Air Compressor Buying Guide

Purchasing the correct air compressor presents a challenge for many businesses, with expectations growing that your new compressor will improve energy efficiency, reduce running costs and meet your company’s environmental, health and safety goals.

Air Compressor Selection Checklist

Selecting several of the items below to make up your checklist will make your choice of air compressor easier.

  • Operating Environment
  • Life Expectancy
  • Company Safety Policies
  • Expected Reliability
  • Servicing Needs
  • Installation Timeframe
  • Other Decision Makers
  • Compressed Air Quality & Pressure
  • Power Cost Objectives
  • Company Environment Policies
  • Future Needs
  • Optional Equipment
  • Air Demand Selection Basis
  • Installation Requirements

Air Compressor Types

The two most common types used in Australian business are reciprocating, and rotary screw compressors.

  • Reciprocating air compressors are the most widely used, and are ideal for short-term or intermittent use, or where the load fluctuates, such as in panel and paint shop businesses.
  • Rotary screw air compressors are best used in production line situations where compressed air needs are continuous and need a relatively constant air supply.

Increasing Air Compressor Efficiencies

Several air compressor manufacturers claim they can minimise your energy used to generate compressed air, but their claims often come up short.

  • Identifying how efficiency improvements have been listed and that your proposed air compressor choice has not been tested under different standard conditions (pressure, temperature and humidity), along with monitoring probable system losses and motor ratings can save you from significant post-purchase potential troubles.
  • Minimising the quantity of air used, as well as reducing running times to their shortest duration can help you save thousands off your energy costs. Air audits, such as those offered by Champion Compressors, can help you assess your compressed air use, along with identifying other efficiency improvements.

Life Cycle Costs

Whilst some compressors may have a higher purchase price, accounting for the lifetime cost of your entire air compressor system is critical. The common rule of thumb is that maintenance and energy costs account for 80% of the total lifetime cost, with the purchase cost coming in at about 20%.

Compressed Air System Design

Creating a modular system where a number of areas can be operated independently or as part of a complete system will give you significantly flexibility if you choose to expand your air compressor system. To maximise your design you should try to:

  • Match air compressor capacity closely to demand.
  • Cater for short, heavy demand periods with appropriately sized receiver (storage tanks)
  • Use high-quality air filters and dryers.
  • Install variable output compressors, if feasible, to allow energy consumption to react to system demand.
  • Install piping that allows condensate to drain away.