What Is a Diesel Compressor?

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  • Written By: Amy Rodriguez
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 13 March 2018
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A diesel compressor is a machine that compacts and stores air for powering pneumatic tools. This compressor type uses diesel fuel as the main power source. Diesel compressors are designed for outdoor and heavy duty tool purposes, such as for construction or field repair projects.

Compressors use an internal motor to pull outside air into the machine. As the motor's pistons move up and down, air is constantly forced into the diesel compressor for storage in its tank. A user attaches an air tool, such as a grinder, to the diesel compressor; the forced air rushes out into the tool to generate mechanical motion. The compressor will continue to draw and expel air through its components until the air tool is removed.

Diesel fuel has an advantage over basic gasoline compressors; it can generate more power for the connected air tool. The consistency of diesel fuel is much thicker than gasoline, which helps the fuel burn at higher temperatures. As a result, more power can be drawn from the fuel and into the motor for extra air flow. A drawback to this fuel source is its higher price compared to gasoline. Consumers would need to weigh the power needs of the project against the fuel cost before choosing a diesel compressor.


This machine should not be used indoors; fumes emanate from the compressor, which can be harmful if inhaled. The diesel compressor should be operated outside for larger projects. Most of these machines are used within industrial and construction projects; construction machines that have failed may need an immediate repair, which usually requires a heavy duty air tool powered by the diesel compressor. An added bonus to using diesel fuel in the compressor is its abundance on job sites — many construction machines use the same type of fuel.

These long lasting compressors can take a lot of abuse while moving from project to project. Many models are constructed of very durable material, such as steel, to ensure that no cracks occur along the tank's exterior. Most compressors have a protective covering or sturdy bars surrounding the assembly to keep the machine functioning for many years.

Users should be aware that diesel compressors are much louder than an electrically powered model. During compressor operation, users and surrounding workers should keep a distance from the machine to prevent hearing loss. Workers constantly near a diesel compressor should use hearing protection; the loud noise is similar to a diesel big rig truck engine.


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