The following is an excerpt from my recent article Piping and Ventilation Guidelines for Proper Air Compressor Installations. The full version can be read online or in the May issue of Compressed Air Best Practices.
While we cannot always create an ideal installation due to budget, floor space or time restrictions, it’s worthwhile to review some best practices for installing a compressor in a new plant or making improvements to your existing system.
Air Compressor Room Design
Creating a designated compressor room allows for better control of the compressor’s air quality in addition to ensuring the compressors are kept at the proper temperature through the use of HVAC or ventilation. While current compressors have been engineered to be much quieter than previous models, they can still produce a significant amount of noise. Placing compressed air equipment in a designated room helps to significantly reduce noise levels in employee work areas.
Ideally, your compressor room should be located as close to its point of use as possible. Most companies try to locate the compressor room in a centralized location to minimize the distance air must travel to reach all of its processes. This also helps minimize the amount of compressed air piping, pressure drop and potential leak points.
Within the compressor room, it’s important to position compressors and equipment with enough space around the machines for proper ventilation. If the equipment is too close together, hot air from one compressor may be drawn into the compressor sitting next to it.
Always consult your compressed air manufacturer for proper clearance required in cooling and equipment maintenance. For example, compressors with canopies may have doors swinging on hinges or doors needing to be completely removed. Each of these options will require a different type of clearance. Another example takes into consideration large maintenance issues, requiring the use of larger tools such as hoists or jacking equipment. These special circumstances need enough clearance height and floor space for maintenance personnel to access the machines.
Because condensate contains concentrated contaminants from compressed air and oil-injected equipment, it should never be drained into the sewer without first separating or filtering the contaminants from the water. Remember to follow local regulations for waste disposal of condensate from compressors, after coolers, dryers and air receivers.
Depending on the climate or location of the installation, it may be possible to install the compressed air system outside. The equipment should be installed under a lean-to or roof to prevent rain from leaking into its electrical cabinet. Compressors can also draw in water due to its high quantity of air intake. Therefore, the inlet side of the compressor should not be too close to the edge of the roof. If improperly placed, the compressor will ingest water and sustain serious damage. A minimum of NEMA 3R enclosures, protecting the equipment from falling water and dirt, should be specified. Higher ratings such as NEMA 4 are required if the customer intends to pressure wash the compressors.
You can read the full article online or in the May issue of Compressed Air Best Practices. Have recently installed a compressor in your new facility, or made improvements to your existing system? Tell us about it in our comments section below.