Fast-moving parts, residual vibration, prodigious air intake — there’s more than one reason why air compressors produce so much noise. But you don’t have to settle for a clunky, loud compressor. Rotary vane machines can run more quietly than your vacuum.

There’s no question that noise is a nuisance in the workplace. It endangers employee health and safety, inhibits communication and productivity, eats away at workers’ morale, and impairs customer relationships. Your air compressor shouldn’t contribute to that noise.shutterstock_561877147

Air compressors are a crucial piece of equipment for many businesses, leaving managers to believe that they simply have to deal with a noisy machine. But your company doesn’t have to choose between bad options. If you understand why your air compressor is so loud, you can learn what to do to mitigate the noise and bring the decibel levels down to a very reasonable range.

Where All That Noise is Coming From?

Air compressors have many moving parts that make some degree of noise — the air intake, the drive gears, and the primary and fan electric motors, for example — but if you’re using a reciprocating or rotary screw machine, that incredibly loud noise you’re hearing is without a doubt the pump or air end.

The pumps in reciprocating compressors are perhaps the worst offenders when it comes to noise. Today’s smaller pumps rotate at higher speeds, creating more friction and therefore more noise. Dual-piston pumps distribute air compression across two components, so they can run slower, but piston pumps, which have a lot of moving parts in contact with one another, generate a lot of friction to begin with, so they’re very loud.

Rotary screw compressors are not as loud as piston pumps only because they are nearly always enclosed in sound inhibiting enclosures. The asymmetric rotors only rotate in one direction, so there’s less stop-and-start in the machine, but they still have to run at extremely high speeds of between 4,500 and 7,500 rpm, in order to get the job done.

Other factors that impact noise levels are the environmental conditions (i.e. the acoustics of the worksite), and where the machine is situated in relation to your employees. Air compressors running at high speeds can also create mechanical vibrations that may have an amplifying effect and cause the compressor to sound louder to the human ear than it actually is.

Turning Down The Volume

Factories, auto body shops, and other compressor users employ a number of strategies for reducing pump and air end noise – hearing protection, locating the compressor far from the work area, soundproofing cabinets, mufflers, and so on. But the best tactic, by far, is to buy a quieter compressor.

Rotary vane compressors run at much lower speeds than screw compressors (950 to 2,250 rpm), and with no metal to metal contact meaning less friction and therefore less noise. Even better, the white metal bushings we use in our rotary vane compressors ensure a quieter and longer lifespan than the bearings you see in rotary screw compressors.

At the end of the day, the compressor is so quiet that often its the unit’s cooling fan that produces the most audible noise. Rotary vane compressors can reach noise levels as low as 63 dB[A], less than most vacuum cleaners.

In addition to being more quiet, low maintenance costs makes choosing a rotary vane compressor the easy and obvious choice. Mechanical components in reciprocating and rotary screw machines, gradually wear and grind so noise increases over time as the machine has to work harder and harder to produce pressure and flow. Regularly lubricating the air compressor, keeping filters clean, replacing worn bearings, bushings, and rotors on rotary screw machines will be necessary, all of which increase your maintenance costs.

The Advantage of Rotary Vane Technology

If noise reduction is a priority for your compressed air application, there’s no better choice than a Mattei compressor with rotary vane technology. They have fewer moving parts, require less maintenance, and run slower than reciprocating and rotary screw machines. They turn slower and there is less friction, and consequently, less noise.

And since rotary vanes are virtually impervious to corrosion, and use self-lubricating bushings (rather than bearings), you won’t have to worry about your machine getting louder over time. You won’t have to use space-eating soundproofing enclosures, bury your machine in a far corner, or install costly and inefficient hosing in order to hear yourself think.

And rotary vane compressors aren’t just less noisy: they are more efficient, durable, and cost-effective than other technologies. Whether it’s a medical application where noise is a no-go, or an industrial application where workplace safety is priority number one, investing in a Mattei air compressor is the surest way to achieve safe and acceptable noise levels in your workplace.

Topics: Air Compressor, Rotary Vane Compressor

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Additional Resources

Rotary Vane vs. Rotary Screw Compressors Download Infographic
Benefits of Rotary Vane Air Compressors Download eBook
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