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Air or Electric

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  • Air or Electric

    Probably discussed some where in here before but I was about to buy a larger compressor and a few air tools when the cuz said he would go electric instead.

    He has an electric impact wrench he likes much better than an air wrench. Also uses electric grinders and other electric tools.

    So now I'm thinking maybe keep my 20gal compressor and buy electric tools instead of air tools. But for some reason I'd like a 60gal or larger compressor.

    Whats the pro's and con's here when your looking at beefing up a small shop with some new tools?

  • #2

    You need to consider the torque range that is needed. Then compare that to the electric tools. I think you'll be hard pressed to find an electic tool that compares to an air wrench.
    Personally I perfer the newer light weight air wrenches.
    Just my opinion..
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    Spoolmatic 30A
    Maxstar 200 DX
    Shopmaster 300
    S-22A Feeder
    Coolmate 3
    Trailblazer 250G


    • #3
      Like W Welding points out, torque is the differance.

      Out in the field we use electric grinders, in the shop we only use air grinders.
      We can take a 1/4" wide 4-1/2" dia grinding disk on an air grinder and use it to cut 3/8" steel all day. When we do this with an electric grinder we are replacing brushes all day after we have stalled the things out.

      It is pure lazy to not change the wheel but it happens.

      So depending on your application you need to decide.

      My people prefer the air tools
      Live Right Have Fun

      XMT350 CV/CC
      22A Feeder
      Dynasty 200DX
      12vs Extreme
      Hypertherm PowerMax 1000
      20" x 40" CNC Mills (2)
      16" x 60" engine lathe
      65 Ton edwards iron worker
      3/16' x 24" power slip roll
      16' power feed mitering bandsaw
      and other fun toys


      • #4
        Electric tools are handy on a welding truck when you don't have a compressor nearby, for a shop I'd stick with the air tools.
        at home:
        2012 325 Trailblazer EFI with Excel power
        2007 302 Trailblazer with the Robin SOLD
        2008 Suitcase 12RC
        Spoolmatic 30A
        2009 Dynasty 200DX
        2000 XMT 304
        2008 Thermal Dynamics Cutmaster 52
        Sold:MM 251
        Sold:CST 280

        at work:
        Invision 350MP
        Dynasty 350
        Millermatic 350P
        Retired:Shopmaster 300 with a HF-251


        • #5
          Air takes a lot of energy, 5 or 6 times the power as electric to grind. Electric for common grinding, air for specialty stuff, impacts, rotary tools like die grinders, air sanding.


          • #6
            I don't agree with you sberry. We have a 7-1/2 horse compressor, it supplies air to the CNC's, the deburr department, and the fab area. With that being said, it only runs about 15 to 18 minutes and hour. It isn't using that much power, and the electric tools run 60 minutes an hour when in use. I think 5-6 times the power might be a bit over calculated.

            Just my opinion, could be wrong.
            Live Right Have Fun

            XMT350 CV/CC
            22A Feeder
            Dynasty 200DX
            12vs Extreme
            Hypertherm PowerMax 1000
            20" x 40" CNC Mills (2)
            16" x 60" engine lathe
            65 Ton edwards iron worker
            3/16' x 24" power slip roll
            16' power feed mitering bandsaw
            and other fun toys


            • #7
              The harder you run the air tool, the cooler it will run. The harder you run an electric tool, the sooner it will burn out. As long as you have them lubed properly the air tool should last a very long time.

              What Sberry said about the inefficiency of air tools is true. I don't know that it's a factor of 5 or 6. You loose a lot of the compressor's power in heat.

              Dynasty200DX w/coolmate1
              MM Vintage
              Lincoln AC225
              Victor O/A, Smith AW1A
              Cutmaster 81
              IR 2475N7.5FP
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              Jancy USA101
              9" South Bend


              • #8
                you wont get a electric impact to get anywhere near competing with an air impact...... biggest electric 1/2 drive is around 300 ft pounds.... my 3 year old ingersoll 1/2 drive pops out 1,000 ft pounds.... just sayin.

                air tools are a ton less efficient than elect. for sure... i will choose an electric drill over an air any day of the week, i will choose an electric grinder over air, i choose an air die grinder for size sake and an air impact over electric.... gotta pick n choose....

                1 is not the best and both have some areas that are better than others...

                nothing fancy, just a few hot glue guns for metal


                • #9
                  It is really how much you are doing to be using it, and what you prefer. I have both in my shop. Some tools I only would use in air, other I like them in electric.

                  Look at it this way, It takes a 5 hp air compressor putting out 18 cfm to run a 4-1/2 angle grinder constant. That air compressor will NOT shut off. It will be running the entire time that angle grinder is going. That compressor is on 220v and pulls something like 30 amps.

                  Now that 4-1/2 electric angle grinder only pulls 10 amps on 110v to run it constant. You figure up which burn less juice.

                  Also, something to consider, Electric tools cost less upfront.


                  • #10
                    My personal preference would be air for everything as long as I have access to a compressor big enough for what the tool needs. My toolbox for work is all air except the grinder, 5 inch makita is a lot cheaper than any air grinder I've seen.
                    Owner of Burnt Beard Fabrication & Welding Ltd.

                    BigBlue 500D
                    Dynasty 200DX
                    Millermatic 211
                    4' Box and Pan Break
                    IR compressor


                    • #11
                      Hey Hardrock,
                      I agree with the other fellows on most points of their suggestions. I use both in my shop & on my mobile unit. My shop has a 60gal compressor that handles the air tools nicely & the mobile unit has a small 26gal compressor that I use if the elec. units fail. I like to have both as you never know when one is going to crap out on you, especially when you're on a jobsite. I have (3) elec. & (3) 4.5" air grinders, & (2) elec. & (2) air die grinders in the shop & (1) each on the mobile. I've been using the HF orange paddleswitch 4.5" elec., & the HF Central Pneumatic air units with excellent service & they are inexpensive. I do use air lube for all air units & that really extends tool life. Anyway, keep both on hand as you never know. Get a 60 gal compressor.... that would be a minimum size.

                      * Complete welding, machine, & fab shop *
                      * Mobile unit *
                      * Finally retired *

                      * A man's word is his honor..... without honor, there is nothing. *
                      * Words are like bullets..... once they leave your muzzle, you cannot get them back. *
                      * I have no reservation to kill nor hesitation to die for the U.S. Constitution & the American Flag. *
                      * Age is a state of mind..... at my age, you cannot fathom what is in my mind. *


                      • #12
                        Thanks guys,

                        Seems I'll go with air. Have a couple electric tools also. I looked up impacts, and 300 pounds of torque like mentened was what I found on electrics also.

                        I like both, but I'm not going to work too hard with any. Ha..

                        Denny, 60gal. it is. The only one I can afford. CFM with the less than 4hp motors isn't great but it will have to do.

                        Some very good reading/ info from all.

                        Thanks again.


                        • #13
                          My pick for electric grinders these days is the B&D from Walmart, only thing I like better about my Milwaukee I use on the bench is a no tools needed turnable guard. The B&D is more comfortable and at 30$ is hard to beat, very good power and in another year we will see how it lasts but at this point there is no reason to suspect that the life expectancy isn't going to be fine. I sharpen some brush hog blades with it the other day and it really flys.
                          Nice to be able to snatch one off the shelf at the store, I have seen and used some of the HF ones, a couple worked ok, a couple dumped on the first wheel so that is a crap shoot and they really didn't have the power. For another 10$ these seem to be the real deal, as good as the DeWalts they are modeled from and when they get old I am not even fooling with brushes, in the scrap they go at that price and just replace. I really liked the feel of the DW 402 and the old B&D 2750 but had problems with brush life especially under rugged use.


                          • #14
                            Here is a guy that is really hard on them.
                            Attached Files


                            • #15
                              We were up in the hospital visiting my mother and he looks at a machine and says "what is it daddy"? The nurse was trying to explain and he looks at me and I said, its an air compressor, he says, Oh nurse looks back kind of funny like. She must have thought it was kind of different that a guy less than 2 1/2 would comprehend that for some reason.
                              He was playing with a kid about 4 or so, the kid says, its a tractor, he pipes up, NO, its a bulldozer! hahaha
                              Last edited by Sberry; 10-02-2010, 11:19 AM.