We always say that if where you are working with compressed air is some distance away from the socket into which the compressor is plugged, it’s better to run a longer air line than an extension cord. Having said that, how long of a compressed air line is too long?
Consider this. If an extension cord is used to get power to an air compressor that’s located near the place of work, and not near the power socket, and the power cord is too small to enable enough current to flow to the compressor motor to allow it to operate correctly, damage to the electric compressor motor may result.
At the least, with insufficient power the motor will get hot. Run the motor too long with insufficient power and the motor may overheat. If there is no thermal cut off, the motor may become damaged due to heat.
With insufficient power due to a too small a gauge or too long extension cord, the compressor motor may not start at all.
How long of a compressed air line is too long?
Now, contrast the too long extension cord versus the possibly too long air hose.
What happens to an air tool if a too small diameter or too long air hose is used? Will the too little air flow to an air tool damage the air tool like too little current may damage an electric motor? Nope, not normally.
With too little air the typical and worst result is that the air tool won’t work properly. That’s it. No damage to the air tool, no damage to the hose, no real issue except that the air tool won’t be working right. Either it’s not running up to speed, or the tool lacks the strength to do the work that it’s designed to do.
Now there’s not enough air!
If you starve the air tool it won’t work properly. If you starve the electric motor of a proper power supply it may damage the motor.
If you determine what length and gauge of electrical extension cord is right according to the specifications for your compressor motor, when you go shopping for the right longer power cord, we expect you will be surprised at the cost.
If you go shopping for the next size up air hose, or even one that’s a couple of sizes larger in diameter, you will likely find that the bigger diameter air hose is either comparably priced or even less than the cost of the appropriate power extension cord.
Always opt for the longer and bigger air hose if you need to use your air compressor some distance from the power socket. Your compressor motor will thank you, and the folks using the air tools at the other end of the longer air hose will enjoy being able to work without the racket of a noisy air compressor pumping air right beside the work place!