Quincy Compressor Blog

how to winterize an rv with compressed air

The summer travel season is winding down, and it won’t be long before colder temperatures arrive. For RV owners who spend the winter in colder climates, the cold season’s pending arrival means it’s time to winterize your RV.

When winterizing an RV, it’s a good idea to methodically inspect the interior and exterior, making sure each system is in good working order. In addition to the engine, batteries, propane tanks and interior, one of the most important areas to winterize in an RV is the pipes that carry water.

Draining the water from the pipes before it gets cold prevents the water from freezing and expanding until the pipes burst. Avoiding this and other problems before they happen is the best way to ensure you’ll be back on the road — and not in the shop — as soon as warmer temperatures return.

Why Do You Need to Winterize Your RV?

Winterizing is essential to extending an RV’s lifespan. Removing and storing external propane tanks, cleaning old food out of the refrigerator and storing batteries in a dry location — all these things keep your RV working properly to preserve your comfort during the travel season.

If you spend winters in an area prone to harsh weather, the cold temperatures can wreak havoc on an RV’s systems, especially its plumbing. If any amount of water is left inside the pipes, it can freeze and expand, causing the pipes to burst — just as they would in a home where the temperature drops too low. Burst pipes can make a big mess and cost a lot to repair.

One common method of draining pipes for winter is to remove some of the water and then pour antifreeze into the plumbing. The antifreeze lowers the water’s freezing temperature, making it less likely that the moisture left behind will turn to ice. The problem with using antifreeze is that there really isn’t a good way to drain it all out of the pipes. Your family may end up drinking or showering in water with trace amounts of antifreeze in it, or a beloved pet may consume it.

A safer, more effective alternative to antifreeze is using compressed air to winterize the pipes in your RV.

How to Use Compressed Air to Winterize

Winterizing an RV with compressed air means you essentially blow air through the pipes to remove any water left behind from when you drained the plumbing. Although you can hire a professional company to do this for you, learning how to winterize your plumbing is a relatively simple DIY process:

1. Empty the Sewage System

Before you do anything else, take the RV to a dump station and hook up the black and gray tanks to the intake. Drain the black tank — containing human waste — first. The water from the gray tank will be used to flush the black tank. Once both are empty, use a hose to rinse them off at the dump station.

2. Clean Out the Interior

Once the tanks are cleared out, take some time to clean up the RV’s interior. Wash and put away dishes and throw away or remove all food items. Check to make sure there are no open windows or doors. Otherwise, you’ll open the RV up in the spring and find a bird or mouse has made a home there.

3. Lower the Hitch

Lower the hitch slightly so the water coming out of the pipes can flow out of the release valve. Don’t lower the RV too much — just enough that it’s slightly leaning toward the side where the main water drain is located. This is the petcock.

4. Drain the Water

Remove the petcock and allow the water from inside the RV to begin draining out. To help the water drain, go inside the RV and turn on the faucets and shower to encourage water to flow out of the pipes. It’s also a good idea to flush the toilet a couple times.

5. Hook up the Air Compressor

Connect the RV’s blowout plug to the compressor’s air hose. Then connect the plug to the RV’s water inlet. Set the air compressor’s maximum pressure between 30 and 50 pounds per square inch (psi) and begin pumping air into the pipes at 30-second intervals. After 30 seconds, pause for several seconds, and then start again. Repeat this process until there is no more water coming out of the drain.

What Type of Air Compressor Should You Use to Winterize?

When choosing the right air compressor to winterize your RV, the tank’s volume is more important than the amount of pressure. For example, you can use a 2-gallon compressor that allows you to set it between 30 and 50 psi. The tank’s size is less important than its ability to stay within this ideal pressure range. Make sure whatever tank you’re using can handle the right amount of pressure necessary to get the job done.

Benefits of Using Compressed Air to Winterize

When winterizing with compressed air, this method offers two primary benefits:

1. Ease of Use

Compressed air is easy to use to blow water out of your RV’s pipes. All you have to do is connect the compressor and get started. A small air compressor can travel with you or be stored in a garage at home, so you can pull it out each fall when you’re ready to winterize. If you don’t own one, they’re easy to rent or borrow from a friend.

2. Safe for People and Pets

Regular antifreeze is toxic, meaning that even if you flush the lines in the spring before you start using the water, your family and guests may be exposed to trace amounts of antifreeze in their drinking water and shower water. RV antifreeze is nontoxic, which means RV owners may assume they can just dump it on the ground when they empty their pipes. But even nontoxic antifreeze shouldn’t be dumped where it can leech into the groundwater. Antifreeze is also toxic to animals, such as family pets.

Choose Quincy Compressor for Your Air Compressor Needs

At Quincy Compressor, we know firsthand the value of family. Spending time together traveling the open road creates family memories that last a lifetime. The last thing you need is to have those precious memories interrupted by busted pipes that weren’t properly winterized.

Quincy Compressor offers a wide range of portable air compressors for RV owners looking to winterize without antifreeze. Built to last, many of Quincy’s high-quality models also come with outstanding warranties that exceed anything our competitors can offer. Browse our selection online or locate a Quincy sales and service representative near you to get started.

guide to air compressors for scuba diving

Compressed air plays an important role in many fields and industries, but when it comes to scuba diving, high-quality, breathable compressed air is critical. For this reason, all divers should understand how a diving air compressor works, plus how to maintain it and perform basic repairs.

If you’re new to diving or are interested in taking up the sport, we will provide you with a useful overview of scuba dive compressors and some handy maintenance tips.

Differences Between Regular Air Compressors vs. Scuba Air Compressors

You cannot use a regular air compressor for scuba diving, as it differs significantly from models designed for underwater use. A scuba compressor is a high-pressure air compressor system designed to fill the tank that a diver uses to breathe underwater. This type of compressor also supplies air for firefighters and the oxygen tanks you find in hospitals.

Scuba compressors differ from regular air compressors in two primary ways:

1. Pressure

A scuba tank generally must be filled at very high pressures, roughly 3,000 pounds per square inch (psi). Regular air compressors can only provide a small fraction of this pressure.

2. Quality

Compressed air for scuba diving must be clean. Air compressors for scuba diving, unlike most other types of compressors, are designed to provide breathable, clean air, as contaminated air could lead to serious health problems or even death. It is safe to breathe air from a scuba compressor as long as it is filtered appropriately.

To ensure the air supply is clean, scuba compressors are equipped with a series of filters and moisture separators that remove moisture and various other contaminants. Once the moisture is removed, the compressed air then goes through a series of activated carbon filters that remove numerous hydrocarbons and render carbon monoxide (CO) harmless.

How Do Scuba Air Compressors Work?

The process by which a scuba compressor compresses air is complex, and a full explanation is beyond this article’s scope, but we will provide an overview of the four basic stages:

1. Compression and Cooling

In the first stage, the scuba compressor will take air in via its intake filter, after which it will compress the air to approximately 100 to 140 psi when pushing the air out. This process produces significant heat. This is why scuba compressors are equipped with a coil or intercooler, which helps dissipate this heat before the air continues to the next stage.

2. More Compression, More Cooling and Moisture Separation

The air, which has just been slightly compressed and cooled, now enters the next stage, whereby it gets compressed again. This time, it’s compressed to a pressure between 800 and 1,000 psi. Once this occurs, the air is then cooled again and passes through a moisture separator. After this, it is ready for the next stage.

3. Additional Compression, Cooling and Moisture Separation

In this third stage, the air is compressed even more, sometimes up to as high as 5,000 psi. After this process, the air passes through yet another cooler and moisture separator. The air may then travel through several other filters before continuing to the last stage.

4. Processing Through the Back Pressure Valve

The final step of the process involves the back pressure valve, a component that forces your compressor to run balanced. It is generally set to pressures ranging from 2,700 to 3,300 psi. This element also influences how filtration operates.

Types of Scuba Air Compressors

Portable breathing air compressors come in three categories, classified by their power sources:

1. Electric Compressors

Compressors with an electric motor are the most popular type of scuba air compressor and offer the following advantages:

  • Quiet operation: Electric compressors run much more quietly than either gas or diesel models, so if you’re concerned about noise, you’ll be best off choosing electric.
  • Low maintenance: Electric compressors require less upkeep than their gas and diesel counterparts.

There are, however, a few potential drawbacks for electric compressors, including:

  • Limited portability: As electric compressors must be connected to a power source to operate, they’re not as portable as gas or diesel versions.
  • Potential size limitations: If you only have 220- or 240-volt single-phase electricity, you will only be able to use smaller models. If you want a larger model, you’ll need to have three-phase electricity, which is usually only found in commercial buildings.

2. Gas Compressors

A gas compressor features a motor that helps the compressor run. Some pros of gas compressors include:

  • Portability: Gas compressors are a great option if you need power off the grid.
  • Availability: If you want a portable compressor, you’ll likely find a gas model more easily than a diesel one. If your gas motor needs to be repaired, it will also be easier to find repair technicians and replacement parts. However, in some parts of the world, diesel is the primary fuel, meaning a diesel engine may be the better choice.
  • Affordability: Regarding both upfront and operational expenses, a gas engine generally costs less than a diesel model.

However, there are a few factors that may make gas compressors less desirable for some users:

  • Noise: Gas compressors make more noise than electric ones, although they are quieter than diesel compressors.
  • Maintenance: To keep a gas compressor in top shape, you’ll need to perform a fair degree of regular maintenance tasks and buy several fuel additives.
  • Carbon monoxide emissions: Gas motors emit carbon monoxide, which must be kept away from the compressor’s intake. This is so the CO will not degrade the filter or make its way into the breathing air. To do this, you must use the air intake tube provided by the manufacturer and place the engine’s exhaust downwind from the tube.

3. Diesel Compressors

The third type is the diesel engine compressor, which is similar in many ways to the gas engine but also notably different in some respects.

Here are a few advantages you can get from using diesel engine compressors:

  • High-quality, durable components: Diesel engines generally consist of high-quality parts that last longer than ones in gas engines.
  • Easy portability: Like gas compressors, diesel engines don’t require an electric connection, meaning you can take them to more places.
  • Potentially greater availability: If you live in a region of the world where diesel is more common than gas, you’ll likely want to select this type of air compressor.

Below are a few considerations that may make some buyers think twice about diesel:

  • Noise: Diesel engines are loud — even more so than gas models.
  • Weight: Diesel compressors are bulky and heavy, which can negatively affect their portability.
  • Price: Diesel engines cost more than gas versions concerning both upfront cost and maintenance.

Different Pressure Levels in Scuba Air Compressors

In addition to their power sources, scuba air compressors can also be categorized concerning how much air pressure they provide:

1. Low-Pressure Compressors

Low-pressure compressors weigh relatively little and are used for surface supplied diving. These compressors are put in flotation rings that float on the water’s surface, and they supply underwater divers with air via a hose. 

2. High-Pressure Compressors

Compressors categorized as high-pressure provide air pressures between 3,200 and 5,000 psi. They’re commonly found in commercial diving, and dive shops use them as well. They tend to be bulkier and heavier than their low-pressure counterparts, but they are undoubtedly better for filling tanks.

Before buying a compressor, consider its maximum pressure. The compressor’s capacity should be proportional to your tank’s size. Smaller tanks, for instance, may struggle with high-pressure compressors, whereas low-pressure models might not compress the air sufficiently in a large tank.

Oil-Free vs. Oil-Lubricated Scuba Dive Compressors

A third distinction concerning the different compressor classifications is between oil-free and oil-lubricated air compressors:

1. Oil-Free Air Compressors

Oil-free air compressors use ceramic rings and cylinder liners, which do not require any lubrication. The major advantage of this compressor type is that, as there’s no oil, there’s no risk of this fluid contaminating the breathing air. However, oil-free compressors cost significantly more than oil-lubricated ones.

2. Oil-Lubricated Air Compressors

Oil-lubricated compressors are more common and cost much less than oil-free models. These machines use oil to lubricate their moving components and cylinders. Of course, this means that, if the oil comes in contact with the breathing air, there will always be at least a tiny amount of oil coming out of the compressor with the air. This is referred to as oil-carry-over. Although the amount is small, this oil needs to be removed, which is accomplished with specialized filters.

How to Fill a Scuba Tank With an Air Compressor

To ensure your underwater excursion is as safe as possible, make sure your gear is safe for use before you get in the water. When ensuring your safety, the first thing you should do is refill your tank. To do this, follow these steps below:

  1. Check your tank’s compliance. A scuba tank, just like any other pressurized tank, has to be inspected regularly. If your tank hasn’t been tested recently or is just too old, refrain from using it. It could be faulty, which could have disastrous consequences during filling up the tank or diving underwater.
  2. Release any excess air. If there’s any air remaining in your tank, let it out. You shouldn’t add any more air until this amount has been released.
  3. Inspect the tank for loose objects and damage. If your tank isn’t completely sealed, it becomes ineffective. Give your tank a spin and see if there are any holes or cracks. Shake your tank to see if you hear any debris or water inside. If there’s any sloshing water or rattling, you should discard your tank right away. This step is vital because if there’s a leak, and you don’t discover it until you’ve started your dive, it could be too late.
  4. Place your tank in cold water. This action prevents your tank and the air inside from expanding due to heat. This step will help minimize the risk of your tank exploding in front of you. Moreover, by submerging it in water, you’ll more easily spot cracks and holes, as air bubbles coming from the tank’s sides will indicate a compromised surface.
  5. Set your compressor up. Before you can use your compressor to fill up your tank, you need to configure it for your tank. This means checking all the required meters and gauges and ensuring everything is correct. Also, check that your automatic shutoff is in working order.
  6. Attach your yoke. This step is simple but crucial — attach the compressor’s yoke to your tank’s valve. Closely inspect each component’s connecting points and make sure they’re free of debris and dirt.
  7. Fill your tank. Turn on your compressor and let it fill your tank up. Keep a close eye on the gauges, ensuring your automatic shutoff continues working properly. If it malfunctions, you’ll need to turn your compressor off yourself.

How to Maintain Your Scuba Compressor

Properly maintaining and fixing your air compressor is important, and failing to do so can lead to an explosion.

For air compressors to work properly, three main functions are required. They are:

  • Applying adequate power.
  • Maintaining pressure.
  • Controlling the flow of the compressed air.

If your compressor stops working, it is likely due to the failure of one of these three functions above. In this section, we’ll share some useful DIY fixes you can perform yourself. Be aware that if you have a high-pressure compressor and your tank has been damaged, the compressor could rupture. Do not attempt any complex repairs — leave those to the professionals instead.

Here are some things you can do on your own to ensure your compressor’s safe operation:

1. Adjusting Air Flow

To adjust the air flow, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the cover. Remove the plastic cover from the compressor’s top by taking out the screws. Then, lift off the cover, which will give you access to the screws on your pressure maintaining valve.
  2. Remove screws underneath the cover. There will be two screws, one of which is for turning off the compressor. The other turns it on.
  3. Check your compressor setting. Turn on your compressor, turn it off and then check its setting. You can adjust the pressure using the upper screw.
  4. Adjust the pressure. To raise the compressor’s pressure, tighten the screw. If you want to reduce the pressure, loosen it. Then, engage your pressure release valve, noting what the pressure is once the compressor comes on.
  5. Adjust the setting. Using the lower screw, adjust the setting. When you arrive at the right pressure, replace the cover and screws removed in steps one and two.

2. Restoring Power

If your compressor has lost power, follow these steps to restore it:

  1. Begin with the obvious. Before doing anything else, make sure your compressor is plugged in fully and your switch is flipped on.
  2. Reset the compressor. If this doesn’t work, press your reset button. This should be a round black or red button typically found on the side where the motor is, usually by your power cord.
  3. Examine the cord. Make sure your power cord isn’t damaged.
  4. Plug it in somewhere else. Try plugging your compressor into a different socket. Make sure the plug’s circuit breaker is tripped. Then, turn off the breaker and turn it back on again.
  5. Plug another device into the outlet. If you’re still not successful, see if the outlet works by plugging another device in. If it works for the other device, this most likely means the problem is not something you can fix yourself. Have a professional examine your compressor.

3. Repairing a Leak

If your compressor is leaking, take the following steps:

  1. Unplug its components. Start by unplugging all the hoses and tools. Then, turn on your compressor so it can start charging.
  2. Spray soapy water on the compressor. Make a soapy water solution and pour or spray it all around the compressor’s fittings. Look closely to see if any bubbles form. If bubbles form, this means there’s a leak.
  3. Turn off the compressor. Shut your machine off, and let the pressure out from your tank as well.
  4. Apply tape on fittings. Remove the fittings where bubbles formed and apply tape — preferably Teflon tape — on the fittings’ threads. Then, put them back on, tightening them down.
  5. Turn compressor back on. Turn on your compressor and let it charge again.
  6. Spray soapy water once again. Perform the same test as in step two. If there are still bubbles, turn the compressor off and repeat steps three through five.

Additional Maintenance Tasks for Your Diving Air Compressor

In addition to simple repairs, we’d also like to share five routine tasks you can perform to keep your compressor in top shape. Doing these things regularly will extend your compressor’s lifespan and help you avoid costly fixes:

1. Remove Moisture From Your Tank

One important task you should perform regularly is removing moisture from the tank. This tank tends to create moisture when operating.

Compressors usually come equipped with a valve specifically designed to remove this moisture. It is essential to use it after every use, as failing to do so can lead to problems. Before using the valve, however, don’t forget to release the pressure in your tanks first.

2. Clean the Intake Vents

If the intake vents on your compressor are dusty, it will cause your machine to overwork. In turn, forcing your compressor to overwork will usually lead to a complete system failure. The time you take to clean these vents pays off later in the form of increased efficiency.

3. Inspect and Tighten Your Fasteners

You may have noticed that, when air compressors run, they vibrate a lot. Over a long period, vibrations cause your fasteners to loosen, which is why these components should be regularly checked and tightened. Neglecting this task can cause serious damage to your compressor.

4. Examine and Replace Your Hoses When Necessary

The hoses serve as some of your compressor’s most vital parts. But keep in mind that the greater the length of these hoses, the more likely they are to malfunction. Inspect them routinely to catch issues before they do serious damage.

It is crucial to invest in high-quality compressor hoses. If you skimp on quality to save money, this will usually backfire on you.

5. Frequently Inspect and Change Your Air Filters

Yet another task you should regularly perform is to inspect and change the compressor’s air filters. If debris makes its way past these filters, the compressor may shut down.

Routinely evaluating your filters is also a good way to find out how they’re holding up. Air filters covered with debris should be replaced immediately.

Browse Quincy’s Wide Range of Air Compressors

At Quincy Compressor, you get more than just industry-leading air compressors. You’ll also benefit from our many years of experience in operating and designing efficient compressed air systems. You can find many of our products, including our rotary screw compressors, in some of the most critical and demanding installations. Thousands of industries depend on our compressors for reliability and quality.

Our compressors also come with comprehensive warranties, including ones with extended coverage lasting up to 10 years for certain machine components. To learn more about our compressors, you can browse the products on our site or speak directly with a representative.

air cooled vs water cooled compressor

An air compressor is a positive displacement compressor that produces energy to power commercial tools and equipment. Rotary screw air compressors generate heat as they function, which is why compressed air needs to be cooled — either with air or a chilled liquid.

Whether you get a water-cooled or air-cooled compressor for your business depends on your commercial space’s location, tools and size. Explore some of the comparisons between an air-cooled vs. water-cooled compressor to help you make a decision.

How Does an Air-Cooled Compressor Work?

An air-cooled compressor uses air to reduce the temperature of the compressed air and any other material present. When the compressor makes heat, the air-cooled circuit reduces the hot air with a fan and radiator. An air-cooled compressor is the most common air compressor cooling system, making it more accessible than water-cooled systems.

Industries can recover the heat loss for an air-cooled compressor by using the energy to heat buildings or power a preheating battery, thus saving companies money on utility expenses. The circuit directs the heat to an area with a fan, but if the building doesn’t need more heat, the unit releases the hot air into the atmosphere through the thermostat or air damper control.

How Does a Water-Cooled Compressor Work?

Water-cooled compressors use liquid coolant from an external unit to cool the compressed air and any other substances present during the compression process. The cooling circuit reduces the heat with a shell and tube exchanger. Water-cooled units are more common in machines with higher horsepower.

Companies can reuse the water from the compressor in a hot water heating system, usually for showering, washing or cleaning. A water-cooled screw compressor may allow a business to invest in a smaller water boiler because you won’t need as much hot water.

Energy Costs of Air-Cooled vs. Water-Cooled

When considering each air compressor cooling system’s energy cost, you should keep the following factors in mind:

  • Energy expenditure: Air-cooled units require more power than water-cooled ones.
  • Electricity cost: Water-cooled compressors cost a lot of money regarding electricity, water and water treatment expenses, so you’ll save money with air-cooled equipment.
  • Ability to recoup resources: Both types of compressor cooling systems offer reusable resources to recompense energy expenditure costs. If you can reuse a liquid-cooled compressor’s water to preheat boilers, you can save on gas and heating bills. You can also use the heated air from an air-cooled compressor to make a room warmer and power a fluid heat exchanger.

Requirements for Air-Cooled Compressors

An air-cooled screw compressor needs enough cooling air and space to provide adequate airflow. Improper planning may result in problems with regulating your commercial facility’s temperature. If the compressor room is too hot, the business could experience equipment failure and unplanned shutdowns.

To protect your equipment and continue workflow, install ductwork from both sides of the compressor to allow air to travel throughout your space. You can also use the heat from the vents to warm up your commercial space in the winter. If your business doesn’t have enough room for additional equipment, it might be better to set up a water-cooled compressor.

Requirements for Water-Cooled Compressors

A water-cooled screw compressor needs high-quality cooling water to function. If you get water from a lake, ocean, well or river, you’d need a cooling tower and closed-loop system to filter the water and increase your system’s lifespan.

Unless your building already has this equipment, you’ll need to include the cost of purchasing, installing and maintaining this new machinery along with your water-cooled compressor. If you already have a closed-loop cooling system on-site, make sure it can accommodate your water-cooled compressor before you install it.

Which System Should You Choose?

Air compressors can serve various industrial applications, but you need to choose the best type for your specific business. Here are some factors to consider when looking for the right rotary screw air compressor:

  • Cost of operation and resources: With the rising cost of water regulation, it’s essential to consider how much you’ll have to pay to use and maintain your equipment. Since water-cooled air systems utilize much more water to reduce the air’s heat, they can be expensive. Air-cooled screw compressors don’t use as much water to power their products, and they also have a lower upfront and installation cost.
  • Requirements for air demand: When considering your air demand requirements, account for the product’s horsepower (hp), cubic feet per minute (cfm) rating and pounds per square inch (psi) rating. A unit’s horsepower offers more potential for meeting high air demands. The cfm rating measures how much air the compressor can produce each minute to give you the appropriate psi. Look at the cfm and psi ratings to determine which one can accommodate your tools and energy requirements.
  • Type of tools your industry uses: Consider your equipment’s horsepower requirements and figure out the appropriate cfm and psi ratings for your rotary screw air compressor. You could invest in a smaller unit if you use your tools sporadically, but you should get a larger one if you run them continually.
  • The compressor room’s layout: Before choosing an air compressor, make sure the room has enough space for it. If space is an issue, you could get a few smaller compressors instead of buying one large unit and put them in multiple areas around the factory. Keep in mind that most rotary screw compressors with less horsepower usually aren’t available in water-cooled models.
  • The compressor room’s ventilation: Air-cooled compressors need adequate airflow to function and regulate their temperature. If the room doesn’t have the proper ventilation, the area could get too hot and the equipment could shut down, delaying projects. You also would need to keep your air-cooled compressor away from a hot boiler room or fumes. Water-cooled compressors can better accommodate small spaces and higher temperatures.

When considering these factors, remember that one type of rotary screw air compressor isn’t better than the other. Your choice between air-cooled vs. water-cooled compressors depends on your specific application and location. Discuss your options with a compressed air expert before deciding which one would be appropriate for your industry.

Learn More About Quincy Compressor’s Rotary Screw Air Compressors

At Quincy, we offer various air-cooled and water-cooled rotary screw air compressors that can accommodate your industry. You can browse through our inventory of air compressor water cooling systems and use our Sales and Service locator to find a distributor near you. For more information on how you can take advantage of our products, call us at 251-937-5900. Our network of professional and knowledgeable air experts are here to answer any questions you may have.

Rotary Screw Air Compressor Horsepower

rotary screw air compressor horsepower

When you’re shopping for air compressors, you’ll typically find that they’re rated by horsepower: You’ll see the horsepower rating prominently featured in the product name and description, such as the “Quincy 7.5 hp rotary screw air compressor,” the “Quincy 30 hp air compressor” or the “Quincy 60 hp air compressor.”

One of the most important decisions you’ll have to make when choosing a rotary screw compressor is the amount of horsepower you need the compressor to provide. Horsepower is essentially a measurement of the amount of mechanical energy the compressor uses to complete the compression function.

Air compressor horsepower is further defined in terms of peak horsepower (also known as brake horsepower) and running or rated horsepower. Peak horsepower is the maximum hp output the motor is capable of producing while the start windings are engaged, and can be as much as seven times the rated horsepower.

However, using peak hp to evaluate a compressor’s power capacity can be misleading, as the motor only reaches its peak hp level when the compressor is starting up. Rated horsepower can provide a more realistic measurement of the compressor’s true capacity, as it provides the hp level after the running motor has reached its designated RPM and the start windings are no longer engaged.

Other Horsepower Factors to Consider

When evaluating rotary screw compressors, you should also consider its duty cycle. This indicates whether the compressor can run at full load horsepower on a continuous or only an intermittent basis. Additionally, you should determine the compressor’s service factor, which is the percentage of rated horsepower at which the compressor motor can be operated safely. Generally, the higher the service factor, the greater the motor’s capacity to handle higher temperatures or other demanding operating conditions without overheating or failing.

Is Horsepower Really That Important?

Many people buy compressors using the horsepower rating as a primary factor. However, it’s important to know that horsepower only refers to the motor’s ability to power the compressor pump. The higher the horsepower rating, the more efficiently the pump can fill the air tank and the lower the compressor’s recovery time.

Horsepower has no impact on the airflow from the tank to the tool or equipment you’re using: A higher horsepower doesn’t enable your tool to work faster.

While you certainly need enough horsepower for your compressed air applications, you also need to consider cubic feet per minute (cfm), which provides a true indication of how much air the compressor can actually deliver. The larger the pneumatic tool, the higher the cfm generally required to operate it. To determine the appropriate compressor cfm, add up the total cfm requirements for all the tools you operate simultaneously and then choose a compressor with a cfm that exceeds this amount by 20-25 percent.

Contact Us for More Information About Rotary Screw Compressor Horsepower

Quincy Compressor offers a wide range of rotary screw air compressors with various horsepower ratings. We manufacture high quality 7.5 hp rotary screw air compressors, 25 hp rotary screw air compressors, 50 hp rotary screw air compressors, as well as both smaller and larger hp capacities. Contact your local authorized distributor to learn more about choosing the right hp for your compressed air requirements.

 

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.

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.

Contact Us     Learn More        Find a Dealer Near You 

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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