93EXCivic
93EXCivic MegaDork
6/22/22 3:13 p.m.

With as good as electric tools have gotten, do you really need a big air compressor in a shop anymore as long as you aren't spraying cars? I was planning on getting a big like 80 gallon air compressor for my shop but I keep thinking about the cost, noise and room that it takes up and I can help but wonder do big air compressors still really make sense in a hobby home shop?

MiniDave
MiniDave New Reader
6/22/22 3:25 p.m.

This comes up often these days. I have a 60 gallon compressor and use it frequently, but you're right, the capability of battery powered tools is getting better every year. But to me - that's the problem. If you invest in a bunch of these tools now, how long before the batteries are dead or the tool is obsolete? I have 30 year old air tools that work just fine  to this day......

I have one battery powered drill, a 1/2" Craftsman that  I can still find batteries for, but they cost more than the tool did! Still, it is handy to use when it works, which is getting less frequent these days......I find I'm either back to corded tools or getting out my air powered stuff again.

It also comes down to what you do in your shop, do you have a media blaster for example? Do you need air to clean stuff or use an air gun to blow out stuff? 

For short work the battery powered stuff is great, but if you're going to use them a lot I question whether you'll be changing batteries or running out of juice before you can finish what you're doing. I'm sticking with air, at least for now......as I get older and do less in my shop, I'm sure even my air tools will eventually become redundant.

Slippery
Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
6/22/22 3:29 p.m.

I dont think its worth it at home anymore. Just get a small pump that you can use to pump bicycle/car tires and be done with it.

iansane
iansane Dork
6/22/22 3:55 p.m.

I have a pretty big compressor but it really only runs the lift and an airsaw every once in awile.

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
6/22/22 4:02 p.m.

My Milwaukee impact wrench (18 volt lithium) will get lug nuts off if the battery is fully charged, but if it's down one bar (out of 4 or 5) then it struggles.  That's fine for the track where I don't want to mess with air, but at home I just use my Ingersoll Rand.  The IR is also lighter and much quieter than the Milwaukee.  Of course this assumes you have a quiet compressor. :)

That said, my Milwaukee battery ratchet is much quieter than an air ratchet, so I use it even at home.

AFAIK there's no decent battery-powered version of an air hammer yet.

Patientzero
Patientzero Dork
6/22/22 4:33 p.m.

I have a full set of Milwaukee cordless tools and a 80gal air compressor.  I can't imagine not having either one of them.  The battery powered stuff if definitely my preference for quick jobs but sometimes I just need air.  Not to mention I use the air compressor all the time to dry my motorcycle off after I wash it and silly stuff like that.

It might be more helpful if you told us specifically what tools you use.

Impact wrench = electric > air

Roloc disc/die grinder = air > electric

 

 

93EXCivic
93EXCivic MegaDork
6/22/22 4:40 p.m.

In reply to Patientzero :

Honestly mostly just basic car work.

The one thing is at some point I want to paint my Civic but really is it worth setting up a whole air compressor to do that? Or find somewhere else to do it?

Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter)
Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter) Dork
6/22/22 7:47 p.m.

I have Milwaukee 18v stuff to do the mechanic work but I like to use my blast cabinet a lot to detail parts up real pretty so I have an 80 gallon Champion air compressor too.

I wouldn't want to give up either one.

kevinatfms
kevinatfms GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
6/23/22 7:53 a.m.

I run the Husky 30 gal oilless compressor but have the full array of battery powered tooling from Ridgid. This past year i think ive used the compressor and my air tools less than once. The battery tools these days are incredibly good at doing just about everything.

wae
wae PowerDork
6/23/22 8:11 a.m.

Having air around the shop can be pretty handy but if you're only going to use "big air" occasionally - painting or heavy sandblasting, that kind of thing - you can always get by with a smaller compressor for normal use and then go out and rent a serious compressor.  I've got a 30 gallon Craftsman 120v unit which is good for "normal" stuff, but for about $50 a day, I'll rent a big gas-powered thing that can just run the sandblaster constantly.  The local rental place is closed on Sunday, so if you pick up at noon on Saturday, they give you the one day rate if you return it first thing Monday morning.

93gsxturbo
93gsxturbo UltraDork
6/23/22 8:29 a.m.

Agree that there is still no substitution to the size, power, or control of a good set of air tools.

 

Sure the 1/2" M18 claims to have 1440 ft-lbs of "nut busting torque" or whatever that means.  But... its huge compared to a comparable IR gun...its tougher to control since the motors coast down instead of stop...and you gotta have a charged battery.

1/2" die grinder with comparable power is huge compared to an air powered version, no decent right angle version.  

As mentioned, no M18 air hammers yet.  

 

Some stuff there is no interchange for.  

TJL (Forum Supporter)
TJL (Forum Supporter) Dork
6/23/22 8:34 a.m.

I love my big honkin compressor.  I messed with smaller cheaper ones for years and it just never worked out. I was always at their limit and they died an early death. 
 

i also love that i have a ton of air pressure on reserve with no running compressor. I have used it to run my tire machine, fill tires and many other things and never had to run the pressure back up. 
for running a sandblaster or anything high flow, the big compressor is a must. 

Having it wired and plumbed so its always ready to use is key. 

Toyman!
Toyman! MegaDork
6/23/22 8:36 a.m.

I seldom use air tools when working on cars. The battery-powered tools have surpassed air when it comes to impacts and ratchets. The Milwaukee M12 Stubby 3/8 impact is the best tool I have ever bought. Powerful enough to pull lug nuts and small enough to stick just about anywhere. 

There is still a place in the shop for a compressor and the size is going to depend on what you are doing with it. My compressor is a Quincy 325 on an 80 gallon tank. It runs the tire machine, sandblaster, blast cabinet, die grinders, the blow-off gun, and sanders. It gets used regularly enough that I can't imagine having to get by with something smaller. 

 

Streetwiseguy
Streetwiseguy MegaDork
6/23/22 8:44 a.m.
Patientzero said:

I have a full set of Milwaukee cordless tools and a 80gal air compressor.  I can't imagine not having either one of them.  The battery powered stuff if definitely my preference for quick jobs but sometimes I just need air.  Not to mention I use the air compressor all the time to dry my motorcycle off after I wash it and silly stuff like that.

It might be more helpful if you told us specifically what tools you use.

Impact wrench = electric > air

Roloc disc/die grinder = air > electric

 

 

Truthness.

93EXCivic
93EXCivic MegaDork
6/23/22 10:03 a.m.
wae said:

Having air around the shop can be pretty handy but if you're only going to use "big air" occasionally - painting or heavy sandblasting, that kind of thing - you can always get by with a smaller compressor for normal use and then go out and rent a serious compressor.  I've got a 30 gallon Craftsman 120v unit which is good for "normal" stuff, but for about $50 a day, I'll rent a big gas-powered thing that can just run the sandblaster constantly.  The local rental place is closed on Sunday, so if you pick up at noon on Saturday, they give you the one day rate if you return it first thing Monday morning.

That is a pretty good idea. I'll be honest other then the Civic and the Element I have no desire for another automotive project and honestly not really sure the room either. So it is kind of do I really need a big old 80 gallon to use every now and then.

 

Can a 30 gallon air compressor run a blast cabinet for long enough to clean off suspension parts?

Toyman!
Toyman! MegaDork
6/23/22 10:07 a.m.

In reply to 93EXCivic :

Look at the CFM requirements for the cabinet vs the CFM capabilities of the compressor. Make sure the compressor is rated at a CFM at a usable pressure. Something over 90 psi at a minimum. 

My Quincy puts out 19 cfm at 125 psi without breaking a sweat. It will keep up with anything. 

Harbor Freight's countertop blast cabinet uses 10 CFM at 100 PSI. 

Harbor Freight's 27 gallon high-performance shop compressor only puts out 5.1 CFM at 90 psi. 

 

Edit to put this another way. 

My compressor and HF blast cabinet: My compressor will run about 20 minutes of every hour spent blasting. 

HF compressor and HF blast cabinet: You will be able to blast about 30 minutes of every hour the compressor runs. 

These numbers aren't exact but somewhat close. 

wae
wae PowerDork
6/23/22 10:57 a.m.

In reply to 93EXCivic :

I use my 30-gallon Craftsman for smaller blasting jobs.  It runs -a lot- and I have to work a little bit slower than when I rent a real compressor.  But that's a trade-off that I'm willing to make.  What I'll usually do is accumulate a bunch of stuff that need blasting and then rent the compressor and get it all done at once.  If I can't wait for a big batch and it's small enough, I just get a good podcast and some whisky.

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