are currently no idling restrictions for gasoline vehicles. However, proposed legislation suggests expanding the anti-idling regulations to all vehicles that are allowed on highways. This includes both gasoline and diesel trucks, vans, and cars. If you’re planning for the future, it’s safest to assume anti-idling laws will apply to your vehicle in the coming years.

Do I need a permit for my air compressor?

You don’t need a permit for an air compressor but you may need one for your air compressor’s air receiver tank. A permit is required if you have an air receiver tank that exceeds 1.5 cubic feet (11.2 gallons) or 150 psi.

Fortunately, air receiver tanks over 1.5 cubic feet that don’t exceed 25 cubic feet (187 gallons) or 150 psi will receive a one-time permit called an “indefinite permit” at their first inspection. Indefinite permits don’t need to be renewed. Most mobile air compressors will fall into this one-time-permit category.

Because the permits are for the receiver tanks, air compressors without an air receiver tank don’t require a permit. Therefore, many operators avoid air receiver tank regulations by choosing a rotary screw air compressor that can meet their CFM requirements without an air receiver tank.

Do I need inspections for my air compressor?

If your air compressor has an air receiver tank that requires a permit, you will need to have the receiver tank on your portable air compressor inspected every 3 years. Air receiver tanks that aren’t portable but require permits must be inspected once every 5 years.

However, air compressors with air receiver tanks that are 25 cubic feet (187 gallons) or less and have a maximum pressure of 150 psi, are given an “indefinite permit” when first installed. These permits are always in effect, which means your air receiver tank doesn’t need to be inspected.

Air compressors that don’t require a permit are never inspected.

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What air compressors help me avoid permits, inspections, and regulations?

The current California regulations for air compressors are focused on air receiver tanks, not the compressors themselves. Therefore, choosing a rotary screw air compressor without an air receiver tank is your simplest bet, as there is no need for permits or inspections. (By contrast, all reciprocating air compressors need an air tank.)

If you do need an air receiver tank, the next simplest option is an air compressor with an air tank that holds up to 1.5 cubic feet (11.2 gallons) of air and operates at 150 psi or less. These air receiver tanks do not require permits. VMAC has several air compressor and receiver tank options that meet these requirements, including air compressors that don’t require an air receiver tank at all, and air compressors with a recommended 6-gallon (150 psi) or 8-gallon (150 psi) low profile air receiver tank.

If you need even more air, you can minimize the need for permits and inspections by choosing an air compressor with an air receiver tank that has a maximum working pressure of 150 psi and holds less than 25 cubic feet (187 gallons) of air. These air receiver tanks will need an inspection before going into service but are given an indefinite permit at that inspection, which eliminates the need for future inspections or permits. VMAC air compressor systems with a 12-gallon (150 psi) low profile air receiver tank fall within this category.

How Clean Air Regulations Impact Vehicles With Air Compressors

Federal and state air regulations play an important role in keeping communities safe and healthy and have driven significant innovation in the clean energy sector. But what does this mean for the mobile air compressor industry, which often requires an idling engine to power the air compressor?

In this article, we’ll break down the major players in air regulations, including California state and U.S. federal governments, and talk about how they impact you and your business.

The Federal Clean Air Act

The Federal Clean Air Act was first enacted in 1970 and later revised in 1990. This Act sets out guidelines and requirements for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and individual states to protect people’s health and the environment.

The objectives of the Clean Air Act include:

  • Improve air quality
  • Improve visibility
  • Protect the ozone layer
  • Reduce common & toxic pollutants
  • Reduce acid raid

The EPA works with individual states to enact different aspects of the Clean Air Act. Some objectives give states more autonomy than others.

Improve air quality & visibilityStates are responsible for implementing enforceable plans to reduce pollutants in protected areas; the EPA provides guidance
Protect the ozone layerEPA issues & enforces rules for the use and disposal of chemicals known to deplete the ozone
Reduce common pollutantsEPA develops standards, states are responsible for creating enforceable plans to meet the standards
Reduce toxic pollutantsEPA controls national limits for major sources, while states can elect to take on partial or complete enforcement of the limits
Reduce acid rainEPA implements, tracks & monitors compliance with the federal Acid Rain Program

California Air Regulations Set A Higher Bar

California has struggled with air quality for decades and, in 2002, became the first state to set clean air standards that go above and beyond the Clean Air Act. Over the next decade, another 13 states followed California’s lead and created state-based legislation that requires higher standards.

This legislation has resulted in more efficient vehicles that produce fewer emissions. California essentially forced the auto-makers to create lower emission cars and, interestingly, the auto industry complied with little fuss.

However, a change in political perspective disputes California and other states’ autonomy over cleaner air. On August 2, 2018, the acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler announced that California will no longer be allowed to set their own rules; instead, the state will only need to follow the federal requirements. California is expected to challenge this decision in court.

United States Anti-Idling Laws

The federal government has not issued anti-idling laws. Instead, the majority of states have implemented their own anti-idling regulations. Because California set the initial bar for environmental regulations, many states have followed their example in anti-idling:

California Anti-Idling Rules

  • No idling longer than 5 minutes
  • Minimum $300 fines
  • Exceptions include:
    • Service or repair vehicles
    • Work trucks using power takeoff (PTO)
    • Certified Clean Idle vehicles
    • Emergency or health & safety vehicles

Individual cities within a state can set additional regulations on idling, including specific rules and fine amounts. To see the regulations in your county or state, check out the American Transportation Research Institute’s Compendium of Idling Regulations.

Fortunately, most states let vehicles idle if they are performing work-related tasks. Operators who use air tools are typically allowed to use air compressors that utilize the vehicle’s engine, such as an UNDERHOOD™ air compressor, or PTO-drive systems like a Direct-Transmission Mounted air compressor.

Air Compressor Manufacturing Regulations

Reputable air compressor manufacturers have regulations and procedures that should be followed in the creation, assembly and installation of their air compressors. However, most of these regulations are focused on safety and engineering, and don’t pertain to air quality.

However, there is one notable exception: The EPA’s “Clean Air Nonroad Diesel Rule” requires manufacturers to meet exhaust emission standards for all small diesel engines, including those used in air compressors. This regulation has been in full effect for all nonroad diesel engines since 2015.

Similarly, truck manufacturers are also required to follow strict regulations and guidelines when developing their product lines. For example, California’s Air Resources Board recently passed regulation to increase the greenhouse gas emissions standards for medium- and heavy-duty engines and vehicles within that state. These changes need to be taken into account when designing engine-driven air compressors, like the UNDERHOOD™ air compressor.

While it’s unreasonable to expect consumers and operators to be aware of the regulations developed for manufacturers, operators can help protect themselves by purchasing their products from a reputable air compressor manufacturer that is committed to implementing a high degree of standard and quality control.

How Do Clean Air Regulations Impact Air Compressor Operators?

Fortunately, clean air regulations don’t tend to impact workers who are operating vehicle mounted air compressors. Reputable air compressor manufacturers ensure their products stay up to date with federal emissions regulations, while even the strictest states, like California, have anti-idling exceptions that allow operators to run their vehicles for the sake of their work. At the end of the day, most jurisdictions give a free pass to pneumatic tool operators including tire techs, construction workers, and other roadside operators.

How Many CFM Do I Need To Run Air Tools?

It can be tough to know how many CFM you need in an air compressor to operate your air tools. Too little CFM and you won’t be able to run your tools continuously—or at all—and too much could mean you’ve overspent on your air compressor.

To help you find the compressor that’s right for you, we’ve developed this helpful air tool consumption chart. But before we get into the CFM consumption chart, let’s talk a little bit about why CFM matters to you…
Continue reading “How Many CFM Do I Need To Run Air Tools?”

Air Tool Pressure + 5 Reasons To Use The Right PSI For Air Tools

If your air tools struggle to live out their warranty or require more maintenance than the manufacturer’s guidelines state, there’s a good chance you are using too much air pressure. This is extremely common and many service operators over-pressurize their pneumatic tools as a standard operating procedure.

The assumption is you get more power out of a tool if you apply more pressure. While this is true some of the time, it doesn’t apply all of the time and—in almost all cases—leads to tool breakage or worse…

In this article, we’ve put together a list of reasons you should always use the proper pressure for your air tools:

5. Reduce Expensive Tool Repairs

Using too much pressure can cause your air tools to wear out or break a lot sooner than they should. Here are the most common pneumatic tool repairs caused by excessive air pressure:

Blown seals: The more pressure you use, the bigger the opportunity for blown seals. You might as well use your shop-vac to suck the extra cash out of your pockets if you don’t protect yourself from blown seals because they result in VERY expensive repair bills.

Anvil breakage: There couldn’t be a better example of “cutting off your nose to spite your face” than anvil breakage, and it’s far too common. Guys apply more pressure to their impact wrench to get more torque, which works. Everyone is happy, the job gets done faster. But then the anvil sees higher stresses and can crack or break and the tool is down for repairs, wasting any time you saved with extra torque and resulting in significant costs for repairs.

Bearing failure: In addition to blown seals and anvil breakage, using too much pressure is one of the most direct causes of bearing failure. If you’ve worked with air tools for awhile, you know bearing failure is an expensive repair and you probably also know that if the bearings go, you already have many more damaged parts to repair. It’s not a good situation!

Vane motor breakdowns: As little as 20 psi of excessive pressure in a vane motor system can half the life of an air tool. Most tools are rated at 90 or 100 psi, so using 120 psi regularly ensures you will be replacing expensive air tools in half the time you should have to.

4. Maintain Your Tools’ Efficiency

In many cases, a broken tool doesn’t happen in an instant. Instead, tools wear down over time until they reach a point of failure. The more a tool is worn down, the less efficient seals and other components become, even if it’s still working. This results in leaked air, which essentially means the tool needs even more air to run than it normally would.

By using the right pressure for your tools, you reduce wear and improve tool efficiency. If you care about getting the best performance out of your tools, stop using too much pressure.

3. Stop Overpaying For New Tools

Tools that break or fail and can’t be repaired will need to be replaced, and we don’t need to tell you that new tool costs add up quickly! It’s an unnecessary expense that could have been reinvested elsewhere.

Consider this: when you buy an air tool from a manufacturer or dealer, they give you a price, and you either agree to pay the price or negotiate a discount. You never ask them to take more money from you. Yet, if you don’t take proper care of your air tools, you might as well do exactly that.

Treat your tools with respect and save your money for better purchases.

2. Prevent Dangerous Accidents

Let’s put the financial impacts aside because you won’t be thinking about expenses when you or one of your employees suffers a devastating or fatal injury. It’s easy to shrug off safety regulations and assume a serious injury would never happen to you or your team, but pressure safety warnings exist in manufacturers’ guidelines for a reason.

We’ve heard stories about tool technicians being killed when an over-pressured grinder explodes, because it’s operating at speeds much higher than the manufacturer’s safety ratings. You don’t want your team to be the one that proves these urban legends are true.

But even if the stories are false, the pneumatic tool manufacturers are concerned enough to include pressure rating warnings in their manuals. For example, here’s what Central Pneumatic says in their ¼” air angle die grinder manual:

“Over pressurizing the tool may cause bursting, abnormal operation, breakage of the tool or serious injury to persons. Use only clean, dry, regulated compressed air at the rated pressure or within the rated pressure range as marked on the tool. Always verify prior to using the tool that the air source has been adjusted to the rated air pressure or within the rated air-pressure range.”

Protect your team and your business by keeping everyone safe. Follow the pressure guidelines and you can prevent serious consequences.

1. Lower Your Fuel Consumption

Last but possibly not least, using the proper pressure will lower your fuel consumption.

The higher the pressure, the higher the volume of air that’s consumed. This is a problem because higher air volumes require more energy, which means you are spending a lot of extra horsepower on wasted air. Further, higher horsepower equals higher fuel consumption, which increases operating costs and throws low emission targets in the trash.

The Real Reasons Your Tools Aren’t Performing

Manufacturing engineers create and test tools using the same psi ranges they publish in the tools’ manuals. If your tool isn’t performing as well as you think it should, the pressure rating isn’t the problem. Instead of cranking up the pressure, take the following steps:

  1. Reflect on your expectations: Is it possible that you simply want a tool that performs better than it’s supposed to? If so, it may be time to consider why you want more power and whether it’s something you really need…
  2. Check the power management switch: If your tool has a power management switch, you wouldn’t be the first person to overlook it. Double-check whether your tool has this switch and ensure it’s on the proper setting.
  3. Check the pressure at the tool: Attach a pressure gauge between the end of your hose and your air tool to confirm whether the air pressure is at the maximum recommended pressure. Each air compressor design is different, and some systems can lose pressure before the air reaches the tool. If the air is losing pressure before it meets the tool, you can try turning up the pressure a bit, but only until it reaches the manufacturer’s psi recommendation.
  4. Check the hose size: A hose that’s too small can cause pressure drops that are easily remedied by an upgrade. Make sure you’re using the right hose size for your application. We talk more about how hose size impacts airflow in this article.
  5. Check the size of everything else: Hoses aren’t the only air compressor component that might be too small. Also check the size of your connectors, fittings, filters, regulators, and lubricators, and ensure they are big enough to handle the task at hand.
  6. Confirm the air compressor’s CFM: An air tool needs the right psi and the right CFM to operate properly. Double-check that the CFM capabilities of your air compressor match the needs of your tools. You can learn more about the CFM needs for your air tools here.
  7. Consider your air compressor type: A reciprocating air compressor has to build up air and then quickly loses pressure. But if you require higher pressure because you’re trying to hit hard and fast to beat the clock, your air compressor type is likely the problem. Instead, upgrade to a rotary screw air compressor that can maintain CFM and PSI for significant periods of time. Find out more about rotary screw vs. reciprocating air compressors here.
  8. Call the tool manufacturer: If everything above checks out, call the manufacturer. Their support team will be able to help you troubleshoot performance issues with your tool.
  9. Upgrade your tool: If you’ve gone through the list above and your tool isn’t getting the job done, it’s likely time for an upgrade. Tools that have enough air and are powerful enough for a job will work properly and efficiently at their recommended psi setting. If your tool isn’t performing under the proper conditions, you need a better tool.

One last tip—don’t use sound when determining if a tool is working. We’ve met operators who think their tool or air compressor is too weak because their tools get quieter after the air has run for a few seconds, even when the tools are operating just fine! Instead of listening, look at how the tool is performing to determine whether it gets the job done in a normal amount of time.

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Use The Proper Pressure For Your Air Tools

At the end of the day, too much pressure for your air tools can be a costly mistake. From equipment failure and repair costs to health and safety risks for your team, there are a lot of reasons you should simply use the right pressure.

It’s unlikely all the terrible things in this article will happen to your team and equipment if you use too much pressure. However, it’s probable you’ll encounter at least some of the issues, including the frustration that goes along with them.

By contrast, eliminating the issues caused by too much pressure is easy to do. Use the proper pressure for your air tools and rest assured you’re getting the most out of your tools.

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The Big Benefits of Rotary Screw Air Compressors In Texas

Not all air compressors are created equal. Performance, quality, safety, and adherence to local laws all vary between manufacturers and even individual air compressor models. Rotary screw air compressors do an excellent job of performing under the Texas heat, while also following local bylaws and regulations. In this article, we’ll break down 6 reasons you should choose a rotary screw air compressor for your work in Texas.

Improved Performance & Function

1. Prevent air compressor failure

You don’t stop work when the temperatures hit the high 90’s and your air compressor shouldn’t either! Air compressors already generate a lot of heat, which is tackled by cooling systems, but when the summer sun combines with the air compression process, some air compressors get too hot to handle—or function!

Hot air compressors cause many problems, including:

  • Lower air flow & efficiency
  • Excessive water vapor
  • More energy & fuel required
  • Unsafe for workers
  • Air compressor failure

Air compressors are comprised of many moving parts that cause heat to increase rapidly. Reciprocating air compressors can reach temperatures of up to 500°F on a regular basis. Compare that to a rotary screw air compressor, which uses an oil injection system to operate at half that temperature, and it’s clear which compressor has the advantage right out of the gate. If you need your air compressor to work 100% of the time, rotary screw is the way to go.

2. Minimize water vapor

As Texas temperatures and humidity rise, the amount of water in the compressed air increases as well. Increased water volume can lead to higher maintenance costs due to air compressor rust, breakdown, and component failure. The hotter the air, the more water you have in your system.

Because rotary screw compressors don’t run as hot as other compressor types, the amount of water created during air compression in minimized, reducing the water that can get into your air compressor, tools, and final application. This smaller volume of water is easier to remove, giving rotary screw air compressors a big advantage over reciprocating air compressors.

When handled properly, most people don’t see the extra water in recip compressors. That’s because reciprocating compressors always require an air receiver tank, which helps capture and drain most of the visible water from the compressor. But even if you don’t see it, that water is still there.

3. Work at 100% Duty Cycle

While this isn’t Texas specific, it is a big deal: rotary screw air compressors supply air on demand, which means you can get to work within seconds of turning it on. The convenience of instant air is why so many workers have become loyal to rotary screw air compressors, always choosing them over the reciprocating/piston-style air compressors.

4. Reduce weight & save space

Rotary screw air compressors are smaller than reciprocating compressors, resulting in trucks that are lighter and have more available space. For example, VMAC’s G30 gas driven air compressor weighs only 205 lbs, while similar-CFM reciprocating-style air compressors easily weigh 400 – 500 lbs and take up twice the amount of space (because they require a large air receiver tank.) They’re hogs!

Choosing a lightweight rotary screw air compressor means you’ll be able to add more tools and equipment to your truck, carry more materials, or take advantage of better fuel economy.

Adheres to Texas Regulations & Bylaws

5. Circumvent vehicle idling restrictions

Essentially all Texas cities have signed a memorandum that prohibits trucks lighter than 14,000 pounds from idling more than five minutes at a time. Operators working with light-duty trucks, such as the Ford F250 and F350, aren’t allowed to idle within most Texas cities—including Austin, Dallas, Houston, and Fort Worth.

Fortunately, clever system designs eliminate the issue. Above-deck air compressors like the G30 gas drive and D60 diesel drive allow operators to utilize a powerful rotary screw option that doesn’t require idling. Because these air compressors are mounted to the vehicle itself, they are always with you and ready to work—no idling needed!

For those who can’t go without an air compressor that uses the vehicle’s engine, there’s also the UNDERHOOD™  70 Green Series air compressor, which uses intelligent digital controls to turn your truck off when you’re not using air and then back on when you are.

6. Avoid noise complaints

Busy urban areas are already littered with noise and some Texas bylaws forbid workers from making more of it. For example, Fort Worth doesn’t allow noise in a commercial area to exceed 80 decibels between the hours of 7 am to 10 pm. Residential areas are even more restricted, with a maximum 70 dBA during the day.

Mobile air compressors are loud. That’s just a fact. But rotary screws are known to be quieter than their reciprocating counterparts, because the two rotating screws don’t actually touch one another while they compress air. As a result, rotary screw air compressors are more likely to fall within noise bylaws.

But even when they don’t, the neighbors are much less likely to file a complaint when you’re in and out within minutes. Rotary screw air compressors are faster and more convenient than other compressor types, allowing you to quickly complete your jobs and minimize any disturbance.

The Right Air Compressor For Texas

To sum it all up, there are a lot of benefits to using a rotary screw air compressor in Texas, including:

  • Better heat performance
  • Working at 100% duty cycle
  • Reducing discharge air temperatures
  • Minimizing water vapor
  • Circumventing idling restrictions
  • Avoiding noise complaints

The right air compressor makes your job easier by ensuring you can get your work done quickly, efficiently, and safely. Rotary screw air compressors do all of these things, while holding up in the tough Texas environment.

If you’d like to read more about the advantages of rotary screw air compressors, check out some of our other blogs on this topic:

Reciprocating engine driven air compressor or a rotary screw engine driven air compressor

A breakdown of factors to consider when deciding between a reciprocating air compressor and a rotary screw air compressor.

When deciding whether to install a new engine driven air compressor or change your existing design, it’s important to understand operating characteristics, capabilities and limitations of the two alternative air compressors commonly considered. Continue reading “Reciprocating engine driven air compressor or a rotary screw engine driven air compressor”

Air Compressor Rentals Offer More Choice For Businesses

The American Rental Association (ARA) has forecasted the U.S. construction equipment rental industry to grow to almost $60 billion by 2021. Growth is forecasted in Canada as well, with the ARA predicting an increase in valuation to $6.11 billion by 2021.

This growth can be attributed to an increase in construction activity in North America, including growth in commercial, industrial, and residential development, as well as an increase in government spending on infrastructure upgrades and development. With this increase in construction, many businesses are opting for rental equipment, choosing a short-term rental cost over a more significant investment.

Benefits To Renting An Air Compressor

When deciding to buy or rent your equipment, there are many factors to consider, which we go over in a previous article, Growth Opportunities in the Rental Market.

In the right situation, choosing to rent your equipment instead of buying can positively impact your bottom line. Rentals offer lower maintenance, operating and insurance costs, as well as a lower initial investment. In addition, choosing to rent an air compressor will often allow you to have access to the newest and most specialized equipment for your specific application.

The VMAC G30 Enters The Rental Market

Newly released to the rental market, the VMAC G30 Gas Engine Driven Air Compressor offers a lightweight, compact, powerful, and affordable solution businesses will be sure to appreciate.

The VMAC G30 rotary screw air compressor weighs just 205 lbs, and is 50% smaller than comparable reciprocating air compressors, making it perfect for mobile applications. It is powerful, producing up to 30 CFM at 100% duty cycle—operators will not need a bulky air receiver tank, nor will they have to wait for air pressure to build. Those interested in renting will be pleased to note the VMAC G30 is priced to be the most affordable gas driven rotary screw air compressor available, which translates to lower rental cost.

Equipment Rental Market Growth Opportunities – 2019

Massive Opportunity in the Equipment Rental Market

The numbers are staggering. In 2014, the global construction equipment rental market was valued at over $34 billion, and is anticipated to reach almost $85 billion by 2022.

On a slightly smaller scale, we’ve seen heavy equipment rentals increase across the United States and this trend isn’t expected to end any time soon; the U.S. rental market is expected to grow 4% between this year and 2024.
Continue reading “Equipment Rental Market Growth Opportunities – 2019”

Components of your VMAC mobile rotary screw air compressor system

You’ve decided that a rotary screw compressor system is the right choice for your application; maybe you are converting from using reciprocating compressors. When installing your new compressor you’ll need to locate a few different components and plumb hosing between them. In this article, we’ll briefly explain the functions of the components of a rotary screw compressor system. Continue reading “Components of your VMAC mobile rotary screw air compressor system”

Compressed Air Treatment Methods

Using compressed air for tools and equipment is common. There are a variety of compressor styles to choose from. The challenge for users of compressed air is air cleanliness that is free of particulates, moisture and oil carry-over.  In this article we’ll discuss three different compressed air treatment methods.  Air receiver/ storage tanks, air after cooling and filters. Continue reading “Compressed Air Treatment Methods”

Factors to consider when purchasing a compressor for your mobile application

It’s time to buy a compressor for your mobile service truck application.  You’ve figured out what type of compressor and how much air flow and pressure you need as well as how it will affect the load capacity of your truck.  Now it’s simply where you can buy that compressor the at the lowest cost, right?  Well not really.  Besides the installation time, there are some important installation details to consider, depending on the type of compressor you’ve chosen and what type of work you’ll be doing. Continue reading “Factors to consider when purchasing a compressor for your mobile application”