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Buying a New vs. Used Air Compressor: Which One Is Best?

When you need an air compressor for your operations, you have a choice to make — will you buy new or used? This comes after deciding the specific type of compressor you need, from rotary screw to reciprocating, so making another decision may be overwhelming. There are plenty of pros and cons for either type of air compressor, and you have many things to factor into your choice.

When buying a new versus used air compressor, which one is best? We’ll outline the differences as well as the advantages and disadvantages below to help you make your choice.

Difference Between New vs. Used Air Compressors

Before you even learn the difference between used and new air compressors, you may wonder if you can purchase used air compressors. The answer is yes. Plenty of industries use air compressors for various work tasks. As a result, there’s quite the market for both new and used air compressors. The difference is simple — companies or individuals have previously employed used air compressors in their work, while new ones have never been used before.

Used air compressors may come from companies that have decided to upgrade their system. They might also come from businesses that have downsized their equipment needs. Ideally, you’ll find a used air compressor that someone didn’t use often but maintained well.

Depending on who you purchase used equipment from, you may receive information from the past owner. You could discover how well they maintained the system, how long they had it for and what issues they had, if any. Sellers could also assess the equipment and either make repairs or advise you on any maintenance or replacements the air compressor needs. All that will depend on who you shop with and if the information is available from the previous owner.

When you buy a new air compressor, you’ll have access to all the specs you’d expect to receive with a new purchase. You get a current product that manufacturers back with decades of research and development. No one owned it before, so there’s no history of problems or repairs to look into.

No matter which option you shop for, you’ll likely find the type of air compressor you need for your operations. It just depends on current availability and demand. The main differences come with the pros and cons of new versus used air compressors.

New Air Compressors

With the right budget and a need for a quality machine, a new air compressor can guarantee you get the equipment you want. Compare the pros and cons of purchasing a new air compressor to see if it’d be the right choice for your operations.

Benefits of Buying New Air Compressors

Purchasing a new air compressor comes with various advantages, especially when you compare it to getting a secondhand one. As long as your operations use the new equipment often, you’ll get these benefits of buying new air compressors:

  • Latest technology: New air compressors use the latest technology to make your operations smoother. You can cut down on lead times and have more flexibility or consistency when you use an air compressor with the newest technology.
  • Higher efficiency: A new air compressor may use power more efficiently than a used option. New machinery won’t have initial damage or required maintenance, which used equipment could have. Leaks, clogged air filters, incorrect pressure readings and other issues all impact an air compressor’s efficiency. You most likely won’t have a problem with those components in a new system.
  • Longer life span: A used piece of equipment can have years taken off its life span, depending on how long the previous owner used it. A new machine has never been used, so you get a longer life span. You can further extend your air compressor’s life span by following maintenance tips and getting an air compressor audit, which helps protect your investment.
  • Higher return on investment (ROI): As you decide which system will work for you, you’ll wonder which has the best ROI between used or new air compressors. You’ll get the most value from a new unit, thanks to its longer life span and quality components. A new air compressor is cost-effective because it will have better energy efficiency, and you likely won’t need to replace or repair components right away. A new air compressor also adds to your business’ equity, which is beneficial if you ever want to expand or borrow funds. To ensure you maintain that ROI, conduct regular maintenance and audits.
  • Possibility for warranties: Depending on which equipment you purchase and where you buy it from, you could get a warranty. A warranty helps ensure you have little to no costs if your air compressor needs repairs or replacements. If there are any defects with your brand new equipment, a warranty may cover replacements then, as well. Look into the specific terms of your warranty to understand your coverage better, and check for what it covers and how long it lasts.

Disadvantages of Buying New Air Compressors

The primary disadvantage of buying a new air compressor is its cost. You’ll probably pay significantly more for a new system compared to a used one. But that’s because you’re paying for all the benefits of buying new air compressors. You get the latest technology, excellent warranty coverage and better efficiency. The machine also doesn’t have a history, unlike used options. If you can afford the cost of buying a new air compressor, it may be worth it in favor of all the advantages you get.

Used Air Compressors

If you purchase a used air compressor, you have to rely on the previous owner to have maintained it. With proper prior maintenance and a trustworthy seller, you could get a quality secondhand air compressor that suits your needs. Still, the machine will have its pros and cons. Evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of purchasing a used air compressor to see if it’d be right for you.

Benefits of Buying Used Air Compressors

To see if a used air compressor would be right for you, first consider the advantages. Compared to a brand new machine, you’ll get these benefits of buying used air compressors:

  • Lower cost: The most appealing benefit of used equipment is a lower price. In some cases, you can purchase multiple used air compressors for the same price you could get for one piece of new equipment. Don’t let a lower price tag be the only deciding factor, though. New equipment comes with benefits that used machinery doesn’t, which validates a higher price tag.
  • No initial depreciation: When you buy any sort of new machinery or equipment, its value immediately depreciates. You won’t have that problem with used equipment. It comes at an initial lower cost, and since someone has used it before, it has already gone through its initial depreciation.
  • Quality refurbishments: Depending on the manufacturer and seller, you might get a high-quality refurbished machine. Components may be new yet compatible with the used air compressor, which would give you a more efficient and long-lasting system. Not every secondhand air compressor will have this level of care, though, so be sure to look into the specs if you buy a used machine.

Disadvantages of Buying Used Air Compressors

Of course, when it comes to purchasing used equipment, you get what you pay for. A trustworthy manufacturer and seller will help eliminate some concerns you’ll have about the process. Still, with the advantages of a lower price come these potential disadvantages:

  • Lack of the latest technology: Buying used means you’re getting a machine that probably wasn’t made in recent years. You’d have to sacrifice using the latest air compressor technology in favor of the benefits of buying used air compressors. Not having the latest technology could mean anything from getting equipment that’s less efficient to achieving a slower production and turnaround time than you would with a new system.
  • Unknown life span: When you buy a new machine, you’re guaranteed an estimated life span. When you buy used equipment, it’s hard to know how long the air compressor will last. To combat this, shop with a trusted seller. They’ll provide as much information as possible with a detailed record, if one is available. That record can include information like how well the previous owner maintained the machine and how long they had it. Once you own it, you can get regular audits and maintain it well to sustain its life span.
  • Few warranty options: You may not have as many options for equipment protection with a used system. If something happens to your machinery, you may incur higher costs to make repairs or replacements. This means that, while the initial cost is lower for used equipment, you may end up paying more not long after purchasing your secondhand machinery. You could find used equipment with available or extended warranties, but that will depend on the retailer and machinery.
  • Limited selection: When you buy a used air compressor, you’re limited in your options. You can essentially pick from whatever stock of used equipment a seller happens to have at a given moment. If you’re looking for a particular model, you may need to wait or shop around. If you do want a used air compressor, consider focusing on the specs you need for your job instead of a particular make or model.

Which Option Is Best for You?

With the advantages and disadvantages of both air compressor buying options in mind, you’ll have to decide which will work for your operations. Perhaps reviewing the pros and cons of new versus used air compressors didn’t make your decision any easier. In that case, you should evaluate your unique needs and concerns. Determine whether you should purchase a new or used system by considering:

  • Your initial budget: Your biggest concern will be your budget for the equipment’s initial expenses. While a new unit will almost always cost more than a used one, you should also factor in the cost of replacement parts and repairs a used system might need in the short term.
  • Your budget down the line: If you have an estimate of your long-term budget, incorporate that into your decision. You may be able to afford a higher price tag now, but a used unit could cause financial trouble if your budget ever tightens. Remember that a new machine offers higher efficiency and a longer life span, potentially lowering power and maintenance costs.
  • The amount of air and pressure you need: Consider your operations as you select an air compressor. Don’t compromise on your needs based on the price or advantages of one choice over another. If you need more air at higher pressures, you may consider an option with a large storage tank, which you could find in either used or new varieties.
  • The tools you use: In general, you can operate pneumatic tools more consistently with a large compressor. If you need air purity or a steady stream of lightly pressurized air, consider a smaller machine. You’ll find either of these types available in new and used equipment selections, so remember not to compromise on your operational demands.
  • How often you’ll use an air compressor: Perhaps for your operations, you use an air compressor multiple times throughout the day. In that case, you may want a new machine that will last longer and provide better energy efficiency. If you don’t often use an air compressor for worksite tasks, a used one could be a more cost-effective option for you.

Overall, you may find it’s best to invest in a new air compressor. Of course, the decision is up to you, and you won’t want to spend more than your means to get new equipment. Consider all the factors above, and if you’re having trouble deciding, consult with experienced professionals.

Shop Quincy Compressor’s New and Used Equipment

Whether you want to get new or used air compressors for your operations, Quincy Compressor has what you need. If you still can’t decide, our professional and knowledgeable air experts will be happy to help you pick the most fitting type for your operations. Whatever you select, you’ll enjoy our uncompromising reliability and performance, no matter your application.

From compressors to parts and service, everything at Quincy Compressor will surely give you the solutions you need. We also offer industry-leading warranty protection and extended warranty plans for various products.

Contact Quincy Compressor today for more information about our air compressors and other equipment.

It’s important to follow industry standards for handling air compressors, both for safety reasons and for the sake of optimizing operating costs. Understand how your air compressor works so you can identify any issues and minimize expenses. Evaluate your compressed air needs and use automatic settings, and only use compressed air for its intended purposes to prioritize your team members’ well-being and safety. Make sure everyone on your team understands the operational costs and safety standards associated with using compressed air.

You should fully comprehend your compressed air system — how it’s laid out, what applications it has and when and how to use it effectively. Perform regular preventative maintenance to decrease expenses associated with running it. Below, you’ll learn more about how to enhance your compressed air system’s productivity, reliability and safety.

Working With Compressed Air: How to Use Your Air Compressors Correctly

Learn to implement the best practices for air compressor systems by ensuring worker safety and reducing your operating expenses as much as possible. Which air compressor you choose, how it’s installed and how you use it will determine its effectiveness. For more details on which best practices to follow, keep reading:

1. Purchase the Best Air Compressor for Your Application

Make sure you choose an air compressor well-suited to your needs. Browse various air compressor options and their applications. Different compressor systems are best-suited to various environments. For instance, oil-free scroll compressors are best for pharmaceutical and food manufacturing environments, as they decrease air contamination. Reciprocating piston compressors are best for mechanic and construction industries. For the most heavy-duty applications, a rotary screw compressor is usually a fitting choice.

Think about what your air compressor needs are and which features are most important to you. Educate yourself on different air compressor models and speak with a local expert to seek advice. When it comes to optimizing your use of compressed air, the first step is to make a wise purchase. Make sure you consider what your compressed air needs are and which type of air compressor will best serve those demands.

Ask yourself if your air compressor needs to be oil-free. This means the pistons have a Teflon coating rather than oil lubrication. Oil-free compressors have many benefits — they’re better for the environment, they provide cleaner air and they tend to require less maintenance. When purchasing your air compressor, you can decide between oil-injected or oil-free models.

2. Ensure Proper Installation of Your Air Compressor

Where and how your air compressor is installed will make a huge difference in its operating costs and safe functioning. If you’re wondering how to protect your air compressor from damage, learn about proper placement and installation.

For optimized function, an air compressor needs a consistent stream of cool, dry and clean air. Make sure airflow into the compressor is unrestricted and free from any impurities, with plenty of ventilation. Give the air compressor ample distance from any other equipment, especially machinery that generates hot air. If situated poorly, an air compressor can become a hazard and damage itself as it tries to work.

You should place your air compressor as close to where you need to use it as possible. The further compressed air has to travel, the less efficient it’ll be and the more opportunity there will be for leakage. Be sure to attach a filter and link the compressor to both an air dryer and oil and water separator.

When choosing a placement, also consider noise levels. Since the machine can be noisy as it operates, try to place it somewhere it’ll be least disruptive. If you place your air compressor outside, make sure it’s protected from both water and dirt.

3. Measure Your Compressed Air Needs

Various industries have different applications for compressed air. Evaluate your needs to determine the most effective operational setup. Keep a log of when you use compressed air and how much pressure your demands require. Once you’ve compiled some data, check for peaks and lows. Determine when your need for compressed air is at a high or if there are times when compressed air is unnecessary.

One of the most important ways to decrease operating costs is to turn off the air supply when your compressor is not operating. You’ll want to utilize the system’s storage and automatic controls to your advantage. If your compressed air machine lacks automatic controls — very old models may not have this option — consider upgrading your model. Automatic controls will help you save on operating expenses.

Additionally, you should always use the minimum number of air compressors needed to meet your demand at a given time. Unless your application requires a constant stream of compressed air, shut the supply off when it’s not needed.

Another area of lost efficiency occurs with the pressure level. Be sure to use the lowest practical pressure level for any given application. Excess pressure will increase your expenses, as more pressure requires more power. Using a minimum amount of pressure will decrease both power consumption and the risk of leaks.

4. Understand the Cost of Operation

Compressed air is not free — the purchase price of a compressed air machine is only the initial cost. You need to make sure you understand the operating costs of using compressed air if you hope to employ it productively. In an industrial plant, a compressed air system can account for as much as 30% of your total electric bill, which can be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Effective use means only applying the necessary level of pressure and turning the airflow off when not using the machine, but it also means understanding compressed air leaks. Leaks result in a huge amount of waste. Generating compressed air takes a lot of power input. You’ll want to use all the compressed air your machine generates and avoid allowing any of it to go to waste through leaks.

Air leaks are an expensive waste of power, but they can also harm an entire industrial operation. Over time, air leaks can slow or even shut down production. They can contribute to system pressure drops, shortening the life span of other equipment. Air leaks force an air compressor to work harder and longer, eating up power and resulting in less efficient operation.

It’s important to understand the operating costs of using compressed air so you can identify and address gaps in efficiency. This is especially true for solving leaks in your compressed air system.

5. Know Where and How to Check for Leaks

To optimize your air compressor, you need to be able to identify any possible leaks. Check for leaks in all these operational points:

  • Overhead distribution
  • Ground-level air hoses
  • Hose connections or fittings
  • Quick couplers
  • Drains
  • Filters
  • Regulators
  • Line lubricators

Several factors can contribute to leaks. If seals, fittings or connections are loose, there will likely be leaks. If other machines or workers bump into the air compressor, they may damage pipes or fittings and cause leaks. Similarly, operator error can result in a leak problem. For instance, someone may forget to close a valve or shut off the machine after use.

The simplest way to identify a leak is to listen for a hissing sound while the air compressor is in operation. If your air compressor is located in a noisy location, such as a factory, you can use an ultrasonic acoustic detector. These tools filter out any background noise and recognize high-frequency hissing sounds that an untrained ear might miss. The tool will alert you of possible leaks either on a visual screen or through connected earphones.

6. Address and Fix Any Leaks

Once you’ve checked for leaks by listening to your air compressor — with or without an ultrasonic acoustic detector — you’ll need to know how to fix any possible leaks. Air does not need much space to escape, and compressed air will exit the system rapidly.

Address leaks by closing off points of escape. This includes loose fittings and connections through which air can travel. This is the primary cause of most leaks. Make sure to tighten any fittings, couplers, valves and other connection points. In addition to loose fittings, another cause of leaks can be small holes in hoses or pipes. You may need to replace elements of your machinery that compressed air travels through. Even the tiniest holes can result in massive amounts of lost air.

Because you might not be able to see where exactly air leaks are coming from, you should upgrade your air compressor system’s components at regular intervals. Replace older hoses and pipes that might have sustained damage and tighten any fittings often, as they may loosen over time.

Create a schedule for when you will check for leaks in your air compressor — you should aim to do this often. Educate everyone on your team about how to identify and avoid leaks.

7. Use Compressed Air Only for Its Intended Purposes

Using compressed air for unnecessary purposes will waste power and increase operating costs, but it can also result in serious injury or death. Compressed air is powerful. At only 2 pounds-force per square inch (psi), you can propel a spitball through a straw up to several yards. Imagine the damage an air compressor operating at 60 to 100 psi can do.

If compressed air enters the body through the mouth or elsewhere, it can rupture organs. If it enters the bloodstream, it can cause a heart attack or stroke. Debris propelled by compressed air can cause severe injury, especially to the eyes and ears. This can lead to blindness or deafness.

To ensure harm-free operation, educate yourself and your team on air compressor safety. Only ever use the machine for its intended purposes. Never used compressed air to clean away debris from a work area or off of clothing. Provide protective gear to anyone working within proximity of an air compressor, and enforce the use of this gear.

An air compressor is not a toy — always prioritize caution. In addition to only using the machine for its intended purposes, evaluate any possible hazards. Make sure outlets are grounded correctly, dangerous fumes release away from workers and compressors have access to clean, dry, cool air.

8. Schedule Regular and Preventative Maintenance

Scheduling preventative maintenance will help you avoid emergency repairs and unexpected downtime. It’ll help you optimize your air compressor’s performance, lengthening its life span and decreasing operating costs. At fixed, scheduled intervals, you should perform the following tasks:

  • Clean the air filter: Your compressor’s air filter eliminates impurities, so it’s important to keep it clean.
  • Check and replace oil filters: Oil buildup will damage compressed air, so be sure to replace heavily coated oil filters.
  • Reapply fresh lubricant: A lack of fresh lubrication will result in corrosion, damaging the machine and its parts.
  • Grease motor bearings: Rust on motor bearings can lead to motor failure.
  • Adjust belt tension and replace old belts: A worn belt may snap during operation, which can cause serious damage.
  • Clean intake vents: Reliably clean input air will make the air compressor’s job much easier.
  • Check performance levels of all parts: Check everything, including oil level, temperature, voltage and vibration.

Without consistent preventative maintenance, an air compressor’s productivity will decrease. In extreme instances, a lack of maintenance can pose a serious threat, as an unserviced air compressor can catch fire or explode. For these reasons, it’s important to follow a schedule for cleaning and replacing elements of your air compressor.

How to Train Your Team

When it comes to operating machinery, never underestimate the importance of proper, regular, in-place trainings. Learn how to train your team so anyone who might come into contact with your air compressor understands how to use it safely and effectively.

Teach your team about the equipment’s operating costs, and make sure everyone knows how to recognize the hissing sound associated with air leaks. Review appropriate and inappropriate uses of compressed air and enforce standards for when and how to use it. Make sure everyone who will be using the air compressor knows how to check the equipment before employing it.

Be sure to provide all necessary protective gear and make it mandatory to wear, including eye and ear protection. Explain the dangers of not wearing this gear so everyone understands the stakes. There are plenty of real-life examples of injuries caused by misuse of compressed air — describe the risk of harm associated with not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

You can use premade training videos to supplement your in-place training. Videos will provide visuals to illustrate key points, but be sure to engage in a conversation with your team before and after showing a video.

After initial training, use posters and checklists to serve as daily reminders. Revisit training materials at pre-planned times to keep the information fresh in your team members’ minds.

Learn More About Quincy Compressors

Compressed air has endless uses and applies to many different industries. Despite the widespread application of compressed air, many are unaware of how to use it safely and effectively. It’s important to choose the proper air compressor for your needs, understand its operating costs and establish and enforce safety standards.

When used safely and efficiently, an air compressor can be one of the most valuable pieces of equipment in your entire operation. To learn more about the applications, operational expenses and safety concerns related to air compressors, contact Quincy Compressor today.

Compressed air has many applications in industrial plants around the world. Air compressors, however, can harbor dangerous microorganisms if not properly maintained. Clean air in the workplace is always important for human safety, especially in food, medical and pharmaceutical industries. Microbial contamination of compressed air can compromise air quality and lead to serious hazards. Whether consumed or breathed in, certain microorganisms can cause temporary or chronic symptoms and even death.

If you have an air compressor in your facility, you should understand how to avoid microorganisms and bacteria. Make sure your environment is not one in which microorganisms will be able to thrive — limit humidity and keep ambient air cool. Plan regular cleaning and test your compressed air quality often by using testing kits. Replace filters, pipes and other elements of your compressed air system regularly. Learn to limit, identify and remove contaminants from your air compressor system with the information below.

Dangers of Microorganisms and Bacteria in Compressed Air

Microorganisms and bacteria pose a unique set of dangers. Bacteria, viruses and bacteriophages are all examples of microorganisms that can contaminate air compressors. Bacteria are the main concern, as viruses need a host to multiply. Viruses are unlikely to survive long in an air compressor system, but bacteria will under the right conditions.

Ingesting certain microorganisms through food, medicine or air can cause serious problems. Foodborne bacteria like E. coli can disrupt the digestive system and cause death in extreme cases. Airborne toxins can result in allergy-like symptoms and long-term respiratory issues.

Passing Through Tight Spaces

Microorganisms are extremely small — small enough to pass through many filters. Bacteria can be 1 to 3 micrometers, small enough to permeate basic filtration systems with ease. For comparison, a bacterium is smaller than many “tiny” things, including a single grain of beach sand, a grain of salt and a red blood cell. A bacterium is only visible through an optical microscope or, in the case of the smallest bacteria, a scanning electron microscope.

Because of their size, they can be tricky to catch. They can live in tight, difficult-to-reach spaces, hidden from view. That’s why taking preemptive measures to limit their spread is so important.

Multiplying From Inside the System

Because they’re living creatures, microorganisms will continually multiply under the right conditions. Though they’re individually microscopic, they will build up over time and become increasingly dangerous. They tend to thrive in high humidity and warmth — a damp, warm environment will allow microorganisms to reproduce rapidly.

Certain contaminants, especially oil, will act as food for microorganisms and promote their multiplication. Cleaning oil, water and other substances from your air compressor will make bacterial survival less likely.

Spreading Diseases and Toxins

If certain bacterias come into contact with food or medicine, they can cause disease or death. This is especially true of salmonella, shigella, E. coli and coliforms. When ingested, microorganisms like these can cause a slew of unpleasant symptoms, including severe stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea and fever. These symptoms can last for several days and lead to death. E. coli causes about 100 deaths per year in the United States. For the sake of human health and well-being, it’s vital to eliminate these microorganisms.

Additionally, mold and bacteria result in air contamination — they can produce toxins and cause damage to anyone breathing the air. Some people are more sensitive to breathing mold than others, especially those with asthma, lung disease or immune suppression. Breathing mold can lead to allergy-like symptoms. Fungal infections can cause coughing, wheezing and upper respiratory issues in otherwise healthy people.

Even if there’s no chance of contaminated compressed air entering food or pharmaceutical products, it’s still important to limit the spread of these microorganisms. They can degrade air quality and cause both short- and long-term symptoms in those breathing the air.

Environmental Factors That Cause Microorganisms in Air Compressors

As living creatures, microorganisms can only survive in certain environments. They thrive in warm, humid conditions, especially with other substances to feed on, like oil. All bacteria and fungi need some amount of water to survive, but the required humidity level depends on the species. Microorganisms will reproduce and thrive with:

  • Water: Though different species of microorganisms require different moisture levels, all need some amount of water to survive. Your air compressor’s intake air should be dry, and you should use tools like liquid drains and aftercoolers.
  • Warmth: For the same reason you put leftover food in a refrigerator, you should keep your air compressor in a cool environment. Bacteria require warm temperatures to grow.
  • Food: When we think of bacteria, we may not think of them as living organisms that need to eat, but they are! Bacteria require nutrients like all other living things. Different species of microorganisms need different nutrients. Some photosynthesize, some eat organic compounds like sugar and fat and others eat inorganic compounds like carbon dioxide. Limit potential microorganism food sources in your facility.

To limit the growth of microorganisms in your compressed air system, create an environment hostile to their survival. Make sure your air compressor and its parts are in a dry, cool area, and take preventative measures regularly.

Once you’ve placed your air compressor in an appropriate environment, make sure to address any leaks in the system. Keep in mind that leaks can allow outside substances to enter, which contaminate the system. When there are leaks, the system becomes susceptible to water droplets, oils and microorganisms, which will collect and build up over time.

You should check for leaks in your compressed air system often. Addressing leaks will help limit contamination, and it will also improve the system’s efficiency, saving you time and money. When leaks are present, air compressors will eat up more power than necessary as they function.

Preventing Microorganism Growth With Environmental Factors

Because microorganisms are so small, they can be difficult to find and address. Preventing them from building up in the first place is the most important thing you can do. Create an environment optimized for reducing microbial growth. To prevent microorganism growth, you should:

  • Fix leaks in your air compressor system: You can check for leaks by listening for a hissing sound or using an ultrasonic frequency reader. You can also apply soapy water to places where you suspect a leak — if there is one, bubbles will form.
  • Install several filters: Implement several filters within your system, including particulate and absorber models. It’s especially important to have filters where air enters the system, but you should also have filters in line with piping.
  • Clean and replace filters regularly: You should do this on a regular schedule, especially if the filters become damp. Clean your filters by blowing away dust, dirt and debris. Replace old or damaged filters routinely.
  • Make sure ambient air is cool and dry: If the air entering your air compressor is humid or warm, microorganisms will thrive. Place your air compressor in an appropriate environment.
  • Test your compressed air often: Perform routine air quality tests to check for contaminants. You’ll find more details about performing these tests in the following section.

How to Identify Bacteria in Air Compressors

To check for the presence of bacteria, you should perform air quality tests at regular intervals. Within your compressed air system, certain areas are most likely to harbor microorganisms. These areas are most susceptible to condensate buildup and collection of outside particles. You should plan to sample and test these areas at scheduled intervals. The most common places to find microorganisms include:

  • Dead-end runs.
  • Drains.
  • Compressed air coils.
  • Filters.
  • Leaks.

Deciding When and Where to Sample Your Compressed Air System

To test for microorganisms like bacteria, mold and yeast, take samples close to high-risk points. When deciding where to take samples from, you can use a percentage-based system. For instance, if you have 24 points to sample, choose eight different ones to test each year — after three years, you’ll have sampled all of them. It’s wise to choose sample locations along the compressed air system to see if the air quality degrades as it moves through. That way, you can identify problem areas.

Regarding frequency, you might choose to perform tests annually, semi-annually or quarterly. Check the standard requirements for your industry — food processing, medical and pharmaceutical facilities usually have to test for microbial life more often than other types of facilities. In addition to your scheduled tests, you should perform tests before and after making changes to the system. Test the system after replacing or cleaning any elements, including filters, valves or piping.

When you perform these tests, you should look for any potential contaminants. These include dirt, rust, water vapor, condensed liquid, oil vapor and liquid oil. Use a sample test kit to check for microbial contamination.

How to Sample Using a Compressed Air Microbial Test Unit

When using a Compressed Air Microbial Test Unit (CAMTU), the process for taking and testing samples is as follows:

  1. Wear gloves and a mask to ensure your safety and limit exposure to microbial organisms.
  2. Connect the inlet tubing to the sample port.
  3. Open the compressed air valve to the sample port.
  4. Open the shut-off flap.
  5. Purge the sample port.
  6. Close the shut-off valve.
  7. Attach the inlet tubing to the test unit.
  8. Place the petri dish inside the test unit.
  9. Close the test unit.
  10. Open the shut-off valve and let it run for 20 seconds.
  11. Cover, remove and incubate the petri dish.

After completing these steps, microbial organisms will become visible over time.

Compressed air standard air quality varies across industries. Health and food-related sectors must comply with higher standards. Generally, you want to have less than one colony-forming unit per petri dish. A colony-forming unit is an estimation of the number of bacteria or fungal cells that could multiply. This will exclude dead microorganism cells, as they cannot reproduce.

How to Remove Contaminants From Your Air Compressor

If you find microorganisms in your air compressor, take steps to remove them and prevent regrowth. Modern air compressor technology is designed to minimize contaminants. Several tools will help reduce the likelihood of microorganism buildup and remove microorganisms from your air compressor system. Learn about what these parts do and what your role in maintaining their effectiveness is. Follow the below steps to remove contaminants.

Use Filters and Replace Them Often

Have several filters in place along the compressed air system, and keep them fresh. A visual inspection of your filters might not indicate you need to replace them. After all, microorganisms are not visible to the naked eye. In addition to looking at your filters, monitor differential pressure — a significant drop can alert you of an issue. Check these gauges often, and replace filters when issues are present.

You should also plan to replace filters at predetermined time intervals, whether or not they seem to be working. Replace filters at least annually, or more often depending on how heavily you use them.

Use an Aftercooler to Reduce Water Content

Compressed air generates heat. And since warm temperatures contribute to microbial reproduction, it’s important to lower the temperatures in your system. You can accomplish this with an aftercooler, placed directly after the compressor. It traps the condensation that would flow through the system.

Use a Mist Eliminator Filter

Using a mist eliminator with a high-volume tank and a built-in differential pressure gauge will make a big difference in removing microbial contamination. A filter like this removes oil, water and other particles from compressed air. While it might not eliminate the tiniest microbial life, it’ll limit the water and oil necessary for microorganisms to live and reproduce.

Use a Zero-Loss Liquid Drain With Electronic Controls

Compressed air system lines will accumulate condensation. Since microorganisms need water to survive, it’s important to drain the system of built-up condensation. Some air compressors have a manual valve for releasing condensation, but this can allow compressed air to escape and go to waste. Internal float drains, which open when water builds up, can become jammed open, which releases air, or jammed shut, which fails to release the water.

The best option is a zero-loss, electrically controlled drain. These drains will sense condensation levels and open the valve when needed. The valve closes before any compressed air is wasted. One of these zero-loss drains may be more expensive than manual or internal float drains, but they’re much more efficient.

Properly Dispose of Condensate

Always dispose of condensate properly — never dump it down the drain. Due to its potential oil and contaminate content, it’s considered hazardous waste. Use a condensate purifying device. This device will separate oil from water so you can dispose of oil as hazardous waste.

Learn More About Compressed Air Quality

If you have an air compressor or plan to purchase one, you need to know how to maintain clean and safe air. To achieve this, you’ll have to account for possible microbial contamination of your air compressor’s parts. Place your air compressor in a cool, dry environment, and install all necessary filters, aftercoolers and drains. Regularly test for microorganisms and set standards for acceptable air quality.

To learn more about promoting clean and safe compressed air, connect with air compressor experts by contacting Quincy Compressor with any questions.

Compressed air is an important component of industrial manufacturing. It’s used in various applications, including pneumatic controls and tools, cleaning equipment, blow-offs and compressed air-operated cylinders. These applications are essential to a well-run, reliable business.

To ensure your business can provide high-quality services on demand, it’s crucial to purchase a high-quality air compressor. Perhaps even more importantly, it’s essential to select the right air compressor service provider.

Why Choosing a Service Provider Is Important When Selecting an Air Compressor

A high-quality air compressor is a vital part of meeting client demand. Maintaining and repairing one of these machines requires the expertise of an experienced and reputable service provider for air compressors. Besides impacting your company’s bottom line, choosing the right service provider can make a huge difference in a business’s ability to meet customer demand efficiently.

When purchasing a new air compressor, many companies focus on the upfront costs of the unit itself. However, one of the most important parts of buying and maintaining an air compressor is having an experienced air compressor service provider on speed dial. The right service provider can recommend a maintenance plan that prevents expensive repairs and offers cost-effective and timely solutions when equipment stops working suddenly.

What to Look for in a Service Provider

The Compressed Air Challenge® (CAC) offers basic guidelines for choosing a compressed air service provider. What is the CAC? The CAC is a collaboration designed to assist manufacturing companies in selecting and maintaining high-quality compressed air systems to meet production demand.

Composed of manufacturing companies, distributors and numerous other stakeholders, the CAC stresses the importance of working with a reputable and experienced compressed air service provider. When it comes to how to choose a compressor company, the CAC guidelines offer a blueprint for evaluating potential service providers to ensure they are a good fit for your manufacturing business.

Their key guidelines suggest several important things to consider in a service provider, including:

1. Familiarity With the System

Air compressors don’t operate as a stand-alone piece of equipment. They work in tandem with other systems to operate machinery and meet production demands every day. The service provider you select should be familiar with the air compressor and the accompanying systems used in your business.

This systems approach to compressor maintenance ensures you work with a technician who will consider the big picture whenever an issue comes up. It also helps them make sound recommendations when they provide preventative maintenance to avoid problems later on.

2. Training

The most important thing you can look for in a compressed air provider is their knowledge and experience. Technicians with experience managing and troubleshooting compressed air systems have knowledge that extends beyond the air compressor itself. They evaluate the air compressor as part of a larger operating system within your operation, and their years of experience have taught them to look beyond the surface to find the source of the problem.

When considering a service provider, ask questions about where their technicians were trained, what systems they specialize in and how familiar they are with the specific equipment your company relies on.

3. Service Availability

The last thing you need is to sign on with a company that can’t — or won’t — consider your equipment a priority. Does the provider you’re considering offer night and weekend emergency service? Do they stock the most common parts needed for unexpected repairs? No company can keep every part in stock all the time. How fast can they ship a part if it’s not already in their repair shop or on a repair van? Prompt and reasonable response times are key to providing good service.

4. Company Capabilities

Not all companies are created equal concerning the services they offer. Be sure to ask questions about:

  • Shipping time for parts.
  • Emergency service and response times.
  • Installation capabilities.
  • Familiarity with your equipment and any government certifications needed.

5. Service Facilities

Make a point to visit the brick-and-mortar location of the company you’re considering. It’s important to see their parts warehouse and repair shop to get a detailed look at their in-house capabilities. Talking with the warehouse employees can give you a better idea of what to expect for parts shipments.

The repair shop can also fill you in on their knowledge and turnaround times. Begin cultivating relationships with those “on the ground” — this may make things easier when you need to work with them later on for servicing your air compressor.

6. Ancillary Equipment

Air compressors typically operate as part of a mechanical system, providing power to the tools and equipment you need to run a business. Select a compressed air service provider who can work on more than the air compressor itself. Does the provider you’re considering have the expertise to work on refrigeration systems and dryers? Can they maintain and repair the other types of equipment in your facility? Choosing a provider with these skills will ensure comprehensive service when you need it.

7. Auditing

Does the provider offer analysis services or contract with another company who does? Analysis services and the subsequent follow-ups are designed to offer recommendations and solutions related to air quality and pressure, energy consumption, leak detection and other issues that can impact a compressor’s performance. But providing this analysis is only the first step. Opt for a provider who will follow through on the issues identified during the examination and offer sensible recommendations for improvement where needed.

8. Technology

The need to monitor equipment and schedule maintenance remotely has never been more important than it is now. When selecting a compressed air service provider, choose one with the technological capabilities to monitor your equipment from a distance. This ability ensures a rapid response while protecting your employees’ health and safety every step of the way. At Quincy Compressor, our intelligent business solutions are designed to monitor equipment and identify potential problems, ultimately preventing operational breakdowns.

Your Choice for Quality Service

When you choose Quincy Compressor for comprehensive service and repair, you’re selecting a company with nearly a century’s worth of compressed air experience to support your business. We are proud to partner with experienced service providers to support both scheduled maintenance and emergency repair needs whenever they arise.

If you find you need a replacement part or a new piece of equipment to keep operations running without interruption, Quincy’s experienced sales representatives are ready to help you through the process. Don’t spend another minute looking for an air compressor service provider. Use our Sales and Service Locator to find a Quincy representative near you.

High pressure screw air compressors serve a wide range of purposes in industrial, manufacturing and other applications. Quincy Compressor has been manufacturing both low and high pressure machines since 1920. On this page, you’ll find a basic overview of high pressure compressor technology, as well as some advice on what to look for when shopping for a unit.

What Is Pressure?

Pressure is the amount of force produced by an air compressor, relative to the surrounding atmosphere. For most commercial or industrial applications, it is measured in pounds per square inch gauge (PSIG). You may also see it rated in bar, or bar(g), the metric equivalent of PSIG.

Any machine delivering more than 150 PSIG is generally considered to be a high pressure compressor. Most handheld tools are rated at 90 PSIG, meaning a standard pressure machine can easily power them.

Compressor Types

Reciprocating and rotary screw compressors are the two main types of compressor design. Rotary screw compressors are best for continuous use, but generally aren’t capable of delivering pressures above 210 PSIG. Reciprocating/piston compressors, on the other hand, can operate at working pressures of 500 PSIG and higher, but are designed for intermittent use only.

Pressure vs. Capacity

One common point of confusion when shopping for a high pressure screw air compressor is the difference between pressure and capacity. Capacity is a separate measurement describing the amount of air a compressor can produce at a given time. We measure this in cubic feet per minute (CFM).

Too often, a user will see a compressor with a high CFM rating and assume it is suitable for high pressure applications. While a high capacity compressor can be useful for running multiple tools simultaneously, CFM and PSIG have no bearing on one another. A high pressure screw compressor can have a low capacity, while a high capacity compressor may only have a PSIG rating suitable for light- or medium-duty use.

High Pressure Compressor Applications

High pressure screw compressors have a number of very specific uses, particularly in industrial and energy applications. You can find them on offshore drilling rigs and remote pipeline settings, where they are used to start engines and motors, or to help convey drilling mud. They are also used to drive turbines and generators in power plants, and for various processes in manufacturing facilities.

Choosing a High Pressure Compressor

The specifics of your application will determine which Quincy compressor is right for you. As one of the leading high pressure screw air compressor manufacturers, we have a full range of products available to meet the needs of any client.

Aside from pressure and capacity, other factors that should be considered when choosing a machine include:

  • The overall efficiency of the unit
  • Whether or not it is lubricated
  • Its operating noise level, expressed in decibels (dBA)

Quincy high pressure screw air compressors are capable of delivering between 150-200 PSIG, with various CFM levels according to the intended application. For heavy-duty industrial use or other specialized applications, Quincy also manufactures reciprocating/piston air compressors, oil-free compressors and other products.

Visit individual product pages for detailed specifications or contact a sales representative directly for assistance choosing the right machine for your purposes.

Learn more about proper screw air compressor maintenance.

Learn more about why Quincy Compressor is a leading rotary screw compressor manufacturer.

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Fuels stored in tanks, including gas and oil, emit vapors that contain methane, propane, butane and other substances. The fumes from these materials are noxious and potentially flammable. In addition to being an environmental and safety hazard, these escaping vapors can also cost the operator money in terms of lost fuel. The purpose of a vapor recovery system is to capture these fumes and return them to the storage tank before they can escape into the atmosphere.

What to Look for in a Vapor Recovery System

There are a number of important factors to consider when selecting the most appropriate vapor recovery system for your operation:

  • Volume and flow rate
  • Chemical composition of the gas or oil
  • Level of liquid content in the fuel
  • Pressure and temperature of the gas or oil to be recovered
  • Discharge pressure and temperature
  • Availability of a power source to drive the vapor recovery pump, compressor and other system components
  • Presence of carbon dioxide or hydrogen sulfide in the gas or oil
  • Potential for contamination from atmospheric oxygen

Quincy’s Line of Vapor Recovery Compressors

A compressor is an important element of any vapor recovery system. Quincy Compressor offers a wide assortment of screw, reciprocating, and rotary vane compressors for just about any vapor recovery process or application.

Quincy rotary screw gas compressors, for example, are designed to deliver maximum gas flow with minimum horsepower. These compressors feature an innovative direct-drive rotor profile that provides consistent and reliable performance. It is also designed, engineered and manufactured to provide the durability you would expect from any Quincy Compressor product. The exclusive triplex bearing configuration offers a calculated lifespan of up to 130,000 hours. The positive displacement gear-type fluid pump keeps the rotors and bearings fully lubricated, which helps to prolong compressor life by keeping major repair and maintenance issues to a minimum.

A number of optional features and accessories are also available for Quincy vapor recovery compressors. These include gas engines or electric motor drives, shaft-driven positive displacement pumps, oil and gas separator tanks and variable displacement lift valves.

Quincy QRNG

The QRNG is a reciprocating gas compressor series featuring heavy-duty cast iron construction for superior strength and durability. These compressors are also equipped with an advanced pressure lubrication system, low-lift valves and rebuildable connecting rods. You can choose between single-stage 2-34 horsepower and 13-33 two-stage units that provide the low-cost gas compression you need.

Other key QRNG features include individual valve pockets that simplify the preventive maintenance process, high-efficiency cast-iron cylinders, intercooler with large circular fins for maximum heat dissipation and lapped cast-iron valve seals that prevent the need for a discharge line check valve.

Contact Us to Learn More About Our Vapor Recovery Compressor Products

Contact the authorized Quincy Compressor distributor in your area to learn more about our selection of vapor recovery pumps and compressor products. You can also contact us directly for additional information.

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Single-stage air compressors are lightweight, easy to maintain and highly portable, making them the ideal choice for home use. At Quincy Compressors, we’ve been manufacturing quality products since 1929. Our current line of portable single-stage air compressors includes something for nearly any budget or application. Keep reading to learn more.

What to Look for in a Single-stage Air Compressor

Quincy’s portable single-stage air compressors have industry-leading features, and we back them with one of the best warranties in the business. Any of our products makes an excellent choice for home or commercial use. That being said, there are a few things buyers should consider before making a purchase:

  • Pressure and capacity: Pressure and capacity are the two main figures to be aware of when shopping for a portable single-stage compressor. Pressure, measured in PSIG, refers to the amount of force produced by a compressor. Most power most tools require a minimum PSIG of 90. Capacity, measured in CFM, is the amount of air a compressor can produce at a given pressure level at one time. If you plan on running multiple tools from one compressor, you’ll need a higher capacity machine.
  • Electric: Typically, an electric engine drives portable air compressors. Electric compressors are smaller and lighter than gas, and they don’t require constant refueling to stay running. Gas compressors, however, tend to be more powerful than electric. (Quincy’s two-stage portable compressors offer a gas option.) Portables also have the advantage of being suitable for use in job sites where an electrical outlet isn’t available. However, they can’t be used indoors or in confined spaces because of their exhaust.
  • Tank size: Most portable single-stage compressors feature a storage tank for holding air that has been compressed to a given level. The larger the tank, the more air you can store. Keep in mind a larger tank will obviously take up more space than a smaller one, which can create a problem when working in tight quarters.
  • Portability: Larger, heavier and bulkier compressors are more difficult to transport from site to site. Smaller units are generally less powerful than larger ones. Make sure you have enough power to get the job done right, but be wary of purchasing a larger, more difficult-to-transport unit for the sake of a few extra CFM or PSIG you might not need. Quincy also offers a pressure-lubricated two-stage compressor for popular truck-mount applications.
  • Safety features: Most single-stage portable air compressors are lubricated to prevent excess wear to piston components. One important safety feature to look for in these models is an automatic low-oil shutoff. This prevents costly damage to your compressor and mitigates the risk of a breakdown in the middle of a job.
  • Warranty: An air compressor of any size can be a big investment. Shop smart and choose a manufacturer that stands behind their products with standard and extended warranty coverage options.

To learn more about the technology behind our single-stage air compressors, visit individual product pages or check out our Knowledge Center to view our library of white papers and articles. Need help choosing the right portable air compressor for your application? Contact a sales representative in your area to help you make the right choice.

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Portable air compressors are a popular choice for both home and commercial use. For a typical do-it-yourselfer or any application in which flexibility is essential, a portable compressor allows you to do more with less. Quincy Compressor is a leading manufacturer of portable compressors for a wide range of industries and applications. To help you make an informed purchasing decision, we’ve prepared this brief guide to portable compressor parts and maintenance.

Portable Compressor Components

All portable compressors are different, though most have several parts in common, depending on the design. Key features of a Quincy single-stage portable compressor include the:

  • Motor: An electric motor powers portable compressors. As with automotive engines, compressors are rated according to the amount of horsepower (HP) their motor produces. However, a more powerful motor does not necessarily mean the compressor will deliver more pressure or be able to power more tools.
  • Valve/piston: A compressor uses its motor to drive a valve and piston assembly, which draws air into a chamber and compresses it. We measure how effective a compressor does this in both pressure (PSIG) and capacity (CFM). Most portable compressors feature a single-stage design, meaning they have only one valve/piston assembly. Multi-stage configurations, on the other hand, contain a series of chambers and pistons, and they’re more common on stationary models. If you need higher pressures/greater capacities, a two-stage configuration is better for you.
  • Storage tank: Most portable compressors feature a storage tank for holding compressed air until it is ready to use. A larger storage tank means you can go longer without running the compressor motor; however, it also increases the footprint of the unit, taking up more space and making it less portable. We measure storage tank capacity in gallons or liters.

Portable Air Compressor Care and Maintenance

Taking care of the various parts of a portable air compressor requires periodic inspections and maintenance. Doing so regularly ensures compliance with your unit’s warranty and helps reduce the risk of unexpected downtime due to equipment failure. Each compressor has different maintenance requirements, though common service items often include keeping the intake vents clean, checking hoses and tightening fasteners, changing the unit’s oil and air filters when necessary and cleaning the fuel tank.

The Quincy Compressor NO-BULL Warranty

Not only do Quincy portable compressors boast low maintenance requirements, we also back them with one of the most comprehensive warranties in the business. You can choose our three-year extended warranty option. Our exclusive “NO-BULL” package comes with everything you need to perform regular maintenance for your purchase, saving up to 15% on the cost of purchasing replacement portable air compressor parts separately.

Ordering Replacement Parts

Need help finding the right part for your Quincy portable air compressor? We carry a comprehensive selection of genuine spare parts, including actuators, bearings, gauges, motors, gaskets and more. A quality Quincy compressor demands quality Quincy parts. Next time your unit requires regular maintenance or other work, purchase the genuine item for performance you can trust.

To order parts or request assistance from one of our team members, use our website to find a distributor in your area or contact our factory stores directly.

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air compressor pneumatic tools

In both home and commercial applications, one of the main roles of an air compressor is to provide power for pneumatic tools. Pneumatic tools include drills, impact wrenches, riveters, sanders and more — in fact, almost any conventional powered hand tool is available in an air-powered configuration.

Manufacturing facilities, automotive shops and other environments where safety, reliability and performance are key all rely on pneumatic tools. Recent years have seen more hobbyists begin to use them as well, leading to an increase in the number of affordable air compressors for pneumatic tools available on the market today.

Benefits of Pneumatic Tools

Compared to electric units, there are a number of advantages to using air tools in your operation. Air powered tools:

  • Are far more convenient — They require no batteries or external power source and, as long as your compressor is operational, your team can continue working at full capacity all shift long.
  • Have a better power-to-weight ratio — They can deliver superior torque and more revolutions per minute than electric tools of comparable sizes.
  • Are lighter and easier to handle, while delivering superior performance — This is just one of the reasons they have long been the preferred choice for heavy-duty applications.

When it comes to versatility, air powered tools are the clear choice. Standardized attachments allow you to switch between devices and attachments with ease, saving time on the production floor and improving your team’s productivity. Because of the smaller size of air powered tools, your team can also store more devices when space is limited.

Choosing the Right Compressor

Ultimately, air powered tools are only as effective as the compressor that’s driving them. Here’s what you need to know to make an informed purchase of an air compressor for pneumatic tools:

  • Most air tools require a pressure level of 90 PSIG to operate properly. Running at pressures below that can cause them to work inconsistently or not deliver the power expected of them.
  • Pneumatic air compressors are also rated by CFM, or cubic feet per minute — a measure of the amount of air they can produce at a given pressure level. A higher CFM rating means more tools can be operated at once.
  • The cost of running your compressor is by far the largest expense involved in using air powered tools. Choosing the most efficient unit available — so long as it provides sufficient power for your needs — is the best way to save money on an ongoing basis.

Air Powered Tools for Home Use

Pneumatic tools used to be almost exclusively for industrial purposes. In recent years, however, more hobbyist mechanics, painters and woodworkers have recognized the value of air power and made the investment in a compressor for their home.

If you’re in the market for a small, portable compressor for pneumatic tools, Quincy can help. For almost a century, we’ve been the professional’s choice in compressed air. We have a number of products available at all configurations and price points, and can match you with the right size compressor for your air tools. Find out more by contacting a sales and service locator line in your area or requesting a consultation through our Quincy Concierge program.

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Quincy Compressor is a longstanding global leader in air compressor technology, with a history dating back to
1920. Over nearly a century in business, we’ve established a reputation for continued innovation, as well as providing highly reliable products.

Industrial and commercial users can count on Quincy air compressors for years — if not decades — of dependable service. Whatever your application, there’s a Quincy air compressor that will get the job done with minimal maintenance requirements and a low cost of ownership.

Our Versatile and Dependable Air Compressors

Quincy manufactures one of the most diverse lines of air compressors on the market today. Our types of air compressors include:

Rotary screw compressors: Quincy rotary screw air compressors range in size from 5 to 350 horsepower, and can deliver up to 1,500 ACFM of pressurized air. From the belt-driven QGS product line to the direct-drive QSI, we manufacture options for all customers.

Reciprocating air compressors: Quincy released the world’s first reciprocating air compressor, the QR-25, in 1937. Today, the QR-25 remains the industry standard in pressure-lubricated air compressors. Several other models, including the QP and QT series, complement it in our current lineup of products.

Oil-free air compressors: We design our oil-free air compressors for use in clean environments where minimizing the risk of contamination is essential. The QOF line of products meets ISO 8573-1, Class 0 requirements for air purity while delivering efficient performance in any task.

Natural gas compressors: A variety of industrial facilities, including petroleum refineries, chemical processing plants and manufacturing operations, use natural gas compressors instead of electric or diesel-powered units. We offer several models, including the QSG rotary screw compressor and QRNG reciprocating compressor, for these and other applications.

Portable air compressors: Quincy portable air compressors are ideal for home and light industrial use. Whether you’re powering air tools, inflating a tire or airbrushing a car, our portable products deliver all the power and performance you expect from a Quincy compressor, in a compact package that’s ideal for DIY use.

Multistage air compressorsMultistage compressors are capable of delivering pressure and airflow levels beyond that of a single-stage unit. As a result, they are the ideal choice for demanding industrial environments that require running multiple tools at once, or tasks necessitating extremely high pressures. Many of our most popular products, including the QR-25, are available in two- and three-stage configurations.

In addition to our air compressors, we also manufacture and sell a full selection of replacement parts and accessories, as well as desiccant dryers, vacuum pumps, air treatment systems and more.

Buy Industrial Air Compressors with Confidence

When you buy an air compressor from Quincy Compressor, you are buying a product backed by decades of research and some of the best warranty coverage in the industry. Visit our individual product pages to view detailed specifications and other product information, or find a dealer in your area for assistance today.

It’s easy to be familiar with air compressors. You might think of them as a tool for inflating your tires or blowing up an air mattress for that sleepover. In industrial settings, we often assume they’re powering tools such as jackhammers. All of that, however, is just the tip of the iceberg.

Different types of air compressors can be found in major industrial settings that process our food, jet engines that get us where we want to be and even that supercharger under your hood.

All of these applications have led to a wide range of air compressor types and components. Choices aren’t as simple as reciprocating air compressors versus rotary screw type compressors, however. Instead, you’ll have pressure, maintenance, equipment, locating, housing and many more considerations. Thankfully, the specialized nature of many compressors means an air compressor types comparison is becoming easier, and so is the selection process.

Whether you’re looking for a compressor for your home workshop and basement, a construction site or an industrial setting, many of the questions are the same. So, let’s start with this big guide of air compressor types comparisons to answer the question of: What type of air compressor do I need?

 

Positive vs. Negative Displacement

Just about every compressor falls into one of two categories: positive or negative displacement compressors. You’ll more likely see a negative displacement compressor listed as a “non-positive displacement” compressor because that’s technically a more accurate description of the system.

Displacement type sorts the two categories based on how pressure energy is delivered and imparted into the air itself.

Positive Displacement

For positive displacement compressors, air is usually trapped between two moving components and then forced to occupy space of a lower volume, increasing its pressure. Air can be caught and trapped between parts such as pistons and cylinders where it is then stacked and pressed downward to increase pressure.

Positive displacement air compressor types are the most common types of air compressors. You’ll find them in home use, hobbyist applications, small worksites and even in industrial applications. Some of the most common positive models are piston compressors.

Positive displacement can also use rotary screw compression to create air chambers and allow rotation to compress the air in a given space. Most of these compressors will use oil as a lubricant at the motor’s compression point, and they tend to feature a solid seal. In these cases, they include a system that removes the oil from the compressed air in order to avoid contamination.

Non-Positive (Negative) Displacement

Kinetic energy from rotating components is used to create pressure in non-positive displacement compressors. There’s often a lot of rotation in air compressor types and components that use non-positive displacement. This can include centrifugal compressors, rotating impellers and more.

Essentially, these compressors operate without creating the true physical displacement that positive compressors need.

Non-positive displacement types of air compressors often have a fluctuating pressure based on the speed of the rotating element, such as an impeller, so they are often used in low-pressure deployments.

Reciprocating and Piston Compressors: Single-Stage and Two-Stage

One type of positive displacement compressor is the reciprocating air compressor, though you may also see it called the piston air compressor. These air compressor types rely on a piston inside of a cylinder for their operation.

As the compressor operates, the piston moves down, and air fills the upper portion of the cylinder — based on the difference in atmospheric pressure and the pressure of the cylinder. Compression of the air occurs when the cylinder moves upward. Standard units are single-stage because they typically contain a single piston and cylinder.

Two-stage reciprocating air compressors will have two pistons, each in their own cylinder. These are often set at a 90-degree angle and can look very similar to the pistons that stick out of a V-8 engine. A two-stage piston compressor operates in a similar way to the single-stage compressor. The air intake method is the same, but it adds another step for compression so it can maximize the strength of the two cylinders.

During the first stage, the air is compressed to an interim pressure amount, but this generates some heat. After the piston moves again, the heat is removed from the compressed air, and then it is transferred to another cylinder. The second cylinder is set to a pressure amount, and it repeats the downward-upward motion to compress the air to that set pressure value.

Rotary Scroll

Rotation is a top method for compressing air across multiple types of air compressors. First on our list of rotary compressor types is the rotary scroll compressor.

This unit is designed with longevity in mind because its rotation involves only a few moving parts — a significant departure from some air compressors such as the rotary screw compressor.

A single helical element is set at the center of this compressor. It’s fixed so it can continue to spin (or orbit). This will slowly compress the air inside of its housing as well as slowly draw in more air from a specific source or the general environment.

These compressors will often sound a little different and work a little smoother than other air compressor types, even if their maximum power levels out sooner. This occurs because of the gradual pressurization and intake processes. The system doesn’t pulsate due to motor changes, so it delivers a continual supply of air.

Rotary scroll air compressors have different intensity levels, so they may require lubrication for larger systems or when producing greater pressure. However, many common rotary scroll models feature an oil-free design.

Rotary scroll compressors are often used to compress air and coolants. They’re smooth and reliable because the orbits are easy to counterbalance, reducing vibrations. This makes them optimal for inclusion in small situations and when working in conjunction with a lot of moving parts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The technology plays a role in many air conditioners, vacuum pumps and even in some superchargers for vehicles. Volkswagen’s G-Lader is a specialized scroll compressor that’s used in the carmaker’s passenger car models.

Rotary scroll air compressors use fewer moving parts than other compressors on our list, and that makes them more reliable in many situations. However, it’s always best to look for the latest research on reliability because scroll compressors are very vulnerable in situations where debris can enter the system.

Rotary Screw Type Air Compressor

Rotary screw compressors make use of two mated helical screws housed in a central container unit. These screws are powered so they rotate briskly, increasing the air pressure inside of the chamber. When the air pressure increases, the overall volume of air is decreased, compressing the air and providing some increased capability for the system.

You may not run into a rotary screw compressor all that often because the internal mechanism generates a significant amount of friction. Rotary screw type air compressors require a coolant and lubrication, increasing cost and decreasing long-term efficiency of the system (because there is more maintenance and checks required).

Rotary screw compressors do tend to have lower leakage levels compared to other models, especially when used in superchargers. This allows them to operate in high-precision environments as well as long-term rugged use situations.

Oil is often the lubrication of choice for rotary screw air compressors, but that causes more work for the compression system itself. Before any compressed air from this type of compressor can be used, there needs to be a mechanism in place that separates the oil from the compressed air.

Rotary screw type air compressors are able to deliver high-pressure as needed, making them the compressor of choice for big impact equipment like a jackhammer. Diesel-powered units are common at construction sites all across the U.S. because of their flexibility and reliability. If there’s a compressor pulled behind like a trailer, it’s probably a rotary screw type of compressor.

However, models that operate oil-free are also used in other, more delicate situations. Large, oil-free rotary screw type air compressors can have a significant output and keep it up well, so they’re a go-to for medical research applications and precision manufacturing, such as the creation of semiconductors. The layout of these compressors make them easy to use in conjunction with equipment that removes unwanted debris or elements, such as hydrocarbons, from the ambient air.

Rotary Sliding Vane

The rotary sliding vane is a fancy name for a fancy-looking air compressor type that’s been around for a long time. This model will use a significant motor that houses a rotor, stator and a series of blades that rotate. The Italian engineer Agostino Ramelli actually described the motor’s mechanism all the way back in 1588, and the “modern” design we use was patented by Canadian engineer Charles C. Barnes in 1876.

Air compressors using the rotary sliding vane motor are common in automotive and hydraulic applications, such as the power steering in many cars as well as some vacuums.

The blades, also called vanes, are set inside of the central spinning rotor, and they move out and in as space allows. The rotor is set off-center so one side nearly touches the end of its casing, which forces the vanes to move in as they approach this tight space. As the rotor turns, the vanes slide out (thanks to centrifugal force) until they touch the casing. Air is caught between the vanes, and the volume of the air is reduced as the rotor turns, raising the air’s pressure.

Motion is relatively steady and pressure continuous, so these compressors work well for medium-pressure situations. Unfortunately for the rotary sliding vane compressor, many newer models are able to perform low-pressure and high-pressure tasks more efficiently. This is why you’ll still see vane compressors in automotive uses but will struggle to find them in modern vacuums.

If your needs are of a higher pressure, say above 80 psi, then you’ll likely have better performance and cost savings by using a rotary screw air compressor. General costs and maintenance are about the same, but rotary screw compressors can perform better at stronger pressures and will take less wear as you move even higher.

In vacuums and other lower-pressure situations, many companies are now turning to claw pumps for improved efficiency. The claw pump will cost a little more at purchase, but they deliver the same pressure at a lower power consumption and typically have less maintenance needs than a rotary sliding vane compressor.

Rocking Piston Air Compressors

Sometimes you need a small air compressor that operates at a lower pressure and doesn’t require a splash lubrication system to operate. In these cases, you may want to consider a rocking piston air compressor. These units are quiet and compact, making them a top choice when portability is demanded.

The rocking piston compressor takes standard pistons from your one- and two-stage compressors and then adjusts them slightly out of the standard piston deployment. For air compressors, after air enters the chamber, it is pressurized as a connecting rod and piston interact. Heavy-duty units will have metallic rings and internal parts, but many of these also use non-metal pieces that don’t require any lubricant.

Rocking piston air compressors are commonly used for tasks like aerating small ponds as well as other deep water applications. They’re able to operate 24/7 for these types of low-load jobs. Parts and maintenance are relatively inexpensive and easy, which furthers their appeal for home and business aeration services.

Centrifugal Air Compressors

The first on our list to not use positive displacement is the centrifugal air compressor. This type of air compressor relies on the principle of dynamic compression, which increases air pressure by raising the velocity of the air.

Centrifugal air compressors rely on a central impeller to operate. Impellers are made from materials like iron, steel or bronze — stronger materials for greater pressures, though some small units will have plastic impellers. They operate by spinning up to 60,000 times per minute. It transfers energy from its motor to the air by driving the air outward across its casing.

The powered air is then slowed down through intercoolers and diffusers, cooling the air and removing fluid that may build up in the process as the air is pressurized. The systems often have outlets for liquid because moisture in the internal workings can cause damage.

Mesh impellers are common in centrifugal air compressors like the one in the Roots Blower, which is used in some car engine superchargers, and help move air through systems. Diesel engines in large transportation vehicles will often feature these superchargers. On the large, industrial side of things, you’ll find centrifugal air compressors in big ventilation systems, blast furnaces and industrial-strength combustion engines.

Centrifugal compressors are also very common when companies are looking to compress gas in oil platforms as well as for liquid natural gas (LNG) and liquid petroleum gas (LPG). When using LNG and LPG platforms that require storage or have transport installations, smaller centrifugal compressors are often on hand.

Constant load requirements and capabilities are the hallmark of centrifugal compressors. The consistent operation of the inducer, impeller and diffuser is best for the system. The design also allows you to consistently activate it while scaling overall use up and down as needed.

 

When compressed air is in less demand or when the pressure requirement is lower, the impeller can reduce its speed. This reduction actually allows the overall centrifugal compressor to increase its capacity, giving you long-term security and preventing mechanical concerns.

Efficiency is the major choice for this when working with a clean intake and consistent use. You’ll find centrifugal compressors in single-stage, two-stage and three-stage models, making them potentially more efficient than some screw compressors (and many other positive displacement compressors).

Rotary Lobe Air Compressor Types

Many of the compressors we look at today have a storied past, and that includes the rotary lobe pump — which have been working in industrial situations since their 1860 invention by the Roots Brothers. Originally designed as a water motor for a mill, they discovered the machine was powerful enough to assist workers smelting iron.

Rotary Lobe compressors have been in use ever since, and they’re often called Roots Blowers after the Roots Blower Company the brothers founded to initially sell them. Some of the most common uses today are for pneumatic conveyance, which is in just about every industrial mill for flours, grains and rice.

Rotary lobe air compressors are also positive displacement pumps, but they operate a little differently than the others on our list. For starters, the volume reduction that creates air compression happens outside of the pump itself.

The pump contains two rotors with two or three lobes a piece. Think of the infinity symbol for rotors with two lobes. One rotor is connected to the engine and rotates under that power. As it spins, it pushes on the second rotor and spins it in the opposite direction. These rotors need to fit together like puzzle pieces, so rotors must be precision machined, and the compressor can be put at risk if there’s debris or damage.

As the two rotors spin, air is sucked in via the inlet and pushed out, so the volume reduction occurs at this point of discharge. Air is pushed down a pipe, and more-and-more air is stacked in the pipe to increase overall air pressure. This typically creates low pressure air at high volumes.

Rotary lobe air compressors produce high volumes of air, require very little maintenance and are designed to fit in most industrial applications interchangeably. They also can take a beating as long as you keep the intake clear. That means you’ll find them in consistent-use situations in nearly any type of industrial setting.

 

The downside for the rotary lobe compressor is that they top out at about 15 psi, so you’re not going to see major pressurized settings. These compressors also have a consistent amount of slip — air that escapes from the system as the rotors spin — so they’re not the most efficient. If you need a quiet compressor, you’ll also have to install a silencing box around it because these tend to be very loud.

However, for rough situations where you need large volumes of air at a decent amount of pressure, you might have found what you need in the rotary lobe compressor.

Axial Flow Air Compressors

Modern jet engines use what’s known as the axial flow compressor in their operation. This air compressor type increases the pressure of air before it’s injected into the burner, and the better the compressor performs, the better the engine performs.

Axial compressors come in multiple stages and often look like what we think of when we think of a turbine. The compressor rotates, and air flows through the series of rotors, parallel to the axis of rotation. A central shaft spins, spinning typically half of the rotors in concert, while “stators” serve as fixed rows of airfoils in between the rotors.

Stators help the axial compressor keep the air flowing and properly pressurized. Without them, air would start to spiral around the axis and disrupt the flow, creating wasted energy and lowering the pressure. This helps to improve the success of these compressors.

Early models in the 1920s were poor and made the probability of jet engine flight look impossible. By introducing stators and airfoils instead of flat blades, however, these compressors were actually able to make flight look feasible. They played a pivotal role in the early jets of the 1930s and 1940s, and by the 1950s, every major jet engine was using an axial flow design.

Axial flow air compressors are able to deliver significant pressure continuously. That makes them a top choice for jet engines, electric motors, steam turbines and gas turbines. While not the most common in small industrial or personal settings, they do perform very successfully in the aerospace sector as well as in large-scale operations.

 

Common uses for axial flow compressors outside of jet engines include high-speed ship engines, small power stations, air separation plants, large blast furnaces, propane dehydrogenation operations and catalytic cracking air services.

Axial flow air compressors of significant size often require testing in a wind tunnel, which can make them a significant investment.

Other Sorting and Selection Considerations

When you’re asking yourself “What type of air compressor do I need?” remember that there are other things to consider beyond just the overall type. Sometimes your needs will include restrictions on lubrication methods, prime movers, stages or cooling methods.

Here are a few essential things to consider during your selection for the right air compressor:

Prime Movers

Most air compressor deployments can take their pick from prime movers, ranging from electric motors and diesel engines to larger turbines that feature clutches and reduction gearing. Turbine-driven air compressors are relatively rare because of their complexity, but they can be a strong choice when you have the space and want a minimal fuel or heat generation added to your overall industrial system.

Electric motors tend to be the most common prime movers because they’re able to start and stop efficiently, especially in automated processes. They also perform well in unloading and loading sequences. Diesel engines tend to operate in logistics and transport situations, especially for turbochargers, because they can use existing systems. They are also a bit more rugged and work well in situations where you need to bring an engine and compressor around a worksite.

Stages

Stages tend to correlate to the overall pressure of the system you need. For situations where delivery pressure is low but stable, you’ll likely be able to use a single-stage air compressor. When the pressure requirement starts to push above 10 bar, the stress and requirements will outstrip what a single-stage system can do.

Two-stage air compressors may be your air compressor type of choice when you need to up the delivery pressure. Whether you’re able to fit a reciprocating compressor or pack in a rotary centrifugal version, stages push up capabilities. Three-stage compressors are pretty rare, but they’ll come with an increase in pressure capabilities as well as an increase in spatial needs.

Drives

Air compressors tend to fall into one of three categories based on their drive: direct, gear-driven and belt drives.

Direct drive compressors tend to be small, single-stage compressors for light commercial and home uses. They often feature electric motors as well. They’re small and need very little maintenance, which also means they tend to not need any oil.

Direct drive compressors are either directly coupled to the power source or are flange-mounted to it, improving performance. The orientation often is picked in order to give it best access to air in the atmosphere. This allows direct drive compressors to start the compression process without any pre-filling of an air tank.

Gear-driven drives don’t face the same alignment concerns and maintenance needs of most direct drives, making them preferable for high-horsepower needs. The compressor speed can be adjusted to be different from the motor speed, providing flexibility for its use.

One important note is that a gear drive always requires a close eye on lubrication to avoid damage due to its high operating speed. Gear-driven setups are roughly a middle-of-the-road on maintenance, requiring slightly less care than direct drives, but more frequent inspections than the 500 hours that a belt driven can go between inspection and tension adjustment.

Belt driven compressors are found on both electric and gas deployments because they’re much more customizable. Large oil-lubricated air compressors tend to be belt driven because there are multiple layouts and features that improve overall performance and pressure outputs.

We recommend belt drive compressors when you have very specific needs for compressor loads relative to the power source, but you still want a lower price. They also tend to be quieter since they require oil. Overall, belt driven compressors tend to have lower maintenance costs and are less likely to break down.

Belts will require more maintenance and always need a protective casing, but they tend to be the powerhouse of the drive types.

Coolants

Air compressors use three main systems to keep everything protected and cool: water, oil and ambient/atmospheric air. The choice often depends on other equipment in sequence and the size of the compressor.

Small types of air compressors often use ambient air in the atmosphere to act as their cooling agent. Air, especially when it moves, is a good conductor of heat. Small systems typically generate smaller amounts of heat, so air can whisk away excess heat from the cylinders. They’re often able to achieve near-isothermal conditions just by established motions of the compressors themselves.

As stages grow, an increase in heat accompanies the increase in pressure. For almost all two-stage air compressors, ambient air is not enough to keep things cool — sometimes this is based on overall heat, and sometimes it is just the size compressors reach to accommodate multiple stages. Water cooling is a common method to keep most two-stage compressors cool.

Water cooling is performed by forcibly injecting water around the cylinder walls to absorb the heat. Water is also a smart heat conductor. Moving it to the cylinder where it grabs heat as it flows past (or even becomes a vapor) then on to a cooler section allows the water to transfer the heat and condense again. Systems often rely on gravity and general pressure to keep water flowing, heating and cooling. These systems typically don’t require any extra energy and are able to put up with vibration and use, making them suitable for many building installations.

In special cases where the system doesn’t have enough room or where nearby heat sources could cause vaporization of water away from the cylinder, oil is used. Cooling oil transfers heat in much the same way as water, but temperatures won’t rise high enough to vaporize it. That means it will require an additional power source for a built-in sump pump. While a little more expensive and less common, oil coolant systems provide significant heat transfer and are extremely durable.

Lubrication

Separate from the cooling system, some air compressors will need a lubrication system to keep internal parts working appropriately. Excess heat can not only damage the metal parts, but excess friction can also introduce extra elements to the compressed air. Metal flakes and other particles can cause significant damage if they’re passed to pressurized air tanks and injected into other machinery.

For the lubrication purpose in compressors like a rotary screw compressor, a splash technique is often used. This applies the lubricant by having a gearbox essentially sling the lubricant onto a trough above the system. Existing motion can power this, and then the lubricant steadily drops onto the parts that need it.

Splash lubrication systems are pretty simple and inexpensive, but they’re not able to deal with larger sized air compressors or those with parts that are moving very rapidly. When speed and size increase, force-feed lubrication is often employed.

The force-feed system is actually powered by an oil pump driven by the compressor, which is a nice feature that can save you some space. Lubrication oil is sucked through tubing and is steadily applied to the compressor parts that need it. Lubrication is not only constant, but it is applied at such a rapid pace that it requires a significant reserve and filtering process.

Specialized air compressors are again the exception to the rule because they don’t often need any type of oil for lubrication. They’ll use other mediums or forgo lubrication completely by reducing their workload to keep parts from stressing under heat.

Piping Systems

Compressed air systems rely on piping to make proper use of their power. Pipe selection, layout, installation and maintenance can all play a role in how powerful the system remains and if you’re losing energy along the way.

Look for piping systems that work with your compressor type and allow for installation that avoids sharp angles, moisture, obstructions and blockages. All of these issues can harm performance and cause your air compressor to work harder to deliver the same load.

Piping can be a complex layout equation, so consult this guide to ensure you have the right design for your industry and shop floor.

Your Checklist for Purchasing an Air Compressor

The final consideration for your compressor choice is the checklist you need for choosing the right compressor. Here are just a few of the questions you’ll want answered and set in front of you when it comes down to purchasing:

  1. Where will you be using your air compressor? Does the site have a fixed location or will you need something stable and secure enough that you can move it around your work area with ease?
  2. Do you have easy access to a stable electrical supply? Electric models are a little more reliable because gas generators can cause power fluctuations, but electric models tend to be more fixed units.
  3. What tools are you going to use with your compressor? What CFM requirements do they have?
  4. What’s your most important metric: Air generation? Air storage? Workload? Technology support?
  5. What are the standard and maximum operating pressures you’ll require?
  6. What’s the maximum air volume you require?

For further explanation of these questions that might help you answer them better, please see this Quincy Compressor guide to narrowing down your compressor choice.

Learn More From Quincy Compressor

Determining which is the right air compressor type for you can be a little complex. It all comes down to your specific usage needs, any custom requirements you have and what existing machinery you want to use with your new compressor.

All of those options change what types of air compressors are available to you and which is the best purchase. Quincy Compressor provides as many resources as we can to help you learn how to size and select an air compressor.

Contact our knowledgeable experts near you to learn more about what options are available in your area, what the true cost of ownership is and much more. The goal of Quincy Compressor is to help you pick the right type of air compressor that keeps your operations running smoothly.

Visit our sales and service locator to find a dealer near you!

Contact Us     Learn More        Find a Dealer Near You 

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