The Value Of A Pressure Regulator At Every Point Of Use

EXAIR Pressure Regulator

To understand the value of a having a Pressure Regulator at every point of use we should start with identifying the two types of Pressure Regulators, Direct Acting & Pilot Operated.  Direct Acting are the least expensive and most common (as shown above), however they may provide less control over the outlet pressure, especially if they are not sized properly.  However when sized properly they do an outstanding job.  Pilot Operated Regulators incorporate a smaller auxiliary regulator to supply the required system pressure to a large diaphragm located on the main valve that in turn regulates the pressure.  The Pilot Operated Regulators are more accurate and more expensive making them less attractive to purchase.  The focus of this Blog will be on the Direct Acting Pressure Regulator.

The Direct Acting Pressure Regulator is designed to maintain a constant and steady air pressure downstream to ensure whatever device is attached to it is operated at the minimum pressure required to achieve efficient operation.  If the end use is operated without a regulator or at a higher pressure than required, it result’s in increased air demand and energy use. To clarify this point, if you operate your compressed air system at 102 PSI it will cost you 1% more in electric costs than if the system was set to run at 100 PSI! Also noteworthy is that unregulated air demands consume about 1% more flow for every PSI of additional pressure.  Higher pressure levels can also increase equipment wear which results in higher maintenance costs and shorter equipment life.

Sizing of the Air Regulator is crucial, if it is too small to deliver the air volume required by the point of use it can cause a pressure drop in that line which is called “droop”.  Droop is defined as “the drop in pressure at the outlet of a pressure regulator, when a demand for compressed air occurs”.  One commonly used practice is to slightly oversize the pressure regulator to minimize droop.  Fortunately we at EXAIR specify the correct sized Air Regulator required to operate our devices so you will not experience the dreaded “droop”!

Standard Air Knife Kit
EXAIR Standard Air Knife Kit Which Incudes Shims, Properly Sized Pressure Regulator & Filter Separator

Another advantage to having a Pressure Regulator at every point of use is the flexibilty of making pressure adjustments to quickly change to varying production requirements.  Not every application will require a strong blast sometimes a gentle breeze will accomplish the task.  As an example one user of the EXAIR Super Air Knife employs it as an air curtain to prevent product contamination (strong blast) and another to dry different size parts (gentle breeze) coming down their conveyor.

EXAIR products are highly engineered and are so efficient that they can be operated at lower pressures and still provide exceptional performance!  This save’s you money considering compressed air on the average cost’s .25 cents per 1000 SCFM.

Super Air Knife Performance
EXAIR Super Air Knife Performance Specifications At 5 Different Pressures.

If you would like to discuss Air Regulators or quiet and efficient compressed air devices, I would enjoy hearing from you…give me a call.

Steve Harrison
Application Engineer
Send me an email
Find us on the Web 
Follow me on Twitter
Like us on Facebook


EXAIR Blogs This Week Are Almost As Cool As Shark Week

Yes, ALMOST. This week, the EXAIR Blog has featured some excellent explanations of the science behind the operation of compressed air products. On Tuesday, John Ball posted the best explanation of SCFM vs ACFM that I’ve come across, and I’ve been explaining this to callers for almost four years now. I’m using his blog to perfect my “elevator pitch” on this topic. It will still likely require a building with more than ten floors, but I think that’s OK.

Also on “Two Blog Tuesday,” (this week only; I’m not trying to start anything) Dave Woerner’s gem of a blog detailed the terminology associated with pressure measurement, and why we use “psig” (g = gauged) – in a nutshell, the compressed air inside the pipe doesn’t care what the pressure outside the pipe is. And, since he mentioned it, I might add that most of agree that we care even less about how a certain NFL team’s footballs were (or were not) properly inflated.

Brian Farno’s “One Blog Wednesday” entry was a quite useful (if not alphabetical…OK; now I AM trying to start something) list of some common terms and expressions we use on a regular basis while discussing the operation and performance of EXAIR compressed air products. If you liked his photo demonstration of the Coanda effect with the foam ball & Super Air Amplifier, I encourage you to experience the Coanda effect for yourself, if you have access to a leaf blower and a volleyball:

I mention these earlier blogs to get to the point of MY blog today…a bit of theory-to-practice, if you will. Once you’ve gotten a decent understanding of these principles (or have the above links bookmarked for quick reference,) we can apply it to what’s needed for the proper operation of a compressed air product itself.

With a working knowledge of air flow (SCFM) and compressed air supply pressure (psig,) we can more easily understand why certain pipe sizes are specified for use with particular products. For instance, the longer the Super Air Knife and/or the longer the run of piping to it, the larger the pipe that’s needed to supply it:

This table comes directly from the Installation & Operation Instructions for the Super Air Knife.
This table comes directly from the Installation & Operation Instructions for the Super Air Knife.

The reasons for this are two-fold: First, the pipe…longer runs of pipe will experience more line loss (a continuous reduction in pressure, due to friction with the pipe wall…and itself) – so, larger diameter pipe is needed for longer lengths. For another practical demonstration, consider how much faster you can drink a beverage through a normal drinking straw than you can through a coffee stirrer. Not as dramatic as the leaf blower & volleyball (you really want to try it now, don’t you?) but you get my point.

Second, the Air Knife…the longer the Air Knife, the more air it’s going to use. And, if it’s longer than 18”, you’ll want to feed it with air at both ends…line loss will occur in the plenum as well.

In closing, I want to leave with another video, shot right here at EXAIR, showing the actual reductions in pressure due to line loss through different lengths, and diameters, of compressed air supply line to a Super Air Knife.

If you ever have any questions about compressed air use, or how EXAIR products can help you use your compressed air more efficiently, safely, and quietly, please give us a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
Find us on the Web
Follow me on Twitter
Like us on Facebook

A (Sample) Lexicon For Compressed Air

Every industry and different technical subject matter comes with it’s own lexicon of terms or vocabulary words.  More often than not, when speaking to an Application Engineer here at EXAIR you are going to hear words within our lexicon. The list I have compiled below is merely a sampling to help translate some terms that we forget not everyone knows.  Some of these are merely acronyms that get thrown around a good amount.

SCFM – Standard Cubic Feet per Minute – This is the unit we use to represent the volumetric flow rate of compressed gas that has already been corrected to standardized conditions of pressure and temperature.

PSIG – Pounds per square inch gauge – This is the unit which we use to represent the operating inlet pressure of the device.  When requesting this, we generally are looking for a pressure gauge to be installed directly on the inlet to the device with no other form of restrictions between the two.  For the most part, catalog consumption values are given in SCFM at 80 psig.  The main exception to that rule are the Vortex Tube based products.

Compressed Air – This is a utility that most industrial manufacturing facilities have available to them.   It is regular, atmospheric air which has been compressed by an air compressor to a higher pressure than atmospheric.  Generally speaking, compressed air systems will be at a range of 85-120 psig.

OSHA – Occupational Safety and Health Administration – This is the main federal agency that enforces two of the major conformance standards that EXAIR products meet or exceed.

29 CFR- 1910.95 (a) – Maximum allowable noise level exposure.  The great majority of EXAIR products meet or exceed this safety standard, our largest Super Air Nozzles
1910.242 (b) – This is the standard which states compressed air blow off devices cannot exceed 30 psig of dead end pressure.  This means, if the exit point of the air can be blocked the operating pressure must be below 30 psig.  The reason for this standard is to prevent air embolism which can be fatal.  All EXAIR products meet or exceed this standard by having multiple orifice discharge.

Coanda Effect – This is the effect that numerous EXAIR products utilize to amplify and entrain ambient air.   The Coanda effect is when a fluid jet (stream of compressed air) tends to be attracted to a nearby surface.  This principle was found by a Romanian aerodynamics pioneer, Henri Coandᾰ.  The picture below shows a Super Air Amplifier blowing a foam ball into the air and suspending it due to the Coanda effect on the surface of the ball.

A Super Air Amplifier's air stream causes a foam ball to be suspended in mid air thanks to the Coandᾰ effect.
A Super Air Amplifier’s air stream causes a foam ball to be suspended in mid air thanks to the Coandᾰ effect.

Rigid Pipe or Hard Pipe – This is the term we will often use when discussing the compressed air line that can be used to support and supply certain EXAIR products.  Generally we are referring to a Schedule 40 steel pipe, Type L copper line, stainless steel tube, or any form of pressure rated hard pipe that can be used for supplying compressed air.

Plenum – the state or a space in which a gas, usually air, is contained at pressure greater than atmospheric pressure. Many of our products feature a plenum chamber. 

Again, this list is only a sample of the terminology you will hear us use when discussing compressed air applications.  If there are any other air/compressed air/fluid dynamic terms you may be unsure of, please contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer Manager

Why 5 PSIG Matters

Last week I pointed out the important locations for measuring your compressed air system pressure throughout your compressed air system.   One of the critical points to measure system pressure was before and after each filter.  This leads into another question that I receive every once in a while, “How do I tell when the filter needs to be changed?”  The answer to this is easy, when you see more than a 5 PSIG pressure drop across the filter.  This means that the element within the filter has become clogged with sediment or debris and is restricting the volume available to your downstream products.

EXAIR 5 micron Auto Drain Filter Separator


This can lead to decreased performance, downtime, and even the possibility of passing contaminants through the filter to downstream point of use components.  In order to maintain an optimal performance when using EXAIR filter separators and oil removal filters, monitoring the compressed air pressure before and after the unit is ideal.

Replacement filter elements are readily available from stock, as well as complete rebuild kits for the filter units. Changing the filters out can be done fairly easily and we even offer a video of how to do it.

The life expectancy of a filter element on the compressed air is directly related to the quality of air and the frequency of use, meaning it can vary greatly.  If you tie a new filter onto the end of a compressed air drop that has not been used in years, you may get a surprise by the filter clogging rather quickly.   However, if you maintain your compressor and your piping system properly then the filters should last a long time. Generally we recommend checking your filters every 6 months.

If you have questions about where and why to filter your compressed air contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer