Air Pump Vs Air Compressor – What Is The Difference?

Where air pumps and compressors give pressured air, there are vital differences between them.

Both units have different applications, maximum pressure, and size.

Below, we will discuss air pump vs. air compressor in detail.

In this analysis, we’ll tell you which one is perfect for your job.

Stay tuned and read till the end to pick one that better matches your work needs.

What is Air Compressor?

An air compressor is an incredible machine that compresses the gas and uses it to perform multiple tasks. Using an air compressor, you can inflate your vehicle’s tire or do some around-the-house job.

You can pair an air compressor with pneumatic air tools to complete your tasks. These air tools include an impact wrench, brad nailer, finish nailer, trimming nailer, and sanders.

What is Air Pump? 

An air pump, on the other hand, gives air to aerate an element or fill up a crowded place. Like air compressors, you can also use air pumps for various purposes. However, this unit is best known for inflating jobs.

Be it a bike, car, SUV, or RV, you can use an air pump to inflate any of these. Mind that a high-end or electric air pump will be required to inflate truck tires.

Air Pump Vs. Air Compressor

Comparison Table

Air Compressor

Air pump

Very high output pressure

Much lower output pressure

High output pressure can be used in different power tools and fill big tires' air.

Low output pressure can only drive a few air tools, and it is also best for filling a low-pressure tire.

Air compressors can easily store pressurized air in a tank.

Air pumps do not store air.

Air compressors are expensive where prices range from 100 to 1000 dollars.

Air pumps are cheaper where the price ranges from 20 to 40 dollars.

Air compressors blow pressurized air when the tank is empty.

The air pump blows air continuously.

Air compressors usually work with the help of electricity or gas.

Air pumps are generally powered by electricity or by hand.

Air compressors give you excellent storage capacity.

Air pumps have no storage capacity.

1. Appearance

If we compare the pump and the compressor, the significant difference is the appearance. Air compressors typically consist of storage tanks, drains, casing, intake filters, valves, and a motor.

However, the air pump consists of a volute, impeller, shaft, casing, and motor as essential parts. The air is forced into the desired space with the help of a piston in an air pump. It then inflates your vehicle’s tire.

2. Transference of Matter 

Compressors only transfer gases with high pressure. While you can use air pumps to move the liquid along with gases through systems.

Air compressors typically squeeze the volume of gas before transfer. Therefore, the primary function of air compressors is to reduce the volume of the gas and then pump it through.

On the other hand, air compressors are non-suitable for liquids because it’s challenging to move them and requires high power.

3. Performance Difference 

There is a difference in how air pumps and air compressors perform. An air pump typically takes air from a closed environment. Therefore, it gives the pumping process a positive discharge with no high pressure.

Usually, air compressors take air from the open environment and compress the air with high pressure. So we can quickly evaluate that a vacuum pump works with low pressure whereas an air compressor works with high pressure.

4. Maintenance 

Compared to air pumps, your air compressor needs more attention and maintenance. You will need to oil the unit regularly or once a week – except for the maintenance-free designs. The reason is that an air compressor comes with delicate parts. These parts are crankshafts and pistons, to be precise.

It is highly recommended to use high-quality lubrication oil for the longevity of your air compressor. Thankfully, air pumps do not need any maintenance and efficiently work as long as possible.

Air compressors work with the help of professional supervision and maintenance. But air pumps do not need any services and are also easier to maintain.

5. Output Air Pressure

There is also a difference in pressure in both devices. Air pumps can quickly produce 30 to 50 PSI pressure, whereas air compressors generally give off 200 PSI of maximum pressure.

Goes without saying, air compressors are ideal for heavy-duty work. Air pumps are typically used for compressing gases and inflating tires.

6. Prices

As discussed earlier, air pumps are not as powerful as air compressors. Therefore they are available at cheaper rates. The price of air pumps ranges typically from $20 to $40, whereas air compressors are costly, varying from $100 to $1000.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the primary difference between an air compressor and an air pump?

An air compressor squeezes the volume of the gas and then pumps it out. On the other hand, an air pump is used to move the liquid or gas from one place to another. So in air pumps, you can use liquid or gas, whereas the compressor is only confined to the gases.

Why is the air pump primarily used for gasses?

Air pumps are mainly used for gasses because gases can be compressed. When we introduce something to a fluid, pressure is generated, responsible for fluid motion. On the other hand, pressure waves are fragile in the case of gases, so they can be compressed very efficiently.

Final Words

We are sure that now you have a better understanding of air pump vs. air compressor.

For a recap, let us mention that the air compressor and air pump both pass air and inflate tires, but there are more differences between them. You can use an air compressor for heavy-duty and professional tasks, including framing, finishing, trimming, and inflating vehicle tires.

However, uses are limited with an air pump. They give off little pressure compared to the air compressor. That’s why you can only inflate tires with it. Both unit also looks different. You need quite a good space to store air compressors, while air pumps are small and handy.

Due to the size, performance, and versatility, there’s a good price difference between both units. Air pumps are cheap and come under $50, while a small air compressor will cost you twice this.

So, if you are running low on bucks and space, and want a unit to inflate tires, use an air pump. However, if you are a professional and searching for a unit that serves you long-term in job site projects, an air compressor is the best option to bet your bucks.