Tow Behind Compressors and Finding the Right One for You

Jun 10, 2023 | Air Compressor | 0 comments

Looking for a comprehensive guide to tow behind compressors? Discover everything you need to know about operating principles, applications, considerations, brands, costs, and maintenance. Find the perfect tow behind compressor for your needs and ensure a reliable source of compressed air on the go.


Compressed air is an essential requirement for a wide range of applications, including industrial plants, warehouses, agricultural purposes, and winter irrigation blowouts to prevent frozen pipes. In these scenarios, having access to small, compact, and robust towable air compressors that deliver high-quality compressed air on the go can be a game-changer. These compressors are designed to meet the demands of various industries, providing a reliable source of compressed air in any location with the convenience of easy towing. This comprehensive guide will delve into the operating principles of tow-behind compressors, their diverse applications, important considerations when choosing the right one, common brands in the industry, associated costs, and essential maintenance tips.

1. Operating Principles of Tow-Behind Air Compressors:

Tow-behind air compressors primarily utilize screw compression technology. This involves the rotation of male and female rotors in opposite directions, creating a space that traps air and compresses it to higher pressures. The screw compression method is highly effective in generating compressed air as per demand, providing substantial cubic feet per minute (CFM) flow rates without storing compressed air or requiring extended build-up time. Most portable air compressors have digital displays that enable users to monitor operational data, such as the maximum and minimum operating pressures, ensuring efficient and effective performance.

tow behind air compressor

2. Environmental Conditions:

From Heat to Cold The environment in which the equipment operates significantly affects its performance and durability. High-temperature environments, for example, can pose risks to components such as seals, O-rings, gaskets, and turbos. Heat can accelerate the degradation of these parts, reducing their lifespan. On the other hand, cold environments present their challenges. Hydraulic systems, particularly in cold weather, may suffer from increased wear and tear due to thickening hydraulic oil, potentially leading to cylinder and seal damage. Understanding the environmental conditions, the equipment has been exposed to is vital for assessing its long-term reliability.

3. Applications and Considerations:

Tow behind air compressors find extensive application in tasks that demand powerful air-driven tools like jackhammers and saws. When selecting a tow-behind compressor, it is essential to consider the flow and pressure requirements of your specific applications. For smaller commercial and residential applications such as irrigation blowouts, a 185 CFM compressor is generally sufficient. However, for larger applications such as mainlines and extensive agricultural shafts, opting for a 250 CFM or larger unit might be more appropriate.

4. Noise Levels and Brands

When operating a tow behind compressor in residential areas or noise-sensitive environments, it becomes crucial to consider noise levels. Thankfully, most newer models are designed to run quietly, making them suitable for busy urban areas with stringent noise regulations. Some of the most common and reputable brands in the towable air compressor industry include Atlas Copco, Sullivan, Doosan, Sullair, Kaeser, Allmand, and APT. It is always advisable to consult with the distributor or rental company to gain insights into noise levels and machine specifications, ensuring compliance with local regulations and community standards.

5.Costs and Maintenance

Understanding the costs associated with tow-behind compressors is crucial to the decision-making process. Renting a small tow behind an air compressor generally costs around $200 per day, with variations depending on factors such as the age and condition of the equipment. Weekly rates for a 185 CFM compressor range from $650 to $850, while monthly rates typically fall between $1800 and $2200. More extended rental periods often come with discounts across most rental companies. As the size of the compressor increases, the cost also tends to rise. For those interested in purchasing a used tow-behind compressor with lower operating hours, the price range is usually between $18,000 and $25,000. However, the cost can be closer to $40,000 for a brand-new machine.

Maintenance is of utmost importance to ensure a tow-behind air compressor’s longevity and optimal performance. Regularly changing the oil filter and oil per the manufacturer’s recommendations is vital. Proper maintenance is necessary to avoid costly breakdowns and replacements. Keeping the compressor in good condition through regular inspections and adhering to the recommended maintenance schedule will improve its reliability and durability.

185CFM Air Compressor

6. Fuel Options

While most tow-behind air compressors are diesel-fueled due to their longevity, efficiency, and easy availability of diesel fuel on industrial sites, there are also options available for gas or propane fueling. Diesel engines are commonly preferred as they offer better efficiency and generate more horsepower per displacement, making them well-suited for industrial applications. Additionally, diesel fuel equipment on industrial sites ensures easy refueling and accessibility to the required fuel.


Tow-behind compressors provide a convenient and reliable compressed air source for various applications. By understanding their operating principles, considering specific requirements, researching different brands, and factoring in costs, maintenance requirements, and fuel options, you can make an informed decision when selecting the suitable tow-behind compressor to meet your needs. With the proper selection and diligent maintenance, a tow-behind compressor can be a valuable asset across various industries and locations, offering the freedom and flexibility of on-the-go compressed air solutions. Invest in a tow-behind compressor that aligns with your requirements, and enjoy the benefits of portable, high-quality compressed air wherever your projects take you.