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Single Stage vs. Two Stage Air Compressors

Single Stage vs. Two Stage Air Compressors

When choosing between a single-stage versus dual-stage air compressor, you will want to explore the differences between each model and the power each one provides. From woodworking to beverage manufacturing, both types of compressors can power various tools and machinery, making the manufacturing process faster and easier.

What Is a Single-Stage Air Compressor?

Also known as piston compressors, single-stage air compressors have pistons that draw air into the machine until it is sucked through a filter section. The air then passes through intake valves and into a cylinder, where a crankshaft rotates, and pistons push the air upwards. The piston helps compress the trapped air and force it through exhaust valves, which travel to a discharge tube and a check valve. Once the air enters a storage tank, it can stay until the user requires new air.

What Is a Two-Stage Compressor?

Two-stage air compressors — or dual-stage compressors — use a low-pressure, larger piston to draw in air. The air is sucked through a filter and passes the intake valve into a cylinder, where the crankshaft rotates, and a low-pressure piston pushes it upwards while compressing the air. The first compression also forces the air through a low-pressure exhaust valve which helps the air travel through an intercooler. 

After cooling, the air travels to the high-pressure sides of the compressor, where it is drawn into a cylinder and compressed a second time. Once it passes the discharge tube and check valve, it remains safely in a storage tank until the user requires new air.

Difference Between Single-Stage and Two-Stage Air Compressors

Single Stage vs. Two Stage Air Compressors

The main difference between single-stage versus two-stage air compressors is the number of times the air is compressed. While a single-stage compressor compresses air once, a dual-stage compressor compresses twice for higher pressure and power. 

Single-stage compressors suck air into a cylinder where the trapped air is compressed. After moving to a storage tank, the air can be used as energy for various tools. 

With a two-stage air compressor, rather than immediately going to a storage tank after compression, the air is sent to a smaller piston for the second round of compression. The double-pressurized air is also cooled before entering the storage tank, where the air can then be used as energy for high-powered tools and equipment. 

Uses for Single-Stage Air Compressors

A single-stage air compressor has many uses for providing energy for equipment. From woodworking tools to metalworking equipment, a single-stage compressor makes the production and manufacturing process more manageable. You can use single-stage air compressors in the following industries: 


Woodworking often requires a wide variety of intensive tools to make furniture, fixtures or other wooden features. However, without the help of power tools, woodworking may require extensive physical work, stamina and hand-eye coordination. If you want to cut boards and drill holes evenly every time, you can use air-powered saws and drills to assist your process. 

A single-stage air compressor powers these tools to help you achieve your goals in minutes rather than hours. A single-stage air compressor can also help power tools for the following tasks:

  • Sawing: Whether you need to trim boards, cut shapes or saw panels, an air-powered saw can help make the process smooth and easy. While sawing may have once been a difficult and dangerous task, an air-powered saw allows you to saw with different blade lengths and board thicknesses safely.
  • Nailing: Hammering may be a risky or awkward task. You risk bending the nail, hammering it crooked or hitting your thumb, the board or the surface underneath. However, an air-powered nailer helps you nail straight every time and finishes the task quickly.
  • Drilling: Drilling holes relies on hand-eye coordination. However, operating a drill can be awkward or risky. You risk a wrist or elbow slipping, resulting in crooked holes or injury. With an air-powered drill, you can accurately make holes at a much faster speed. 
  • Sanding: It takes powered machinery to sand the rough edges of the wood. While you could use sandpaper, it often leaves streaks and marks. An air-powered sander helps you sand in multiple directions while leaving a smooth finish without any streaks.


Any work involving metal is hard to accomplish without the proper tools. You need to cut, drill, mold and join pieces together, which is made easier with air-powered tools. Some tasks that might benefit from the help of air-powered tools include the following:

  • Shearing: Metal alloys require specific molding needs. Using powered air metal-cutting tools, workers can cut through metal sheets as easily as cardboard. 
  • Grinding: Whether you need to trim or grind tubes, pipes and bars, an air-grinder can do the job. It is handy if a piece of metal is too long and needs some trimming.
  • Riveting: When fastening pieces of metal together, an air-riveter is one of the best ways to combine sheets and join seams. Riveting makes for a tight and secure fit, perfect when building sheds, structures and more.
  • Ratcheting: If you need to undo metal fasteners, using an air-powered ratchet helps you break apart nuts that may have otherwise been impossible to disassemble. 

Uses for Two-Stage Air Compressors

Two-stage air compressors are often used for high-powered tools and equipment. Air compressors power essential tools from automobile assembly and beverage manufacturing to aerospace and military equipment.

Automobile Manufacturing

Constructing vehicles is a heavy-duty application that requires air-powered tools to save energy and assist in plant and repair shops. Automobile manufacturers may use two-stage compressors for the following tasks: 

  • Lifting: During assembly, the frame and shell of the vehicle require lifting. A two-stage compressor can power lifting devices, making it easier for assembly lines to assemble cars quickly.
  • Screwing: The engine parts also require screwing and bolting. Air-powered wrenches and ratchets help workers assemble and disassemble parts along the conveyor.
  • Greasing: For parts in motion, the air compressors and the parts grind together require lubrication. Air-powered greasers help workers quickly apply lubricant to necessary machinery.
  • Painting: Parts must be primed and coated evenly when painting vehicle shells. Using air-powered paint sprayers can produce a coating free of streaks and blotches.

Beverage Manufacturing

Companies use two-stage compressors during the beverage manufacturing process to power tools needed to produce massive amounts of soda, juice or alcohol. Beverage manufacturers may use air compressors for the following tasks: 

  • Molding: Compressors mold the bottles out of glass, and air-powered dryers solidify the molds.
  • Filling: Air-powered machines fill bottles of juice or soda during the conveyor process.
  • Sealing: Air-powered machines extract air from the bottles and put on air-tight lids and seals.
  • Labeling: Air-powered robotics apply labels and stickers.
  • Packaging: Air-powered robotics neatly package bottles.

Aerospace and Military Equipment

When building aircraft, tanks or other military equipment, a two-stage air compressor helps generate enough power to assemble and finish each piece. Air compressors may also help with the following jobs:

  • Cutting: Compressors can power machines to cut parts from raw metals and form molded parts using air-powered machinery. 
  • Shaping: Manufacturers may use air-powered sawing tools to cut and shape wings, flaps, engines, rudders or propellers. 
  • Assembling: Military equipment manufacturers assemble parts using air-powered fastener tools.
  • Finishing: Air-powered blowers, sanders, painters and dryers can help finish the pieces with paint and decals.
Single Stage vs. Two Stage Air Compressors

Find Reliable Tools at Compressed Air Technologies

At Compressed Air Technologies, we offer air systems, parts and lubricants and perform preventative maintenance and repairs whenever you need them. As the leaders of compressed air tools for over 30 years, our systems have run efficiently and smoothly, helping maintain your equipment’s reliability. Contact us today to speak to a representative and explore our compressed air products.