If your business’ air supply needs vary, capitalize on energy savings by switching to a variable speed drive compressor.

SavingMoneyMost compressor motors can be outfitted with either a fixed speed drive (FSD) or a variable speed drive (VSD). Both of these devices help your machine compress air properly, but there are some key differences between them that make them better suited to certain applications.

Each control scheme has its own “sweet spot” based on how you apply the technology.  In many cases, a VSD compressor is a more flexible, adaptive and energy efficient solution. When properly applied, both FSD and VSD compressors can optimize their output and help businesses regulate their energy consumption, VSD compressors further optimize efficiency by minimizing electricity use under part load conditions. Sometimes, VSD compressors are eligible in certain states for government-sponsored energy efficiency incentive rebate which help offset the initial investment and enable companies to amass additional savings on operating costs. 

What’s the Difference?

As its name suggests, an FSD produces a constant volumetric output of air at all times. In contrast, a VSD adjusts air production according to demand, varying the frequency and voltage supplied to the motor as needed to change the rotational speed and the air production capacity. 

In general, VSDs can preserve more energy and operate more efficiently than FSDs simply because VSDs are designed to use less energy when demand is low. FSDs, on the other hand, are less complex than VSDs and consume more energy at similar rates of air production, resulting in wasted energy. 

Because of this crucial difference, however, FSDs and VSDs are best suited to certain applications. To ensure long dependable life for your compressor, they will operate best when kept in a clean, dry space, but with proper planning, they can be operated nearly anywhere.

Make the Right Decision for Your Business

VSDs are an ideal complement to most air compressors, but they aren’t necessarily right for every application. If your air supply demands are consistently near full rated capacity, a FSD would be a better choice.   If your air supply demands are variable and rarely approach full rated capacity, a VSD may be a better choice. It is always a good idea to consult a compressed air professional for insight and guidance.

A business with more variable needs, such as a manufacturer, has much more to gain from a VSD. Since a VSD enables a compressor to shift its output as needed, a manufacturer can quickly cut operating costs when its air production needs are lower. Even single-shift or seasonal businesses operating at higher production during specific hours or months of the year are good candidates. 

While the cost of a VSD may be higher than an FSD, the savings generated over time by a VSD will quickly outweigh the initial expense. In fact, a VSD can save a typical business thousands of dollars in energy over the course of a year. Just as importantly, compressors with VSDs are eligible for a number of tax credits, savings, and rebates, further stimulating the ROI. If you have a variable speed compressor already, check your state’s regulations to learn if you qualify for these incentives.

If you’re interested in purchasing a compressor with a variable speed drive for your company, Mattei can help you find the perfect model. Our Optima Series is made with our proprietary rotary vane technology that helps you further reduce its operating costs without compromising operations. Designed for a wide range of applications, it’s an efficient and versatile solution to your air compression needs.

Topics: Air Compressor, Rotary Vane Compressor


Additional Resources

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