Firstly, what is an air compressor? An air compressor is a machine that compresses and pressurises air in order to convert power into kinetic energy. The air is released from the compressor to be used as an energy source to power a variety of tools and equipment. With more types of air compressors available on the market than there are uses for an air compressor, finding the right one can often become difficult. We have put together a list of frequently asked questions to help you better understand air compressors.
1. Piston or Screw Compressor, What’s the Difference?
One of the first questions you need to ask when looking to purchase an air compressor is whether you need a piston or screw compressor. Each compressor is very different in design, and are often used for different applications.
Piston Air Compressor
- Cheaper up front cost than its counterpart, however, it has higher maintenance costs
- Great for short-term or intermittent domestic and light industrial use
- Usually smaller in weight and size
- Operates intermittently and therefore it is not good in situations where you need a constant flow of air
- Only requires simple maintenance
Screw Air Compressor
- Higher up front cost but lower maintenance costs over its lifetime
- Provides a high volume of constant compressed air
- More popular for regular industrial applications
- Not suitable for use in short bursts
- Operates at a much lower temperature than a piston compressor
2. Is An Oil Lubricated or Oil Free Compressor Better for Me?
Oil free compressors usually cost more and last for a shorter amount of time. However, in a situation where you need a completely oil free environment (such as big food factories due to chances of contamination), they are the only option. Here are a few key points to consider when deciding which type of compressor is right for you.
Oil Lubricated Air Compressor
- Often quieter in operation
- Not suitable when you need a completely oil free environment due to its oil carryover
- Most common screw compressor
- Will last much longer than oil free screw compressors
Be sure to view Cleveland Compressed Air Services’ range of quality oil lubricated air compressors.
Oil Free Air Compressor
- Generally more expensive
- Provides 100% oil free air
- More expensive servicing and repairs
- Lower life expectancy
Be sure to view Cleveland Compressed Air Services’ range of quality oil free air compressors.
3. What Size Compressor Do I Need?
This completely depends on what air operated equipment you will be using. To work out what size would be best for you, add up the air usage of all air tools that will be used simultaneously. It’s best to add an extra 20-25% to allow for future usage down the track. This is only a rough guide, the best way to ensure you have the correct size machine is to request a compressed air energy audit.
4. Do Air Compressors Have A ‘Break In’ Period?
No, they do not. It’s always best to check for any problems after the first start-up but after that, you are ready to go. If you do find any leaks or problems, turn the machine off and be sure to contact your product provider before operating the air compressor again.
5. Can I Run My Compressor on A Generator?
Air compressors are able to run off generators however it is not recommended. If you have access to mains electricity, it is recommended to power your air compressor through it. Generators have fluctuations in power which can cause problems for compressors as they require a constant voltage to run. It is even more important for screw compressors to be run off mains electricity rather than generators due to their constant operation.
6. How Often Should I Clean/Replace the Air Intake Filter?
If you are operating your air compressor 3-5 times a week and it has an air filter, it is important to clean it every week. Once you notice the air filter is getting harder to clean out or you notice and holes, it is important to completely replace the filter.
7. How Often Should the Oil Be Changed?
Oil change frequency usually depends on your specific model of the air compressor. The best way to assure it is being changed adequately is to read the recommended schedule in the owner’s manual. If you do not have access to an owner’s manual, the best way to find your answer is to contact your provider with the model number of your machine.
8. How Often Does My Air Compressor Need to Be Serviced?
If you are only using your machine occasionally then annually servicing should be sufficient. If you are operating your air compressor routinely, then it may be best to service it quarterly. It is always recommended to do small services whenever you have the ability and time to.
9. My Air Compressor Is Not Working Correctly, What Should I Do?
If you are ever worried that your air compressor is not working the way it is intended, it is always safest to turn it off and have trained professionals come and inspect it.
Have more questions? Cleveland Compressed Air Services is Western Australia’s largest independent provider of compressor products and services. Contact us today on (08) 9452 3669 or email firstname.lastname@example.org today to find the right air compressor for you!