Difference Between Air Pump and Air Compressor

The main difference between the air compressor and air pump is that they have different working processes. However, they are used for the same function. An Air compressor is used to transfer air and gases, while you can use an air pump to transfer both liquids and gases.

As you can observe that both of these machines first compress the working medium to transfer it from one area to another. However, it may be possible that you didn’t observe their working method when comparing the air pump vs the air compressor. In this article, we will study an explained comparison between the air pump and the air compressor.

Difference Between Air Compressor and Air Pump

A pump is a mechanical device that transfers a fluid (either gas or liquid) from one location to another.

On the other hand, a compressor is a mechanical device that compresses a compressible fluid (such as air or gas) into a small volume and transfers it to the desired area.

Difference Between Air Compressor and Air Pump

The main differences between the air compressor and pump are given below:

1) Operation

The air pump has an easy operation than the air compressor. The operational method of the air pump is very simple. The air pump has a piston that moves forward and backward. This piston sucks the air into the pump chamber, compresses it, and transfers it to the desired object.

The air pumps are most commonly used to transfer Oxygen into the aquarium. This process is called aeration. The Oxygen in the aquarium is important for the life of the aquatic organisms in the systems.

While on the other hand, air compressors can compress the amount of gas, which makes better and easy transportation. By reducing the gas volume, they increase the gas pressure and pump it where you want it. Air compressors can’t pump liquids because they have high viscosity than gases, and they are very hard to compress.

The air pump has lower air pressure than the air compressor. The air compressor can deliver a pneumatic power of up to 200 PSI. This feature of air compressors makes them ideal for a variety of applications.

2) Applications

As we discussed above, air pumps can be used to transfer both gases and liquids, while air compressors can only transfer gases. This makes the compressor ideal for special gas systems that have to transport gas from one location to another, such as pneumatic devices.

In contrast, you can use the pumps for a variety of applications, from large industries to small areas like houses. The pumps may also be utilized to transfer Oxygen into the aquarium. The air pumps are also most commonly used in the washing machine siphon. In the washing machine, they are used to discharge the water from the sewer system.

The bicycle hand pump is the most common example of an air pump. The bicycle pumps are employed to inflate the cycle wheel tire. Air compressors are also used for a variety of everyday applications such as irrigation, framing crews, nail guns, and even for spray paint. In addition, you can also use an air compressor to inflate your car tire in place of an air pump.

According to their use and application, this is the main difference between an air compressor and an air pump.

3) Maintenance

When you try to make a comparison of air pump vs air compressor, you must also consider their maintenance requirements and costs. The air compressor has tougher maintenance than the air pump. The air pumps have two designs:

  1. Digital Pump
  2. Manual Pump

The manually operated pumps have easier maintenance than the digital pumps.

This case is slightly different for the air compressor. The air compressor is a little tricky to maintain. There are also different types of air compressors. Air compressors currently available on the market are powered by natural gas or electricity.

All types of compressors need to be serviced according to their manufacturer’s instructions. Each type of air compressor has various procedures to maintain it.

4) Design  

In the case of air pump vs air compressor, you need to know that they have different designs. The air compressor has a motor, pistons, housings, drains, storage tanks, valves, suction filters, and more. The air pump has connecting rod, crankshaft, impeller, housing, volute, diffuser, motor, and camshaft.

The reciprocating air pump uses a piston to inflate an object by forcing air into the desired space.

5) Output Capacity

The air pump and air compressor have different power and efficiency. However, as we know, the pneumatic power of the air compressor is much greater than the power of the air pump. A compressor has the capacity to deliver up to 200 PSI pressure.

6) Maintenance Cost

As discussed earlier, the pumps have lower maintenance and repair costs than the air compressor. The new compressor purchasing cost is more than the air pump. This price difference is due to the more complex structure of the air compressor than that of the air pump. Even a digital air pump has a simple design than a simple air compressor.

Quick Overview

  1. The compressor can also be used to pump gases, while the air pump can be used for both liquids and gases.
  2. The air pump has easy maintenance while the air compressor has a complex.
  3. Air pumps have an impeller, motor, casing, shaft, and valves. The air compressor has air filters, valves, a storage tank, a drain, an inlet valve, and an outlet valve.
  4. The air pump can’t deliver more air pressure than the air compressor.
  5. The pump has lower maintenance costs than the compressor.
  6. Pumps have lower purchasing costs than air compressors cost.
  7. The air pump has a simpler construction than the compressor.
  8. The maintenance and repair costs of the compressor are more complicated than the pump.

FAQ Section

Can I use an air pump as an air compressor?

Despite compressors and pumps serving a similar ultimate purpose, but their working mechanisms differ significantly. The main function of the pump to transfer liquids and gases within a system, while the compressor can only transfer the gases. Air pumps facilitate the straightforward transfer of liquids or gases from one location to another.

How does an air compressor work?

An air compressor operates by pushing air into a closed cylinder and subsequently increasing its pressure. This compressed air is then directed through an outlet in the tank, allowing pressure to build up. To illustrate, consider it similar to an inflated balloon: the compressed air can serve as a source of energy when it is released.

Do pumps increase pressure?

The primary function of a pump is not to provide pressure but to deliver a specific flow rate, moving a defined volume of liquid from a tank or reservoir to an outlet within a set timeframe.

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