Several factors come into play when choosing the appropriate air bag compressors for your particular application. Some of the most important things to consider when choosing an air compressor are the compressors duty cycle, horsepower, and CFM that the compressor is able to produce.
The duty cycle, or efficiency, of air bag compressors can be defined as the amount of time that the air compressor can operate under load (pumping at high psi) verses the time when operating under no load (low psi).
For instance, an air compressor rated at “100% duty cycle” can run continuously, even when under load. An air compressor rated at “50% duty cycle” would mean that this compressor can only run under load half the time. In other words, a 50% that is going to ran for a total of 10 minutes should run a combined maximum of 5 minutes on and then off for 5 minutes. In this example, a 50% duty cycle compressor can run for 5 minutes to fill your air tank up to pressure, but then must be off for 5 minutes while you use the air in the tank to fill your bags. If a 50% compressor is run constantly, like that of a 100% duty compressor, the compressor will have to work too hard, which will cause overheating, and will drastically reduce the life of the compressor. So, if you plan to play with your air ride all day long at a car show or while crusin’ the strip, you should consider spending a little more for a compressor with a higher duty cycle rating.
Air bag Compressors are also rated by means of horsepower. A compressor with a higher horsepower rating like 3/4hp or 1 full horsepower will be able to pump up to higher tank pressures easier than those of lower horsepower ratings, like 1/5hp compressor. Basically, high horse power compressors won’t have to work as hard since they are stronger. However, a high horsepower compressor will require more energy/voltage from your electrical system in your vehicle, so there is a trade off, but if you have a decent powered alternator, and a strong battery, go for the higher horsepower compressor. Another way to go is to use multiple low horsepower compressors, but in the end it will all equal out. Horsepower isn’t necessarily the best way to rate a compressor since it is more important to know the amount of air the compressor can deliver at a specific pressure.
If you want to really pump up the volume of your air tank, use a dual pack of compressors!
An air ride compressor CFM rating tells you how many cubic feet per minute that the compressor can fill at a particular psi. For example, a compressor may be able to flow 4 CFM at 0psi tank pressure, but at 100psi tank pressure, the compressor can only flow 2 CFM since the increased tank pressure will make the compressor have to work harder. CFM can also be referred to as the flow rate.
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