When building a compressed air system, it is common for many people to install an air compressor, wire it up, put a quick-disconnect hose fitting on it, then consider the project complete. However, the presence of moisture, oil and dirt, any of which can ruin pneumatic tools and paint equipment, in such a setup must be addressed. This article will explain the necessary elements of a basic compressed air system and assist you in proper installation.
Install the air compressor in a clean, dry, well ventilated room, at least two feet away from walls and corners. Sufficient space needs to be provided around the compressor for safe and proper inspection, cleaning and maintenance. Do not store toxic, volatile, or corrosive agents near the compressor or allow hot air from additional equipment to blow towards the compressor. Potentially hazardous noise levels should be taken into consideration as well. A separate compressor room is ideal. Electrical installation should be performed by a qualified electrician with knowledge of the National Electrical Code (NEC), OSHA code and/or any local or state codes having precedence.
Consider air treatment products. Connect an air hose or pipe from the compressor's discharge to a good quality coalescing or particulate filter. The purpose of a coalescing/particulate filter is to remove large particles (>1 micron) of oil, dust and other contaminants that are an unavoidable byproduct of the compression process.
Install a refrigerated air dryer. Connect your air hose or pipe from the filter's discharge to the dryer's inlet. The refrigerated air dryer will chill the compressed air to about +39°F. The lower compressed air temperature causes trapped water vapor to condense. The condensed moisture carries airborne dirt and oil to the moisture separator where it is removed from the system by an automatic drain. The relative low cost of a dryer can help save hundreds, even thousands of dollars in tool, equipment and application damage.
Install a polishing filter. Connect an air hose or pipe from the dryer's discharge to the polishing filter's inlet. The purpose of a polishing filter to remove microscopic (>.01 micron) particles of oil, dirt and liquid aerosols from the compressed air, ensuring the highest quality (non-medical) air possible.
Tips & Warnings
- Always use hoses, pipes and fittings rated especially for high pressure compressed air applications.
- Ensure that you change your air filter's elements at the manufacturer-suggested intervals for maximum performance.
- Not all air dyers offer integrated drains. If the installation of an external drain is required, place it after the dryer and before the polishing filter.
- Photo Credit Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images
How to Install an Air Compressor
Air compressors power some of the most useful tools known to man. And it is wise to spread the capability of using...
How to Setup a Garage With an Air Compressor
An air compressor is a worthwhile addition to any home workshop or garage, whether it is used occasionally to air up tires...
How to Winterize Water Pipes
Winter weather affects every area of daily life, even your bathing routine. If you live in a milder climate, where freezing temperatures...
How to Calculate SCFM in an Air System
Standard cubic feet of air per minute (SCFM) is used to measure air flow in a ventilation system, and requires rigid standards...
How to Design Compressed Air Systems
The basic purpose of compressed air systems is to deliver the compressed air to the places where it is going to be...
How to Connect an Air Compressor & Dryer
The temptation, upon bringing home a shiny new air compressor, is to plug it in, hook up a quick connect and start...
How to Install a Compressed Air Line
Compressed air lines that are used with your air compressor can be installed on the inside of a wall or attached to...
How to Plumb Air Compressors
Setting up an air compressor to provide dry air at a constant pressure is key to the successful use of compressors for...
Compressed Air Dryer & Filter Installation
A compressed-air dryer and filter installation supplies clean, dry compressed air to equipment that uses the air as motive power. Filtering and...