Don't Give Your Air Compressor a Heart Attack

Dec. 9, 2015

Not doing this one thing can kill your compressed air system efficiency

I’ve assessed thousands of systems and I am constantly amazed at a common problem out there worldwide.  People will spend thousands of dollars on premium compressors, dryers and filters, yet pinch pennies on one important item; the compressed air piping.

Energy efficient compressed air components will be ineffective if not connected correctly with properly sized system piping.  I’m just fresh from assessing an installation where the piping connections for the compressor, filters and air dryer were all obviously two inch size, yet the person who connected the piping reduced the size to one inch.  In this system proper design will require some piping to be large than two inch.

When thinking about a compressed air piping system, think about the human circulatory system.  The arteries and veins around the heart are large, reducing the restriction.  As the blood travels farther from the heart the pathways become smaller as there is less and less flow.  When some unnatural restriction presents itself, then the result is heart attack or stroke.

Similar things affect a compressed air system.  The air compressor, the heart of the system cannot supply a nice regulated pressure to the plant if there are restrictions to flow blocking the air.  In essence the compressor has a “heart attack”.

The solution is to properly design the piping system by going through the exercise of estimating the piping loss at full air compressor flow.  An excellent goal to strive for is less than two percent reduction in pressure across the whole system (not including the air dryer).

To learn more about system pressure drop consider attending one of Compressed Air Challenge’s Fundamentals of Compressed Air seminars.  A calendar of seminars is on our website.

About the Author

Ron Marshall

Ron Marshall first developed his skills as an industrial compressed air systems expert at Manitoba Hydro, where he worked for 38 years, supporting more than 600 energy efficiency projects. He now operates his own compressed air energy efficiency consulting firm where he provides technical advice, system auditing, and training.  Ron is a level 2 instructor with Compressed Air Challenge and conducts training internationally. Contact him at [email protected].Want to learn more about compressed air? We would suggest sending key staff to one of our Compressed Air Challenge seminars to help them learn what is possible. To learn more about upcoming training opportunities visit the CAC calendar at

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