Compress vs Canned Air

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Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Sat Nov 03, 2012 5:23 pm

I know we have had this conversation here before, can't seem to locate it and I've given more thought to it and am now ready to purchase an Air Compressor to do my dirty work (all pun intended).

Canned air has gone up in price, just like everything, and I'm looking for a cheaper way to blow the dust out of computers that I work on. I need to get a compressor thats small enough to fit under my in home work bench (I've got plenty of room) and does not come on every 1 minute. If it needs to refill once every 30-1 hour after heavy use, then I can live with that. As long as its not on for more than 5 or so minutes.

So I've looked at the electric "portables" which all range from 1-3.5 gallon tanks, and something low in PSI like 90 PSI. Problem is, all of them seem to have heavy draw backs of being cheap in quality, refilling constantly (because of the small capacity) and taking a long time to refill up to pressure, if they even hold that pressure.

I'm considering a Husky brand compressor. I've had great luck with my ratchet set, 13 draw tool box, ect and really like that I can return it to my local Home Depot if I'd like.

8 Gallon, 125 PSI Electric Compressor
http://www.homedepot.com/Husky/h_d1/N-2 ... ifications

3 Gallon, 125 PSI Electric Compressor w/Accessories
http://www.homedepot.com/Husky/h_d1/N-2 ... JWYXIaM5YY

Another 3 Gallon, 125 PSI Electric Compressor w/Accessories (Not sure the difference between this and the other 3 gallon... different generation/model?)
http://www.homedepot.com/Husky/h_d1/N-2 ... JWYqoaM5YY

When you consider that canned air runs about 20 bucks for a pack of 3 (3m Dusters) from Sam's Club (what used to cost me 8-9 bucks). I can instead pay around 100-150 bucks to get something that will pay itself off in less than 1 year, I mean why not? And yes, I go through that much canned air, sometimes 6 cans in a month. I'm not one of those hold the can open until its all gone people, I'm the short burst kinda guy.

What are your thoughts and experiences guys and gals? Bare in mind I do plan on using this to pump up the tires in the vehicles, possible get some other tool attachments. I'm still in the process of building my arsenal of tools, so having something like this in the shop if it can be justified on just blowing computers out alone for now would be ideal.
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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Sat Nov 03, 2012 5:29 pm

How soon between "just blowing out boxen (or pumping tires)" and "need to run impact wrenches"?
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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Sat Nov 03, 2012 5:34 pm

Since you mentioned automotive work and air tools, get at least the 8-gallon unit. The smaller ones will have trouble keeping up.

For computer use, you may want some sort of regulator attachment. An average air compressor can cause some serious damage inside a computer case if used carelessly. In particular, you can (1) crush the bearing inside a sleeve-bearing fan, and (2) build up a hefty static charge on something.
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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Sat Nov 03, 2012 5:37 pm

I've been considering getting one for my bench at work, does anyone have thoughts on Makita? This one is supposed to be fairly quiet.
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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Sat Nov 03, 2012 5:43 pm

I have a home unit with a 35L tank, and it can just about manage to pump my bike and then give one of my comps a decent clean and the second a tiny bit without comming on. But you wont run any impact tools for any time with it, and that is the nature if you want it to run purely from a tank. In that case you would need something different then those home small electric units. A friend of mine has a slow and rather quiet unit designed for filling dive tanks, although that has a much larger air volume and higher pressure and is a totally different beast. Also mine does a fair bit of noise 97db... it's loud, and it's one of the more quiet ones I could find for home use that werent a either a low-pressure or mini unit designed to run continously.

Although with the account I'm using it for some cleaning of my comp and pumping tires, it was cheap and not used too often so the drawbacks doesnt have that much of an impact.


But in my experience, you wont get any longeivity without a really big tank unless you actually have a much much higher pressure in the tank.
Last edited by Aphasia on Sat Nov 03, 2012 5:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Sat Nov 03, 2012 5:50 pm

Aphasia wrote:I have a home unit with a 35L tank


Was that supposed to be 3.5L, because 35L is pretty damned big for home use.
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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Sat Nov 03, 2012 6:02 pm

It 35L. And yes, two bike tires and a decent comp blowout or two and you need to refill the tank.

It's actually a small cart and was the smallest one in footprint that had any decent size for a tank. Considering what I wrote above, any smaller tank than 35 litre (<~10gallon) will have you run it almost continously or at a significantly lower pressure, and having it on for any amount of time will make alot of ruckus.
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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Sat Nov 03, 2012 6:31 pm

If you'll go with compressor, don't forget to release the water from the air tank after each use (it may not accumulate quickly enough but better to be safe)... Also, using some kind of dessicant (even the small, disposable in-line models) is probably a good idea for PC/electronics usage... Also, maybe look at oil-free models to decrease the maintenance costs.
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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Sat Nov 03, 2012 6:47 pm

If you're just using it to clean out computers, how about an electric duster for $53?
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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Sat Nov 03, 2012 7:01 pm

DPete27 wrote:If you're just using it to clean out computers, how about an electric duster for $53?

That's a pretty good device, actually... Very loud, though. But much more cheaper than using canned air, or buying a dedicated tank compressor. You obviously can't use it to inflate tires or stuff, but for inflating stuff I would simply get a dedicated tankless air compressor, something like this:
http://www.amazon.com/Viair-00073-Heavy ... r+portable The total price of those 2 would still be less than the price of large compressor with tank and the maintenance would be much easier and they both would take much less space. As for tools - I prefer electric ones, unless you want to open up the whole mechanic's shop in your garage :wink:
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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Sat Nov 03, 2012 11:57 pm

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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Sun Nov 04, 2012 12:11 am

Neither compressed nor canned, but I've had great success with this little device:

http://www.amazon.com/Metro-Vacuum-ED500-500-Watt-Electric/dp/B001J4ZOAW

It looks small (and it is) but it is great a blowing dust out of computers. Could also be used as a leaf blower :)


Oops. I now see the post above. So I second the motion.
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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Sun Nov 04, 2012 2:43 am

I'm hoping to blow the dust that cakes itself on in small layers, that a NOT new compressed air can can't get off. Just plain moving light dust doesn't quite do it for me. A good chunk of the systems I get in have some form of oil or moisture that cakes the dust on in slightly sticky layers.

With an air compressor, you obviously add oil for lubricant, but it can't be that much cost or use that much often enough.... right? I'd imagine its less than a little chain saw that uses say 8oz in the course of a year or more with light-moderate use? Also, what do you mean empty the tank? Do air compressors accumulate moisture much in the same way that air conditioners do? As for a regulator, we aren't talking too much, and can't you change the pressure it puts out variably or do you buy a regulator for each approximate pressure you want to use?

Those little canister vacuums you guys linked would be cool, but I just don't see them having the same pressure that canned air has, or do they? Also the wand attachment is directly linked to the body, so you have to pick up that entire body and try to get it into the case, looks sort of clumsy and bulky for that use. With something like a little hose coming from a compressor and a flat or smaller tip, I'd imagine I can get the air directly to where I need it to be. Right now my method is to use compressed and and then use a vacuum cleaner (Shop Vac) hose on the opposite side of where I'm blowing, causing the dust to get vacuumed up instead of spread all around the room.

What would be awesome is if someone made a refillable compressed air canister just like the current ones, that would allow you to home recharge them, hmmmmm....

Then again, if that little metro thing can in fact reach without issues I'd consider it for that cost. After reading reviews, I thought it awesome that the thing is able to go upside down considering its a vacuum and not a can of compressed air, always annoyed me. How much pressure do these things put out and how focused is the blast compared to a canned air?
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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:04 am

Welch wrote: A good chunk of the systems I get in have some form of oil or moisture that cakes the dust on in slightly sticky layers.

That usually happens in the house where people smoke, due to all the tar in the smoke... Now imagine how their lungs must look like :o


Welch wrote: Also, what do you mean empty the tank? Do air compressors accumulate moisture much in the same way that air conditioners do?

Yes. Has something to do with air compression/expansion. The air tank accumulates moisture from air over time, which must be purged, or you will get a rust inside the tank (if it's a steel tank) and it will fail catastrophically after a few years. There's usually a purge valve on bottom of tanks and instructions usually recommend to try and purge the tank after every use or so.


Welch wrote:Those little canister vacuums you guys linked would be cool, but I just don't see them having the same pressure that canned air has, or do they?

Try them out. Amazon has a very good return policy :wink: Also, they have various attachments, including "long straw"-like thingie.
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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:17 am

Makes sense, compression of moist air and condensation, ect. Good thing its dry as hell where I'm at, but still good information to have, thank you.


So your saying its got the same or better pressure than a fresh can of canned air? If that's the case and its got a straw attachment, I'm willing to give it a go. As much as I thought this was a good excuse to buy an air compressor, this may do the job better, which I'm totally down for. The review videos I saw looked alright, but I'm concerned with the focus of the blast. I'd like to get the most focus while still remaining safe for the components, which by the way, people totally under estimate what most of those components can handle. Hell, I've full on vacuumed almost directly on motherboards with my vacuum wand, careful of course not to rub or knock anything. Never had an issue. I think most people think that the components inside a computer are ultra fragile delicate pieces of artwork, not capable of taking too much sun. Shock, g-force, moisture and all sorts of other tolerances on these parts are insane compared to what they were 20, 15 and even 10 years ago.

So, if you can honestly tell me that in your experience... the Metro ED500 has the same or better focus blast that of a damn good thing of canned air, then I will buy one to try it out.
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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:23 am

I don't use this thing personally... All I use is my Dyson vacuum cleaner for sucking dust in, very carefully. Not a very convenient thing, but I prefer not to drag heavy cases outside, especially if it's too cold or there's a river flowing with cars in it :wink: Anyway, better to just try it out yourself and see if you like it. Don't forget to order the model with various attachments included!
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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:37 am

Welch wrote:Makes sense, compression of moist air and condensation, ect. Good thing its dry as hell where I'm at, but still good information to have, thank you.


So your saying its got the same or better pressure than a fresh can of canned air? If that's the case and its got a straw attachment, I'm willing to give it a go. As much as I thought this was a good excuse to buy an air compressor, this may do the job better, which I'm totally down for. The review videos I saw looked alright, but I'm concerned with the focus of the blast. I'd like to get the most focus while still remaining safe for the components, which by the way, people totally under estimate what most of those components can handle. Hell, I've full on vacuumed almost directly on motherboards with my vacuum wand, careful of course not to rub or knock anything. Never had an issue. I think most people think that the components inside a computer are ultra fragile delicate pieces of artwork, not capable of taking too much sun. Shock, g-force, moisture and all sorts of other tolerances on these parts are insane compared to what they were 20, 15 and even 10 years ago.

So, if you can honestly tell me that in your experience... the Metro ED500 has the same or better focus blast that of a damn good thing of canned air, then I will buy one to try it out.


Datavac is good. I've used a friend's, and it get the job done pretty well. It's big so you can't aim it in tight spaces, but video cards and the like come out easily enough.

I'd have one, but it makes a huge mess, so I use canned air to keep heatsinks clean and my garage air compressor for annual cleanings.
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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Sun Nov 04, 2012 4:33 am

I have the metro vac and I still end up buying canned air. The metro is good for blasting out big bits of dust in a very dusty case, but even with the detailing attachment it can't focus enough force to blow off that fine dust you get on the back of cards and on fan blades in filtered cases. A compressor beats them both easily for detail and volume work though. Just be careful about how close you get especially to brittle fans. I like to hold the fans still so they don't juice up from spinning.
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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:04 am

Derfer wrote:I have the metro vac and I still end up buying canned air. The metro is good for blasting out big bits of dust in a very dusty case, but even with the detailing attachment it can't focus enough force to blow off that fine dust you get on the back of cards and on fan blades in filtered cases. A compressor beats them both easily for detail and volume work though. Just be careful about how close you get especially to brittle fans. I like to hold the fans still so they don't juice up from spinning.


That was the information I was looking for. I'm a picky bastard, and don't like to clean the inside of a system half-ass. If it does not get that fine little layer on the back side of the cards off, then its virtually useless to me. What a shame too, because I was seriously considering grabbing one of those Metros. Especially considering the little thing is actually full steel construction and not plastic junk. It says its a vacuum, can it actually suck or does it just blow :lol:
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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:24 am

Yes I second make sure you never let fans free spin!!!!! Its BAD NEWS. I have Killed a fan on a old 9800pro video card. Sure it was neat listening to it hit 15000+ RPMs But it killed it. Larger fans could Explode Apart and literally hurt you, I was lucky it was a 30-40mm fan. Large fans the Gforces get much higher the larger they get and that's what makes them explode apart. Plus you have the possibility of producing voltage back through the fan wires.

My compressor is a 30 year OLD craftsman 8-10 gallon unit. But i have used alot of different ones. At 120 psi to clean my computer completely, including removing both video cards and cleaning them. It will run 3-4 times to refill itself. Any Air tool that has a air motor like a air ratchet, grinder or gun will also make it run alot. My Air nailer and staplers Not so much.

Be careful 120psi concentrated air can blow a resistor or circuit off.
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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Sun Nov 04, 2012 9:43 am

If you are running the compressor for anything more than nailer jobs, you want to make sure it is an oil lubricated iron type rather the oil free aluminium type. The oil lubricated ones last longer and are meant for more heavy duty work. The oil free types just have a teflon coating on the aluminium piston to keep it sliding.

If you are concerned about noise then you can put the compressor somewhere like in the garage and just run an air hose in to the bench. Plus it's then in the garage for when you want to change tyres etc.

As you are planning on blowing out computers, I'd then put an additional air line filter on it to remove all the moisture and any oil from the blowing air.
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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:30 am

Great suggestions. I'm thinking Air Compressor (that 8 Gallon one), along with a in-line filter and a regulator... should do the trick. That 8 Gallon Husky is an Iron Cylinder that requires oil for lubricant. How much does that oil usually cost and how often do you have to refill it?
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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:32 am

Ethyriel wrote:
Aphasia wrote:I have a home unit with a 35L tank


Was that supposed to be 3.5L, because 35L is pretty damned big for home use.

That's only a bit over 9 gallons, so it's not all that big.
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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Mon Nov 05, 2012 1:48 pm

I've got a 30 gallon one from Lowes for wrenching on my cars. Air tools rule!

Oil is pretty cheap, just picked up a bottle for my compressor for about $6. How often you change it depends on how much you use it. I don't use mine much so only change the oil once a year. More important is to ensure you drain any water from the tank after every time you use it.
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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:49 pm

Yeah, 35L(<~10gallons) is not really that big, but the smallest I would want to get to run it for any amount of time at all. That said, what's nice about my little card(waist high at the highest) is that it's oil free and has a build in regulator. Add I also got an extra moisture filter that I put between my hose and the blow-gun. But a build in regulartor is a pretty common feature so check if you have it on the one you get.
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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Mon Nov 05, 2012 3:01 pm

DPete27 wrote:If you're just using it to clean out computers, how about an electric duster for $53?


This, they're just computers and those things are great.

If you need more focused power than that to clean them your running environment isn't safe for non-industrial rated components anyways. (some of the absolutely disgusting animal/smoker abuse I've seen qualifies for this)

If its multi-purpose (e.g. also for your garage) then sure feel free to deal with the extra considerations of a compressor, otherwise the metro pays for itself in a couple cans.
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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Mon Nov 05, 2012 3:37 pm

I picked up one of those 60 gallon husky compressors from home depot. I got it two years ago for $400 on sale. It takes about 10 minutes to fill up and I've sanded down an entire car, painted the same car, run an impact for a half hour (taking apart a big block as fast as i could) straight and used it to blow/clean out the shop. Works great, never runs out. Not the nicest model, but I've never wanted for a feature. It turns on, has variable pressure, can keep up with anything I do and was pretty inexpensive.
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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Mon Nov 05, 2012 5:55 pm

I used canned air at work frequently, but since I work on bikes a lot I have some pretty beefy track pumps (floorstanding bicycle pumps) at home.

I found that a heavy duty track pump, capable of 200 psi - coupled with a tiny schrader adapter for things like footballs generates as much force on a single downstroke as a freshly started can of air.

Really effective,
Dirt cheap,
No mains lead required,
Never runs out or breaks down.

If you never want to pump up a football with that adapter, you can get even more pressure by cutting the end off before the sideport. Not really necessary, but MOAR=BETTAR, right?
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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Mon Nov 05, 2012 7:09 pm

One of the things I had to learn about handling PCB's back in the day was the static generation potential of a high-velocity stream of air. We had to down-regulate the pressure in all our air lines (our board rework/repair area was about ~130,000 sq ft) to reduce the triboelectric effect. I cannot remember the pressure used in the lines, unfortunately. The oil used in the lines reduced the effect as well. The air had to be dried to avoid condensation at the tip.

I use a shop vac set to "blow" and it does a very good job, particularly with power supplies, which require a very high volume of air to blow out.
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Re: Compress vs Canned Air

Postposted on Tue Nov 06, 2012 8:40 pm

Bauxite wrote:
DPete27 wrote:If you're just using it to clean out computers, how about an electric duster for $53?


This, they're just computers and those things are great.

If you need more focused power than that to clean them your running environment isn't safe for non-industrial rated components anyways. (some of the absolutely disgusting animal/smoker abuse I've seen qualifies for this)

If its multi-purpose (e.g. also for your garage) then sure feel free to deal with the extra considerations of a compressor, otherwise the metro pays for itself in a couple cans.


Micro dust sticks to things even in smoke free environments. You need more force if you want stuff to look brand new.
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