Difference Between Air Compressor and Air Pump

air compressor vs air pump

When it comes to comparing air compressor and air pump, some of the differences are very clear, especially with the way they function. In this article from Linquip, we will talk about their differences, not only about the way they function, but also about the lesser-known things that enable you to differentiate between them such as their structure, application, maintenance, and so on. Continue reading to know these differences.

Difference Between Air Compressor and Air Pump

1. Operating Method

Although the air compressor and air pump both do the same thing, their operational process is different. Air pumps are used when you want to move gases and liquids through a system but air compressors are used when you only need to move gasses. You might notice that both of them use high pressure for raising gasses or liquids to the desired place, but there’s one thing you are not paying attention to when comparing air compressor vs air pump and that is their operating method.

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Air pumps simply move the fluid (gases or liquids) from place A to place B. But what an air compressor does is actually a bit different. Air compressors are capable of squeezing the volume of the gases to make the transfer easier and better. By lessening the gas’ volume, they pump the gas to the place you desire. One of the reasons that air compressors are not suitable liquids is that compressing them and decreasing the liquids’ volume is very hard.

air compressor vs air pump

2. Structure

When comparing air compressor vs air pump, you should know that their structure differs as well. An air compressor contains a motor, intake filter, valves, storage tanks, drain, casing, etc. the air pump contains the basic parts such as motor, casing, impeller, volute, and shaft.

Air pumps use a piston for forcing the air into the desired space as a way to inflate the object.

3. Application

As we mentioned above, air compressors are only used for carrying gasses but air pumps can carry both liquids and gasses. That makes the compressors much more suitable for when there’s a need for transferring gasses from one place to another such as specialized gas plants in pneumatic devices. On the other hand, air pumps can be used for multiple purposes from big manufacturing plants to small places such as your house! You can use them for aeration purposes for introducing oxygen in aquariums. You can see them in the siphons that are in the clothes washers. There they empty the machine’s water in the sewerage framework. You might have even used air pumps in your childhood to fill up a balloon or even your bicycle tires! Air compressors are also popular for multiple everyday purposes such as spray painting, nail guns, framing crews, and even sprinkling water. Plus, air compressors can also inflate car tires for you as opposed to air pumps that are suitable for bicycles.

You might be surprised to know that air pumps can also be found in vacuum cleaners! That’s right! Another difference when comparing air compressor vs air pump when it comes to the application is that vacuum cleaners use air pumps that have the ability to vacuum dust and other things.

4. Maintenance

Another thing you need to know when comparing air compressor and air pump is that their maintenance differs too. Air pumps are considered to be easier to maintain than air compressors. Keep in mind that we have to types of air pumps: Manual and digital. Manual ones are even easier to maintain than digital ones. All you need to do for maintaining air pumps is… well nothing! Just keep in mind to keep the digital one at the desired weather and temperature and you are good to go! You only need to repair them once they are not operating as expected.

The case is a bit different for air compressors and that’s one of the differences when comparing air compressor vs air pump. The maintenance of air compressors are a little hard. Air compressors, too, have different types and the ones out there in the market nowadays are powered by gas or electricity. Each type of air compressor should be maintained according to its manual and the steps you should take for maintaining them are different from one type to the other. Not to mention the maintenance costs of the air compressors.

air compressor vs air pump


5. Output Capacity

Different air compressors and air pumps have different output capacity. But one thing we know for sure is the air pressure output an air compressor provides is significantly higher compared to the output capacity of an air pump. The maximum amount of air pressure output that air compressors can deliver could be as high as 200 PSI!

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6. Costs

We already mentioned that the cost of maintenance for air compressors are a bit high. But there’s also another issue you should consider: Air compressors are considerably more expensive and have higher prices than air pumps. This difference in the prices is due to the structure of air compressors which are more complex when compared to air pumps. Even a digital air pump is still much simpler than a basic air compressor.

Now that you are here, you know the different points regarding air compressor vs air pump. You now know which one you knew since you were a child and which one is used in the house! What do you think about them? Comment below and share your thoughts. You can also sign up on Linquip and talk to our experts to find the answer to all your questions.


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2 thoughts on “Difference Between Air Compressor and Air Pump”

  1. Thank you! Now I know why I do not want or NEED a compressor for a kiddie pool. I have one but I am going out to get an Air Pump for that. Thannks again.

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