5 Tips for Buying a Commercial Air Hose Reel

December 14, 2023

Businesses often utilize commercial air hoses for pneumatically powered equipment and other purposes that involve pressurized gasses. Commercial air hose reels offer a means to keep the hosing safe in storage while still allowing easy accessibility. When in operation, commercial air hose reels reduce tripping hazards by only feeding out the needed length, reducing wear and tear on the hoses.  

Whether for everyday or occasional use, there are numerous types of reels for commercial air hoses. Choosing the right one largely depends on the application. Generally, the more a commercial air hose reel is used, the more robust its construction should be. Yet even if used infrequently, a business may find a heavier-duty reel for their commercial air hose more appropriate, mainly if used under challenging conditions.

Choosing the Right Commercial Air Hose Reel for an Application

Many variables require consideration when choosing a reel for an application requiring a commercial air hose. Not only do the dimensions of a commercial air hose matter, but also how it retracts and the material out of which it’s made. Many of these features depend on the type of commercial air hose reel installed, though purchasers should always carefully think through what characteristics are needed to serve the user best.

1. Hosing Length & Diameter

The length necessary for a commercial air hose reel depends on the amount of housing that needs to be stored on the reel. This will depend on the facility’s size and the distance between the air compressors. Generally, the larger the work area, the longer the needed hose, and vice versa. Measuring the distance to where the commercial air hose needs to extend is a good idea while allowing for a bit of slack without the cord dragging on the floor.

Sizing the air hose’s diameter is essential in determining the type of reel to use. Size refers to the inside diameter for which the hose needs to fit the reel’s outlet and inlet, where a commercial air hose reel and the air compressor meet is an inlet that’s directly mounted to the reel and serves as a connection point between the two. 

Common diameters for commercial air hoses in the United States are: 

  • ¼ inch (6.35 mm)
  • ⅜ inch (9.525 mm)
  • ½ inch (12.7 mm)
  • ¾ inch (19.05 mm)

The larger the diameter, the more air flows through it. Understanding the inside diameter will help determine flow rates and PSI (pound-force per square inch) for the application, which brings us to our next tip.

2. Understanding PSI

PSI is an important metric when determining the type of commercial hose reels necessary for an application. For example, while a standard air hose reel requires a pressure of about 300 PSI when transporting most gases, hosing that needs grease or other similarly viscous fluid should be rated for between 4000 and 5000 PSI. This will ultimately impact the size of the commercial air hose reel used.

3. Automatic vs. Manual

In addition to the method of retracting a commercial air hose is whether the reel retracts and winds up automatically or manually. 

Manual air hose reels feature a hand crank, requiring the user to guide it back into the reel’s drum so that it wraps around evenly. These types are mobile, offering a practical solution for construction worksites or more extensive facilities where a reel may be needed over a reasonably large area.

Automatic air hose reels are either motorized or come with spring control to rewind the hose, requiring the user to guide it to wrap around the reel’s drum. It’s much faster and more efficient, especially when the hosing is used frequently.

Though automatic reels are easier to use, spring-equipped reels must be mounted in a fixed position, so aren’t suitable for applications where mobility is needed.

4. Fittings

When choosing a commercial air hose reel, looking at the connections attached to pneumatic tools and the air compressor is essential. There are several types of fittings available, but there are three that are commonly used:

  • Quick-connect fittings: These are the easiest to use, allowing the user to switch quickly between tools without disengaging and reattaching the hose, though they’re also the least durable.
  • Threaded fittings: Using threads to attach and reattach tools offers greater durability but increases the time it takes to shift between tools.
  • Crimped fittings: More durable than threaded fittings, these are the most durable but also require special tools for installation.

5. Installation 

When a reel is installed in a specific location, it will affect what retraction method can be used for the commercial air hoses it holds. Reels can be mounted on walls, floors, or ceilings, while accessories allow installation on I-beams. 

It should be noted that mounting a reel with a spring-based retraction mechanism on the ceiling or other elevated areas higher than 16 feet (about 4.9 meters) may lead to issues with tension. The installation often includes either a fixed or pivoting base and swivel brackets that allow alignment at a fixed position or various rotational angles. However, these mounting systems aren’t available for every commercial air hose reel.

Contact the Air Hose Reel Experts at Alert Reel Manufacturing

Alert Reel Manufacturing is a leading manufacturer of commercial retractable cord reels and commercial air hose reels. Our products are built to withstand the toughest conditions and provide unparalleled durability, with various cord lengths, colors, hose lengths, and diameters to ensure you find the perfect solution. Browse our selection to discover the best air hose reel for your application, or contact us at Alert Reels today to speak with our expert team!