Air Treatment Mythbusting, Pt. 1

air compressor myths pt 1

With the amount of information available on the internet about air treatment and compressors, it can be hard to decipher how much of it is actually true! Here are some common myths and misconceptions about air treatment, debunked:

Myth: Filter elements should only be changed when differential pressure (DP) is high.

Fact: Compressed air filtration is installed to improve air quality. DP gauges/indicators are blockage indicators, not air quality indicators. To ensure your compressed air quality, filter elements should be changed annually in line with manufacturer’s instructions.

Myth: Coalescing filters are ONLY for oil removal.

Fact: Coalescing filters have an even higher capture rate with solid contaminants than with liquids.

Myth: Oil contamination is not present in atmospheric air.

Fact: Atmospheric air typically contains between 0.05mg/m3 and 0.5mg/m3 of oil vapor from sources such as car exhaust and industrial processes. Because oil-free compressors use large quantities of atmospheric air, which contains oil vapor that can cool and condense in the compressed air systems, the use of oil-free compressors does not guarantee oil-free air.

Myth: Liquid oil and oil aerosol are the only contaminants present in a compressed air system.

Fact: Generally, there are 10 contaminants found in a typical compressed air system that need to be removed or reduced for the system to run efficiently:

  • Water vapor
  • Liquid oil
  • Oil vapor
  • Rust/atmospheric dirt
  • Water aerosols
  • Microorganisms
  • Oil aerosols
  • Liquid water
  • Pipe scale

Only two of these contaminants, liquid oil and oil aerosol, are introduced by a lubricating compressor. The purification equipment required to reduce or remove the remaining contaminants also removes liquid oil and oil aerosols by virtue of their operation. Therefore, regardless of the type of compressor installed, purification equipment is required.
At 3C, we believe in the importance of educating all air compressor owners and users so that they fully understand the machines they work with. Do you still have unanswered questions about air compressors or air treatment that you’d like solved? Contact us today!

Air Compressor 101

Air compressors can seem complicated at first! If you’re thinking about owning– or even renting– one, it’s a good idea to do some research beforehand to familiarize yourself with the machine. Here are some terms every air compressor owner should be familiar with:

  • Cubic feet per minute (CFM): The volume of air that is able to pass through an opening in one minute.
  • Duty cycle: Amount of time that a compressor can operate at full load before needing to unload/turn off.
  • Filter efficiency: The rate at which a filter can remove particles from an air flow.
  • Kick-in pressure: Factory-set low pressure point of the pressure switch that starts the compressor in order to re-pressurize the tank.
  • Kick-out pressure: Factory-set high pressure point of the pressure switch that stops the compressor from increasing the pressure in the tank above a certain level.
  • Load time: The time it takes for a compressor to go from load to unload.
  • Oil-free compressor: Air compressor that has no oil inserted into the compression chamber for lubrication, cooling or sealing. Typically used in the medical and food processing field.
  • Pneumatic: Related to the movement of air.
  • Pneumatic power: Compressed air power.
  • Point of use: An outlet in a building used to connect tools or equipment to the air compressor system.
  • Pounds per square inch (PSI): A unit of measurement referring to the pressure applied on one square inch of an object’s surface.
  • Preventative maintenance (PM): A maintenance program performed on a fixed schedule that includes compressor service as well as routine repair and replacement of parts.
  • Purging: The elimination of undesired gas or liquid from a system.
  • Receiver: Generally a tank used for storage of compressed air. Oftentimes in large air compressor systems there can be a primary and secondary receiver.
  • Reciprocating compressor: A reciprocating compressor uses pistons driven by a crankshaft to deliver air at high pressure.
  • Rotary screw compressor: A compressor that utilizes two intermeshing helical rotors to trap a volume of air, then compress it to a higher pressure. Rotary screw compressors can be run for 24 hours per day, 365 days a year.
  • Single stage: A compressor in which the air is compressed from initial pressure to final pressure in one step.

Learning these terms will allow you to feel more confident when discussing your compressor, whether it’s during day-to-day operations or when talking to a repair person. Have any questions? Give us a call at a 3C office near you!

San Antonio: (830) 420-3630

Austin: (512) 244-9074

Corpus Christi: (361) 452-2749

What’s The Difference Between a Reciprocating Air Compressor and a Rotary Screw? Which is Best for Your Business?

rotary screw vs. reciprocating air compressor

The two most common types of air compressors in our industry are rotary screw compressors and reciprocating air compressors. The differences between the two can be a bit confusing so it is understandable that we run into many business owners who are aware of their need for an air compressor but unsure which would work best for their application. Our experts are here to break down the major differences between them.

Rotary Screw air compressors should only be utilized in applications that have a constant demand of air throughout the day.  Rotary Screw compressors are meant for a high duty cycle.  They will run loaded while building your air pressure to the preset pressure programmed into the controller when ordered.  Once that pressure is achieved it will unload until your demand increases and go through the load cycle again.  Rotary Screw units will run quieter than a reciprocating unit, but do require more maintenance over the life of the machine.

Reciprocating air compressors are to be used when there is not a constant demand for air throughout the day.  They feature pistons that compress air and are considered dependable because they tend to require less maintenance, are efficient in operation, and provide sufficient air flow for intermittent usage when sized properly with an air receiver. They are very flexible in the type of applications they are suited for, however we usually only recommend reciprocating compressors for applications that require less than 60% duty cycle. 

rotary screw compressor texas

Rotary Screw air compressors should only be utilized in applications that have a constant demand of air throughout the day.  Rotary Screw compressors are meant for a high duty cycle.  They will run loaded while building your air pressure to the preset pressure programmed into the controller when ordered.  Once that pressure is achieved it will unload until your demand increases and go through the load cycle again.  Rotary Screw units will run quieter than a reciprocating unit, but do require more maintenance over the life of the machine.

piston air compressor texas

Reciprocating air compressors are to be used when there is not a constant demand for air throughout the day.  They feature pistons that compress air and are considered dependable because they tend to require less maintenance, are efficient in operation, and provide sufficient air flow for intermittent usage when sized properly with an air receiver. They are very flexible in the type of applications they are suited for, however we usually only recommend reciprocating compressors for applications that require less than 60% duty cycle. 

As Texas’ most trusted air compressor experts, we are always ready to help you assess your business needs and recommend the perfect air compressor solutions. Give us a call for a free quote today! 

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8 Things You Must Know When Buying an Air Compressor

what to know when buying an air compressor

8 Things You Must Know When Buying an Air Compressor

Most people searching for an air compressor know exactly what they need the air compressor to do but have no idea what specific industry standards the air compressor should meet in order to perform at the level they desire. When shopping for an air compressor, you need to ensure that your new machine can keep up with your business. Here are the 8 things you need to consider and ask your 3C sales representative about: 

1. Electrical Requirements

An electrical schematic and electrical data sheet should be reviewed and power verified before any air compressor purchase.  You need to have the proper breaker/disconnect rated for the amperage requirements for the electric motor (motors) running your compressor.  You also need to verify the wiring that is running from your breaker/disconnect is rated for the electrical demand.  If you are moving up in compressor size due to expansion, it isn’t always as simple as removing your old machine and installing new.

2. Single Stage or Two Stage Reciprocating Air Compressors

The cylinders of a single-stage air compressor pump air directly into the tank, whereas in a two-stage air compressor, the air is pumped from one cylinder to the other before it enters the tank. The primary reason for purchasing a two-stage compressor is for high-pressure air because as the air travels from one cylinder to the next, the pressure nearly doubles.  Pressure achieved through most single-stage compressors is normally 90-130 psi.  When changing to 2 Stage, you typically need 150-250 psi.  The most common 2 Stage machine we offer at 3C has a cut in pressure of 145 psi and cut out pressure of 175 psi, with units capable of up to 250 psi.

3. Compressed Air Storage

Tank sizes are measured by the gallon but the size of the tank has nothing to do with how much air your machine will produce. If your machine has the proper motor and pump, then you should never run out of air. Tank size is of importance depending on how your machine will be used.  In peak demand times, it is important to have additional storage.  Most air compressors are offered tank mounted up to 30-50hp.  If additional storage (larger tank, or remote tank downstream at usage point) is needed please schedule a site visit with one of our representatives to discuss your needs and to size accordingly.  

4. Air Pressure (PSI)

Air pressure is rated at pounds per square inch (PSI).  Depending on your application, your PSI required can vary.  Air Tools are most commonly rated for 90 psi.  In a facility only using air tools, you can size your machine for 125 psi to account for pressure loss between your compressor and usage point.  It also doesn’t hurt to have a few extra atmospheres in storage. Just be careful on having too much PSI.  The higher the pressure, the higher the electric bill.

5. Cubic Feet Per Minute (CFM) 

This is the most common  metric used to calculate the volume of air leaving the air compressor. Keep in mind that the CFM can change based on the PSI used for the job. If it is not stated on the machine, you can estimate getting about 3-4 CFM per HP out of  your machine at 100 psi. 

6. Duty Cycle  

This is a measurement used to indicate how many minutes, out of a 10-minute period, your air compressor can run continuously. The duty cycle is usually expressed as a percentage. For example, a 50% duty cycle compressor can run for 5 out of 10 minutes continuously. Not abiding by the duty cycle recommended can have multiple effects on your investment.  If you undersize your compressor, it will cause your machine to run too often, pass oil, over heat, etc.  If you oversize your compressor, it will cause your machine to not run hot enough, condensation can form in your oil, etc.  It is important to know and understand the duty cycle because this also has a direct impact on how much you can get done on a day-to-day basis with your air compressor. A 75% duty cycle is the average for an industrial compressor, but some may run at 100%, meaning it is okay to use continuously. 

7. Desiccant Dryers and Refrigerated Dryers 

Moisture problems should be avoided at all costs! They deteriorate your equipment and cause the need for expensive repairs.  There are ways to eliminate moisture from your discharge air depending on the dewpoint that you need to achieve.  Make sure that you have the proper inline filtration paired with your dryer to ensure top performance.  Refrigerated Dryers use a cooling process to drop your air temperature causing the moisture in the air to form and be eliminated.  The air temperature is then brought back up upon leaving the dryer.  The average dew point achieved with a Refrigerated Dryer is 37-39 degrees F.  If you need to achieve a lower dew point, then you need a Desiccant Dryer.  Most desiccant dryers use activated alumina in a chemical process that absorbs moisture from the air and achieves a -40 degree dew point.  The moisture absorbed is then purged from the dryer.  You can find all the dryers we have available here. Talk to your 3C representative to find out which would pair best with your machine. 

8. Service After the Sale

Make sure that you purchase a unit that has the local support team in place after the sale to take care of your maintenance and repair needs.  All air compressors will need routine maintenance and at some point corrective maintenance.  During these periods you will have downtime.  Make sure you choose a compressor that has local support and access to the parts needed to keep downtime to an absolute minimum.  

Our experts at 3C are happy to walk you through all your air compressor options. We pride ourselves on personalizing every piece of equipment we sell to ensure you are getting the highest quality machines best suited for your business applications. Our goal is to always provide you with the greatest lifetime value and lowest lifetime cost. Once you purchase your air compressor with us, we become an extension of your business and are available to you 24/7 for repairs, maintenance, and emergency air compressor rentals. You can even finance your equipment with us! Contact us to discuss your business needs and for a free quote!

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Industry Spotlight: Is Clean And Consistent Compressed Air Exclusive To The Healthcare Industry? What It Means To Be A High-Quality Machine.

Industry Spotlight: Is Clean And Consistent Compressed Air Exclusive To The Healthcare Industry? What It Means To Be A High-Quality Machine.

Air compressors are used in many different industries, in a variety of ways. In the medical field, air compressors play a significant role in the health of patients and the cleanliness of facilities. To be labeled useful in the medical field, air compressors must submit to regulations and tests. Medical grade air compressors can also be used for many jobs outside of the medical industry. If you are purchasing an air compressor, it is important for you to understand how air compressors are deemed worthy of use in the medical field and what their codes of compliance mean.

Oil-less Air Compressors 

Medical air is used in basically every department in a hospital. Patients who need anesthesia, require a ventilator, and inhaled medications are amongst the most critical uses for compressed air in the hospital. Because we are often providing help and air to sick patients, it is very important that the air being used is completely particle-free. The most basic requirement for an air compressor in the medical industry is it must not use any oil. This requirement is the baseline for this piece of machinery to be considered for use in a hospital because it eliminates any chances of cross-contamination with oil. 

Purified Air

The NFPA 99 is a book that outlines the restrictions and standards that must be met in order for any piece of equipment to be deemed “medical grade”. Medical air compressors must comply with Table 1 of the NFPA 99 book. Table 1 identifies the concentration of purity required for medical gases. All odor, water, carbon monoxide, and gas must be monitored and non-transmittable to ill patients when using the equipment. In order to protect patients from gases and other outside contaminants, medical air compressors must use a medical-grade air filter that should be routinely changed. If optimal clean air is a priority to you when purchasing a medical air compressor, it is important that you test and maintain your compressors based on the equipment manufacturer’s recommendations. 

 

Air Pressure

According to NFPA 99 regulations, medical air produced by air compressors should have the ability to provide air pressure at 100 PSIG and should be able to lower down to 55 PSIG. This great range of pressure allow for applications ranging from minimal health risk applications to high health risk applications. If you want to prevent high air pressure in your medical air compressors you may and we recommend setting alarms to trigger when the following events occur: 

  • System pressure exceeds 39 degrees Fahrenheit 
  • Carbon monoxide level exceeds 10 PPM
  • Activation of a reserve pump
  • Motor overload 
  • Activation of a reserve transformer

Overall

Although purchasing high-quality air compressors may be expensive, it will be a great investment in the long run. As mentioned above, medical air compressors are not restricted to only medical use. They may also be used for applications such as car painting, food packaging, and much more. Medical air compressors are the most reliable source of clean and consistent compressed air. 3C recommends considering these high-quality machines if you are a user that is looking for immaculate reliability and precision.

At 3C Industrial, we value putting the needs of our customers before anything else. If you’re ready to purchase an air compressor or have any questions, please feel free to contact us today! 361-452-2749

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