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Atlas Copco Air Compressors
Air Compressors

Understanding the Cost of Your Compressor System


When the time comes to replace an existing air compressor or procure one for a new facility or application, you're faced with a multitude of considerations before committing to a purchase. Beyond the obvious factors like spatial requirements, flow capacities, noise levels, and application-specific criteria, there's one crucial element that shouldn't be overlooked: the total life cycle cost. While striking a balance between the upfront acquisition expense and the long-term energy and maintenance outlays is essential, the ultimate decision must align with your unique business needs and specifications.

The Concept of Compressor Life Cycle Cost

A life cycle cost analysis (often referred to as LCC) is a valuable tool for evaluating and comparing different systems and products. When it comes to compressed air systems, LCC is the compass that guides you through assessing various compressor options and their potential total investments. It's worth mentioning that LCC has its limitations, as it may not anticipate unforeseen costs or accommodate business expansion, but it serves as an invaluable framework for making well-informed decisions regarding the best air compressor installation for your company.

Calculating Your Compressor's Total Life Cycle Cost

Determining the life cycle cost of a compressed air system offers multiple approaches, but one of the most common methods involves this straightforward formula:

Total Life Cycle Costs = (Initial Investment) + (Lifetime Maintenance Costs) + (Lifetime Energy Costs)

Each of these three components, initial capital expenditure, maintenance costs, and operational expenses, plays an important role when assessing the comprehensive life cycle cost of a new compressor. Let's delve deeper into each of these aspects:

  • Initial Investment: While the initial purchase price of a compressor is just one part of the overall life cycle cost, it's crucial to understand that a lower upfront cost doesn't necessarily equate to lower long-term expenses. Sometimes, a higher initial investment can translate to significant savings down the line if maintenance, upkeep, and energy usage are more efficient. Don't forget to factor in installation costs, which can vary based on the compressor's type and model, encompassing expenses such as electrical wiring, air and water piping, and foundation requirements.
  • Maintenance Costs: The maintenance costs for a compressor can exhibit considerable variation, encompassing both labor and parts required not only for keeping the compressor operational but also for adhering to scheduled maintenance routines. Deciding whether to handle maintenance in-house or outsource it to a local compressed air provider is a decision that needs careful consideration. Different manufacturers prescribe distinct service intervals and component lifetimes, which can significantly influence the overall maintenance expenditure over the compressor's lifespan. We highly recommend an air compressor service plan, to have your system serviced regularly to avoid large maintenance issues that may come up. 
  • Energy Efficiency: The energy efficiency of a compressor can lead to substantial annual savings on electricity costs. These savings can potentially offset the initial purchase price difference within just a few months, with ongoing benefits in the long run. It's even possible that by the end of a compressor's lifespan, the energy savings will have fully recouped the initial purchase cost.

While numerous factors come into play when purchasing a new compressor, selecting one with the lowest life cycle cost can have the most significant impact on your company's bottom line. To delve deeper into this crucial subject, you can explore further at www.atlascopco.com/compressors or reach out to an expert today. 

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