Understanding the Different Air Compressor Types

Purchasing an air compressor isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. One would need to consider the type of application this compressor is needed for and any other unique requirements. Selecting the right compressor can save your business a lot of money, energy and time in the long run.

Whether you need a general purpose compressor or one for a specialised job, understanding the different types will prove useful when you need to make a decision.

Rotary Screw Compressors

FM132 - 132kW

Rotary screw compressors are popular in industrial applications due to their 100% duty cycle. It can run 24/7 without a break, and it usually works better and lasts longer when it’s used that way.

A Rotary Screw compressor has two rotors that turn to compress air, the screws rotate in one direction, therefore, causing less noise, vibration, and heat. They offer better efficiency but require more maintenance and care.

Rotary screw compressors are available in oil lubricated and oil free. The choice of these will depend on the type of application your compressor will be used in. Oil free compressors offer a cleaner alternative for industries that require no contamination at all like the medical or food manufacturing industries. Oil injected compressors keep the compressor cool and aid in filtering non-polar particles.

Piston Compressors

oil free piston compressor

Piston air compressors are most commonly used in general purpose workshops and small factories. The duty cycle of the piston is typically designed to run fully loaded between 20 – 30 percent of the time and the rest of the time to be unloaded.

The motor moves inside a cylinder, to compress the air, similar to a vehicle. Two sets of valves take care of the air intake and exhaust. If you require clean air, you will need a filtration system or to choose an oil-free compressor.

Piston air compressors are inexpensive and simple to maintain, but also very noisy and prone to overheating.

Scroll Compressors

oil free scroll compressors

Scroll compressors run smoothly with less noise and vibration due to their design. There are two spiral elements, one is stationary and the other moves in small orbits. The air then gets trapped in the inlet and transported in small air pockets to the center of the spiral.

Scroll compressors are commonly used in places where a small amount of clean compressed air is required, like drinking water-treatment facilities. They work well in both low and high duty cycles.

Whilst these compressors have a lot of positive traits, they are still pretty high in costs and are not recommended for large scale applications.

Looking to buy and air compressor, but don’t know which type of air compressor is the best for your application? Contact our NPS Compressed Air Specialists on 08 9333 4940

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