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Complimentary air!

After a lovely supper in town with my family earlier this week, I noticed a tire on the car looked a little low. We headed over to a nearby Petro-Canada station to check the tires before the long drive home and saw this:


That’s a dollar they want for using the air compressor! This really offends my sense of entitlement. Now, I’ve seen a couple stations in town with coin operated compressors that charged fifty cents to use, but the money went to charity; I didn’t see any such notice on this compressor. I realize that compressed air costs money, but a dollar seems like a lot to fill four tires.

Luckily, I also saw this:


Complimentary air, in my opinion, is the greatest invention since the advent of coin operated compressors. I went inside the station, and the clerk was happy to give me some. This was lucky for me because I needed to fill that tire but I couldn’t pay for air at a gas station AND keep my self respect.

A lot of people don’t think about it too much, but compressed air is expensive. According to my spreadsheet, my small compressor costs $0.257 /CFM output/hour to run; that figure includes electricity, maintenance, and depreciation. To do the work of the compressor at the gas station, my cost would work out to about $0.77/hour of continuous use.

The air is free, of course, we’re just paying to have it compressed. So what’s a fair mark-up? I know I’m not just being cheap because I wouldn’t charge a customer to fill his tires at my shop. Heck, I wouldn’t charge a stranger.

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