How Does an Air Compressor Work?

Air compressors work by storing air in an air tank and pressurizing it, ready to be released as air energy. The compressed air may be used for various applications such as filling gas cylinders with various types of gases, inflating tires, providing power to pneumatic tools, supplying pressurized clean air to HVAC systems and supplying pressure for power cleaning tools. Pressurized air also has large-scale, industrial applications such as stamping equipment, drive punchers and robotic power tools.

A good example of an air compressor is the typical DIY air compressors in a garage or a tool shed. The compressors pressurize air by driving it into a tank with the use a pump. With the small, garage type air compressors, the air is usually goes through a hose towards a power tool or a power cleaner when released.

DIY air compressor types have an automatic on and off pressure switches that runs the pump when the pressure inside the air tank weakens to a predetermined level. Once the pressure in the tank increases to yet another predetermined level, the air pump is automatically turned off.

Since pressurized air also generates heat, air compressors have built in mechanisms that help dissipate heat. The heat generated by the air compressors are usually dissipated through external metal fins. Other types of compressor cooling systems use water or oil as a cooling element.