CDH Group [logo]

Maximise Air Compressor Efficiency to Reduce Running Costs

Compressed air systems play a vital role in a wide range of industrial and manufacturing environments, powering some of the most essential tools, plant, and equipment from road drills to assembly lines.

Now commonly known as the fourth utility, it’s easy to see why achieving optimum performance for air compressors is critical to cost efficiency and energy efficiency, in terms of money, time, and energy conservation.

The objective of maximising air compressor efficiency is to achieve the right balance between powering the equipment driven by the air compressor in an efficient way whilst utilising minimum levels of energy.

This will contribute towards reducing effects such as heat and friction, extending the air compressor’s working life, and reducing operational and maintenance costs.

The end result will be savings in energy costs and reduced environmental impact from your compressed air system, contributing to the bottom line.

Factors that affect compressor efficiency

Compressed air is powerful but can also be seen as relatively inefficient when compared with electricity, although inherently safer and more versatile in terms of where and how it can be used.

Over time, without adequate maintenance, this will detract from an air compressor’s efficiency and even detract from operational processes.

A number of different factors will affect the efficiency of an air compressor.

  • Impure air loaded with dirt and other particles can build up inside the air compressor, causing additional wear and tear as well as extra maintenance requirements
  • Air temperature is also a factor – cold air is denser than hot air, so your air compressor should be powered by cold air for optimum efficiency
  • Humidity will form condensation inside the air compressor and rust the component parts, so keeping feed air cool and dry is an important consideration

As a result, an inefficient air compressor will cost more money to operate and will slow down output. Investment in routine maintenance and professional advice on system design will help reduce air compressor costs over time.

What type of compressors are the most efficient?

The choice of air compressor types and operating with efficient air compressors will vary depending upon how and where the compressor is used.

It’s generally accepted that rotary screw air compressors are both efficient and reliable, but they are more suited to larger applications.

The rotary screw compressor is often the best choice where noise generation is an issue, as they are inherently quieter and less subject to vibration in operation.

Reciprocating compressors were one of the earliest compressor designs, and are still affordable, reliable, and easy to service.

Variable-speed compressors are generally more efficient than fixed-speed air compressors, whilst two-stage compressors work more effectively to compress air and can reduce operating costs.

Centrifugal compressors often require cooler air and use a significant amount of horsepower relative to their size, but can be the best choice for certain applications, particularly in the power generation industry.

When you’re investing in an efficient air compressor, talk to the experts to optimise energy efficiency and your return on investment. Understanding what CFM is required to drive specific tools and applications will also help in choosing.

5 Methods to improve the efficiency of an air compressor

Improving the efficiency of your air compressors will also save you time and money. Here are a few considerations to help you achieve improved compressor performance.

1. Improve air intake quality

Consider your air intake quality. Air temperature is important for compressed air – using cool air is the best way to promote optimum performance. Keep the air supply clean and free of contaminants, and ensure the air is dry to prevent build-up of moisture and rust inside the compressor.

2. Enhance the system design and installation

Take professional advice on enhancing the pipework and layout design of your compressed air system. Relocating to a cooler spot, removing bends and loops in the delivery lines, and adding a storage tank to conserve air pressure can make a real difference in your compressed air efficiency.

Consider installing a waste heat recovery system to utilise elsewhere in your plant.

3. Continually check for leaks

Continuously check for leaks – the main reasons for energy wastage in air compressors. An air compressor’s efficiency will be impacted significantly by even a small leak and the resultant energy losses. CDH also offer air leak detection services.

4. Perform regular air compressor maintenance

Implement a regular preventive maintenance programme for overall efficiency gains. Regular checks will pick up on minor issues and prevent these from escalating to major breakdowns and downtime. Talk to a compressed air specialist about the right plan for your compression system.

5. Minimize pressure drop

Prevent pressure drop. Pressure drops impact on both energy consumption, system performance, and system efficiency. Make sure your pipes are the right size, replace filters regularly, maintain the air intake quality to reduce moisture ingress, and minimise the distance air is traveling through the air compressor to help it function more effectively at lower speeds and use less energy.

How can CDH help to improve air compressor efficiency?

Implementing a regular preventive maintenance program will help avoid costly equipment failures. Ensuring all your air compressors are operating efficiently will save money on energy bills and reduce expensive downtime.

Talk to the compressed air specialists at CDH Group about a service and maintenance plan for your air compressor system.

More to explore

An engineer checks air equipment in a plant room

The Dangers of Compressed Air Use

Compressed air is a vital energy source for industry, providing safe power for a wide range of machinery, equipment and power tools.

Leave a comment