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Air Compressor Rental Cost: 2021 Commercial Hire Rates

Renting an air compressor is a common practice among many commercial companies using pneumatic tools. The choice between renting and buying depends on a few factors such as size and type of business, and economics.

Generally, of the two air compressor types available for hire, rental rates for portable models range from $45-$90/day or $100-$200/week. In contrast, a trailer-mounted compressor rental costs $75-$950/day or $220-$2,500/week.

But, renting rather than purchasing a compressor can be a difficult decision, the solution of which boils down to a few considerations:

  • Do you need specific air volume and pressure? If so, buy a compressor. Otherwise, rent one to provide variable volumes and pressures as and when you need them.
  • Can your company afford to buy? Compressors are expensive, and you need to find a large up-front payment before purchasing. When renting, you only pay when you need one. And, you’ll always get the most up-to-date model.
  • Do you need a compressor all the time? If you can justify using one most days, then obviously, buying a compressor is more cost-effective. However, if it sits in the workshop corner for days on end, a rental is the solution.
  • Have you any engineers or technicians in your company skilled at air compressor maintenance? If so, then a purchase is probably a good idea. If you don’t have these guys available, then rent a compressor and use the rental company’s technicians.

Many industries use air compressors to operate different kinds of tools. The most common compressed air uses are with pneumatic wrenches, sandblasting, spraypainting, and tire inflation. However, factories use pneumatics for many different purposes. This article discusses air compressor rental costs for various sizes and models. Hopefully, it will help you decide between purchasing and renting.

Air Compressor Rental Rates Comparison*

The table below gives you a detailed price comparison for the different commercial air compressor models along with their respective hire prices.

Type Power Output (Cubic Feet per Minute) Daily Rental Rate Weekly Rental Rate Monthly Rental Rate
Portable 5 $40 – $70 $100 – $150 $250 – $350
8 $50 – $80 $120 – $180 $300 – $400
20 $60 – $90 $150 – $200 $350 – $450
Trailer Mounted 100 $75 – $100 $200 – $300 $600 – $700
125 $90 – $150 $300 – $400 $800 – $1,000
185 $150 – $200 $400 – $550 $900 – $1,200
375 $200 – $300 $650 – $800 $1,500 – $2,000
750 £250 – $400 $850 – $1,200 $2,500 – $3,000
900 $550 – $700 $1,500 – $1,800 $3,500 – $4,500
1300 $550 – $750 $1,500 – $2,000 $4,000 – $5,000
1600 $800 – $950 $1,800 – $2,500 $5,000 – $6,000

*We compiled the air compressor rental prices shown in the table from various online resources. In the USA, there are many different compressor manufacturers and rental providers with different pricing policies. Therefore, these are average values taken across the board. As air compressor costs depend on the manufacturer, model type, power source, technology, features, and your location, use this table to start your private research. You should base your search on your budget, company requirements, and the state in which you live.

Air Compressor Hire Cost Factors

As we have mentioned previously, the rental cost of an air compressor varies considerably. The following headings highlight the main factors affecting the prices.

Power Source

Most compressors use diesel oil as fuel, as these produce the greatest power. Some models, however, use gasoline or LPG as a fuel source. Unfortunately, diesel oil, LPG, and gasoline, when burned in a motor, produce toxic carbon monoxide fumes. Therefore, operators generally use diesel-driven air compressors and other fossil fuel units in the open air, where the exhaust fumes are less of a problem. In contrast, electric air compressors produce no exhaust fumes. Therefore, they are usually stationary compressors permanently installed inside workshops and factories or portable air compressors designed for domestic settings.

Unlike diesel-fuelled units, manufacturers categorize electric compressors based on their motor’s horsepower, and the pricing is also different. For example, a 50hp reciprocating electrically powered air compressor costs around $50/day or $200/week. In comparison, if you want a larger 400hp rotary screw electrically powered compressor, you can rent one for around $1,000/day or $4,000/week.

Additional Accessories & Components

If you intend to use an air compressor, you also need various accessories. Items such as storage tanks and hoses are essential. Usually, small portable compressors come with the motor and storage tank combined into one unit. But larger stationary units sometimes have custom-sized tanks depending on the application. Furthermore, rental prices for varying-sized storage tanks will depend on their size.

The most important accessories are hoses, which come in different diameters to cope with varying flow rates. Also, they are rated for air pressure and the application’s temperature.

If you want a hose specific to your application, the provider will rent them to you at a rate depending on its length, diameter and pressure rating.

Typically, a 50ft long by 1-inch diameter hose will set you back around $10/day or $50/week. In comparison, a 50ft long by 3-inch diameter hose will be around $30/day or $150/week.

Size of Air Compressor

The size of an air compressor depends on the flow rate it can deliver and the pressure of the supplied air. Flowrate units are CFM (cubic feet per minute), while pressure measurements are in PSI (pounds per square inch).

To choose the correct size compressor, add the flowrate requirements of all the pneumatic tools you intend to use simultaneously. You then select the correct one for your application by comparing compressors that deliver that flowrate at the right pressure.

The rental cost will depend on the compressor’s size and power, with larger units being more expensive than smaller units. However, you will find that some newer models have the facility to vary the pressure and flowrate settings. But, they will be more costly to hire.

Commercial Compressor Maintenance Costs

For machinery to operate as the manufacturer intended, it needs regular maintenance. Upkeep can incorporate hidden charges that many users forget about and don’t usually account for in the initial cost of buying an air compressor. These extra costs often come back to sting later on in the compressor’s life. Usually, major maintenance responsibilities fall onto the provider in an air compressor rental situation. But, even so, you should carry out small daily and weekly checks yourself. Although these don’t cost much to do, they will add to the total price. Therefore, you should know a bit about the unit’s maintenance requirements so that you can calculate overall costs in the long term.

Air Filtration & Water Separation

Air and water filters don’t cost much to buy, and the design of the compressor allows users to change these without having a large amount of mechanical knowledge.

A water separator and air filter remove water and oil droplets from the compressed air before leaving the storage tank. You can only use clean air in pneumatic tools. Otherwise, imagine what it’s like to have oil and water contaminants damaging the finish on your spray paint or sandblasting operations. Similarly, water collecting in an air wrench will eventually corrode the inside and damage air seals.

So, check the filters and condensate remover every day, in case you need to replace them.

Consumable Products

We’ve already mentioned filters and separators, but air compressors rely on oil too. Usually, the recommended oil change interval is every 6 to 12 months, especially for oil-lubricated compressors, unless the number of operating hours exceeds the recommended duration. Moreover, the amount of oil you need to buy depends on the size of the machine. Furthermore, the interval between changes depends on the operating hours and type of compressor. You’ll always find this information in the manufacturer’s instruction manual. For a typical rotary screw compressor, expect to change oil every 7000 to 8000 operating hours. In contrast, for a reciprocating air compressor, you should change the oil once every three months.

Also, remember to take into account the fees required to dispose of the used oil according to the current environmental codes in your state and the local area.

Removing Condensate

Condensate is a byproduct of the air compression process. Therefore, it will be present in both oil-flooded and oil-free air compressors. If you have an oil-flooded unit, the oil will mix with the condensate to form a water/oil emulsion. You must dispose of this according to your state and local environmental regulations. Depending on where you are, the approved condensate removal and disposal methods might cost around $50,000 or more.

Why Rent Instead of Buy?

Before deciding whether to purchase or take out an air compressor rental agreement, you must run through a checklist of points and compare them against your company’s requirements. The following questions are among the most important.

What type of air compressor?

You are the only person who can answer this. It would help if you had an idea of what you need in a compressor. You might need:

  • A large stationary unit powered by electricity.
  • A diesel-powered towable machine.
  • Or a small air compressor just large enough to run a domestic paint sprayer.

Maintenance costs and problems

Remember that apart from the basic daily checks and filter renewals that you might need to do, most maintenance and repairs are the responsibility of the compressor’s owner. If you rent the machine, then the responsible owner is the provider. However, if you purchase the machine, you are accountable and will foot the bill for everything.

Capital investment or ongoing expense?

The purchase price for an air compressor will depend on its type, power, and size. Which, in turn, dictates the flow rate and pressure it can provide. Typically, you can purchase a new portable compressor with a 6.5HP gasoline engine, 10-gallon storage tank, and providing 140PSI for around $1,000. In contrast, a portable rotary screw compressor, having a 25HP gasoline engine able to supply up to 100 PSI and a flow rate of 80 CFM, will cost around $9,500.

Although a small air compressor might be within reach of many small businesses, a larger compressor might not be. You should also consider the ongoing maintenance discussed earlier. And whether you can justify the capital purchase if it’s going to be in a storeroom gathering dust for months on end. In contrast, when renting an air compressor, you only pay for it when you need it. Furthermore, you will always have an up-to-date, well-maintained machine, and you can account for it as an ongoing expense for tax purposes.

Before you decide whether to buy a capital asset like this, always discuss the purchase with your tax advisor, who can advise depending on individual circumstances.

Changing needs

A company’s need for compressed air might vary over time. For example:

  • Your company might need a unit providing different amounts of compressed air at varying supply pressures during different times of the year.
  • Or your company might grow faster than expected, with work needing more intensive use of compressed air than normal.

In all these situations, you might require different rated compressors.  Unless you can guarantee that the change will continue, it’s probably better to rent exactly the right kind of compressor for your needs.

Rent to Own Choices

Suppose your company needs a small industrial air compressor. In that case, you may be able to find a provider that offers a rent-to-own option.  Although at first sight, this might sound like a good idea. There are both advantages and disadvantages when agreeing a contract such as this.

Advantages

  • Often, you don’t have to make any upfront down-payment.
  • Sometimes, if you cancel the contract, there is no financial penalty. The only downside is that you will lose the use of the equipment.
  • You will probably pay a lower monthly payment than you would if you took out a lease finance agreement.

Disadvantages

  • Your payments on the Rent-to-Own agreement might not be a  tax advantage. Check with your tax advisor.
  • You will probably be responsible for all maintenance and spare parts.
  • At the end of the Rent-to-Own term, you get to keep the air compressor, but it will no longer be brand new equipment.

Next Steps

If your company needs an air compressor, you need expert advice on the correct type and size from which to choose. Furthermore, you might also need help deciding which air compressor rental costs are good value. There are many rental providers out there, so where do you start?

Complete the form on this page, and very soon, you’ll receive 2 or 3 quotes from air compressor rental providers near you.