I'm considering upgrading from my tired old Auto Zone buzz bomb air compressor to a real, 220V vertical unit. I've been wanting a better (and quieter) compressor since I last asked this question back in 2006. My little Grex air sander uses 8 cfm of air, and that's the highest duty cycle tool I use. It's really the only air tool I use right now, other than the blow gun. If I ever decided to try sandblasting, it would very likely be small scale stuff on wood, not something like an auto chassis. I'm tight for space, so I'm looking at 60 gallon units. And as I mentioned, noise is an issue. I want something substantially quieter than what I have now.
I know Ingersoll-Rand is universally recommended. I'm looking at their lower-end 3hp and the 5hp 60 gallon units. The 3hp model puts out 10.3 cfm at 90 psi, and the 5 hp gives 18.1. I'm trying to figure out if the extra 8 cfm is worth the $300 difference, considering my use. I think either would deliver ample air for my needs.
Then I also have been looking at the three-cylinder 3hp unit from Eaton. It's rated at 14 cfm, and it costs a bit more than the bigger IR unit, but it also has a few extras that look good on paper. (Easier access to the drain valve, for one.) The Eatons also appear to be built like a brick...well a brick something...and I've read favorable things about them. They have a 5-year warranty vs. 3 years for the IR. I get the impression I could call the owner of the company and get any questions answered. And as a bonus, it can be had in purple.
So...my questions: What are the advantages - if any - to having three cylinder as opposed to one? Would a three-cylinder compressor be quieter than a single-cylinder model? Are the extra two cylinders worth the extra money? Would I be better off saving the $300 or $400 for other tools and just get the 3hp IR unit? Would a purple compressor be cool or what?
I'm open to suggestions...