Booster pumps are usually or plunger type compressors. A single-acting, single-stage booster is the simplest configuration, and comprises a cylinder, designed to withstand the operating pressures, with a piston which is driven back and forth inside the cylinder. The cylinder head is fitted with supply and discharge ports, to which the supply and discharge hoses or pipes are connected, with a non-return valve on each, constraining flow in one direction from supply to discharge. When the booster is inactive, and the piston is stationary, gas will flow from the inlet hose, through the inlet valve into the space between the cylinder head and the piston. If the pressure in the outlet hose is lower, it will then flow out and to whatever the outlet hose is connected to. This flow will stop when the pressure is equalized, taking valve opening pressures into account.

Once the flow has stopped, the booster is started, and as the piston withdraws along the cylinder, increasing the volume between the cylinder head and the piston crown, the pressure in the cylinder will drop, and gas will flow in from the inlet port. On the return cycle, the piston moves toward the cylinder head, decreasing the volume of the space and compressing the gas until the pressure is sufficient to overcome the pressure in the outlet line and the opening pressure of the outlet valve. At that point, the gas will flow out of the cylinder via the outlet valve and port.

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