Monitor Your Compressed Air System With EXAIR’s Digital Flowmeters

A topic that we’ve talked about here on the EXAIR blog discusses the costs of compressed air and how to use it more efficiently. How can you determine the costs of your compressed air? The first step you’ll need to take is to quantify the flow. In order to do that you’ll need a measurement tool such as the EXAIR Digital Flowmeter.


EXAIR’s family of Digital Flowmeters

The Digital Flowmeter is available from stock for use on Schedule 40 pipe with sizes ranging from ½”-4” I.D. Sizes up to 6” for Schedule 40 and ¾”-4” for copper pipe are also available. With a digital readout display, it’s easy to accurately monitor your compressed air usage throughout the facility. Creating a baseline of your usage will allow you to understand your compressed air demand, identify costly leaks, and replace inefficient air products.

The Digital Flowmeter installs in minutes with help from a drill guide and locating fixture to assist in mounting the Digital Flowmeter to the pipe. Two flow sensing probes are inserted into the drilled holes in the pipe. The meter then seals to the pipe once tightened. There is no need to cut, weld, or do any calibration once it is installed. With blocking rings also available, installation can be permanent or temporary.

The newest addition to this product line is the Digital Flowmeter with wireless capability. Using a ZigBee® mesh network protocol, data is transmitted to an Ethernet connected gateway. This allows you to mount the Digital Flowmeter in areas that you may not be able to easily access and wirelessly monitor and graph the usage with the EXAIR Logger software. Take a peek at this video blog for a demonstration of the use of a wireless Digital Flowmeter software to compare an open pipe to an engineered Air Nozzle.


In addition to communicating wirelessly with the gateway, the Digital Flowmeters can “piggyback” off of each other to extend their range. Each meter has a range of 100’. Using multiple Digital Flowmeters within the same ZigBee® mesh network, data can be passed from meter to meter to extend the distance over which the meters can operate. These can be installed on each major leg of your compressed air system to continuously monitor usage throughout the facility.

If you’d rather go with a hard-wired data collection method, the Digital Flowmeter is also available with a USB Data Logger. Simply remove the Data Logger from the Digital Flowmeter and connect it to the USB port of your computer. The data can then be viewed directly in the accompanying software or exported into Microsoft Excel.


Digital Flowmeter w/ USB Data Logger installed

If you’d like to get a clear view of your compressed air usage, give us a call. An Application Engineer will be happy to work with you and get the proper Digital Flowmeters installed in your facility!

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

FREE EXAIR Webinar – November 2nd, 2017 @ 2:00 PM EDT

On November 2, 2017 at 2 PM EDT, EXAIR Corporation will be hosting a FREE webinar titled “Optimizing Your Compressed Air System In 6 Simple Steps”.

During this short presentation, we will explain the average cost of compressed air and why it’s important to evaluate the current system. Compressed air can be expensive to produce and in many cases the compressor is the largest energy user in a plant, accounting for up to 1/3 of the total energy operating costs. In industrial settings, compressed air is often referred to as a “fourth utility” next to water, gas and electric.

Next we will show how artificial demand, through operating pressure and leaks, can account for roughly 30% of the air being lost in a system, negatively affecting a company’s bottom line. We will provide examples on how to estimate the amount of leakage in a system and ways to track the demand from point-of-use devices, to help identify areas where improvements can be made.

To close, we will demonstrate how following six simple steps can save you money by reducing compressed air use, increasing safety and making your process more efficient.


Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer

About Double Acting Reciprocating Air Compressors

My colleague, Lee Evans, wrote a blog “About Single Acting Reciprocating Compressors”, and I wanted to extend that conversation to a more efficient relative, the double acting reciprocating compressor.   As you see in the chart below, this type of compressor falls within the same family under the category of positive displacement compressors.

Compressor Types

Positive displacement compressors increase air pressure by reducing air volume within a confined space.  The reciprocating type of air compressor uses a motor that turns a crank which pushes a piston inside a cylinder; like the engine in your car.  In a basic cycle, an intake valve opens to allow the ambient air into the cylinder, the gas gets trapped, and once it is compressed by the piston, the exhaust valve opens to discharge the compressed volume into a tank.  This method of compression happens for both the single and double acting reciprocating compressors.  With a single acting compressor, the air is compressed only on the up-stroke of the piston inside the cylinder.  The double acting compressor compresses the air on both the up-stroke and the down-stroke of the piston, doubling the capacity of a given cylinder size.  This “double” compression cycle is what makes this type of air compressor very efficient.  A single acting compressor will have an operating efficiency between 22 – 24 kW/100 cfm of air while the double acting compressor has an operating efficiency between 15 – 16 kW/100 cfm.  Therefore, electricity cost is less with a double-acting reciprocating air compressor to make the same amount of compressed air.

To explore the internals a bit closer, the mechanical linkage used to move the piston is slightly different as well as the additional intake and exhaust valves.   Instead of the connecting rod being attached directly to the piston as seen inside a single acting compressor, a crosshead is added between the compression piston and the connecting rod (view picture below).  The rod that connects the crosshead to the compression piston can be sealed to keep the cylinder completely encapsulated.  For every rotation of the electric motor, the air is being compressed twice.  With the added heat of compression, the double acting compressors are generally water-cooled.  Also, with the added mechanism between the crank and the piston, the rotational speeds are typically less.  Because of the larger size, water jackets, and added parts, the initial cost is more expensive than the single acting compressor, but the efficiency is much higher.

Double Acting Reciprocating Air Compressor

Double acting compressors are generally designed for rugged 100% continuous operations.  Dubbed the work horse of the compressor family, they are also known for their long service life.  They are commonly used in high pressure services in multistage styles and can come in lubricated and non-lubricated configurations.   With the dual compression, slow speed and inter-cooling, it makes this type of air compressor very proficient in making compressed air.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb


Photos:  used from Compressed Air Challenge Handbook

ROI – Return on Investment

Return on Investment (ROI) is a measure of the gain (preferably) or loss generated relative to the amount of money that was invested.  ROI is typically expressed as a percentage and is generally used for personal financial decisions, examining the profitability of a company, or comparing different investments.  It can also be used to evaluate a project or process improvement to decide whether spending money on a project makes sense.  The formula is shown below-


  • A negative ROI says the project would result in an overall loss of money
  • An ROI at zero is neither a loss or gain scenario
  • A positive ROI is a beneficial result, and the larger the value the greater the gain

Gain from investment could include many factors, such as energy savings, reduced scrap savings, cost per part due to increased throughput savings, and many more.  It is important to analyze the full impact and to truly understand all of the savings that can be realized.

Cost of investment also could have many factors, including the capital cost, installation costs, downtime cost for installation, and others.  The same care should be taken to fully capture the cost of the investment.

Example – installing a Super Air Nozzles (14 SCFM compressed air consumption) in place of 1/4″ open pipe (33 SCFM of air consumption consumption) .  Using the Cost Savings Calculator on the EXAIR website, model 1100 nozzle will save $1,710 in energy costs. The model 1100 nozzle costs $37, assuming a $5 compression fitting and $50 in labor to install, the result is a Cost of Investment of $92.00. The ROI calculation for Year 1 is-


ROI = 1,759% – a very large and positive value.  Payback time is only 13 working days.

Armed with the knowledge of a high ROI, it should be easier to get projects approved and funded.  Not proceeding with the project costs more than implementing it.

If you have questions regarding ROI and need help in determining the gain and cost from invest values for a project that includes an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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A Digital Flowmeter can Help Improve Your Monthly Electric Bill

No one likes paying their bills at the end of the month.  But, if you can save yourself some money, it helps to make it a little easier.  For this customer, he received a monthly bill for his compressed air.

Monthly Bill

An industrial facility consisting of four separate manufacturing plants and a power company that supplied all of them with utilities, i.e. hot water, natural gas, electricity, and compressed air.  The parent company decided to reorganize and sell the entities.  At the end of it, the power company was controlled by a different organization than the manufacturing plants.  The power plant was contracted to still supply the utilities to the individual plants, but now they would be charged individually on a monthly basis.

Being that compressed air is one of the most expensive utilities, the general manager of a solid-state electronic plant really noticed the charge on his bill.  He did an estimate on the amount of air that his equipment was using, and he compared it to the charges.  There was roughly a 20% difference in the figures.  Because of the excessive amount of money, he contacted EXAIR to see what we could offer.

In discussing their system, the compressed air was supplied through one 6” schedule 40 black pipe.  The pipe came into the facility in the ceiling and it branched off to supply the entire shop with compressed air.  He was looking for something to measure the compressed air flow with the ability to measure a cumulative amount.  He could use this amount to compare to his monthly usage.  He was also concerned about cutting into his compressed air line as this could cause him much downtime and additional costs.  He needed something easy to install, accurate, and versatile.

EXAIR Digital Flowmeter

I suggested our 6” Digital Flowmeter with the Model 9150 Summing Remote Display.  EXAIR Digital Flowmeters are designed to measure flow continuously and accurately.  You do not need to weld, cut, or disassemble pipe lines to install.  With a drill guide, the Digital Flowmeter can be easily mounted onto the 6” black pipe by drilling two small holes.  After that, they just had to insert the Digital Flowmeter into the holes, and tighten the clamp around the pipe.  The total procedure took less than 30 minutes, so downtime was minimal.  The EXAIR Digital Flowmeter measures flow by comparative analysis with thermal dispersion; so, the accuracy is very high and recalibration is not required.

EXAIR Summing Remote

With the option of the Summing Remote Display, they could attach it to the Digital Flowmeter and display the flow remotely up to 50 feet away.  They mounted it on the wall next to his office for the operational functions.  With a simple press of a button, it can show the current flow rates, daily flow rates, and cumulative flow rates.  So, during the billing cycle, he was able to get the cumulative measurement to compare the results, and reset the counter to zero for the next month.

Believe it or not, the power company was correct in their measurements.  But, not to waste an entire blog, I did have him turn the compressed air supply off after business hours to watch the flow rate.  He did find his 20% difference in compressed air leakage.  The Digital Flowmeter was able to measure low flows to target other problem areas in your compressed air system.  Now he had another chore in leak detecting and pipe fixing.

EXAIR Optimization line has different products that can help you to get the most out of your compressed air system.  With the customer above, he was able to measure his compressed air flow with the Digital Flowmeter, as well as detecting other issues.  I will now have to talk to him about our Ultrasonic Leak Detector.


John Ball
Application Engineer

Twitter: @EXAIR_jb


Picture: Calculator Calculation Insurance by stevepb.  Creative Commons CC0 Public Domain

How To Solve A Problem with Compressed Air

In my (almost) six years as an EXAIR Application Engineer, I’ve learned a great many things about the capabilities of our products.  The way we do business sure does make it easy:

  • We readily share application information, as a team.  If you ask me a question, you’re asking all of us.  It does neither of us any good if I tell you something MIGHT work if one of my team knows it WON’T – or if someone knows what else DOES work.  If we can offer a solution, we will.
  • We’ll test your product, free of charge.  This is a popular way of finding out which Line Vac is best for conveying a particular product, for example.
  • If you’re considering a quiet, safe, and efficient EXAIR product as an upgrade, we’ll test your current product in our award winning Efficiency Lab, so you can compare accurate performance data and analyze the expected benefits…which can be dramatic.  Try us on that.

Line Vac conveyance rate testing (left;) Efficiency Lab testing (right.)


  • We’ll let YOU test our product, risk-free.  All catalog products come with a 30 Day Unconditional Guarantee.  We invite you to put it through its paces for up to a month.  If it’s not working out, we’ll arrange return for full credit.
  • We’ll do the math.  But first, a disclaimer: strictly comparing the force or flow of an engineered product to an open-end blow off won’t always tell the tale.  Our Intelligent Compressed Air Products are creating a laminar flow which won’t generate as high of a force/thrust as open-end blowing (which is turbulent by nature,) but is MUCH more conducive to efficiency and noise reduction, as well as similar (if not improved) performance.  But back to the math: if you know the metrics you need to meet for spot cooling (like a Vortex Tube, Adjustable Spot Cooler, Cold Gun, etc.) or for liquid spraying (the liquid flow rate and/or pattern size & shape from an Atomizing Spray Nozzle, for instance,) or the heat load that a Cabinet Cooler System can handle, we’ll do the calculations and specify the appropriate product.

Regardless of the application, if it can be solved with compressed air, it’s very likely that we have a great solution.  Call me to find out how we can help.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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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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