Gas vs Electric Air Compressor

The Difference Between a Gas Powered Air Compressor

vs Electric Air Compressor

gas vs electric air compressor

Do you want to buy a gas powered air compressor, or buy an electric air compressor?  How do you know which is a better choice between a gas vs electric air compressor?  The choice between a gas and electric air compressor can be a real conundrum.  Normally it is a pretty easy decision – when you want more power, you have to go with a gas powered engine.  This is this general idea behind most power tools.  Electric powered tools are smaller, lighter and mostly quieter, without the smelly exhaust gas.  Gas engines provide a lot more power for the really tough jobs, that electric motors just can’t handle.

Why is it a difficult choice between Gas vs Electric air compressor?

The reason is that generally speaking, when you want more power, you need a gas engine.  An electric motor is very powerful, but there is a limit due to the electricity supply.  Depending on the domestic power supply, there is a limit to the power that an electric motor can draw.  For example, if your power supply is 110 Volt AC power, the maximum current you can draw is limited to 10 or 15 amps.  If you know your power equation, this equates to:

“Power =  Voltage x current”

So, when the electricity supply is restricted to the domestic supply, the Power equation looks like this:

Power = 120 volts x 15 Amps = 1800 Watts.

It is not possible to get more than 2 kWatts from a domestic electric motor.  This is unless you have multi-phase wiring, and then you can use a bigger motor, but this is generally restricted to commercial premises.  However, this is not the case when it comes to a gas powered air compressor.  Even a very small gas air compressor can produce at least 2 kWatts and upwards.  The larger the capacity of the gas engine, the higher the power output.

A Gas engine is not restricted by external limitations

So this is the reason a gas powered air compressor can produce much more power than an electric compressor.  But this comes at the expense of noise, exhaust emissions, and the cost of gasoline!  But when you really need lots of power to get the job done, there is no alternative.  The gas air compressor is the way to go!

But which is the best option between the gas vs electric air compressor?

The question between gas vs electric air compressor is a bit different from most other power tools.  As we discussed, the power of an electric compressor is restricted by the domestic electricity supply.  But what we need to consider with an electric compressor is the air storage tank.  Because a typical electric compressor comes with an air storage reservoir, it can store energy in the compressed air.

The key is the Compressed Air Tank

The way an electric air compressor works is that the electric motor drives a compressed air pump.  The air pump fills the storage tank with compressed air up to the limit of the tank.  When the tank reaches the high pressure limit, the motor shuts off automatically and goes into standby mode.  When you use the compressed air, or the pressure level drops back down, the motor will switch on again.

Why is the Storage Tank Important?

With electric air compressors, you generally aim to keep an operational level of available compressed air in the storage tank.  This is actually a form of power, in the form of energy of stored compressed air.  The compressed air is actually stored energy can be delivered as power when you need it.  The stored energy in the compressed air can be converted into kinetic energy to power air tools.  This is the secret to owning and running your very own electric powered air compressor at home.

You might be surprised at Gas vs Electric Air Compressor!

The purpose of the compressed air storage tank is to deliver the compressed air right when you need it.  This means that electric air compressors can actually deliver higher power for short periods.  The higher power can be delivered in the form of energy stored in the compressed air.  This is the reason why we like to recommend the electric air compressor here at the AirCompressorJournal, because they can deliver high power.  Even though it may only be for a short time, the electric air compressor can deliver the same power in terms of compressed air as a gas air compressor.

That is why we recommend to buy an Electric Air Compressor

There are many other good reasons to buy an electric air compressor to use at home.  Unlike most other power tools, the sheer power of a gas engine vs electric air compressor does not matter.  The power of an electric air compressor should not be the only factor in your choice when it comes to buy an air compressor.

Advantages of an Electric Air Compressor

Electric Air CompressorAn Electric powered air compressor is much easier and more convenient to use than a gas air compressor.  The biggest advantage is that an electric air compressor does not have any smelly exhaust gases.  Generally speaking, electric air compressors are quieter than a gas air compressor.  Some electric air compressors are extremely quiet, so that can be very attractive for some people.  An electric air compressor is also smaller, lighter and easier to use than a gas air compressor.

Electric Compressors are easy to use

The average electric powered air compressor can start up straight away, and you don’t need to wait for warm up.  The electric air compressor comes with automatic shut off so that there is no risk of over pressurization or overheating.  Because an electric air compressor is small and light, it can be easily stored away when not in use.  You can even buy an electric air compressor that does not need oil, so there is no problem with leaks.  An electric air compressor needs less maintenance, and is always ready to start work whenever you need it!

Advantages of a Gas Air Compressor

gas powered air compressorOn the other side of the coin, an electric air compressor can only be used when you can plug it into a domestic power socket.  If you are working on a remote job site, or if the power is not working, then you need to rely on a gas powered air compressor.  But that is one of the few advantages of gas vs electric air compressors!  With a few exceptions, both gas and electric air compressors run at similar compressed air levels.  So there is not really a big difference between gas vs electric air compressors in terms of performance.  It is true that a large gas powered air compressor can deliver a much higher flow rate of compressed air.  But these large units are generally much heavier and much more expensive.


Disadvantages of a Gas Air Compressor

The big difference between gas vs electric air compressors is that gas air compressors run continuously.  A gas air compressor does not have a shut off limit such as an electric air compressor.  The gas air compressor simply opens a pilot valve to release excess air.  This process is wasteful, and because the gas air compressor runs continuously, it uses much more energy to run.  Needless to say, this means there is constant noise and exhaust fumes generated by a gas air compressor.  It is difficult to use a gas powered air compressor on a shared work site, where loud noise is an issue.  It is also impossible to use a gas air compressor in an enclosed space because of the exhaust emissions.  Gas powered air compressors are generally larger, heavier, and require more maintenance than an electric air compressor.

gas air compressor

Why choose a gas powered air compressor?

The main reason to choose a gas powered air compressor is for heavy duty industrial work sites where electric power is not available.  There is no doubt that a gas air compressor is very powerful, and can deliver a high volume of compressed air.  All you need to do is bring hearing protection, and lots of gasoline!

We recommend the Electric air compressor

As we have discussed, there is not a big difference between a gas vs electric air compressor.  If you need high volumes of compressed air, you can certainly use a 20 gallon air compressor, or even a 60 gallon air compressor.    If you need a small portable air compressor, then choose an electrical air compressor.   If you are looking for the best quiet air compressor, then an electric air compressor is the only way to go!

No matter which way you look at it, the electric air compressor is almost always the best choice!


If you are set on a gas powered air compressor, we recommend the DeWalt gas air compressor for reliability.

Check the price on the DeWalt air compressor at Amazon. Protection Status



One Response

  1. SchumakIndia December 20, 2017 Reply

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