2 Keys to Choosing the Right Quick Connect Air Fittings
I thought I would take a stab at clearing up what is sometimes a confusing decision – which air fittings are right for me? Here are 2 key elements to understand that will help simplify what can be a confusing ordeal.
1. Style: there are two basic styles of quick connect fittings – automotive and industrial style. We often get asked which style is better? There is no difference in performance or longevity between the styles. It is just a matter of preference. The main consideration is that the two styles are not compatible with one another. The most common frustration for people is when they have existing air couplers and they purchase the wrong style. If you already have air fittings you want to make sure you purchase the same style as your existing fittings. If you don’t know what style you have check the tip of the male plug (see pictures). The female coupler will give you no clue on what style it is. The tip on the male plug of the industrial style has a bevel or ring protruding outward. The tip of the male plug on the automotive style is beveled inward; it kind of looks like a spark plug hence the automotive name. Some manufacturers will stamp their disconnect fittings with the product number. Usually in the product number there will be an I for industrial style or A for automotive style. Some contractors who operate multiple crews will use different color air hose and different style of fitting for each crew. This way they don’t “borrow” each other’s air hose. There are some universal fittings that will work with either style, but most use a single style fitting.
2. Size: another question that is often asked is what size of quick connect fittings does a person need? The most common size fitting is ¼ inch. This is true for both ¼ and 3/8 inch air hose. Most 3/8 air hose comes with ¼ inch ends on it, thus most use a ¼ inch air fitting. Another important thing to consider when choosing the right size fitting is what size of thread is your air tool or air compressor. If the size of thread in your air tool is ¼ inch then you will want a ¼” air fitting. The same is true for your air compressor. If the thread size is 3/8” on your air tool then a 3/8” body fitting is what you need. If you are operating a large air tool it may have ¼ or 3/8 inch thread to screw your male plug into. That is why it is important to check. There are air fittings that have a different size body then the thread. For example you could get a 3/8 inch body air coupler with ¼ female or male pipe thread. These are an options but by far the most common is to get the same size body as the thread. If you are running ½ inch hose you will most likely use a ½ inch body fitting with ½ inch male or female pipe thread. If a product number is stamped on an air coupler or fitting usually the first number is the body size and if there is a second number it will be the thread size. If there is only one number that will often indicate that the body and the thread are the same size. For example our product number AC4F tells you that this is an Automotive coupler (AC) that is ¼ inch body (4) and since there is not a second number we know that it has ¼ female pipe thread(F). Here is another product number example – IP6M4. From this product number we know that this is a male body air fitting with male pipe thread, but the thread is a different size than the fitting. From the product number we know that it is an Industrial Plug (IP) that has a 3/8” body (6) with ¼” male pipe thread (4M). If your fittings have product numbers stamped on them you can quickly figure out what size and style you have. You can also Google the product number and that will usually get you the info you need.
I hope this information was helpful. Quick connect air fittings help make working with air tools easy, fun and saves time. If I confused you just shoot us an e-mail with your question and we will walk you through it. Good luck with your projects!