Guide to air compressor sizing factors

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Understanding air compressor sizing for what best suits your needs is usually the first step to maximizing efficiency. Since electricity costs make up to 80% of running these machines, you'll want to pay attention to the amount of air pressure and flow you require.

In addition, other things to consider include whether it makes more sense to operate fixed speed or variable speed drive (VSD) air compressor equipment. Also, regarding drying and treating air moisture, there are various methods for achieving desirable pressure dew point (PDP) levels.

With all of these points, it's worth investing in the most optimal air compressor solution. Doing this helps reduce unnecessary maintenance costs, downtime, and other disruptions to your workflow. This article covers these topics to help you determine the right air compressor solution.

Time, pressure, and force

While exploring air compressor sizes, you'll likely come across cubic feet per minute (cfm), liters per second (l/s), and cubic meters per hour (m3/h). All these measurements have to do with how much time it takes to complete a job. If your application requires quick air delivery, you'll want to take note of these ratings.

You'll also encounter pounds per square inch (psi) or bar rating, which is the amount of force/pressure generated. If you work with heavy industrial applications, you'll need more bar pressure. This measurement is important, as investing in an air compressor machine with too much or too little pressure can cause issues.

For example, an overly large air compressor generating too much pressure for a particular job creates unnecessary wasted air. It also uses more electricity than needed. On the flip side, a machine that's too small can become overworked, leading to air leaks and other problems.

With any air compressor, it's best to pay attention to fittings, pipes, and valves to make sure everything is running properly. If you encounter any problems, it may be a sign that you need a different air compressor. Also, if you work across multiple applications, it might make sense to use a VSD air compressor.

Fixed speed vs. VSD

For single applications, fixed speed air compressors are a good option. These machines are suited for facilities handling one job with stable air requirements. With these machines, sizing is important, as there's no varying output levels.

If your compressed air needs change throughout the day, then it's best to invest in a variable speed drive (VSD) air compressor. Unlike fixed speed equipment, these machines meet air demand for different industrial applications. In addition, they operate at lower speeds when air demand is lower.

When researching VSD air compressors, you'll find they offer a range of pressure levels, and efficiency features. This flexibility means wasted air and energy is greatly reduced compared to fixed speed machines.

The right dryer solution and size

When discussing air compressor sizing factors, it's also worth looking into dryers. Since air encounters high pressure levels and consequently rapid heating, moisture is formed in the compression process.

To reach optimal PDP levels, you'll need to understand how much cfm of air needs drying. Air pressure levels are also important for determining size, as well as ambient air temperature.

If you work in a place with warm and cold seasons, you want to do these calculations while factoring in the hottest possible temperatures. As you can see, there's a lot to consider.

In some instances, an aftercooler makes it possible to invest in a smaller air compressor dryer. This is because aftercoolers convert up to 70% of humidity. Some air compressors come with this equipment built in to counteract high moisture levels.

While aftercoolers are a great way to reduce water vapor, they're not a replacement for air compressor dryers. The main benefit of using this equipment to complement an air dryer is they don't add energy costs while reducing moisture.

The right air compressor sizing

With all the air compressor options available, it may seem difficult to choose the right solution for your compressed air needs.

We hope the information contained in this article helps you determine what product makes the most sense for your business. Feel free to contact us today if you have additional questions.

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