By Ron Marshall
Here are five common ways to improve your compressed air system efficiency and save electrical costs:
- Choose an efficient compressor — Air compressors have come a long way over the years, with many design improvements implemented. Chances are that a new compressor will be more efficient than your old unit, and if you run it in an efficient operating mode (VSD, Load/Unload, or variable displacement) you can save a lot of money.
- Buy an efficient dryer — Very often, the air dryer is left out of plans for efficiency projects, but significant savings can be gained by choosing an air dryer that will turn down its electrical or compressed air consumption in proportion to reduced moisture load. Choose efficient cycling refrigerated dryers rather than non-cycling. Also, you should choose more efficient heated desiccant dryers with dew point controls rather than fixed cycle heatless variety. Never use a desiccant dryer when a refrigerated unit will do!
- Choose filters wisely — Filter pressure loss causes increased compressor discharge pressures, increasing the compressor energy cost by one percent every two psi in higher pressure. Use low differential mist eliminator filters, where appropriate, and upsize your filters for reduced pressure loss (dual parallel).
- Stop wasting with drainage — The use of manual cracked open valves or timer drains wastes air and increases energy costs. Always use well-installed airless drains to save valuable compressed air.
- Buy big storage — If your storage receiver does not make a visitor do a double-take when they see its size, it is probably too small. For load/unload compressors the receiver should be between five and 10 times the cfm output of the trim compressor (the one that loads and unloads). Example: for a 100 hp, 400 cfm compressor, the receiver size should be between 2,000 and 4,000 gallons.