Increase efficiency by upgrading your piston air compressor

Contact us to lean more

If you're operating a piston air compressor for your applications, you may want to upgrade to rotary screw equipment. While piston machines are popular for their low investment cost and simple mechanics, they're limited regarding air output and technology.

Generally speaking, rotary screw air compressors are more sophisticated, efficient, and can produce higher air pressure levels. This reduced energy usage is attributed to advancements in variable speed drive (VSD) drivetrains, and optional monitoring tools.

Since at least 80% of an air compressor's operating costs is related to electricity consumption, you could save money by replacing your piston equipment. Of course, there are scenarios when it makes sense to keep using a piston air compressor. Read on below to learn more.

Go to your topic ⤸

Piston air compressor applications

If you work outside on construction sites or other related applications, some piston machines can be transported. Additionally, due to their small footprint, these air compressors fit in tight spaces. This compact arrangement makes them ideal for offices without a large equipment closet.

We also offer an oil-free piston compressor, the Clean Air CNR, which works for applications requiring clean, non-contaminated, air. Ideal for medical, food, electronics, textile, and chemicals, this machine is our most advanced piston compressor. It comes with a direct drive motor, and touchscreen controller.

Besides the portable and oil-free variants, most piston air compressors are essentially the same. Their straightforward piston motor makes them easy to maintain. However, they're limited regarding run time, and pressure levels.

Some machines need to shut off after 4 hours of usage. If you require greater air demand, it's recommended to upgrade to a rotary screw machine.

Rotary screw compressor advantages

Rotary screw air compressors shine with variable speed drive (VSD) models. Unlike piston compressors or fixed drive rotary screw machines, VSD equipment changes speed. This motor capability delivers different output levels, depending on your application.

Since VSD models run at lower speeds when air demand is lower, they consume less energy than a fixed speed compressor. In fact, some models achieve up to 35% savings on power consumption. This high efficiency is made possible by direct drive motors and inverter technology not available to piston compressors.

Also, as mentioned above, rotary screw compressors come with enhanced technological advancements. We covered these in a related article. These features are useful when operating VSD equipment to maximize output, and ensure minimal air loss.

Some Mark rotary compressors are compatible with the ES4000T. This onboard monitoring tool gathers important information, and uploads it for remote access. This means you can check the status of your equipment from anywhere.

Other unique technology includes the ECOntrol6i central controller which synchronizes all your compressors. This optional touchscreen tool provides analytics and useful insight on your entire set up. It can also be added to older machines.

Unlike piston compressors, rotary screw machines are capable of smart factory integration. Additionally, some models come with energy recovery. This feature reuses heat generated during the compressed air process.

Choosing between piston and rotary screw compressors

If you don't work with large industrial applications, a piston compressor may be the best option. However, as pointed out, there are many advantages of rotary screw machines, making them a smart decision.

The initial investment cost may make piston compressors seem more attractive. In this instance, it's worth considering the overall lifespan operational costs.

When using VSD equipment equipped with monitoring tools and controls, the savings can become substantial. This sentiment is especially true when considering that this technology is designed to reduce downtime.

While it's true piston compressors require fewer parts, we've made it easy to maintain a rotary screw machine. With all our equipment, we use the best quality materials and fittings.

One instance where it makes sense to upgrade your piston set up is if you're using more than one machine for a single application. In this case, you'll likely benefit from increased efficiency while reducing machine wear.

We can point you in the right direction

Hopefully this guide helps you understand when it makes sense to operate a piston compressor vs rotary screw equipment. If you're still undecided on the right solution for you, our team can help.

We generally advise examining your set up every 10 years. This recommendation isn't based on lifespan, but on when new innovations are introduced that can meaningfully benefit  your operation.

Feel free to contact us today to get an overview related to your application(s), set up, and needs. We want to ensure your business is properly equipped.

⇪ Back to top ⇪

What air compressor do I need?

If you’re still not sure what type of air compressor you need, feel free to get in touch with our experts for personal advice. We’ll assess your situation and help you find the perfect compressor.

Read more about air compressors in related articles