There is a LOT of information floating around the Internet when it comes to air suspension, and it can be hard to wade through all of it to figure out what's true, what's false, and what actually applies to your own project!
This post is intended to explain the differences in our Twisted Images Air Management Systems so you can make an educated decision as to what matches your desires and budget.
Your actual air bags or struts will stay the same regardless of which system you choose, so the only difference between the various Stages is your controls and air storage options.
Stage 1: Sometimes Less Can Be More
If you only care about lifting your vehicle to drive and airing out when you park, our Stage 1 is an excellent solution that won't break the bank. The heart of this system is the 4-path control panel, which gives you simple control over each corner of the vehicle individually through the use of manual "paddle" valves. The panel also contains a pair of dual needle pressure gauges, so dialing in your individual airbag pressures is a breeze. This system utilizes 1/4" lines, which are easier to route around your car or truck than larger 3/8" air lines.
These paddle valves are designed for the semi-truck industry, so they can handle thousands and thousands of cycles- there are people still running these from the 1990s! And as an added bonus, if you lose tank pressure for any reason these will keep the air pressure inside your airbags. Most electric valve systems will bleed the air out of the bags back into the tank.
Our Stage 1 Kit comes with an aluminum air tank, Viair 480C air compressor, 100 feet of DOT-approved air line with a fitting set, the 4-path control panel, and all of the wiring you'll need to get up and running. Just add your vehicle's specific air bags or struts and you're all set!
Stage 2: The Simple Life
If the stainless steel panel from our Stage 1 system just won't fit in your vehicle's interior, here's a more compact option that still won't break the bank. Utilizing an Accuair 4-path electric valve manifold and an AVS handheld controller with 7 switches, the Stage 2 kit is easy to hide, easy to install, and really easy to use.
The AVS controller has 7 switches- four of them control each corner of your ride up/down, and are located at each corner of the controller to make it simple to use. Between each of the front or rear switches is another switch that controls both front or both rear bags, so you can lift or drop an axle with a single switch. Finally, the center switch allows you to lift or drop all four airbags at once- pull up to the show, hit that center switch, and your car (along with the jaws of anyone watching) drops to the ground.
The 7 switch box fits in the palm of your hand, and it's easy to hide when not in use.
The Accuair VU4 valve has two lines coming in from the air tank and four outputs to your air bags, with a single electrical plug to connect to the switch box- that's about as simple as it gets! It has all of the 3/8" fitting connections pre-installed, too- just cut your air lines to the correct size and plug them in. We include all of the wiring harnesses to make the electrical connections as clean and simple as possible.
This Stage 2 Kit includes the same aluminum air tank and Viair 480C as the Stage 1, but includes 3/8" air line and DOT-approved fittings to connect everything.
Stage 3: When Only The Best Will Do
Our Stage 1 and 2 Systems work great, but both of them require you to set your ride height manually every time you lift the car to drive. While you can absolutely get used to that process with practice, wouldn't it be nice to just touch a single button and have your car or truck lift automatically to a pre-set height? That's where our Stage 3 systems come into play!
The air tank and compressor are carried over from the other kits, along with the 3/8" air line, fittings, and wiring. But the manual controls get ditched in favor of a much fancier handheld controller, which contains both manual controls and those magic preset buttons!
We offer digital height control systems from Accuair and Air Lift Performance, and both have some unique features that may make one better for your personal tastes than the other. We actually have another blog post dedicated just to the differences between these two kits- you can check that out here: http://www.twistedimages.com/Ride-Height-Control-Systems--Which-One-is-Best_b_3.html . But no matter which of the options you choose, a Stage 3 system will make your life on air as luxurious as it can possibly be!
Accuair and Air Lift Performance both have unique features built into their control systems.
I hope this article helped you choose the right air management package for your project, but if you still have questions we're always available to answer them for you!