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Technology, Oil-Free Air Compressors

Ask Atlas Copco: What is Variable Speed Drive?


An average industrial facility spends anywhere from 10 to  over 40 percent of its electricity consumption on compressed air, which makes it one of the plant’s most expensive sources of energy. Many of these compressed air systems are wasting unnecessary energy by running at full capacity despite having variable demand loads.

So how can plants forgo the wasted energy?

Variable Speed Drive technology

To address fluctuating air demand, a new type of frequency-controlled compressor was created – Variable Speed Drive (VSD). VSD compressors utilize a special drive to control the unit’s motor speed while maintaining constant delivery pressure. As demand decreases, the VSD simultaneously lowers the delivered air flow and power consumption to match demand. Without delivering excess air flow and eliminating compressor idling at unloaded conditions, users can save up to 35 percent on compressed air energy costs.

Benefits of VSD

  • Although users see an average savings of 35 percent with the use of VSD, some VSD compressors can achieve up to 50 percent on energy savings.
  • Some VSD compressors can start under full system pressure so there’s no need to waste compressed air by having the compressor blow down.
  • Utilizing a lower system pressure will minimize costs associated with air piping leakages.
  • Many towns, cities and states offer rebate incentives for energy saving solutions, which includes VSD technology.
  • Users avoid high peak current when the compressor starts, which reduces electricity costs by preventing electrical penalties from the local utilities.

Switching from a fixed speed compressor to VSD can yield significant savings in time and money if compressors are properly sized and utilized. To find out if VSD is right for your applications, leave us a comment below or reach out to an Atlas Copco expert.

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