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Multi-Stage Compressors


Reciprocating/piston compressors use a cylinder to force air into a chamber, where it is compressed. The simplest compressor designs feature a single cylinder/chamber arrangement. While straightforward, this setup is limited in its efficiency and capacity for delivering high volumes of pressurized air.

That’s where multi-stage compressors come in. By increasing the number of cylinder stages, these machines work more effectively and can handle more tools at once.

How Multi-stage Compressors Work

Multi-stage compressors feature a series of cylinders, each of a different diameter. Between each compression stage, the air passes through a heat exchanger, where it is cooled. Cooling the air reduces the amount of work necessary to compress it further.

In a two-stage compressor, air is then forced into an additional chamber where it is pressurized to the required extent. In a three-stage compressor, an additional cycle of compression and cooling occurs before this.

Benefits of Multi-stage Compression

Both single and multi-stage compressors have their benefits. The right one for your application will depend on a number of factors. Specific advantages of a three- or two-stage compressor design include:


Clearly there are benefits to selecting a multi-stage machine; however, their higher cost means they are not necessarily the right choice for every application. Generally speaking, single-stage compressors are best for light-duty, intermittent use applications, in which pressure requirements don’t exceed 100 PSIG. Two- or three-stage compressors, on the other hand, offer better value and reliability for continuous use applications, such as auto repair and manufacturing.