6 Steps to Optimizing Compressed Air: Turn it Down!!!

TURN IT DOWN!!! My wife screamed at 6:00am the morning of our first NFL Sunday. As a lifelong Cincinnati Bengals fan, it’s been a tradition in our house for me to wake everyone up while blaring Guns N’ Roses “Welcome to the Jungle” first thing in the morning each and every week 1. After 13 years together you’d think she would be prepared for this by now, but I still get her every time.

You may also hear your maintenance manager screaming to turn it down while out in the shop. They’re not talking about music volume. They’re more concerned about the compressed air pressure you’re using.

In any application necessitating the use of compressed air, pressure should be controlled to minimize the air consumption at the point of use. Pressure regulators are available to control the air pressure within the system and throttle the appropriate supply of air to any pneumatic device. As the last of the six steps to optimizing your compressed air system, controlling air at the point of use can often be overlooked.

Pressure Regulators “dial in” performance to get the job done without using more air than necessary.

Pressure regulators utilize a control knob that is turned to either increase/decrease tension on a spring. The spring puts a load on the diaphragm which separates internal air pressure from the ambient pressure. Typically made of a flexible rubber material, these diaphragms react very quickly to changes in the air supply. By either increasing or decreasing the flow of air based on the load on the diaphragm, downstream pressure remains fairly constant.

While one advantage of a pressure regulator is certainly maintaining consistent pressure to your compressed air devices, using them to minimize your pressure can result in dramatic savings to your costs of compressed air. As pressure and flow are directly related, lowering the pressure supplied results in less compressed air usage. EXAIR recommends operating your Intelligent Compressed Air Products at the minimum pressure necessary to achieve a successful application. If you notice a desirable result at a pressure of 60 PSIG, or even less, there’s no need to run full line pressure. In-line point of use pressure regulators are the simplest and most reliable way to allow you to dial down to the pressure to any compressed air operated product.

When selecting a pressure regulator for your application, it’s critical that it is appropriately sized to supply adequate volume to the point of use devices downstream. Doing so, minimizes the risk of experiencing “droop”. Droop is a decrease in outlet pressure from the specified setting due to an increase in flow rate.  Droop occurs when the demand at the point of use exceeds the volume of air that the regulator can supply. By ensuring the pressure regulator is rated to deliver sufficient volume of air, you’ll reduce the chances of experiencing droop. EXAIR offers pressure regulators in kits along with many of our products, we’ve done the hard part for you and made sure they’re properly sized!

If you’re looking for ways to help lessen the demand on your compressor, EXAIR’s team of Application Engineers will be happy to help. Reach out to us via phone, chat, or e-mail and see for yourself just how easy it can be to start saving compressed air!

Tyler Daniel, CCASS

Application Engineer

E-mail: TylerDaniel@EXAIR.com

Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

YouTube. (2009). YouTube. Retrieved September 21, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1tj2zJ2Wvg.

Basics of Compressors

Single Stage Portable Air Compressor

What is an air compressor?  This may seem like a simple question, but it is the heartbeat for most industries.  So, let’s dive into the requirements, myths, and types of air compressors that are commonly used.  Like the name implies, air compressors are designed to compress air.  Unlike liquids, air is a compressible gas, which means that it can be “squished” into a smaller volume by pressure.  With this stored energy, it can do work for pneumatic systems.

There are two main types of air compressors, positive displacement and dynamic.  The core component of most air compressors is an electric motor that spins a shaft.  Positive displacement uses the energy from the motor and the shaft to change volume in an area, like a piston in a reciprocating air compressor or like rotors in a rotary air compressor.  The dynamic types use the energy from the motor and the shaft to create a velocity with an impeller like centrifugal air compressors.  This velocity converts to a rise in pressure.

How do they work?  Most air compressors are driven by an electric or gas motor.  The motor spins a shaft to push a piston, turn a rotor, or spin a vane.  At the beginning of the air compressor, we have the intake where a low pressure is generated from the displacement to bring in the surrounding ambient air.  Once trapped, Boyle’s law states that when the volume decreases, the pressure increases.  For the dynamic type, the velocity and design will increase the air pressure.  The higher pressure will then move to a tank to be stored for pneumatic energy.  The amount of power required is dependent on the amount of air that needs to be compressed. 

Compressed air is a clean utility that is used in many ways, and it is much safer than electrical or hydraulic systems.  But most people think that compressed air is free, and it is most certainly not.  Because of the expense, compressed air is considered to be a fourth utility in manufacturing plants.  For an electrical motor to reduce a volume of air by compressing it, it takes roughly 1 horsepower (746 watts) of power to compress 4 cubic feet (113L) of air every minute to 125 PSI (8.5 bar).  With almost every manufacturing plant in the world utilizing air compressors much larger than 1 horsepower, the amount of energy needed to compress a large volume of air is extraordinary.

Let’s determine the energy cost to operate an air compressor to make compressed air by Equation 1:

Equation 1:

Cost = hp * 0.746 * hours * rate / (motor efficiency)


Cost – US$

hp – horsepower of motor

0.746 – conversion KW/hp

hours – running time

rate – cost for electricity, US$/KWh

motor efficiency – average for an electric motor is 95%.

As an example, a manufacturing plant operates a 100 HP air compressor in their facility.  The cycle time for the air compressor is roughly 60%.  To calculate the hours of running time per year, I used 250 days/year at 16 hours/day for two shifts.  So operating hours equal 250 * 16 * 0.60 = 2,400 hours per year.  The electrical rate at this facility is $0.10/KWh.  With these factors, the annual cost for operating the air compressor can be calculated by Equation 1:

Cost = 100hp * 0.746 KW/hp * 2,400hr * $0.10/KWh / 0.95 = $18,846 per year in just electrical costs.

So, what is an air compressor?  The answer is a pneumatic device that converts power (using an electric motor, diesel or gasoline engine, etc.) into potential energy stored as pressurized air.  Efficiency in using compressed air is very important.  EXAIR has been manufacturing Intelligent Compressed Air Products since 1983.  We are able to save you money by reducing the amount of compressed air you use.  If you need alternative ways to save money when you are using your air compressor, an Application Engineer at EXAIR will be happy to help you.  We even have a Cost Savings Calculator to find the annual savings and payback period; and you will be amazed at how much money can be saved. 

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Photo: Technical Illustration of a portable single-stage air compressor by Brain S. Elliot.  Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

Understand the ROI of Your EXAIR Products With Our FREE Efficiency Lab Service

Many facilities may not have the means to test the air consumption of their blowoff solutions. With compressed air being the most expensive utility in a manufacturing facility, it’s important to identify places where you can save money on your overall operating costs. EXAIR manufacturers a wide variety of products intended to help you reduce your compressed air usage. If you’re not able to accurately measure the consumption in your own shop, we invite you to send the products into EXAIR for testing.

All you have to do is contact an EXAIR Application Engineer and ship them straight to our warehouse in Cincinnati, Ohio. Once we receive it, our engineers will complete some in-depth testing to determine the compressed air consumption, sound level, and force that your current solution provides. With this information, we’ll be able to compare it to an EXAIR Engineered solution. This way we ensure that you receive the best, safest solution possible also capable of saving money through reduced air consumption and improved efficiency.  We’ll send you back a comprehensive report that’ll help you to make the best decision for your company.

This video below shows our EXAIR Efficiency Lab and some examples of the different types of products we’ve tested in the past:

This service is something that we offer to our customers completely free of charge. This way, you can rest assured that in going with a new solution from EXAIR, you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Oftentimes, it’s not known just how much some of these products cost to operate. It’s just compressed air, air is free right?? Compressed air is certainly not free, but in fact rather costly as a 4th utility in an industrial plant.

Making sure that you understand the products used within your various applications is even more critical in a time where everything in life is rapidly getting more expensive. By ensuring you’re using the best possible blowoff solutions for your processes, you can save a dramatic amount of energy that would otherwise be wasted.

If you think there’s anything in your facility that could be using too much air, we’re here to help. Reach out to an Application Engineer for more information on how we can help save you money!

Tyler Daniel, CCASS

Application Engineer
E-mail: TylerDaniel@EXAIR.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

EXAIR Products Qualify for Energy Rebates

The use of compressed air can be found in almost any industry and is often referred to as a “fourth utility” next to water, gas and electric. The generation of compressed air accounts for approximately 1/3 of all energy costs in an industrial facility, in many cases, it’s the largest energy user in an industrial plant. With an average cost of $ 0.25 per every 1,000 SCF used, compressed air can be expensive to produce so it is very important to use this utility as efficiently as possible.

Many utility companies recognize the benefit of using engineered products to reduce compressed air usage, like the ones manufactured by EXAIR, and offers rebate incentives for making a switch. Duke Energy, who supplies power to sections of North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Florida offers several “Smart $aver Rebates” that focus around the generation and use of compressed air. (State and Location Dependent)

Duke Energy’s Smart Saver Program

However the best place to look at your states available programs is the DSIRE database. DSIRE is the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewable energy and energy efficiency in the United States. Established in 1995, DSIRE is operated by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University. Follow the link above to read about the history of DSIRE, the partners on the project, and the research staff that maintains the policy and incentive data in DSIRE.

The Process is pretty easy! Visit https://www.dsireusa.org/ and type in your Zip Code!

After you get your results, search some key words, Like “Industrial” “Energy” “Commercial” “Energy Efficiency” “Compressed air”

Here you can see the two Programs that came up for 46077, you can then click the program name and it will take you a information page with the programs website and information!

Here at EXAIR, much of our focus is to improve the overall efficiency of industrial compressed air operating processes and point of use compressed air operated products. If you’d like to contact one of our application engineers, we can help recommend the proper engineered solution to not only save on your compressed air usage but also assist with possible energy rebates available in your area.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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