Three Things To Consider When Buying An Air Hose

A high-quality air hose will help make your compressor the useful, versatile tool it was designed to be.

A good air hose for your compressor will make filling low tires and running air-powered tools easier and more efficient. A bad hose, on the other hand, can cause you a variety of headaches ranging from not delivering enough air to putting up a fight every time you roll and unroll it. Air hoses are made of different materials and are available in a variety of lengths and internal diameters. To make a good selection, consider three important factors—the material the hose is made from, the size of the hose and how you intend to store it.

Material

Goodyear air hose
This hose features an abrasion-resistant rubber outer jacket.Amazon

Hoses are made of several materials. PVC hoses, the most economical option, are very durable and abrasion resistant, but aren't very flexible compared to other types. This can create a problem if you use it a lot and get easily frustrated by an unruly hose. Polyurethane hoses, or poly hoses, are widely considered the best option for the widest variety of uses. They're lighter than other types of hoses and tend to remain flexible, even in very cold working conditions. Hybrid hoses are a blend of polyurethane, PVC and rubber. They're very flexible and durable, and they're also least likely to kink or be difficult to unravel. In the end, consider your budget and tolerance to tangles to make your purchase decision.

Size

Hromee air hose
This 3/8-inch air hose comes with a variety of compressor accessories.Amazon

Hose size addresses two important factors—length of the hose and the inside diameter. Air hoses typically come in 25-, 50- or 100-foot lengths, and all have their advantages and disadvantages. If you're only going to use it to air up tires in a small garage, 25 feet might suffice. But a 50-foot hose is much more versatile, and a 100-footer is even more so. Buying a hose that is too short is a lot more trouble in the long run than having one that is too long. But a hose that is too long will leave you with more rolling and storage problems. Concerning diameter, most hoses are either 1/4 or 3/8 inch. In general, 1/4-inch hoses are lighter, less expensive and easier to roll up and store. Wider hoses, on the other hand, limit frictional loss. So, if you're using a tool that needs every bit of air you can get to it, a 3/8-inch air hose is the better bet.

Storage

polyurethane self-coiling hose
This polyurethane self-coiling hose is easy to store with no rolling.Amazon

Face it, having an air hose snaking all around the garage isn't a pleasant situation, especially if you appreciate a tidy garage. But storing an air hose can be problematic—some just don't want to roll up into a nice, neat package. To avoid the mess, you have two choices. First, you can buy a hose hanger that holds the rolled hose nicely up and away from the floor. Another option is to consider a self-coiling hose that stretches where you need it, then coils itself back up like a slinky after use. A long self-coiling hose can retract into a nice, small package that won't always be underfoot when you don't want it there.