Air compressors are amongst the most essential machines found at building sites, and they are used as an energy source for electrical machinery. You can choose from a wide variety of compressors and each has its own abilities and downfalls. They are classed as either positive displacement or dynamic displacement on the basis of their internal mechanical components. Here are four common air compressors that you’re likely to come across more often:

  • Rotary Screw Compressor
  • Rotary Vane Compressors 
  • Reciprocating Air Compressor
  • Axial Compressor
  • Centrifugal Compressor

If you’re not sure which kind of compressor to choose, here’s a guide on what they do and how they work so you can choose the best compressor for your needs.

Positive Displacement Compressors

Positive displacement compressors comprise a multitude of contrasting air compressors which produce energy through air displacement. These kinds of compressors work using internal components, but everything else remains pretty much equivalent to normal. There’s a compartment within the system that puts the air into storage taken from outside of the machine, then gradually concentrates the compartment to raise the pressure of the air and the energy stored.

Rotary Screw Compressors

Rotary screw compressors are among some of the simplest types of compressors to maintain, because they’re fitted with an inner air conditioning system and do not need much upkeep. They are as large as factory machines, and you can choose to grease with oil or run without the need for lubrication. They also produce power through 2 main blades that rotate in different ways to each other. The compressed air is then trapped between both the two rotating blades, and the pressure builds up inside the housing. They are made for long – term use and usually run from between 5 and 350 horsepower.

Rotary Vane Compressors 

Rotary vane air compressors are the most popular type of compressor used in a wide range of industries. Rotary vane compressors consist of a cylindrical casing, two openings – one suction and one discharge – and a rotor positioned eccentrically with respect to the casing

Rotary Vane compressors provide superior energy savings and operate at a greater efficiency – lowering costs. The technology is extremely reliable as well as durable, often providing over 100,000 hours of service life. This type of compressor is in higher demand than rotary screw compressors due to the unmatched service life, and cost-effectiveness. They’re also pretty compact in size meaning they can be used in smaller areas or even domestic applications. 

Reciprocating Compressors

A reciprocating compressor is a displacement compressor, and are often used in garages and home development projects. A reciprocating compressor isn’t intended for constant use. It has more working mechanical components than other compressors, and these components will need lubing for smoother operation.

They work by compressing and displacing the air in order to build up air pressure. They can occur in variations of single or multi-stage that affect the pressure levels they can reach.

This compressor is a great choice when you need more power. Although other compressors can be used for small projects like carpentry and blacksmithing, for example, these types of compressors are able to generate enough horsepower required for heavy development. You can expect around 30 horsepower with these compressors.

Related Reading

Dynamic Compressors

Dynamic air compressors produce energy by bringing rapidly spinning blades into the air and then limiting the air to create a build up of pressure. The energy is then stored inside the compressor as kinetic energy.

Axial Compressors

Axial air compressors are more commonly used in high velocity engines on ships or jets, rather than construction sites or garages. They have an amazing performance rate and can generate up to several thousands of horsepower, which is why they are mostly used within aerospace research rather than energy being wasted on smaller projects.

Centrifugal Compressors

Centrifugal air compressors slow down and cool air flow through the diffuser to generate energy. They are capable of producing large quantities of energy in a pretty small machine due to the multi-phase compression process. They need less upkeep than other compressors, and some styles can generate cleaner air. Usually, they are used for more challenging building sites, such as heavy manufacturing, with a capability of about 1,000 horsepower.

How Do I Know What Kind of Air Compressors to Pick?

There are many other aspects to think about when choosing the best types of air compressors, aside from the power-generating mechanisms and the energy production levels mentioned earlier.

Advantages of Cleaner Compressors

The use of oil-powered air compressors can cause problems in clean industrial settings. Many different air compressors use lubrication for the internal structures, and the debris from the exhaust can pollute the air, which could cause significant damage to the goods or to the production process. The risk of this happening is reduced dramatically when using an oil free compressor.

While oil-free compressors are usually more costly, they are one of the only choices for establishments that ensure clean production. Oil might still be required to grease the compressor, but the internal dynamics of oil-free machinery include an alternative sealing method for ensuring that oil is prevented from getting into the actual compressor. Clean air aside, oil-free compressors also have lower operating costs, as components within the compressor shouldn’t fail as often.

Energy Efficiency

Fixed Speed Compressors vs Variable Speed Compressors

Variable Speed-Driven (VSD) compressors save resources and costs by either rising or lowering demand performance. In contrast, the engines in VSDs are continuously cranking at a similar pace. This is perfect when it’s supposed to be in operation, however when the unit begins to slow, the engine continues to operate until the system stops completely. Energy is being lost throughout that cool-down time as the machinery is still technically going, but you’re not gaining any power from it.

Natural Gas Air Compressors

In other mechanical environments, the compressor of natural gas works well for electric equipment and machinery. This includes oil rigs and production apparatus. These compressors run on gas rather than petrol or solar power. Even with smaller loads, natural gas air compressors often work more effectively than others. They even have greater heat recovery abilities than electrical compressors. If your key objectives are performance and energy efficiency, this option could be a better choice.

Think about transportation

If you plan on moving your air compressors from one location to another, a portable device is a great option. Smaller units will be very easy to move around, and can even plug into your car for smaller jobs that won’t use as much energy!

Think about whether you need extra features?

A wide range extra features can be used with installation of air compressors. A few models avoid using direct-drive systems to allow for quieter operation. Instead, they used belt-drive systems to ensure the process is much quieter. Think about your needs to assess whether or not you need them for your construction sites.