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Oil-Free Air Compressors
Oil-Injected Air Compressors

Five Mistakes to Avoid When Selecting an Industrial Air Compressor


Selecting the right industrial compressor for your application can be tough – it’s not easy sorting through the various compressor technologies, sizes, CFM (cubic feet per minute) and PSI (pounds per square inch) requirements, and other specifications to determine which air compressor would be the best fit. Here are five of the most common mistakes to avoid when choosing your industrial compressor:

  1. Selecting the Wrong Compressor Technology. We get it – the amount of compressor technologies on the market is overwhelming! From rotary screw and piston (reciprocating) compressors to scroll and centrifugal compressors, selecting which compressor type is best for your specific application can be tough. Here are a few things to keep in mind when making that decision:
  • Screw air compressors are ideal for businesses that are looking for a compressor with lower noise levels, higher energy efficiency levels, and reduced maintenance needs, as well as for applications that require longer duty cycles and higher daily running hours.
  • Piston compressors are great choices for businesses with lower demand an when the initial compressor cost is more of a priority, but where daily running hours and duty cycle requirements are lower. They are also ideal for locations with smaller available space.
  • Scroll compressors are well-suited for applications in research and development, universities, breweries, dental offices, and hospitals, among many others. These types of compressors operate extremely quietly and provide 100% oil-free air.
  1. Choosing the Wrong Compressor Size. Choosing a compressor doesn’t lend itself to a “one-size fits all” approach. Knowing the exact operating pressure and the maximum compressed air volume flow of your process are key; you should also take potential business or facility expansions into consideration. If you choose a compressor that is oversized, it will lead to huge energy bills, largely caused by the spike in energy produced when the compressor starts up. The excessive start/stop cycle can also result in motor burnout, future mechanical problems, and potential failure of the compressor. On the flip side, pressure drops and the inability to complete a task (as in the application can’t be completed due to the lack of compressed air supply) are indicators that the compressor is undersized.

Read more about sizing industrial compressors here.

  1. Not Paying Attention to Air Quality Requirements. Different applications have different air quality requirements. Some, like those in the medical or pharmaceutical industry, require 100% oil-free air; others, like those in general manufacturing, might not have as stringent air quality requirements. We recommend discussing your process with a local compressed air expert – they’ll be able to guide you on whether oil-free air compressors or oil-injected air compressors are best, as well as what types of filtration might be required by your process.

  2. Underestimating Compressor Lifecycle Costs. A compressor’s lifecycle costs typically take three factors into account: initial investment, lifetime maintenance costs, and lifetime energy costs. When making your selection, keep in mind that up to 80% of the compressor’s lifecycle costs are attributed to energy consumption; this means that the energy efficiency of your chosen machine is extremely important when determining how much your compressor will cost to run over its lifetime.

Read more about calculating the life cycle cost of your compressor here.

  1. Picking the Wrong Service Provider. Choosing your compressed air service and parts provider is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in terms of your compressor system. You need a provider that can provide OEM parts, regular maintenance, and emergency services, as well as one that maintains a stellar reputation in the world of compressed air. This service provider will be responsible for ensuring that your compressor equipment operates as efficiently and effectively as possible, so don’t take this decision lightly!

Want to learn more about the world of compressed air? Visit us at www.atlascopco.com/air-usa!

About the Author. Katie Falcon is the contributing writer and editor for The Compressed Air Blog. She currently works at Atlas Copco Compressors as a Digital Marketing Specialist specializing in content creation and platform development. Reach her via email at katie.falcon@atlascopco.com. Charles Laughlin acted as the technical contributor and currently works as a Product Marketing Manager at Atlas Copco Compressors. He can be reached via email at charles.laughlin@atlascopco.com


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