How Does A Portable Air Compressor Work?

Portable air compressors are mostly used when a stationary compressor is unable to perform a task or it can be used as a backup air compressor when other solutions are not available. Portable air compressors work with diesel engines instead of electric power so you do not have to worry about the availability of a power source. Portable air compressors are made strong and durable because they have to work in every condition like extreme weather or high altitudes. These are the main parts of the portable air compressor and their details about how they work.


The first part is the mechanism of the compressor. Different mechanisms are used to construct an air compressor. Most of the portable air compressors are built on a single-stage rotatory screw-type mechanism. The single-stage air compressor uses one side of the compressor to store compressed air and the other part deals with all the functions to provide you the compressed air by moving the piston up and down to create pressure. The single-stage air compressors are much more affordable as compared to two-stage air compressors. The rotatory screw mechanism is also included with the single-stage type to make the air compressor effective and efficient. You will see that there are two screws in the portable air compressor that is responsible for storing or trapping the air in the first part of the single-stage mechanism.

Diesel engine

The next part in the working of a portable air compressor is the diesel engine. As the air compressor is portable so they are built with an in-built diesel engine instead of a plug-in power source so you can use the air compressor anywhere and anytime without having to wait for any power source. They are capable of running for a long time like hours but if you have a large size tank then it can work for days and weeks. The diesel engine comes attached to the air compressor with the help of belts and pulleys so you only have to turn the motor to start working with the compressed air and do not have to do any more effort or hard work. The engine is responsible to create pressure in the air that is compressed in the single-stage compressor part.

Control System

The third part of the portable air compressor is the control system of the compressor. The control system of the air compressor is manufactured with the help of different tools and turbines to run the air compressor properly. The stationary and very large air compressors have a bigger control system so you can monitor and adjust all the things like pressure and many others. But the portable air compressor usually comes with only an on/off or a load/unload button and can automatically adjust and monitor everything without any external control by you. The control system is also responsible for checking oil levels or diesel levels and regulating temperature.


You can attach different other tools or accessories to your portable air compressor that you need according to the type of your work or because of other safety measures such as explained below.

  • Cooler: It is used to cool down the compressed air in case any of your work or application suggests you not to use hot air or temperature of the air below a certain level.
  • Filters: Filters can be used to separate dirt and debris particles from the air if you are doing something that requires clean air such as pressure cleaning.
  • Re-heater: You can use a re-heater if you need to increase the temperature of the compressed air due to some reasons. It is also used to reduce moisture in the air.
  • Cold start: Cold start is a very good accessory to use if you are operating in extremely cold areas or weather. It helps you in effective working despite cold weather.