An inefficient air compressor can cost a company thousands in annual revenue. Fortunately, you can optimize your system's performance with a few simple tricks.  

shutterstock_180233393An inefficient air compressor can cost a company thousands in annual revenue. Fortunately, you can optimize your system’s performance with a few simple tricks.

Air compressors are undoubtedly a financial investment for many businesses. Nobody wants to pay more than they have to, but it is smart business to focus on the energy costs. Consider that the purchase price and typical maintenance costs combined tally just 20 cents on every dollar you spend.

Did you realize that 80 cents of every dollar you spend on compressed air pays for the electricity to run it? That is where the big money is so anything you can do to lower air usage pays you dividends.

That’s why minor adjustments to your air compression system are essential to maximizing your investment. Without tracking system performance and addressing inefficiencies, an air compressor can easily cost more money than it saves.

Fortunately, we have some simple strategies you can follow to ensure that you’re using your air compressor as efficiently as possible.

1. Monitor and repair leaks.

Leaked air is wasted air, so it’s important to identify and repair compressor leaks as soon as possible. Old threaded iron piping installed with solvent based pipe dope hardens, cracks and leaks over time. It is not uncommon to learn that 30% of the air you produce simply feeds leaks in the system.

Large leaks you can hear. Medium leaks you can feel but won’t hear. Small leaks are inaudible — so they won’t be easy to find. If you’re struggling to pinpoint leaks in your system, it may be advisable to hire an air professional that uses ultrasonic leak detectors to hunt down, detect and fix them.

Preventing new leaks from forming is equally important. Regularly examine your piping to ensure that all pipes are dry, clean, and free of corrosion. Carefully monitor filters for potential clogs, as well. Filtration ensures that your pipes remain free of dirt, dust, pipe scale, oil and other contaminants. This keeps your air tools, cylinders, valves and other air applications operating properly to keep energy efficiency high and maintenance costs low.

2. Optimize pressure resistance and set points.

Pay close attention to pressure levels in your pipes and optimize your system by running it at the minimum pressure requirement. Don’t hike up pressure if you encounter piping or filtration problems.

An energy-efficient system minimizes pressure drop as much as possible. Remember that pressure is directly proportional to airflow; the greater the piping diameter, the less the resistance for the airflow through the piping system. The smaller the loss in pressure, the lower you can set your compressor operating pressure.

Since energy consumption can be lowered by a whole percentage point for every two pounds per square inch (PSIG) reduction in operating pressure, consider determining your minimum acceptable pressure operating point and then lower your compressor pressure switch settings to a point just above it for a potentially significant reduction in energy costs.

3. Check parts for functionality and cleanliness.

Check your drains regularly— especially condensate drains operating on timers. Make sure that they open as designed without becoming stuck. To save even more energy, you can replace timed drains with zero-loss drains.
Monitor and replace your filters regularly as well – air quality and low pressure drop depend on good clean filtration. Facility air-line and point-of-use filters are as important as those in the compressor itself.

Most importantly, invest in proper maintenance, and don’t neglect little problems so they don’t become even bigger problems.

4. Know when to turn off your compressor and preserve energy.

You probably don’t need to use your compressor as much as you may think. Compressed air should not be used for any task that can be performed just as well with a different method. Low-pressure air can be used in many ways as an alternative to compressed air. As obvious as it sounds, don’t forget to turn your compressor off when not in use.

5. Switch to a rotary vane compressor.

Rotary screw compressors run at high speeds and rely on roller and thrust bearings that start to wear from the moment you turn them on. This results in lower efficiency over time which undermines energy efficiency.

On the other hand, rotary vane air compressors are proven to be more cost-effective over time. They rely on a slow turning single offset rotor and sliding blades that provide a better seal the longer they run. This seal creates consistent pockets of air that is compressed in one-half a rotation. Ultimately, resulting in even better energy efficiency from the moment you start the compressor to save you more money as time goes on.

At Mattei, we’ve specialized in rotary vane air compressors for more than five decades. All of our compressors enjoy outstanding volumetric efficiency and highly stabilized pressure, and our zero-wear Meehanite(R) treating process provides outstanding durability and protection from wear. If you’re looking to optimize your output, save energy, and raise your ROI, invest in a Mattei compressor today.

Topics: Air Compressor, sustainability, energy, best practices

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Additional Resources

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