Air compressors are critical components of any dental practice. They’re required to power the specialized tools and equipment needed to care for patients, keeping them safe and comfortable during their visits. Dental air compressors are huge investments, so it’s important to choose the right one for your practice. 

Dental air compressors usually cost anywhere from $1,200 to $12,000 or more. The cost may vary depending on the compressor type (oil-lubricated or oil-free), its size (how many chairs it can service at once), brand, design, warranty, and more. The right compressor can help maximize revenues.  

How Much is a Dental Air Compressor?

Dental air compressors are typically priced starting around $2,000 with some units costing $12,000 to $15,000 or more. Choosing the right air compressor for your practice is critical and there are many factors to consider. 

Here are some sample compressors and prices to help give you an idea of what to expect: 

Sample Product ManufacturerPowerSample Price 
DuraPro2-HP (4 users)$2,900
DuraPro1-HP (2 users)$2,100
Sierra EAGLE T-122.25-HP (1-6 users)$6,900
Sierra EAGLE EGL-T61.5-HP (1-4 users)$5,300
Tech West2-HP (5-7 users)$8,800
Tech West 3-HP (8-10 users)$12,150
Cattani 60-Hz (2-3 users) $3,300
Cattani60-Hz (4-8 users)$6,000

It’s possible to save some money by purchasing a used or refurbished dental air compressor, but it’s important to use a reputable dealer to ensure you only buy good quality equipment. 

Aside from deciding whether to purchase brand new or refurbished air compressors, there are several other important considerations that will affect the cost and ultimately your practice. 

Purchasing a quality air compressor is critical. Without a quality, properly functioning compressor, your tools, and devices may not operate correctly. Or, you may end up with poor air quality coming from the machine. This can damage your tools or even pose a risk to patients. 

Dental Air Compressor Factors to Consider

There are many considerations when investing in a new air compressor for your dental practice. First is the type of compressor. Air compressors are typically either oil-lubricated or oil-free. For dental and healthcare practices, oil-free air compressors are often required to prevent potential air contamination. 

Compressor Type 

Oil-free units are preferable because they ensure only high-quality, clean airflow for the patient. The technology has also improved immensely over the years, leading to oil-free units that are quiet, efficient, and easy to move around to wherever they’re needed in the office. 

Sound Level 

Another important consideration is the unit’s noise level. The sound of tools and equipment sometimes affects the patients’ anxiety levels and overall experience, so quieter is usually better. Even though oil-free units are often louder than oil-lubricated compressors, you can minimize the noise with proper placement and installation. 

Compressor Size 

The compressor’s size is an important factor to consider, both for power and capabilities as well as price. The number of chairs or stations that may be used at one time will determine the size of the compressor you need. 

In general, each chair or workstation needs 50 liters per minute. So, you’ll have to consider the compressor’s capabilities against your needs. 

In general, compressors are available as one of the following size and capability options:

  • 1-2 chairs
  • 3 chairs
  • 2-4 chairs
  • 4-6 chairs
  • 5-6 chairs
  • 6-8 chairs
  • 8-10 chairs 

When in doubt, you should always go with a bigger compressor than you think you need. Selecting a unit that’s too small will cause it to become overworked, malfunction, and may reduce its lifespan.

Compressor’s Power 

Depending on the type and number of tools connected to the compressor, you may need a more powerful unit to get the job done. Most tools require 1-5 horsepower compressors. 

The compressor’s power directly affects how well the motor can move air through the unit. It will impact the output and how long it will work. A stronger and more powerful pump will be able to power more tools for longer periods. 

Air Pressure

The air pressure you’ll need depends on how many and what kinds of tools you need to operate. Dental tools have specific power and pressure requirements, so you’ll need to take this into consideration when selecting your compressor. 

Having more pressure available than you need is better than not having enough. Trying to use your tools without enough air pressure may cause damage to the equipment over time or may cause the tool to malfunction. 

Air pressure is especially important for tools like drills that require consistent pressure at the optimal level for patient safety and comfort.  

Dental Air Compressor Specifications

Dental air compressors come in many different sizes and designs with varying specifications. Choosing the right one for your practice depends on the kinds of services you provide and what you need from your compressor. 

The size of your practice will dictate how many air compressors you need and what their specifications should be. More chairs and technicians mean you’ll need more compressors or larger units to support multiple users. 

Let’s take a look at some sample units and their specifications to better understand the differences. 

Example #1: DuraPro Oil-Free Dental Air Compressor 

  • 2-HP
  • 220 volts
  • 12 CFM @ 100 PSI
  • Up to 5 users 
  • 72 dB
  • 20” x 35” x 42”
  • 240 lbs.

Example #2: Sierra EGL-T12 Oil-less Quiet Compressor 

  • 2.25-HP
  • 230 volts
  • 9.3 CFM @ 80 PSI
  • Up to 6 users
  • 68 dB
  • 22” x 37” x 35”
  • 202 lbs. 

Example #3: Tech West Elite Series Oilless Compressor 

  • 2-HP
  • 230 volts
  • 9.6 CFM @ 80 PSI
  • Up to 7 users 
  • 31” x 36” x 21”

So, depending on your office’s needs, you can select specifications that are best suited for your practice. That could include a more powerful compressor, one that supports more users, a quieter unit, or something that weighs less or with a smaller footprint. 

Dental Air Compressor Maintenance 

Keeping your air compressor properly maintained will ensure it’s in good working order whenever you’re treating patients. It will also extend the life of your equipment and tools, and maximize the overall efficiency. 

Air compressors are some of the most heavily used pieces of equipment in the office, so it’s critical to ensure they’re cared for properly. 

1. Compressor tank: Condensation and moisture buildup in the compressor tank can cause additional strain on the machine. Keeping the tank clean and emptying it regularly will help extend your compressor’s life expectancy. 

2. Filters: Air compressors need to have their air filters cleaned and/or changed regularly to keep them running smoothly and reduce stress on the compressor and its parts. There are many different kinds of air, intake, and output filters. Their maintenance schedules vary by manufacturer. 

3. Check for leaks: Check the compressor and its connections, tubes, and other parts for any signs of air leaks. Do this once per month. 

4. Fans: Inspect the unit’s fans for dust, debris, and other signs of blockage. If fans aren’t operating properly, the compressor may overheat. 

5. Oil change: Depending on the compressor type, you may need to have the oil changed each year. If you have an oil-lubricated unit, keeping the oil clean and filled to the appropriate level is essential for its operation. 

Dental Air Compressors with Dryers 

Some air compressors have built-in dryers that work to remove additional moisture from the air. These units help to ensure air expelled back out into the office is clean and dry. Some of these have drying tanks that use desiccant beads to remove additional moisture from the air.

Unlike standard filters, these beads normally last several years. Through the drying process, the compressed air helps to dry the beads themselves, helping them to last longer through a “self-regeneration” process. 

Compressors with dryers tend to work more efficiently and may be a good investment for your equipment.

The Bottom Line

Without quality air compressors, dentistry offices can’t operate. This unassuming piece of equipment is the heart and soul of the practice. So, it’s an important investment that requires understanding your needs and choosing the right type and size compressor to suit your business.

Smaller air compressors designed to accommodate just one or two chairs can be purchased for around $1,000. The prices go up as the compressor’s size, capacity, and power increase. Some units may cost $12,000 to $15,000 or more.

Still, you may be able to find a less expensive unit by purchasing used or refurbished equipment. If you use a reputable retailer, it can be a smart investment to get high-quality equipment at a fraction of the full retail price. 

Other things to consider include warranty coverage and maintenance costs. Depending on the unit, you may have to think about costs to change the oil and lubrication, filters, and other ongoing maintenance needs. 

In any case, choosing the right air compressor can improve your practice’s efficiency, keep your patients safe and comfortable, and help extend the life of your tools and equipment.