What is the difference between an air compressor and an air inflator?

What is the difference between an air compressor and an air inflator?

You may plan a night ride with friends or family and then suddenly find that your car tyre is flat due to not filling with air for a long time. This is an instance where you would wish that you had an air inflator or air compressor for your car. Indeed it is good to have accessories like this.

Air compressor vs Air inflator

Let us start with Air compressors

Air compressors are the big brothers of air inflators and do the same job but being the bigger brother it is more powerful. It can do the job of filling the air in tyres much faster than air inflators. An air compressor first intakes air from the surrounding atmosphere and compresses and stores it in the attached tank.

The attached tank of air compressors makes them bigger and bulkier than the air inflators. But as the air is stored in a large tank, the air filling doesn’t take long. The stored air gets filled from the tank which saves time. An air compressor transforms electrical power into potential energy in the form of pressurized air. The air compression into the tank continues until it reaches its limit and then the air compressor shuts down.

The compressed air in the tank will remain in the tank until used. They can be of three types. Low-pressure air compressors (LPAC) can have a discharge pressure of 150 pounds per square inch, medium ones- 151 to 1000 pounds per square inch, and high-pressure ones- above 1000 pounds per square inch.

Air compressors have a wide variety of purposes. They are used in filling gas cylinders and supplying air to pneumatic tools such as jackhammers, drills, etc.

How does an air compressor work?

Normally, the air compressors used in various automation works and garages are called positive displacement compressors. Here, the air is drawn into a sealed chamber, then compressed by reducing the chamber’s volume. In a reciprocating compressor, when the crankshaft starts rotation, the piston starts moving forwards and backward within the cylindrical housing. Atmospheric air is drawn in by the inlet valve which is also called the suction valve. A problem with all the compressors is heat. Compressed air gets heated. If oil or any inflammatory substance comes in contact with the piston or the hot air then there is a fear of explosion. Due to this reason, the output pressure is limited to 10 bars.

Air inflator

Air inflators are now available as the most portable form of tyre inflator. Mi portable air compressor is one such product. It can fit into your pocket but it could fully inflate two tyres only when we tested it.

Whatever you are using- be it an air compressor or an air inflator, having a tyre pressure gauge is necessary. The heavy-duty big brother air compressors don’t have an auto-cut pressure sensor at all and air inflators do have it but the sensors are not calibrated properly and they are inaccurate as a matter of fact.

We recommend using the Michelin Digital Tyre pressure gauge for this purpose as we found it to be quite accurate. You can use analog ones too to save some bucks but it would be unwise. Having an accurate tire pressure gauge will reduce the chance of overfilling or underfilling your tyres.

A value for money air inflator

AmazonBasics compact portable digital tyre inflator with carrying case is a good choice as it is budget-friendly and comes at just rs 1.8k. Now, this brand is also known as Solimo but is manufactured by Amazon as before. We checked the air pressure in tyres with the Michelin pressure gauge and then tried filling them with the AmazonBasics air inflator and the reading is exactly the same. So, AmazonBasics has a well-calibrated sensor and it has the auto-cut feature and shuts off after reaching the set pressure.

In air inflators, we also get a flashlight so that we can see the nozzle, etc even on the dark roadside. Note that you should not fill in the air immediately after driving for a long time as air expands with heat. You will be left with improper inflation of tyres if you do this. So, make a good habit of filling the air in your car when it is sitting for quite some time. Air inflators sadly cannot be used for too long in a single stretch like the air compressors as these tend to get hot. Always give it a break after 10-15 mins of usage.

The convenience of an air inflator

Air inflators don’t demand heavy voltage and work with the 12V car charging socket which makes them a user-friendly product. These can be stored in the car for any emergency use during tours. The wires provided in these air inflators are long enough to take them to each wheel. Extra nozzle tips are usually provided with air inflators to fill the air to bicycle tires or footballs.
Hope this blog has guided you in the right direction regarding the difference between an air compressor and an air inflator. Often these two are confused. You can buy all the car accessories online from us at the best prices.

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Abdul Samad Khan

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