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The compact size of the Hitachi EC 79 belies its storage and pressure capacities.
Click image to enlarge

Hitachi EC 79 Compressor

Compact, 6-gallon capacity and home-shop friendly

Text & Photos by Tom Hintz

Posted - 3-13-2006

New from Hitachi is their EC 79, pancake-style air compressor. Though designed for on-site contractor use, the size, capacity and oil-free operation make the Hitachi EC 79 a great for the home woodworking shop.

First Look

The stacked configuration makes the Hitachi EC 79 surprisingly small for its capacity. The 6-gallon pancake-style tank holds plenty of air to limit operation cycles during normal shop use. Overall, the Hitachi EC 79 is only 23"-tall and 15" in diameter, making it much easier to place in smaller shops. At 44 lbs, the Hitachi EC 79 can be brought to the job if necessary without having to hire a body builder.

A built-in carry handle is useful considering the EC 79 only weighs 44 lbs.
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With a maximum working pressure of 135 PSI and a delivery rate of 3.5 SCFM (standard cubic feet per minute) at 40 PSI, the Hitachi EC 79 can handle the nail and staple guns commonly used in woodworking without breaking a sweat. In fact, it is rated to operate 4 brad nailers or three finish nailers at the same time! Crank the pressure up to 100 PSI and the Hitachi EC 79 still delivers 2.5 CFM, more than enough for the tools woodworkers most commonly use.

Just as surprising is the 75 db sound level claimed in the literature that comes with the Hitachi EC 79. After running the Hitachi EC 79 in the NewWoodworker.com shop, that claim seems to be true, especially when compared to other oil-free compressors we have used. Four very effective rubber isolation feet do a good job of preventing vibrations from being transmitted to the shop floor, further reducing the audible sound it generates.

Power and Pumping

A simple, positive push/pull switch controls power to the EC 79. This style of switch can be a safety feature because of how easy it is to turn off quickly or while holding something else.
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The Hitachi EC 79 is powered by a stout single-phase induction motor that draws only 12.5 amps, making life easier for the 15-amp circuit breakers found in many home shops. The motor is rated at 1.5 hp and seems to have no trouble driving the compressor, even during heavy use. Labeling on the Hitachi EC 79 lists motor power at 2 hp peak and 1 hp running.

The oil-free compressor section refills the tank quickly and is surprisingly quiet for this style of pump. The reduced sound may be due in part to the shroud that covers much of the operating mechanism but whatever is doing it, the Hitachi EC 79 is far less annoying to work around than some other compressors with less capacity.

Controls

All of the operational controls are grouped in a dashboard-like bezel (Left), all accessible from the front. Q 1/4", quick-connect (Right) is also standard fare and will match up with most commonly used air tools and hoses.
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The Hitachi EC 79 features twin gauges showing tank and line pressures, a line pressure regulator knob and a pull-on, push-off switch. These controls, plus the ¼" quick coupler are grouped on the front of the Hitachi EC 79 in a dashboard arrangement that makes them easily accessible.

The line pressure control is self-bleeding so it indicates pressure reductions as you make them. This eliminates having to continually "burp" the line to see the new pressure setting.

A finger-operated drain valve encourages the owner to perform this often overlooked bit of maintenance.
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A nice touch is providing a finger-operated tank bleed/drain. Not having to find a wrench to open the tank bleed makes it more likely that the owner will actually drain the tank occasionally to get rid of moisture. We all know we should, this finger-operated valve eliminates the excuse too many of us give for not doing it.

In the Shop

We used the Hitachi EC 79 for all of our in-shop air needs, which is primarily limited to operating nail guns of all descriptions. Between the relatively small air demands of nail guns and the large capacity of the Hitachi EC 79, the time between runs to restore tank pressure was surprisingly long. Even after using an air gun to blow dust from hard to reach places in machinery, the Hitachi EC 79 recovered quickly.

Perhaps one of the nicest features of the EC 79 is that all you have to do is plug it in, set the pressure for the job and use it. It will supply the air you want without constant attention.
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The 6-gallon storage tank and efficient line pressure regulation mean the Hitachi EC 79 delivered lots of shots from even my largest finish nail gun before the pump comes on line to refill it. The line pressure and volume, even just prior to the compressor tripping on remain very constant. Throughout the cycle, my nail guns never showed a lack of air supply or decreased performance.

We did not test the Hitachi EC 79 with spray equipment because compressors in this range are not designed for that type of use. This is in no way a deficiency on the part of the Hitachi EC 79. If you want to use spray equipment, get out the big checkbook to buy a compressor (a large one) to handle those needs.

Conclusions

The Hitachi EC 79 is a nice compressor for the average woodworking shop as well as for contractors needing on-site air for nail guns. The combination of capacity, solid construction and compact design mean the Hitachi EC 79 will handle your needs without taking up valuable floor space.

With a street price of $199.99 (3-12-2006), the Hitachi EC 79 makes it easier to bring compressed air to the shop without inflating the budget.

Visit the Hitachi web site - Click Here

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