Introduction: How to Add an Air Receiver Tank for More Compressor Capacity

Picture of How to Add an Air Receiver Tank for More Compressor Capacity

If your small air compressor isn't enough to power your impact driver or other compressor attachments, you don't have to spend a small fortune on a newer and bigger setup. With these simple instructions, I'll show you how to add a larger capacity air receiver tank onto your existing compressor without any welding or tooling.

Here's a video to provide a little education on how air receiver tanks work. It's a little promotional but it has a lot of great information regarding the purpose of these tanks and how they contain so much pressure. It's about a minute long so it won't take too much of your time!

Step 1: Purchase the Required Parts

Picture of Purchase the Required Parts

You don't need much to complete this task. One trip to Home Depot, Harbor Freight, or other hardware shop will provide you with everything needed for the project. Here are the compressor fittings you'll need to purchase:

  • Portable air receiver tank with a capacity higher than that of your air compressor (i.e. Air compressor @ 100 psi will require portable air compressor tank @ 125 psi)
  • 1/2" to 3/8" female NPT brass coupler
  • 3/8" to 1/4" female NPT brass coupler
  • 1/4" NPT brass tee
  • New air compressor hose (preferably coiled for neatness)
  • RTV silicone adhesive

Step 2: Drain Your Compressor

First thing you'll need to do before starting to assemble your add-on tank is to release all the air and drain any condensation from your original air compressor. You should do this after each time you use your compressor anyway to avoid rot and air compressor explosions!

Step 3: Remove the Safety Valve & Install the Tee

Picture of Remove the Safety Valve & Install the Tee

So now we'll dive into the dirty work.

Using an adjustable wrench, remove the safety valve from your air compressor. The type we use in the example is a pancake air compressor. You'll find the location of the safety valve pictured in the image above.

Once the safety is removed, prepare your brass tee with RTV silicone adhesive around the threads of the male side (see picture). Then, using an adjustable wrench or crescent wrench, install the tee into the spot where you removed the safety valve.

Next, clean any residue from the threaded end of the safety valve and prepare with RTV silicone adhesive. Install the safety valve into the top, female end of the brass tee.

Finally, attach the new air compressor hose to the bottom, female side of the brass tee. (Adhesive not necessary)

Make sure all pieces you install are nice and tight but DON'T OVER-TIGHTEN.

Step 4: Prepping the New Air Tank

Picture of Prepping the New Air Tank

Once you've completed the conversion of your old air compressor, it's time to start tweaking the new one.

  • Step one when working on the new air receiver tank will be to remove the entire assembly from the top of the tank. You can keep the hose as an extra but we won't be using any of these pieces in this install.
  • Next, we'll attach the couplers to the point where you removed the top assembly.
  • Apply RTV adhesive to the male threads of your 1/2" to 3/8" coupler. Using an impact driver or brute strength and a wrench of your choice, install the coupler into the top of the tank. You'll want about 80 ft/lbs of torque on that coupler because of the immense amount of pressure that tank will contain.
  • Then, apply adhesive to the 3/8" to 1/4" reducer and screw into the couple you had just installed.
  • Finally, take the other end of your new air compressor hose and attach it to the reducer you just added to the new receiver tank.

Step 5: Filling the New Tank With Air

As stated earlier, we're using a pancake air compressor with an open/close dial located on the front of the machine.

  • Turn this dial to the "Closed" position. Your air compressor will now close off air to your hose but will allow air to pass through the brass tee you installed and into the new air receiver tank.
  • Once the dial is closed, turn on your machine. You'll notice the gauges all still function normally and adding the new tank should not have affected their performance.
  • Take notice of the air pressure gauge and fill your new tank up to 100 psi (given you followed our instructions word for word and worked with the same capacity equipment as we did).
  • When the tank reaches your desired capacity, turn off the compressor and turn your dial back to the open position.

Step 6: Congratulations!

Voilà! You've just completed your air compressor add-on/conversion! I hope you'll find your new toy effective and impressive! In just a few simple steps and a minimal amount of air compressor parts, you've turned a weak, little air compressor into one worthy of impact tools and industrial paint sprayers!

Comments

Lorraine Prather (author)2017-09-24

the blog is very nice and important.It is important for them who want to buy air compressor tank.really this information is helping his/her to buy a new tank.

Opdawg (author)2016-07-30

On youtube theres a video explaining this way better. Increasing air compressor storage cheap and safe is the video. It would be more safe to add a tee on the reserve tank hole and add another saftey valve. The other side air hose in. Just get the same p.s.i. on the new saftey valve as the original compressor your using. In my case im using an old compressor tank i have 2 holes. One is air in on the other hole a tee, a saftey valve and ill use the p.s.i gauge from the old compressor. Im gonna use a better hose to.

Opdawg (author)2016-07-29

Yeah what about not having a saftey valve. I dont understand the instructions dont make sence.

Opdawg (author)Opdawg2016-07-29

Im using a 8 gallon oil husky and a 11 gallon old cambell compressor tank. It has 2 1/2 ports one in one out. I could plug one side but these are not good instructions or pictures. I could do like the picture except put a tee on the reserve tank or a hose in and my line coming out the other port. This stuff is dangerous i need to do more research. This was not helpful.

olsaaronc (author)2016-05-19

Can you daisy chain more than one of those air tanks? I'd like to add two to my small compressor. Is that possible?

Deathstick (author)olsaaronc2016-06-05

You can add 50 tanks together. Will they ever fill before the motor melts down, unlikely. I would say the most you'd want to add is 20-25% more capacity. If you have an oiless pump then stay on the very conservative side, like 10-15%. These things get real hot WITHOUT running over their duty cycle. Adding a fan may get some additional life out of the unit.

What you should expect to gain is volume. You may be able to actually start an impact or like tool, but to get a usable amount of air you need a considerable size tank. You start with a 5-20 gal, you need to get to 60+. Best to not get your hopes up on these tools. If you wanna paint something, using a HVLP Harbor Freight touch-up gun may get you started. Good luck.

I tired of such endeavors last year, quit fighting the small 26gal and bought a real compressor, a 80gal IR 2-stage, 220v and have never looked back. Every time I use it it makes me tear up a little, thinking about all the struggles I had with the 26gal. Being able to use air polishers, drills, and sanders that had been stuck in a drawer was an eye opener. There is no substitute for duty cycle+volume!

kedwa30 (author)2015-10-12

Great i'ble! I especially enjoy reading these comments below as discussion is good for greater understanding. Running a small compressor for extended periods of time will of course cause it to get hot and wear out faster, but running it extra long to fill up a larger tank isn't any different than running it extra long from using it a lot. The difference is that you don't want to be held up waiting for it to get up to the pressure you need after each little burst of air tool use. Time is money, so it's a balance between how much your time is worth versus how much replacing a worn compressor will cost.

Like most things you buy these days, these compressors were designed to wear out shortly after the warranty expires anyway. Here are three ways I've just thought of to prolong compressor life: 1. put a fan on it to keep it from getting too hot, 2. install a temperature activated switch to ensure it will shut off when it gets too hot (and automatically comes backon after it is cool enough) 3. install a timer to ensure it won't run too long when filling the extended tank, and stays off long enough to cool down.

With these additional modifications, the compressor should last a long time and keep the tank full without constant user intervention.

Kinkhoss (author)2015-06-08

I have heard many many a time that that's a good way to burn out your compressor twice as fast as it's not suited to fill that much tank

greenman48 (author)Kinkhoss2015-08-06

You heard right! Every small compressor I have seen states in the owners manual a maximum period of time that the compressor should run for. From experience I can tell you that the more often the compressor has to kick on and off to keep the additional storage tank at capacity, the shorter the life will be on the air compressor. This if fine for the occasional use but not much else unless you want to replace it within just a few months of doing this. I still keep a 110V pancake compressor around for occasional use, but for the majority of my air tools I have and 220V, 2 Stage, 85 gal, vertical air compressor.