Avoiding condensation in air compressors: the importance of the right air dryer

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Condensation in air compressors can cause serious damage in the long run. The running parts of your machine might oxidize, endangering the working of your compressor. That’s why the choice of the right air dryer is so important. In this article, we will discuss the dangers of condensation, as well as the question ‘How to select the right air dryer?’ in this article.

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The dangers of condensation in air compressors

Condensation is a natural result of air compression. The amount of water produced is dependent on the air inlet, quality of the surrounding air, and pressure. Warm humid air has a higher water volume than cold air. This will lead to more condensation. For instance, a 55 kW screw compressor, operating at a surrounding temperature of 24 °C, with 75% air humidity will produce up to 280 litres a day

But what about the damage that condensation can cause? If your air compressor system doesn’t have the right means to eradicate condensation, the following will occur: 

  • Corrosion of pipes and working elements

  • Damage to pneumatic controls, resulting in machine failure

  • Oxidation and wear and tear because lubricants get washed away

  • Discolouring, lower quality and lacquer damage

  • Freezing (in colder circumstances)

  • Higher maintenance costs and shortening of machine lifespan

So we can all agree that condensation is something to avoid. But how to make the right choices concerning air dryers?


How to choose the right air dryer for my air compressor system?

In the following part we will briefly discuss the different types of air dryers, and why they might be the ideal choice for your system.

Cycling and non-cycling (refrigerate) air dryers

Do you need dry air, but no critical dew point? In this case refrigerated air dryers are a suitable choice. There are two options:

Non-cycling refrigerated air dryers

This is an ideal budget choice to ensure dry air. Non-cycling means that this air dryer operates constantly: it uses a hot gas bypass valve to redirect the refrigerant. It has a low cost of investment, they are easy to install and operate, and are ideal in combination with rotary screw compressors. For piston compressors we recommend a higher temperature model. Since this type of dryer operates constantly, this is not the best option in terms of energy efficiency. 

Cycling refrigerated air dryers

As opposed to non-cycling dryers, these dryers have additional equipment to detect the amount of compressed air in your system. This means they will turn on and off based on the demand. Cycling dryers are therefore a more energy-efficient solution. The initial cost is higher, but it is definitely a more long-lasting option. Does your system have a fluctuating air demand? Then this is the choice for you. 

Integrated dryers

These types of air dryers are inherent to your system. This is an advantage when you have limited space, and want to cut back on installation costs. We can definitely help you choosing an integrated dryer suited to your needs.

Desiccant air dryers

While refrigerated air dryers use a refrigerant to remove moisture, desiccant air dryers use heat, chemicals or drying materials. You’ll find more information on desiccant air dryers in our guide on compressed air dryer types. Overall, we can tell you that the choice for refrigerated or desiccant air dryers depends on the air quality requirements. We will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Questions about condensation and air dryer systems?

Do you have any questions about the dangers of condensation, your air quality requirements and the best dryer system for your needs? Contact us, and we will be happy to help!


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Trust your air compressor maintenance to an expert

Everything mentioned in this article, is a simplified version of things to keep in mind when servicing your air compressor installation. Never perform any work on your screw compressor, piston compressor, air treatment or other equipment that you are not qualified to perform, but instead consult an expert.


Specialised air compressor experts know your system inside and out and are licensed to handle any situation, no matter what issue arises. Moreover, they’ll be able to provide pointers on how to better use your compressor.


Maintaining your air compressor is far more sustainable than buying a new one every few years, so make sure you take the time to really keep it up. If you’re looking to save money, refrain from buying a second hand compressor, and focus on quality parts and preventative maintenance.


Looking for some assistance? Get in touch with our experts for services that meet your needs.

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