Types of Industrial Compressors That Best Suits Your Needs

When choosing an air compressor for your business, big or small, there are many factors up for consideration. It would not hurt to familiarize yourself with the common types of compressors in the market and decide on which suits your purpose best.

Industrial Air Compressors

Three Common Types of Industrial Air Compressors

  1. Reciprocating or Piston Compressor

The reciprocating or piston compressor is most common and familiar. It is a positive-displacement compressor that delivers high-pressure gasses with use of pistons driven by a crankshaft.


  • reciprocating/piston compressor generally has a low initial purchase price.
  • maintenance cost is also low as it can easily be repaired with simple hand tools on site


  • reciprocating/piston compressor is usually quite large and heavy compared to compressors of equal cubic feet per minute (CFM).
  • it has a lot of moving parts and is prone to increase amounts of oil carry-over
  • due to the higher discharge temperature and pulsating airflow, more after treatment is necessary before compressed air gets in contact with your tools and equipment
  • it also requires an air receiver tank
  1. Rotary Screw Compressor

A rotary screw compressor is an air compressor of the positive-displacement type that uses a rotary mechanism (rotary screw air- end). It is often used when large volumes of compressed air is required. The rotary screw compressor creates compression in a continuous sweeping manner. There is minimal pulsation or flow surges which commonly occurs with piston compressors.


  • rotary screw compressor delivers high air flow despite its relatively compact size
  • durability is one of its better features
  • designed to run 100% of the time, it is recommended for high duty cycle applications
  • it does not require an air receiver tank to operate
  • it has less wearing parts and maintenance only usually involves filters and oil


  • it has a high initial purchase cost
  • having an independent lubrication circuit, it requires a compressor-specific oil
  • it requires regular maintenance
  1. Rotary Vane Compressor

Rotary vane compressor is also a positive-displacement type of compressor. It consists of vanes mounted to a rotor that rotates inside a cavity. It utilizes centrifugal motion to generate compressed air.


  • it has a low initial purchase price
  • it has few moving parts and is compact in size considering its CFM
  • it delivers pulsation-free airflow to your tools and equipment
  • it is designed for continuous duty


  • the availability of its service parts may pose a problem as it has fewer manufacturers
  • the increase in oil carry-over upon long term use requires a complete rebuild

Choosing an air compressor for your application can be a tedious process. There is a myriad of factors that need consideration when searching for the best industrial air compressor that suits your needs. Initial purchase price and maintenance costs should always be taken into account. Airflow and durability is a big part of the equation, too. Take the time to ask around and research before finalizing your purchase. It could spell the difference between profitability and loss.