The most popular compressors are positive displacement compressors, which work by filling a chamber with air and then reducing volume. Positive displacement compressors include reciprocating, rotary screw and rotary vane compressors. Although reciprocating compressors are the most widely available on the market, rotary compressors are most useful in industrial environments.
Air compressors are a substantial investment for business owners, so the process of purchasing one requires consideration of many factors.
considerations should help you choose the right air compressor system for your business:
Buying a dental compressor that’s too small can waste time, due to waiting for pressure to build up, and using a compressor that’s too big can waste resources.
Select an air compressor that provides enough airflow. A compressor’s airflow is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). The air compressor’s CFM output should be greater than the operational CFM requirement and less than the maximum CFM output. A half-inch wrench, for example, requires 5 CFM at 90 pounds per square inch (psi), which means the CFM output should be greater to ensure proper performance with the tool. A good rule of thumb is to add 30 percent to the determined CFM number. Adding all the air tools to be used in a work day, however, may result in an inflated CFM number.
If you need to stop using a tool to wait for pressure to build, the compressor may be too small. Note that continuous-use tools will have higher CFM requirements than intermittent-use tools. Higher pressures and volumes will naturally require increased horsepower, electrical components and larger pumping systems. When considering a compressor, actual cubic feet per minute (ACFM) will provide a more accurate measurement of usable air.
Know your work environment. Knowing this will help determine whether the drive system should be an electric motor or a gasoline engine. Electric motors are less expensive and require less maintenance. Gasoline engines offer increased portability.
Determine the size of the compressor tank. This depends on the overall nature of the usage. A small tank should prove sufficient for quick, concentrated bursts of usage. Sustaining longer periods of use will require a larger tank.
Determine the tools needed. If you know which tools you need for your business, it will help determine how many psi the compressor should be able to provide.
Determine the horsepower needed. This information will ensure the compressor can produce enough air. A machine with high horsepower but low CFM will run hot in a shorter service life.
Consider your control systems. Start/stop systems are helpful for work that doesn’t require continuous air. Constant speed control is ideal if expecting more than six to eight starts per hour. Dual control uses an auxiliary valve that permits a choice between start/stop and constant speed.
Use the right protection. If using a compressor outside, it will need protection against water and extreme temperatures. Cast-iron construction will ensure added reliability and durability.
Consider other features in addition to tank size, pressure and airflow. Stainless steel finger valves will eliminate corrosion. Oil-monitoring devices prevent damage caused by low oil levels. One-piece connecting rods eliminate many internal adjustments. Keep in mind that fewer parts will reduce maintenance costs.