How to Choose the Perfect Air Compressor Hose

Getting yourself a quality air compressor hose is essential to ensure stable air pressure, a tight seal and a consistent power output, but with a huge range of variety of hoses available on the market, it can be difficult to know where to start when making your selection. Whether you’re a home or professional air compressor user, you’ll need a dependable air hose to get the most out of your air tools.

We’ve pulled together our years of experience to deliver the ultimate, how-to buy an air hose guide. We’ll take you through all the decisions you’ll need to make before you invest in your new pneumatic
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When Should You Replace Your Air Hose?

There are two reasons you’d want to upgrade your air hose. The first is you want to upgrade your air system so you can use different tools, or you’re looking to get more out of your system. The second is that there’s a defect in your existing air hose and you need replace it.

When you should replace your air hose Here are some common defects that mean you’ll need a new hose rather than a repair:
   - The connector or fixing is damaged
   - The hose is bent, kinked or twisted beyond a point in which it’s usable
   - A cut or abrasion is causing air leakage
   - Too cold or dry air has caused premature wearing
   - The pressure in your system is too high and has caused a seepage
Every air hose has a service life or duty cycle. Every hose will eventually wear to a point in which it becomes unusable depending on things such as the quality of the product, the frequency or use, and the material the hose is made from.

Choosing the Perfect Air Hose for You

With numerous varieties of air hose available to buy, sifting through all the choices and information can seem daunting. In reality, these really only four things you need to decide before you start your shopping:

  • How long a hose do you need?
  • What should the internal diameter of the hose be?
  • What material should your hose be made from?
  • Do you want a standard or recoil hose?

We’ll go through each of the considerations in turn so you can make an informed decision before you part with your cash.

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What Length Air Hose Do I Need?

The length of your hose will directly affect the usability and performance of your air tools. You could purchase a single 50 metre hose and reach everything you could even want to reach - but we’d advise against it! Heaviness and bulkiness aside, the longer the hose from your compressor to your tool, the more air/pressure will be lost on route.

Think about what you’ll be doing with your air tool and how much movement you need to be able to do. For example, if you want to spray paint a car in a large workshop shop, you’ll need a lot more hose to navigate around, than say, someone who’s going to be using an air drill to make wooden toys on a work bench.

The aim when choosing an air hose length is to strike a balance between maximum manoeuvrability with your air tool and a minimum loss of pressure.

SGS standard air hoses are sold with couplers and connectors installed on them, meaning you can connect one hose to the other. You can extend your hoses reach almost indefinitely this way, however for each extra coupler you add, you’ll get a small pressure drop.

TOP TIP: If you have to extend your reach to use an air tool, it’s always better to use a longer hose than an extension lead. Using an extension lead causes you air compressor to have voltage dropouts, eventually leading to a burnt out compressor.

What Diameter Air Hose Do I Need?

We measure air hoses by their internal diameter (or I.D). Simply speaking, the larger the hose I.D, the more air it’ll be able to carry. While the external diameter of air hoses will vary wildly depending on the quality of the hose and the material it’s made from, common internal sizes of air hose are 6mm, 8mm and 10mm internal diameter.

The rule of thumb when picking your hose I.D is the higher the CFM requirement of your air tool, the larger the diameter hose you’ll need. Hand held tools such as spray guns and nailers tend to require 1-3 CFM and will work perfectly well with a 6mm hose. A heavy duty impact wrench is more likely to require 6 CFM+, so you’ll probably require an 8mm or 10mm hose to run at full capacity.

The diameter of a hose will affect the overall weight of the line quite dramatically. Adding a couple of extra millimetres to the hose I.D. soon adds up over a distance. For small handheld tools, where dexterity counts, choose a 6mm hose.

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What Material Should My Air Hose Be Made From?

The material your air hose is made from is going to drastically affect the how flexible the line is, the weight of the line, how it’ll perform and how long it’ll last overall. We’ve put together this quick-select table so you can see the difference between the options.

Nylon

SHCOIL-End-2

PVC

SHP-Female-QRC

Rubber

SHR-Female-QRC

Polyurethane

SHCOIL-End

Durability & Flexibility

The least durable type of hose. Kinks and coils very easily, but makes for a good recoil hose.

Tends to coil and kink, but is considerably superior to nylon.

Naturally abrasion resistant. Lies flat and doesn't kink. Very durable.

Less flexible than rubber or PVC however they make fantastic recoil hoses. Kinks fairly easily. Vulnerable to certain solvents.

Weight

Very light and easy to transport (typically 1/8th the weight of rubber alternatives). Very light and easy to transport. ~1/4th the weight of rubber. The heaviest type of air hose you can buy.

Very light and easy to transport. ~1/4th the weight of rubber.

Cold weather

Poor cold weather performance.

~0 °C.

Poor cold weather performance,  becoming hard to coil & orient.

~-5°C.

Mediocre performance in the cold.

~-20°C.

Excellent cold weather performance, well into the minus range.

~-30°C.

Application

Light home and hobby use. Using a nylon hose on site is a leak waiting to happen!

Medium duty usage. In many situations PVC is preferable over rubber, purely because of the reduced weight.

Regular to heavy duty use. Suitable for industrial, agricultural, professional and home settings. Rarely needs replacing.

Durable and hard wearing, making it useful for high pressure applications. Not as flexible as rubber or PVC.

Price

Economy hose that won't last as long as alternatives. Great value, budget champion. Very dependable medium budget hoses.

Impressive value.

 

Each type of air hose has it’s distinct pros and cons, so choose an appropriate air hose for your specific requirements.

Although it’s tempting to choose a cheap Nylon hose, we believe this is a false economy. For a couple of extra quid, you could get yourself a decent rubber, PVC or Polyurethane recoil hose that’ll give you years of reliable service if you look after it properly. And remember - all SGS air hoses come with a 2 year warranty!

Should I Choose a Standard Hose or a Recoil Hose?

Choosing a standard or recoil hose Strictly speaking, there are two distinct types of hose; first, there's the standard air hose that lies flat, without bends or coils. You can loosely wrap the hose into loops for storage. Alternatively, you can mount them in a hose reel that can be wound up with a crank handle and mounted on a wall.

The second is a recoil hose that has lots of small, regular twists, similar to traditional telephone wires. The coils are tensile and have a memory, so when you let go of the hose, it shrinks back for easy storage.

Choosing between the two is a matter of preference and individual application. For example, many factories use recoil hoses so they’ll spring out of the way when not in use. Many spray painters prefer a standard hose because they don’t like the resistance in a coiled line.

Only Purchase High Quality Hoses

Obviously the best air hose you can buy is the right type of air hose for your application. If you know what length, width and material your air hose needs to be, you can start shopping!

That being said, there’s a plethora of air hoses on the market, all varying in terms of price and quality. Beware that not every air hose you see for sale online will be rated to the stringent standards pneumatic equipment should conform to. Be sure your hoses are CE certified, meaning they conform to all EU safety standards. Also, keep an eye out for the warranty being offered. An air hose with no advertised warranty probably isn’t designed to stand up to the test of time - every SGS air hose is sold with a 2 year extended warranty and is CE marked. You can see our full range of air hoses here.

mid-banner-air-hosesKeeping on Top of Pressure Drop

If you have 8 bar coming out of your compressor, but the pressure reaching your tool is only 6.5 bar - you’re experiencing pressure drop. Air hoses are one of the primary causes of pressure loss in a system and can cause an air tool to run ineffectively. The air travels through the line and drags on the inner lining, causing friction and a pressure drop.

Pressure drop from an air hose is unavoidable to a certain extent, but there are things you can do to minimise it: - Run a shorter hose. The longer your airline, the greater pressure drop you’ll notice. - Minimise the use of fittings and accessories to the essentials. If you compressor has a good size motor, amp up the pressure and choose a larger hose I.D. You can always use an air regulator next to the tool to step down the pressure at the tool end. An extension lead won’t improve your compressors performance. It’s always better to go for a longer hose than and mains extension lead. Pressure drop from an air hose is unavoidable to a certain extent, but there are things you can do to minimise it:
     - Run a shorter hose. The longer your airline, the greater pressure drop you’ll notice.
     - Minimise the use of fittings and accessories to the essentials.

If you compressor has a good size motor, amp up the pressure and choose a larger hose I.D. You can always use an air regulator next to the tool to step down the pressure at the tool end.

An extension lead won’t improve your compressors performance. It’s always better to go for a longer hose than a mains extension lead.

Choosing the Right Fittings and Connectors

Most air hoses will come already fitted with some type of end fitting so you can start connecting up to your air compressor and tools.

Recoil hose typical set up with quick release SGS recoil hoses have two female ¼” BSP treads which we then suggest you thread Euro quick release couplers on to (one female, one male).
Standard hose typical set up with quick release SGS standard air hoses have Euro quick release couplers already installed, so you’ll require no extra fittings for a standard air system.

This standard set up will allow you to attach your hose into most standard air systems. You’ll also be able link up your hoses to extend your reach. See the diagrams above for a typical set up for an air hose.

Remember, choose high quality fittings to minimise air loss in the system. Having durable and reliable fixings is incredibly important for efficient and safe air tool usage, regardless of whether you’re a trade or home user. All SGS air fitting are fully CE rated and have been manufactured to the most stringent of quality standards. View the Range

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With this detailed how-to guide, you should now be able to select exactly the air hose that’s right for your requirements, spot a high quality hose, and even maximise the performance of the air hoses in your system. Whether you’re setting up your first air system or upgrading your existing air network, you now should have the know-how to shop with confidence. If you have any questions about any of the products in our range or you need a little more guidance, you can contact our technical team through our online contact form or you can call us on 01332 573 850.

Click here to see the SGS range of air hoses.