Pneumatic vs. Electric Portable Beveling Tools

You have many choices for portable beveling tools, and should have no problem finding one to meet your technical requirements – but have you considered the best way to power the tool? Portable beveling tools are available in both pneumatic and electric versions.

Which power system is best for you? To decide, consider the following factors:

  • Initial Cost – Typically, an air-powered tool costs less than its electric counterpart, but do you already have a sufficient compressor to drive a pneumatic tool? Unless you plan to invest in multiple pneumatic tools, the cost of the compressor is likely to remove your pneumatic cost advantage – even with a small and relatively inexpensive compressor unit.
  • Operating Cost – Pneumatic tools tend to have lower operating costs than electric tools, although that depends on the type of compressor arrangement that you have. You will have to compare your compressor operating costs vs. the electric costs, taking into account if the electrical tool will take longer to complete the average job.
  • Environmental Concerns – Pneumatic tools generally are able to operate in a more hazardous environment, such as a flammable or wet area. For beveling operations, flammability may still be a concern even for pneumatic systems. Consider all the operations you do and verify that the unit you buy is properly insulated and protected against your major hazards.
  • Accessibility – In either case you will be constrained by a cord, either feeding electricity or compressed air to the unit. How are your electrical outlets dispersed around the jobsite compared to the location of your compressor? Usually electrical outlets are more convenient, unless you have a nearby or dedicated compressor.
    Assess the areas in which you will be using the tool and the available power. If you need access nearer your workspace, is it easier to run an air or electricity drop?One thing you do not want to do is depend on extension cords – that’s an unsafe shop practice.
  • Weight – Since pneumatic beveling tools operate directly off of air pressure, they are lighter than electric versions that require drive motors. That can reduce fatigue over long jobs.
  • Capabilities and Life – Thanks to the cooling aspect of the compressed air supply, pneumatic tools are more difficult to overheat and generally can be used for longer periods of time and on more difficult surfaces. If you have a lot of jobs with more challenging materials to bevel, this may be a very important factor for you.
    Check the efficiency of the beveling tool (the power it consumes compared to the power it delivers). Remember that pushing a tool to its limits may shorten its life. Ask your tool vendor about typical operating ranges and expected tool life to strike your preferred balance.

Each jobsite is different – but as a general rule, if you already have a suitably sized compressor and plenty of access to compressed air within your work area, pneumatic tools are difficult to beat. If you don’t have a compressor and work in a smaller space where the noise of a compressor may affect other nearby work, electrical beveling tools may be the preferred choice.

Whether you decide that a pneumatic or electric beveling tool is best for your needs, contact Saar-Hartmetall at (859) 331-8770 or by e-mail at [email protected]. Saar-Hartmetall represents the quality Gerima line of beveling tools and they will be happy to help you find the right Gerima beveling tool for your job – or if you can’t decide for yourself, they can help you assess whether a pneumatic or electric system makes the most sense for you.