Single Stage vs Two Stage Air Compressor

Reciprocating or piston-type air compressors have lots of ways in which they are categorized. The horsepower, tank size, frame type, CFM output, and several other self-explanatory options are some methods of grouping the compressor. 

One frequently overlooked category is the number of compression stages, and this is because they can easily be misunderstood. Under this grouping, there are the single-stage and two-stage. Understanding the difference between them will help you get the right air compressor for the intended job. 

Air compressors are in a variety of sizes, shapes, and piston configurations. You need to keep in mind that the difference is all about the pump. We would focus on the single and two-stage belt-driven pumps. A straightforward explanation for differentiating their functions is that the number of compression stages would depend on the configuration. 

To explain further, as the air is compressed between the tool nozzle and inlet valve, the single-stage compresses the air once. The two-stage pumps would do it twice to apply double pressure. At a glance, the noticeable difference between the compressors is the location of the pistons and the shape of the cylinder. 

Both pistons on the single-stage pumps are the same sizes making the side of the cylinder have equal physical dimensions. It is not the same in the two-stage pump. Here there is one large piston, which is low pressure and a smaller one with a higher pressure. This type of setup already indicates that one side of the cylinder is larger than the other.

To move further in this post, we would explain the differences between a single-stage and two-stage air compressors by outlining the best single-stage air compressor and the best two-stage air compressor.

Best Single-stage air compressor review

You may need a reliable stationary single-stage air compressor that wouldn’t handle huge tasks without quitting on the job.

After considering the best-selling, expert-recommended, and top-rated single-stage air compressors, Bostitch BTFP0212 is the best and an excellent investment. But of course, you would like to read about the tool first.

Bostitch BTFP02012 Review

Bostitch BTFP0212 is an affordable pancake air compressor from a reputable manufacturer. It has a lot of features that outperform other higher priced alternatives. Unlike the bulky and overweight compressors that cost so much, the features of this machine include a small footprint, so it’s easy to store. This is great, especially when you need the tool to do only light and medium tasks in the workshop or the house. 

But let us be frank, the Bostitch BTFP0212 is not suited for powering high industrial-grade tools. However, it performs excellent when handling or confronted with inflating jobs and running some smaller air compressor. 

The Bostitch BTFP0212 is a user-friendly tool that allows for care-free operation. It weighs 29 pounds and measures 14-inch in diameter, which also makes it ideal for small contractors that have to carry their equipment around while they work. 

Delivering 2.6 cubic feet of air per minute at 90 PSI, the compressor can excel in all inflation jobs. And also, when running smaller tools that are not so power-hungry such as nail guns and airbrushes.

Some tools require lesser CFM and continuous bursts for a longer time. The 6-gallon tank allows you to operate the machine for a more extended period without interrupting the work process. Also, with two working outlets, you can connect more than one tool at a time if you have to. But it is important to note that dedicating the compressor to one device at a time will give you the best results.

There is not so much to complain about this product, only that the electric cord is only 5 feet long. If you have to move the unit, you may need an extension cord.

Pros

  • High performing air compressor at affordable pricing
  • 6 Gallon air storage capacity
  • Separate and easy to read gauges
  • Supports simultaneous user operation
  • Oil-free pump
  • Quick tank refills
  • Controls are well structured
  • Fast recovery time
  • Extended duty cycle
  • Quieter than most compressors

Cons

  • Dial accuracy could vary sometimes.
  • The power cord is only 5 feet.

Best Two-stage air compressor review 

The single-stage air compressor usually is perfect for home use. However, if you need to use your air tool a lot more, you should consider a two-stage compressor. The two-stage air compressor can compress and store air at higher pressures to handle a wider variety of high-powered equipment. It not only has more power, but it also can do more work without needing time to cool down.

Compared to the single-stage compressor, some essential advantages of the two-stage compressor include greater control with heavy-duty tools, the ability to operate a wider variety of jobs, easy to service, higher value, and additional reliability.

After reviewing a vast number or two-stage air compressor, we have selected Quincy QT-54 as our top choice. We would take a closer look at what makes this two-stage air compressor excel all round and also share the pros and cons of the product.

Quincy QT-54 Review

Quincy leads the industry with the most volumetric flow in acfm per horsepower. The product ensures more air flows without consuming more energy in the production process. Other one-piece aluminum head compressors dissipate heat, but the unique valve design on Quincy provides the highest possible volumetric efficiency. 

The Quincy QT-54 attains the expected standards for a duty air compressor such as more deliverable CFM per brake horsepower, more powerful, and reliable performance. The air compressor is equipped with several features that ensure it maintains a dependable performance, maximizes energy efficiency, and at the same time, remain rugged. 

The design of the aluminum cylinder head allows it to operate at cooler temperatures and elongate the lifespan. To keep the entire compressor cool, it features a large, balanced cast-iron flywheel. During the work process, the intercooler dissipates heat between the two compression stages effectively.
It minimizes oil carry over with the high-performance ring, as well as exhibits a high, efficient performance with the balanced, counterweight crankshaft. The product includes industrial-grade bearing to handle the demanding requirements of air compression application, as well as graphite head gaskets and cylinders to ensure superior sealing integrity. Also, the two-piece connecting rod on this two-stage air compressor provides easy serviceability.

Pros

  • Extended compressor life
  • Quieter operation
  • Stainless steel reed valve to deliver extended durability
  • Large 60-gallon to keep the job going.
  • Equipped with motor overload protection

Cons

  • Compared to other options, it is relatively expensive
  • It may not have the most powerful air compressor.

Compare Bostitch BTFP02012 vs. Quincy QT-54 

Comparing the Bostitch BTFP02012 to the Quincy QT-54 depends significantly on the aim of the application. They both are known to deliver quietly and reduce your hassles regardless of the tool you run it with.

While Bostitch BTFP0212 remains the best single-stage air compressor, it comes at a more reasonable price and can be used for frequent use. The Quincy QT-54, on the other hand, is a perfect performer for professional and industrial use. As expected, instead of the 0.9 HP motor on the BTFP0212 that draws 15 amps, the QT-54 consists of an exceptional 5 HP motor capable of serving up to 30,000 hours.

When you need to do light and medium tasks around the home or workshop like running an airbrush or nail gun, this Bostitch product will serve you well. But for more intense or industrial works, buy the Quincy product; it tops that sector. Even though both air compressors have glaring differences, they both have their features and reason why you may prefer one over the other.

For instance, Bostitch BTFP0212 is oil-free, requires low maintenance, ensures an impressive 25 seconds recovery time, and most importantly, it’s very portable. Equally, the Quincy QT-54 guarantees less chance of heating issues and has a perfect build. However, it has a large size and requires a bigger storage space.

Bostitch BTFP0212 efficiently delivers 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI alone to run multiple tools, while the Quincy QT-54 can yield 15.2 CFM between 140 PSI and 175PSI. The weight and size is another factor to consider in both the Bostich BTFP0212 and Quincy QT-54. The former has a small-sized tank or only 6-gallons and lightweight of 29-pounds that makes it quite easy to move and transport. But this Quincy model has a larger size of 60-gallon, and it’s also very durable.

When to use a single-stage air compressor?

The single-stage air compressor works better for an independent hobbyist or a craftsperson since it’s always cheaper than the two-stage air compressor. They are designed to easily power a variety of household or workshop air tools that do not exceed 100 PSI. 

Metalwork

Metal is the world’s most durable mineral and would be difficult to cut, drill, mold, and join without an electric or air compressor. 

These tasks below are some metal works that can be carried out within seconds using the single-stage air compressor and the appropriate tool.

Shearing

Molding metal alloys in a specific way give the finished product a particular shape. With an air powers shear, you can cut through a selected sheet of metal as easy as you would cut cardboard using a rotary cutter.

Grinding

Trimming of an inch of aluminum or cutting long brass bar in half can be done quickly using pneumatic grinders. All you do is attach the grinder to the single-stage air compressor and cut the piece based on your measurements. 

Riveting

Welding is an excellent way to join metal pieces. But when constructing metal cabinets or drawers, you can securely fit and join metal sheets using the pneumatic riveter to send pin-like fasteners through holes in the sheets.

Ratcheting

At other times, you need to disassemble and impossible to lose nut from the bolt. Usually, a standard wrench could be used, but the air-powered ratchet is more effective, stress-less, and preferable.

Woodworking

Most DIY household and hobbies require carpentry. They range from cutting, sawing, nailing, sanding to even drilling. Regardless of what you are constructing, a table, cabinet, or other accessories, you would need a lot of physical exertion. Air-powered wooden tools allow you to perform these tasks in a matter of seconds without stains in the wrist or shoulders which is way better than the old fashioned hand tools.

Some applications of the single-stage air compressor to woodworking includes:

Sawing

An air-powered saw can slice through the wood in seconds. All you do is attach the pneumatic speed saw with the right length of the blade to fit the board thickness.

Nailing

The pneumatic nailer sends the nail straight in within seconds. Even when it has to penetrate thick wood rather than the manual hammer that can send nails the wrong way due to hard or impenetrable depths.

Drilling

Even the hammer drill can spread the hole wider than the allotted space for the bolt and nuts. But the air-powered drill reduces the risk, makes it faster, and offers more accuracy.

Sanding

Using the orbital pneumatic sander allows you to create a smoother finish on all types of wood surfaces within a fraction of the time spent on hand sanding. It helps to lay a difference between a professional and an amateur looking job. 

When is it better to use a two-stage air compressor? 

As we have mentioned, the two-stage air compressor would create more air power and are better choices for industry, large scale, or continuous operations. Auto shops, factories, workshops, pressing plants, and several other settings have demands for a more complex system of pneumatic powered machinery. This is why the two-stage air compressors are preferred in these conditions. 

Auto Assembly and Maintenance

With the amount of heavy-duty application requires in auto assembly plants, vehicle construction, and other manufacturing processes, the pneumatic tools are necessary. Unlike the casual small scale wood or metal works, these assemble plants require more than 100 PSI to run their devices.

Some applications include:

Lifting

In a manufacturing plant, there is always a need to lift parts that could weigh up to a ton or more. These heavy loads can be raised with the two-stage air compressor attached to powerlifting devices with suction

Screwing

Many times these facilities have machines or parts that need to be bolted or screwed at some point. The pneumatic impact wrenches and ratchets can assemble or disassemble these parts with maximum efficiency.

Greasing

With the several moving vital parts in vehicle operation, wear and tears are possibilities without proper lubrication. The pneumatically powered greasers can apply lubricants in parts of the engine that are difficult to reach or too hot.

Painting

The quality of the smooth paint finish that cannot be made with spray cans or rollers will easily be achieved with a two-stage compressor using power paint sprayers. 

Process for a single-stage air compressor

The single-stage alternately referred to as piston compressors have a direct work process that involves:

  • Air sucked into the cylinder
  • The piston compressing the trapped air in a single stroke is at about 120 PSI. 
  • The compressed air moved into a storage tank. 
  • While there, it can serve as energy for a variety of tools that are built to accommodate the single-stage compressor. 

Process for a two-stage air compressor

On the other hand, the two-stage compressor, otherwise known as a dual-stage compressor, has a working process quite similar to the single-stage. 

  • But the main variation is that the compressed air is not sent to the storage tanks. Instead, it is moved to a smaller piston for a second stroke at 175 psi. 
  • Here the air that is pressurized twice cools and is moved to a storage tank to serve as energy for various high-powered equipment.

Conclusion

An often occurrence is a newbie confusing the stages to the number of cylinders in the air compressor. When the truth is that both compressors: single-stage and two-stage, use two cylinders to balance the air. 

The only glaring difference is the sizes, in that the cylinders on the single-stage are the same sizes, while the ones on the two-stage have the second piston shorter than the first even. But they are linked by a cooling tube to bring the air down before compression the second time.

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