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Air compressors are helpful for an enormous range of applications such as air filling, packaging, tools, HVAC control, and more! One possible drawback is the amount of electricity they use; air compressors can be a huge drain on energy if used inefficiently. If you are running them too long, allowing leaks to exist, or using the wrong type of compressor, you are wasting energy and money. This article will go over some of the biggest power-wasters and how to stop/prevent them!
Another problem that is more common than you may think is air compressor leakage. Leaks are not always easy to see or hear and can contribute to energy waste and ineffectiveness of compressors. Depending on usage, a ¼” air leak at 100psi could cost over $2500 in wasted energy over the span of a year. It is recommended to have a leak detection professional check your compressor(s) periodically so you can be sure you aren’t wasting any energy. Duct tape may work as a short term solution, but it doesn’t fix the problem permanently.
Single-stage air compressors are often used in HVAC applications despite their inefficient operation. They are either on or off, with no variance in power, so if you only need a little air they will turn on full blast. When possible, variable-speed compressors should be used, as they will attempt to match delivery with what is being demanded and not use as much power when less is required. CP carries variable-speed rotary screw compressors that will save energy by operating when and how powerfully you need them to.
Though it is a very helpful tool, compressed air cannot do everything. You could be wasting money and breaking OSHA regulations without even knowing it. One of the most common misuses of compressed air is debris clearing. Unless psi is 30 or less, clearing things from the ground with compressed air is an OSHA violation. In addition, dusting debris off yourself or another person is forbidden regardless of pressure. There are other, less expensive/dangerous ways to clean, so perhaps save the compressed air for more vital applications.
Another place air could be wasted is in the piping of air from the compressor to its destination. Often, processes and machinery are changed or moved without considering what inefficiencies that could create, especially if you are operating multiple compressors from a centralized location. Periodically review your piping system to make sure air is getting from the compressor to its final destination in as short a distance as possible. The further air travels, the more energy it takes, so shortening the pipeline is a great way to save energy!
One of the most helpful tips for saving energy is to change filters according to a recommended maintenance schedule. Most compressors say how often you should be replacing filters, and those schedules, based on testing and rigorous calculations, should be paid attention to! If you use filters in other parts of your facility, those should also be systematically replaced according to a schedule.
By implementing just a few of these energy saving tips, you could save thousands of dollars each year! Many operators miss many of these energy saving opportunities because they are trying to save money in the moment, but they all cost more in the long run. Fixing a leaky valve is not as expensive as all the energy it wastes. If you remember two things from this blog post, they should be to keep up with regular compressor maintenance and to only turn on your air compressor when it’s needed.