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To supply high-pressure clean air to fill gas cylinders

To supply moderate-pressure clean air to a submerged surface supplied diver

To supply moderate-pressure clean air for driving some office and school building pneumatic HVAC control system valves

To supply a large amount of moderate-pressure air to power pneumatic tools, such as jackhammers

For filling tires

To produce large volumes of moderate-pressure air for large-scale industrial processes (such as oxidation for petroleum coking or cement plant bag house purge systems).

Most air compressors either are reciprocating piston type, rotary vane or rotary screw. Centrifugal compressors are common in very large applications. There are two main types of air compressor's pumps: oil-lubed and oil-less. The oil-less system has more technical development, but is more expensive, louder and lasts for less time than oil-lubed pumps. The oil-less system also delivers air of better quality.

The most common types of air compressors are: electric or gas/diesel powered compressors. The power of a compressor is measured in HP (Horsepower) and CFM (cubic feet of air per minute). The gallon size of the tank tells you how much compressed air "in reserve" is available. Gas/diesel powered compressors are widely used in remote areas with problematic access to electricity. They are noisy and require ventilation for exhaust gases. Electric powered compressors are widely used in production, workshops and garages with permanent access to electricity. Common workshop/garage compressors are 110-120 Volt or 230-240 Volt. Compressor tank shapes are: "pancake", "twin tank", "horizontal", and "vertical". Depending on a size and purpose compressors can be stationary or portable.