How to Use a Portable Compressed Air Tank

compressed air carry tank
Portable Compressed air carry tanks come in various sizes but 5 gallons is common. Pro-Lift
  • 01 of 03

    What is Portable Compressed Air Tank?

    A compressed air tank, or "carry tank," is a handy workshop or garage tool that allows you to store compressed air in a portable, easy-to-use unit. You fill up the tank with compressed air, using any type of air compressor, then carry the tank wherever you need it. Compressed air tanks are most commonly used for filling up tires—on cars, bicycles, trailers, ATVs, etc.—but they're also useful for applications using a blow-off tip. The tanks typically are too small for operating air...MORE tools for more than a few quick operations. 

    The best features of a portable compressed air tank are its relatively light weight and large size, both of which can make it more useful in the field than a portable air compressor. For example, if you need compressed air in any remote location where there's no electricity to run a compressor, you can fill up an air tank at home (or at a gas station on your way out) and carry it into the field. The compressed air tank is much lighter than an air compressor with a similarly sized tank, and it's much bigger than the tanks on highly portable compressors, like pancake compressors. 

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  • 02 of 03

    Compressed Air Tank Sizes and Ratings

    air tanks in various sizes
    Air tanks come in various capacity sizes including 3.5 gallon, 5 gallon, 7 gallon, 10 gallon and more.

    Compressed air tanks come in different sizes. Their capacity is measured in gallons of compressed air. Common sizes include 5, 7, 9, 10, and 11 gallons. A 10-gallon or larger size is likely to be more useful for a variety of applications, while a small 5- or 7-gallon tank is highly portable and takes up less space. 

    As an example of how capacity translates to air volume, 1 cubic foot of volume is equal 7.5 gallons. A small car tire has a volume of approximately 1 cubic foot. That means a 7-gallon...MORE air tank does not have quite enough capacity to fill a small car tire that's completely flat.  

    In addition to capacity, compressed air tanks have a maximum pressure rating measured in pounds per square inch or psi. Common ratings range from 125 psi to over 150 psi. This rating indicates the maximum amount of air pressure the tank can safely handle. However, it's a good idea not to fill the tank to its maximum pressure level because air pressure increases with heat. So, for example, if you leave a tank in the sun the pressure inside the tank will rise even without adding more air. If the tank is completely full, the pressure could exceed the rated maximum pressure. 

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  • 03 of 03

    Portable Compressed Air Tank Components

    compressed air carry tank components

    The components of a portable compressed air tank provide all the features you need for easy and safe use. You'll typically find the following components on these tools:

    • Air fill valve: The valve that you connect to when filling the tank with a compressor. 
    • Air shutoff valve: A knob that turns to prevent air from leaking out of the tank when it's not in use.
    • Air pressure gauge: Indicates the air pressure inside the tank as well as how full the tank is. 
    • Pressure tank: The pressure-rated tank...MORE that holds the compressed air. 
    • Flexible hose: The hose for delivering compressed air from the tank. Hoses may attach to the tank with a threaded fitting or a quick-connect fitting. 
    • Universal fitting: Some tanks include a universal quick-connect fitting to allow easy changes of hose types.