Sizing an Industrial Air Compressor to Fit Your Needs

industrial air compressors in cramped room

Sizing a new industrial air compressor can feel like a difficult task. It requires knowledge of the pressure and flow needed for the application. A solid understanding of how frequently jobs are performed and how many jobs are being completed at once. This may seem like a substantial amount of work, but the benefits of correctly sizing your compressor include improving your business’ productivity, decreasing existing compressor room inefficiencies, and improving your bottom line.

Understanding the Conflicts of Undersized Compressors

If your compressor is undersized, it’s likely running all day, every day! Keep in mind that rotary screw compressors are intended to run virtually 24/7. However, this would be noticed right away with piston compressors, as they aren’t fit to run 24/7. So, if you’re experiencing pressure drops and your industrial air compressor can’t complete a task, chances are you have an undersized compressor issue.

Understanding the Conflicts of Oversized Compressors

If your compressor is constantly stopping and starting, it could be oversized! This action will 100% 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.

How Do I Correctly Size a New Industrial Compressor System?

There are a few key steps to take in order to appropriately size a new industrial air compressor:

  1. The CFM, or flow rate of your compressor, is application-dependent. This means that having a good understanding of your plant’s demand profile is critical to sizing a compressor and uncovering any potential energy efficiency opportunities. If you are trying to determine the flow requirements for a new place, be sure to have accurate flow requirements for all equipment and estimates for the duty cycle of that equipment. For an existing operation, we recommend reaching out to your 3C Compressed Air Expert to assist you. Your expert can also guide you through planning for future expansion and make sure your airflow and quality are appropriate for your applications. 
  2. Pressure is measured in PSI, or pounds per square inch, and refers to the amount of pressure required by the tools/equipment used by your application. The typical PSI for your application is between 90 and 100 but can be higher or lower. While it’s tempting to add a little padding to this pressure, be cautious of increasing the pressure beyond what is absolutely necessary. Increased pressure means increased power bills and loss due to unregulated uses.
  3. And don’t forget to check your voltage & phase. Your industrial air compressor will require a sufficient energy source to operate, so knowing the voltage and phase of your compressor’s new site is a must. If you’re unsure, get with an electrician. They’ll be able to tell you whether the electrical supply is single-phase or three-phase and the voltage.

And Don’t Forget an Audit!

So you may be wondering, where do you even start? We recommend starting by first getting your new compressor specifications. This can be done by conducting a compressed air audit. Knowing your system’s compressed air demand can determine how to deliver the right amount of compressed air at the lowest cost, and avoid choosing a compressor that is undersized or oversized.

Choosing the Right Air Compressor Oil: For Dummies

oil being poured into a compressor

Just like different car models require a specific type and grade of oil for the best performance, the same is true for air compressors. When you use the right oil in your air compressor, it will benefit your machine in more ways than one. These benefits include a reduction in energy consumption, a decrease in friction between different motor components, and an increase in the compressor’s life span. Today, we’re giving you all you need to know about air compressor oil and which type is the best for your needs.

What’s the Difference Between Standard and Synthetic Oil?

Standard and synthetic are the two basic types of air compressor oil. Each has distinctive characteristics:

  • Standard Oil: Standard air compressor oil is made using a mineral oil base. The oil is cheaper than synthetic and is recommended for air compressors who don’t work continuously. It’s also a good choice for compressors that only do light- or medium-duty work.
  • Synthetic Oil: Synthetic air compressor oil is made using a synthetic base. This oil undergoes lots of processing, but is more refined than standard oil. If you’re using your compressor at least three times a week, synthetic oil is the way to go! Synthetic oil will allow your compressor to run quieter and smoother. It also protects the machine from overheating. The overall temperature range of synthetic oil is also wider than standard oil.

Is There a Difference in Oil Use Between Reciprocating and Rotary Screw Compressors?

While you can run different types of oil products on reciprocating and rotary screw models, manufacturers often recommend that you use synthetic oils. They contain no sulfur or additives that can lead to unwanted buildup on the valves.

The main benefits of synthetic oils for rotary screw air compressors include:

  • Longer life span: Synthetic oils can extend the life of your rotary screw air compressor by an incredible 8,000 hours. That’s a freakin’ long time!
  • Fewer deposits: Synthetic oils reduce unwanted deposits such as varnish and sludge. These deposits lead to premature wear and tear and have a negative affect on your compressor’s performance.
  • Cooler temperatures: Synthetic oils stay cooler during compressor operation and produce an air discharge of a lower temperature.
  • Less oil consumption: Synthetic oils are consumed at a slower rate, meaning you don’t have to add oil as often.

Reciprocating air compressors can also benefit from synthetic oil in the following ways:

  • Less accumulation of carbon: Synthetic oil reduces how much carbon accumulates on the valves and reduces the feed rate.
  • Safer operation: The auto-ignition temperatures and flashpoints are higher for synthetic oils.
  • Extended lifetime: Synthetic oil can also help prevent packings and piston rings from wearing out too soon.

How Often Should I Change My Oil?

The frequency of your oil changes usually depends on the kind of machine you have. Check the user’s manual that comes with your compressor. The manual should provide detailed information on air compressor oil specifications. If the information is not provided, use the following guidelines as a reference:

  • Rotary screw compressors need oil changes every 7,000 to 8,000 hours of use
  • Reciprocating air compressors ideally need oil changes every three months
  • Regardless of use, the oil should be changed once per year at the very least to ensure smooth operation and a long-lasting life span.

Do all Air Compressors Need Oil?

You only need to use oil if you have an oil-lubricated compressor. Oil-free air compressors do not require oil since they are already coated and sealed straight from the factory. Generally, oil-lubricated air compressors handle higher-duty cycles and have an extended engine-life over oil-free models. Most oil-lubricated air compressors also run quieter than, another reason why most factories, workshops and other industrial use-cases choose air compressors that require oil.

Can I Order Oil from 3C Industrial?

Of course you can! We have both synthetic and standard oil for you. We also have an array of air compressors ready to ship out if you’re in the market for a new compressor. Contact us today if you have any questions! 

Just like different car models require a specific type and grade of oil for the best performance, the same is true for air compressors. When you use the right oil in your air compressor, it will benefit your machine in more ways than one. These benefits include a reduction in energy consumption, a decrease in friction between different motor components, and an increase in the compressor’s life span. Today, we’re giving you all you need to know about air compressor oil and which type is the best for your needs.

What’s the Difference Between Standard and Synthetic Oil?

Standard and synthetic are the two basic types of air compressor oil. Each has distinctive characteristics:

  • Standard Oil: Standard air compressor oil is made using a mineral oil base. The oil is cheaper than synthetic and is recommended for air compressors who don’t work continuously. It’s also a good choice for compressors that only do light- or medium-duty work.
  • SyntheticOil: Synthetic air compressor oil is made using a synthetic base. This oil undergoes lots of processing, but is more refined than standard oil. If you’re using your compressor at least three times a week, synthetic oil is the way to go! Synthetic oil will allow your compressor to run quieter and smoother. It also protects the machine from overheating. The overall temperature range of synthetic oil is also wider than standard oil.

Is There a Difference in Oil Use Between Reciprocating and Rotary Screw Compressors?

While you can run different types of oil products on reciprocating and rotary screw models, manufacturers often recommend that you use synthetic oils. They contain no sulfur or additives that can lead to unwanted buildup on the valves.

The main benefits of synthetic oils for rotary screw air compressors include:

  • Longer life span: Synthetic oils can extend the life of your rotary screw air compressor by an incredible 8,000 hours. That’s a freakin’ long time!
  • Fewer deposits: Synthetic oils reduce unwanted deposits such as varnish and sludge. These deposits lead to premature wear and tear and have a negative affect on your compressor’s performance.
  • Cooler temperatures: Synthetic oils stay cooler during compressor operation and produce an air discharge of a lower temperature.
  • Less oil consumption: Synthetic oils are consumed at a slower rate, meaning you don’t have to add oil as often.

Reciprocating air compressors can also benefit from synthetic oil in the following ways:

  • Less accumulation of carbon: Synthetic oil reduces how much carbon accumulates on the valves and reduces the feed rate.
  • Safer operation: The auto-ignition temperatures and flashpoints are higher for synthetic oils.
  • Extended lifetime: Synthetic oil can also help prevent packings and piston rings from wearing out too soon.

How Often Should I Change My Oil?

The frequency of your oil changes usually depends on the kind of machine you have. Check the user’s manual that comes with your compressor. The manual should provide detailed information on air compressor oil specifications. If the information is not provided, use the following guidelines as a reference:

  • Rotary screw compressors need oil changes every 7,000 to 8,000 hours of use
  • Reciprocating air compressors ideally need oil changes every three months
  • Regardless of use, the oil should be changed once per year at the very least to ensure smooth operation and a long-lasting life span.

Do all Air Compressors Need Oil?

You only need to use oil if you have an oil-lubricated compressor. Oil-free air compressors do not require oil since they are already coated and sealed straight from the factory. Generally, oil-lubricated air compressors handle higher-duty cycles and have an extended engine-life over oil-free models. Most oil-lubricated air compressors also run quieter than, another reason why most factories, workshops and other industrial use-cases choose air compressors that require oil.

Can I Order Oil from 3C Industrial?

Of course you can! We have both synthetic and standard oil for you. We also have an array of air compressors ready to ship out if you’re in the market for a new compressor. Contact us today if you have any questions! 

Prepping your Air Compressor for Winter

air compressor condensation in winter

It’s getting to that time of the season where us Texans bring out our winter coats and slip on gloves before we head out to work. Just as we prepare ourselves for the winter months, our air compressors need some prep work to navigate properly through the cooler temperatures. Prepping your air compressor helps malfunctions and maximizes your air compressors longevity to make it last all winter long and beyond! Here are our tips as an industrial air compressor manufacturer for winterizing your industrial air compressors. 

Tip #1 Check for Condensation

Condensation left within your air compressor tank creates significant problems as the temperature drops. When it freezes, water expands. If water accumulates in the tank because of condensation, it’ll freeze and cause significant damage within the interior of the air compressor.

So, check your compressor for any condensation and remove it by placing the receiver tank at a low angle so that the moisture drains. Depending on what model air compressor you have at your facility, your air compressor may drain automatically. Even if you have an automatic compressor, we still recommend checking for excess condensation just in case. 

Tip #2 Replace Worn Weather Stripping

Sometimes it’s about those little things that help the big stuff. Over time, weather stripping wears away and requires replacement. We recommend inspecting your weather stripping before the coldest temperatures of the year hit. The weather strips may come loose, thus trapping in condensation. Replacing weather stripping is an inexpensive and simple task to prepare your air compressor equipment for the chilly season. 

Tip #3 Adjust Your Louvers

Louver adjustments are important for keeping the cold air out of the compressor inlet. When you adjust the louvers, it recovers heat that’s headed toward the compressor outlet. You’ll also find the louver adjustments keep moisture out of the oil circuit while maintaining adequate lubrication of moving parts. Louver adjustments direct warm air towards your  industrial compressors. This minimizes the negative impact of compressor exposure to cold temperatures.

Tip #4 Service Drains, Valves, and Separators

At the end of fall, and any season really, is a good time to inspect drains, valves, and separators. Inspections should include detailed cleaning of all essential air compressor components. Drains, valves, and separators are subject to moisture exposure, and moisture exposure is one of the biggest factors leading to winter malfunctions of air compression systems.

Tip #5 Inspect Hoses and Belts

Rubber equipment is easily susceptible to failure in the cold weather. Unfortunately, cold weather wreaks havoc on rubber equipment. Hoses and belts connected to air compressors are generally made of rubber. Inspect hoses and belts for cracks as part of your winter prep procedure. Replace cracked hoses and belts because winter weather expands such cracks and makes air compressor malfunctions even more likely.

BONUS Tip

Prepping your air compressors can be a lot of work. Our tips are just the beginning of winter prepping. At 3C Industrial, we help businesses all around Texas with their preventive maintenance needs on your schedule. Your compressor’s preventative maintenance is tracked in-house by one of our trained PM Coordinators, available 24/7, to ensure your air compressor gets the quality care it needs for any season, including the winter!