Single Stage Reciprocating Air Compressor Pump

Will single stage compressors be the perfect fit for you?

The single stage air compressor pump for a reciprocating compressor is ideal for do it your self home projects and small to medium sized workshop use. If you’re working a large construction project or workshop, you may want to head on over to the two stage compressor page.

Using a single stage compressor on and off again is perfect for keeping it in a well maintained condition but if you’re at constant work with your compressor, you may look to step up to a dual stage to ensure maximum efficiency.

single stage reciprocating compressor

Single Stage Air Compressor Pump Options

There are several things to consider when you’re in the market for a single stage compressor. These units tend to be the most saturated market and most confusing when it comes to different options and models. As always pressure and capacity are very important but there are many more thing to consider when looking for a single stage compressor to purchase.

Max Amount of Pressure (PSI)

Maximum pressure is always a bullet point to take away before making an air compressor purchase. Remember that pressure means “how strong”?  Pressure tends to not matter as much for single stage as they are all relatively similar in PSI. However you will want to look at the compressed air tools you’ll be using to see what is recommended before moving forward with buying a single stage compressor. Check the labels on your gear before purchasing to make sure your air compressor can accommodate and run your tools at the highest possible efficiency

Capacity and Tank Size

Capacity is expressed in CFM or cubic feet per minute normally.  Capacity is calculated as “How much?”.  You will calculate capacity as the amount of air that an air compressor can pump out at a given time. As previously mentioned, pressure seems to be the easy part as it can be easily read and calculated. However capacity of compressors is always a bit more tricky.

Many air compressor retailers will advertise by tank size rather than capacity. A large tank size can be plentiful but if your compressor has minimal CFM it will take forever for the tank to fill up and in that case the extra tank space isn’t even worth the cost.  The best way to calculate the capacity you’ll need is to add up the capacity requirements for all of the tools as if to say you would use them all at the same time even if this is not likely.

Most single stage compressors will have a 60 gallon tank. The bigger the thank size, the less often the compressor will start but will take much longer to fill up. A bigger tank size will probably be more preferable for someone that uses their air tools for longer periods of time. However, remember to take the capacity more into consideration than tank size.

Engine Power

Horsepower or engine power is not that important for single stage compressors. Usually the horsepower will just accompany the capacity and pressure so they all work correctly together. It’s merely a calculation by the manufacturer themselves. Many brands will pride themselves on having more horse power however, but you really need not to worry as long as the pressure and capacity align with the HP.

single engine diagram

Duty Cycle

Duty cycle is a number between 0 and 1 or can also show as a percentage that shows how long a compressor can actually run. In example, a duty cycle of 60% says it can run for 60% of time, but will need to cool down the other 40%.

Duty factor only really comes into play for reciprocal compressors as they are not used continuously like rotary screw compressors 24 hours per day. Rotary screw compressors have a duty cycle of 100%.

For example, when the maximum duty cycle of the compressor is 50%, it means that the compressor needs to be stopped during 50% of the time. This time is required to cool down the compressor. If it runs too much, it overheats and breaks down.

Always look for a duty cycle of 100% or right around there. If your compressor can’t run for 100% of the time, there has to be better options!

Single Stage Air Compressor Brands

There are many great brand name compressors out there. Here is a list of few:

I do go in to detail on the Harbor Freight Central Pneumatic line of single stage compressors in this guide here.




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