Air Compressor Anatomy 101
Here we we have breakdown drawings and diagrams of Piston air compressors (reciprocating aka "Recip") as well as for Rotary Screw air compressors. There are other types, but the vast majority of air compressors in use today are one of these two types. In general they consist of an air pump, a motor or engine and a tank to hold the compressed air.
There are many different parts and pieces that make up an air compressor. Although some may be fairly generic, most parts will vary depending on the make and model of the compressor.
Ingersoll Rand, Chicago Pneumatic, RolAir, Jenny (Emglo) and Campbell Hausfeld are some of the most popular compressor brands. Many of their parts can be interchangeable, such as check valves and filters. Most parts however will be specifically designed for that air compressor. In the sections below you will find exploded diagrams of some of the most popular compressor parts, and how they may vary depending on the manufacturer.
A piston compressor (also known as a reciprocating compressor) uses pistons driven by a crankshaft to deliver air at high pressure. The images with the breakdowns below display the most prominent components of the compressors. The image on the left is a standard stationary compressor (Ingersoll-Rand SS5L5), while the image on the right is of a (RolAir) wheelbarrow compressor designed for portability on the jobsite.
A rotary screw is a compressor which utilizes two intermeshing helical rotors to trap a volume of air, then compress it to a higher pressure. Rotary screw compressors can be run at lower temperatures, and for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. These compressors are all stationary, and generally have a specific air piping system that runs through the warehouse, industrial plant or shop in which it is located. Many local shops that we have seen also use regular air hose for its flexibility and mobility.