Pneumatic vs Electric Sander – How do They Compare

If you’re setting up a workshop, your first thought may have been to purchase a power sander. However, once you start shopping, you may discover that an air sander may appear better suited to your projects. To help you decide, we’ve put together an air sander vs electric sander comparison.

What Is An Air Sander?

Air Sander vs Electric sander

Air sanders or pneumatic sanders are powered by an air compressor and there are different types of air sander formats including random orbital air sanders. However, the most common form of air sander is a square model that has a small footprint and works with quarter sheets of standard sandpaper.

What Is An Electric Sander?

Electric sanders are the more common form of power tool that is often used to finish or smooth surfaces. The sander moves sandpaper across the surface, often in a circular motion, as you would find with an orbital sander.

Electric sanders are often used to remove old paint, strip, and prep wood surfaces or smooth edges of wood planks, making them a highly versatile addition to your workshop.

Air Sander Vs Electric Sander: Pros And Cons

Air Sander●       Versatile as they can be used even if you don’t have an electrical outlet
●       Lightweight
●       Can be used safely in a variety of potentially hazardous conditions
●       Fewer components, so they tend to have a longer lifespan
●       Powerful
●       Need an air compressor to function
●       Can be noisy
●       Fluctuations in the air pressure can affect the machine’s speed
Electric Sander●       Consistent power during the entire period of use
●       Quieter
●       Low overall operating costs
●       Higher initial outlay
●       Susceptible to water, heat, and dust
●       Cannot be used in areas where there are flammable or conductive materials or moisture.
Lady Using Electric Sander

Air Sander vs Electric Sander: Features

FeatureAir SanderElectric Sander
CostThe fewer moving parts mean that generally air sanders are cheaper compared to their electric counterparts.While electric sanders may have a higher initial cost, the ongoing running costs tend to be cheaper as you don’t need to run an air compressor.
SafetyAir sanders have greater resistance to heat, dust, and water, so they can be used in more challenging conditionsElectric sanders cannot be used in damp or hot conditions, which can cause premature failure.
SpeedAir sanders can produce slightly more speed with a top RPM of 12,000, but airflow fluctuations can affect machine speedElectric sanders typically have a speed of up to 10,000 RPMs, but they offer more consistent, even speed.
WeightAir sanders are slightly lighter, but you will require a compressor to work with the sander.Electric sanders are slightly heavier, but they are still light enough to be portable.
NoiseAverage noise level of 75 dbAverage noise level of 71 db
LifespanFewer components will extend the potential lifespan.With regular use, you can expect your electric sander to last 5 to 7 years or more
VersatilityAir sanders are most commonly used in a workshop as they need to have an airline and compressor to operateElectric sanders can be used practically anywhere, as you simply need an electric outlet.
MaintenanceYou’ll need to lubricate the sander and maintain your air compressor.Maintenance is simple, as you simply need to use a little compressed air to blow any accumulated dust in the intake holes.

What Are Both Sanders Used For?

Air sanders are typically used in workshops where the higher power output allows users to strip paint from metal, smooth welded joints, or remove rust. Some models can also be used for more delicate tasks such as finishing wooden tables.

Electric sanders still have decent power output, but they are typically used for removing old paint, preparing surfaces for finishing, stripping wooden furniture or floors, and smoothing surfaces. This means that they can be used for woodwork or in auto body repair shops.

Reasons Why You Would Choose an Air Sander over an Electric Sander

While both types of sanders have their own advantages, there are a number of scenarios where you may favor one over the other in a air sander vs electric sander comparison.

●       You’ll be working in one location: If you’re setting up a workshop with a compressor and airline and will be restricted to working only in this location, you may appreciate the simplicity of an air sander.

●       You need flexibility: On the other hand, if you will be working in various locations, you will need the flexibility of an electric sander. The only consideration for your work location is access to a power outlet, otherwise, you can work practically anywhere, provided you’re protected against the elements.

●       You’ll be working at volume: If you are planning on large-scale projects, you’ll need to decide whether you want the faster speed of an air sander or the lower operating costs of an electric sander.

●       You want “plug and play”: If you’re new to woodworking, you may appreciate the ease of use offered with an electric sander. These models are very simple to set up, as you simply need to attach sandpaper, plug it into a power outlet and you’re good to go.

●       You’re working in a noise-sensitive environment: Although only slightly noisier, if you are working in an area where noise is an issue, such as a garage attached to your home, you may prefer the slightly quieter electric sander.

ConclusionAir Sander vs Electric Sander

Air sander or Pneumatic sander

If you’re considering a new sander for your workshop, you’ll need to give some serious thought to the air sander vs electric sander debate. Both of these types of sanders have their own advantages and drawbacks, which means that one may be a better fit for your needs than the other.

A few things you’ll need to consider before making a purchase decision include the technical aspects of the models, the air pressure capacity in your workshop, how and where you’ll be using the sander, and the level of maintenance you’re comfortable with. Of course, you will also need to think about the costs. While air sanders tend to be cheaper initially, the operating costs of an electric sander are typically cheaper.

So, take a little time to assess what you’re looking for in a sander so you can choose the right model for your new workshop.