Big TV’s and Big Compressed Air Savings

My great big TV bit the dust recently. It was a 65” rear projection, high definition…quite an upgrade over the 32” tube set that it replaced, a decade ago. One thing I remember from the day I bought it: the seller said to me as we were loading it up, “A warning: you’ll never be able to watch anything smaller.” The other thing I remember from that day was getting it back to the house and set up before my wife got home. She walked in, looked at its huge awesomeness in our modestly sized living room and said, “That’s almost embarrassing!” To which I replied, “I KNOW!!!”  Now, it WAS a little big for the room, but we acclimated quickly.

Until last month, when the display started to malfunction. I looked it up, and it was a fatal flaw: the parts would cost almost as much as a new 65” flat screen. Which we’re saving our money for…for now, though, we’re “getting by” with a 42” plasma TV that we “repurposed” from the back room. And the seller’s warning proved mostly true, although I’ve almost adjusted to the smaller screen. First world problems; I know.

One benefit of the smaller screen and advanced technology (plasma vs. those three big light bulbs in the rear projection) was decreased operating cost. Turns out, the 42” plasma uses less than 1/3 the power of the 65” rear projection (91 Watts vs. 283 Watts, respectively.) When my next electric bill comes, I’m wondering if I’m going to be pleased with the reduction, or if it’s going to put into perspective just how much TV I really watch. Stay tuned for more on that…

I recently had the pleasure of helping a customer realize a similar “a-ha” moment, with the amount of compressed air they were using throughout their plant. They were running (40) production machines, turning out custom plastic parts. Each machine had a ¼” crimped-end copper tube, which blows off the part as it’s being machined.

Each of the crimped copper lines uses approximately 30 SCFM when supplied at 80psig. These are being replaced with our Model 1100 Super Air Nozzles. They were able to quickly and easily adapt these by simply cutting off the crimped end, and installing a compression adapter fitting:

EXAIR Model 1100 Super Air Nozzle installs easily on copper lines, with a simple compression adapter.
EXAIR Model 1100 Super Air Nozzle installs easily on copper lines, with a simple compression adapter.

The Super Air Nozzle consumes just 14 SCFM @80psig, so we should be looking at around a 50% reduction in their compressed air usage in the operation, across their (40) machines. While all the data is still not compiled to determine their actual savings, the noise reduction alone has made a noticeable difference in the plant, which they’re getting used to a LOT quicker (and more agreeably) than I am to the smaller TV screen. But enough about that…I’ll be all right; really.

So that’s two of us, waiting for the next electric bill to see just how happy we can be with our energy savings. I don’t know what they’re going to do with their savings, but mine’s going into the 65” (energy efficient) TV fund.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Video Blog: Meet Brian Farno

In case you haven’t seen or heard enough of me through the informal videos, here is a brief video that tells a little about myself, my background, and what I like to do outside of work.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer

Taking Professional Advice

I have an old house, turn of the last century, plaster and lath walls, remnants of knob and tube wiring, blocked over fireplaces in every room – old! Wiring in houses this old can be brittle which can make installing new ceiling fans tricky. First the ceiling is ten feet so you may be high on the ladder, and every time you need something from below you have to get a helper, carry a tool belt or climb down the ladder. Now if you are an experienced electrician, you have a tool belt filled with exactly what you need and a little extra. Cooks call this Mise en Place. My old man called it having your stuff together.

I don’t do it very well, so I have to climb down the ladder often. I tried to get a helper, but my nine month old son had trouble differentiating between a flat head screw driver and chew toy and wire nuts are clearly a choking hazard. Speaking of wire nuts. They seem to be such an innocuous widget. A wire nut is a wire nut. I have never thought much about them. Well it turns out that after the brittle wire has broken inside the wall. And then you drop the fifteenth wire nut, because it wouldn’t grab your old brittle wire. You spend some time thinking about the wire nuts as you are writing the check to the electrician. He might recommend an expensive brand of wire nuts that he uses that work great in these old houses. He gave me about twenty extra for my next attempt at electrical work, so I have a start on my electrical Mise en Place, but the next problem will probably involve plumbing…

Ceiling fan
Not my house, but similar.

Wire nuts remind me of air nozzles to some degree. They are such simple products but provide tremendous protection, and utility. There is also an incredible amount of brands, styles, and sizes. It is easy to think that the nozzle that comes installed on the thumb gun works great for home use, why should you spend time or money in investing in an upgrade. For the professional electrician, the expensive wire nuts made his day easier, more productive and his final installation safe. If you need to use compressed air to clean, dry or cool your parts, investing in an intelligent compressed air product will make the application quieter, more efficient and more effective.

Nozzle Lineup
EXAIR Engineered Solutions

EXAIR Super Air Nozzles are engineered solutions that meet OSHA requirements for dead end pressure – this makes them safe. The air nozzles utilize the Coanda effect to amplify compressed air flow up to 25 times – this makes them more effective. The small orifices build up pressure inside the supply the line in order to produce higher velocities – this makes the engineered air nozzles more efficient. Stop using cheap inefficient nozzles, think about your tools, and use what the professionals use.

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer


Ceiling Fan Photo Courtesy of Kevin GalensCreative Commons License

EXAIR Ultrasonic Leak Detector

I was in Australia to train our distributors there.  When I covered the Ultrasonic Leak Detector, many success stories were told.  I would like to discuss one in particular.  A customer had a 50 horsepower compressor that started to overwork.  He thought that he would need to purchase a larger compressor to keep his equipment running.  In discussing his problems and requirements, the distributor decided to check for leaks as a cause.  He used the Ultrasonic Leak Detector to check every fitting and connection.

Compressed air leaks can be as much as 30% of your compressed air usage.  Even small leaks will cost you in performance and money.  When you have a small air leak, the turbulent flow will emit an ultrasonic sound.  With the EXAIR Ultrasonic Leak Detector, it can pick up these high frequencies in the range of 20 Khz to 100 Khz.  This device makes the inaudible leaks, audible.  With three sensitivity ranges and LED display, you can find very minute leaks.  It has two attachments; the parabola attachment to locate leaks up to 20 feet (6.1 meters) away, and the tube attachment to define the exact location of a leak.

9061 Ultrasonic Leak Detector
9061 Ultrasonic Leak Detector

When the distributor checked the compressed air system, he found 91 leaks with the Ultrasonic Leak Detector.  He marked each one for the customer to fix.  The fittings were repaired, and the compressor was back to normal operations.  There was no need to purchase a larger air compressor, and the customer noticed the energy savings on his electric bill.  It is important to check the compressed air system for leaks on new and old fittings periodically.  Then you can enjoy the full capacity of your compressed air system.  If you would like to discuss this detector in further detail, you can contact our Application Engineers.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Pneumatic Capacitance

Brian Farno and I attended a compressed air training seminar years ago that highlighted best practices, pitfalls, calculations, efficiency, and a variety of other things facing the compressed air industry.  At the same seminar we also discussed pneumatic capacitance.

As it was laid out, pneumatic capacitance is the stored air within a compressed air system – OK, simple enough.  And, in order for there to be any stored energy, there has to be a pressure differential across the storage device – THIS was an AHA moment for me.

I guess I had never really thought about the need for a pressure differential across the storage device in order for there to really be any air stored.  I’m sure if you go back through the tests and exams I took in college there’s some question about it, and I may have known it somewhere in my studies – but the concept really clicked for me in that seminar and at that moment.

I thought about this when visiting a customer’s facility and hearing them complain of dropping line pressure during compressed air operations.  We went to their compressor room and I saw the compressors and tanks in the photos below.

(3) 75HP Atlas Copco compressors putting out 300 SCFM each. Two of these provide air to the storage tanks below. The third is for operations unrelated to this blog.
(3) 2200 gallon receiver tanks

Wow!  All this horsepower and air storage and the line pressure is still dropping?  That seems odd.

So, we checked the input and output pressure of the tanks – less than 2 PSI ΔP, effectively limiting the real ability of the tanks.  At this ΔP the tanks were little more than just an addition to the compressed air plumbing of the facility.

We checked output from the compressor and found they had been deliberately decreased to between 80 and 85 PSI.  So, I recommended to leave the output pressure of the compressors (which feed into the tanks) up to 120 PSIG, and to leave the output pressure of the tanks untouched at 80 PSIG.

This change would allow 3 minutes of steady line pressure for the existing compressed air demand (with compressors still loaded) – per tank!  (Calculations at the bottom of this blog.)

This change, while significant, was only part of the solution for this end user.  The bulk of their solution was the installation of EXAIR Super Air Knives at the point of use, which reduce cooling time, improve throughput, and lower compressed air use.

If you think your application may benefit from an EXAIR solution, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer.


Lee Evans
Application Engineer

Air calculations:

Receiver tank capacity formula

V = ( T(C-Cap)(Pa)/(P1-P2) )



V = Volume of receiver tank in cubic feet

T = Time interval in minutes during which compressed air demand will occur

C = Air requirement of demand in cubic feet per minute

Cap = Compressor capacity in cubic feet per minute

Pa = Absolute atmospheric pressure, given in PSIA

P1 = Initial tank pressure (Compressor discharge pressure)

P2 = minimum tank pressure (Pressure required at output of tank to operate compressed air devices)


In this application, the values are as follows:

V = 294 cubic feet (per tank)

T = ?

C = 857 CFM (The application required just under 3,000 cubic feet over a duration of 3.5 minutes.  3000 CF/3.5 min = 857 CFM)

Cap = 600 SCFM

Pa = 14.7 PSI

P1 = 120 PSIG

P2 = 80 PSIG


So if we manipulate the volume equation just a bit, considering that we know all the values except T, we come up with the following:

T = ( (V(P1-P2))/((C-Cap)(Pa)) )


T = ( (294(120-80)/((857-600)(14.7)) )  —  (units omitted for sanity)

T = 11760 / 3778

T = 3.11 minutes

Memorial Day

It all started the year after I bought my house. My next door neighbor – a Vietnam-era veteran, Honor Flight Guardian, and the best neighbor ever – bought a bunch of American flags & poles, and asked if it would be OK to put them out along the sidewalk in front of our houses to observe the upcoming Independence Day holiday…he had enough to go all the way to the corner of our street. We all thought it was a fantastic idea. And it was just the start.

The following year, just before Memorial Day, as Monty raised the flags down our street, another row popped up around the corner. And, come Fourth of July, there were more. Now, every sidewalk in our neighborhood is decorated every Memorial Day and Independence Day, at 10- to 12-foot intervals (to be fair, nobody published a standard, so it is what it is) with the Stars and Stripes.

I DO love this neighborhood.
I DO love this neighborhood.

Memorial Day, is, of course, the day that we honor the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for the great country that my awesome little neighborhood is part & parcel of. And honor it we will. There will be parades with marching bands and floats. Veteran’s groups will perform ceremonies and vigils. Military aircraft will perform fly-overs at ballgames & special events. Monty will set the flags down our sidewalk. And most of us will enjoy a long weekend.

I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media, reminding us of the meaning of Memorial Day, “in case you thought it was national grill-out day, just another 3-day weekend, etc.” It’s a good reminder; that much is true. But we can honor their sacrifice in celebration too. This weekend, dear reader, I encourage you to light up the grill. Go see some fireworks. Bicycle around the neighborhood (or further) with your kids.  Go camping. Sleep in. Stay up late. Spend time with friends and family. These things are the way of life that our heroes fought and died for, right?

But in the midst of whatever you do, remember them: From the Minutemen who fell at Lexington & Concord, to those who didn’t make it home from the recent campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.  May God bless them all, and those they left behind.

In closing, as a former submariner, I am also reminded of the ninety-nine members of the crew of USS Scorpion (SSN-589,) which was lost 47 years ago today (presumed, based on last communications.)

Sailors, rest your oars.
Sailors, rest your oars.

Please enjoy your Memorial Day weekend.  It’s been paid for dearly.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Memorial Day 2013 image courtesy of Tony AlterCreative Commons License

Video Blog: Meet EXAIR’s Application Engineer, Justin Nicholl

Please let me know how I can provide assistance with your compressed air application or technical questions.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer