Compressed air for any business is an investment. If you’re looking for cleaner applications in your industry, you may be interested in an oil-free air compressor. While it’s not contaminant free, it is more suitable to use in the food, beverage, or medical industries.
Below are some of the concepts you should understand before you set out to buy a new oil-free air compressor. When you become an educated consumer, you can save time and money while buying a compressor that will best suit your needs.
Keep these 5 Ideas In Mind Before You Shop for an Oil-Free Air Compressor
1. Determine What You Need Your Compressor to Do
An oil-free air compressor is a significant investment. It’s always a good idea to understand your business needs for this type of air compressor, and exactly what types of demand you’ll be experiencing. It’ll be helpful to understand what types of tools that you’ll want to use, so that you know what kind of power that you’ll need.
If you know the maximum level of air pressure that you’ll need at peak use, that will give you an idea of how powerful of a unit that you’ll need as well. Understanding all of your potential uses gives you better insight into the type of machine that you will be in the market for. It makes you a smarter consumer.
2. Like Any Specialized Product, There’s Jargon Involved
Chances are you’re not out shopping for air compressors or learning every last detail about yours, day in and day out. You have a business to run. But when you’re in the market for an oil-free air compressor there is some jargon, or industry-related terms that you should familiarize yourself with. It will help you to be sure that you find the compressor that’s right for you.
- Actual Cubic Feet Per Minute (ACFM) – The amount of actual air pumped in one minute from a running compressor at its rated conditions for speed, pressure and temperature.
- Standard Cubic Feet Per Minute (SCFM) – The volume of air pumped in one minute 60 degrees Fahrenheit. This unit is used by some compressors to provide a more standardized rating.
- Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI) – This is the standard measurement of air pressure and force. A higher PSI means a larger volume of air can be compressed.
- PSIG Gauge – This is the measurement of air pressure relative to our atmospheric pressure at sea level, 14.7 PSI. Most gauges are calibrated to read 0 at sea level to cancel out the PSI of the earth’s atmosphere.
- Intercooler – This component cools air between stages.
- Aftercooler – This is used for cooling air that’s been discharged from the compressor.
- Pneumatic Tools – These are the tools that require an air compressor to operate.
- Horsepower – The measurement of power from the compressor motor. A higher number equates to more power, and the more able it is to deliver a greater PSI or ACFM.
An understanding of these technical terms can help you to understand what type of oil-free compressor might work best for your organization. But there are far more terms than these common ones. When the compressor repair man, or sales rep starts talking in words that you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to stop him, and ask him to explain.
3. The Compressed Air You’ll Be Using Isn’t Quite Contaminant Free
The Class 0 air that your oil-free compressor will be using is the highest standard of oil-free air that’s available, but it isn’t quite contaminant free. This is an important distinction for companies in the food, beverage, or medical industries. There are still many contaminants in atmospheric air that include water vapor, microorganisms, and water aerosols. The compressor itself, storage devices, and the piping can all lead to other contaminants. Filtration systems can help you to remove remaining contaminants from your compressed air.
Each industry and application requires a tailored solution that meets the demands of the job. For instance, the best oil-free air compressor for breweries may not be the best compressor for auto body shops, and vice versa.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Buy a Larger Tank
When an oil-free air compressor is used for continuous tools, like sanders or grinders for example, a larger air tank will be needed. The simple reason is that it requires a larger amount of air than intermittent usage, from a tool like a nail gun. Our general recommendation would be to find the largest tank that you think you can afford, and that you know you’ll use.
When an air compressor’s motor is working hard to continuously fill up the tank, there’s more wear and tear on the machine. If the tank is too small, you run a higher chance that the compressed air will be used before it’s fully cooled – and that can cause a condensation build up in the air lines. This can have a damaging effect on the tools and the compressor.
5. Consider a Higher Horsepower
The horsepower dictates the quality of the motor. As we established before, it’s the motor’s job to fill up your compressor tank. While it won’t necessarily impact tool performance, a higher horsepower will fill the air tank more efficiently – and this can have a significant impact on the longevity of your compressor.
Shopping for an Oil-Free Air Compressor is Complex
The bottom line is shopping for an oil-free compressor is complex. There are a lot of factors to consider. Make sure that you ask a lot of questions and find an air compressor sales company that can explain the complexities to you in a way that you can understand. If you have any questions, feel free to contact our friendly experts today!