Air Compressor vs. Power Tank: Aren’t they the same?

Air Compressor vs. Power Tank: Aren't they the same?
Air Compressor vs. Power Tank: Aren’t they the same?

Air Compressor vs. Power Tank

There are several components you’ll find in an auto parts manufacturer’s store. There are many tools people use for their cars and vehicle’s air pressure levels. These air tools come in a huge variety. There are different functionalities of different tools. An air compressor is the most common tool used by people as it’s really quick and easy to use. Many tools come with an air tank and a lot of people get confused between using a power tank and an air compressor. Everything has its own pros and cons. It all depends on your needs, requirements and what works best for your vehicle. Not everyone has the option of using on-board air but many people do have access to either an air compressor or a power tank.

An air compressor would either typically fill up an air tire or either power air tools to run smoothly without interruptions. To know which air compressor would suit your needs better, you should look at the cubic feet per minute (CFM) rating of the pressure. It should be able to move a huge volume of air at a time. A CFM rating of 2 or more is sufficient. A 12v power supply would be enough to power a typical air compressor.

You might need to have your engine running at the same time as the compressor is running as the high voltage of the compressor would make it run faster and also save a lot of load on the electrical system. You need to leave the area around the compressor empty for the motor to cool down and to increase sufficient airflow. Sometimes the on/off switch isn’t necessarily accessible which also differentiates from a power tank.

Air compressors have something known as the duty cycle. This is how long the motor will run for before it turns hot and needs to cool down. A 50% duty cycle gives you 30 minutes of use and the next 30 minutes to cool down. A 100% duty cycle means you can use it non-stop. Some compressors even have pressure or thermal cut-off function built in them. This automatically stops permanent damages.

A compressor is a huge setup with different connections and parts.

A power tank, on the other hand, is a more simplified component. Air compressors can be mounted in different positions. But a power tank should be mounted in an upright position only. Liquified carbon dioxide is stored in the tank. The power tank is much faster than the compressor as it can fill up the tire in seconds literally. The production of air is in huge volumes as compared to air compressors. The noise level is much less than that of an air compressor. Setting up a power tank is much simpler and inexpensive than setting up an air compressor. Refills are a big factor that affects performance when using power tanks.


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