Compressed air powers many industrial processes, such as atomizing paint and propelling vehicles. It’s also used to run power tools, such as drills, wrenches, and air hammers. Many heavy vehicles have brakes that rely on compressed air. Firefighters and mine rescue workers use canisters of compressed air to breathe in hazardous situations, and scuba divers use it to breathe underwater. Although it is expensive to use, compressed air is such a popular source of power, that some consider it to be a fourth utility, coming in after electricity, natural gas, and water.
Steps for Choosing a Compressed Air System
When you need to choose a compressed air system, start by completing these steps:
- Measuring and identifying demand
- Matching compressor capacity
- Determining the type of compressor
With this information at hand, you’ll be ready to compare the available options and find the compressor that is the best fit for your situation.
Measuring and Identifying Demand
The goal of this step is to figure out how much power you need from your new system. There are a couple of ways to do this. You can measure how much output you’re currently getting from your existing system. For the best results, you should consistently measure your utilization rate using appropriate recording devices. You could also make a list of all the tools and equipment you plan to use and add up their projected air consumption. The measurement option is more precise, however, and you could reach out to a compressed air system jacksonville fl professional to learn more about utilization recording devices.
Matching Compressor Capacity
When you know how much of a demand there will be on your system, you’ll naturally look for compressors with the capacity to provide that much power or, better yet, more power. Some industry professionals look for 10 to 15 percent more capacity than necessary. This figure is based on unexpected demand surges or losses.
Determining the Best Type of Compressor
There are three basic types of compressors: centrifugal, reciprocating, and rotary screw.
- Centrifugal compressors are unique because they use dynamic compression. These compressors are larger than reciprocating and rotary screw compressors, and they offer output levels between one hundred horsepower and five hundred horsepower.
- Reciprocating compressors function with non-lubricated and oil-lubricated pistons. These compressors require only minimal maintenance. You can expect one to fifteen horsepower.
- Rotary screw compressors are easy to use and very reliable. There are two types of rotary screw compressors: flooded and oil-free. These compressors deliver a range of horsepower from seven to one hundred.
Of course, these aren’t the only considerations to bear in mind. You should also factor in whether you have gas, electricity, or diesel power available. You’ll need to decide whether you have enough room for a large compressor. However, with these three steps complete, you are well on your way to identifying the best compressor for your situation.