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Air Compressors in Construction: A Full Guide

Air compressors are an essential aspect of the
construction industry. You might be aware of them being used at construction
sites for their high efficiency and output, but have you ever considered thinking about how air compressors actually
work?

Direct Air have developed an insightful
infographic detailing how they operate and the different types of air compressors
that are available to use. 

Using Air Compressors in
Construction

Air compressors are integral to the
construction industry as they power a vast amount of tools a worker needs. The
great aspect about pneumatic drills is that they are relatively light and
powerful to use, allowing great amounts of energy to be exerted.

Compared to electric powered tools, pneumatic
tools are safer to use and easier to maintain as there is not a risk of
electrocution.

Some of the most popular construction
application use comes in the form of jackhammers, pneumatic picks, air guns and
many more.

It is important to emphasise the value of
maintenance because failure to maintain tools regularly will lead to them
deteriorating and not working properly.

Low Noise Air Compressors

Construction site managers need to think not
only about the welfare of themselves but also of other fellow employees.

Workers should wear ear protection to protect
themselves from hearing damage. Anything above 85dB is considered to be harmful
and likely to cause hearing issues.

Air compressors can control and reduce noise
levels, when generating power for equipment.

While 60 dB is considered a safe level, there
is no reason why you should not be able to reduce the noise levels even
further.

Low noise air compressors can decrease noise levels
to around 40dB, of which this is accomplished through the addition of an
acoustic chamber which function consists of containing the noise.

An additional tip to help reduce noise levels
would be to choose an electric-powered compressor, rather than a gas-powered
machine.The electric compressor’s power source can make a machine generate less
noise.

Oil-free and Oil-based Air
Compressors

Lubrication is an aspect that should be
reviewed when using an air compressor.

Compressors that are oil-free already have a
lubricated cylinder, mainly Teflon, thus ensuring no further maintenance is
required.

Oil-based compressors require manual work as
oil needs to be added to the piston area frequently, and how much depends on
the instructions provided in the manufacturer’s manual that came with the
compressor.

Oil-free compressors are lighter than
oil-based compressors as the weight of the oil is not required and there are
less parts to make them function.

Furthermore, oil-free compressors tend to be
more affordable than oil-based compressors and usually have a less complex
design.

Despite costing more, oil-based compressors
are stronger and tend to have a longer lifespan than oil-free ones. Over time
the material that is used for greasing, which is primarily Teflon, starts to
wear out and endures a loss in its abilities of lubrication.

In comparison to oil-based compressors,
oil-free compressors heat up at a higher temperature and tend to make more
noise.

How do Single and Dual Phase
Compressors Operate?

For single phase compressors, compression
occurs within a vacuum system by a single piston movement.

The power is measured at a rate of PSI (pounds
per square inch), of which the higher the PSI rate, the greater the power the
compressor has.

In a single phase compressor, the PSI rate is
usually at 120. Once the air has been compressed, it then gets sent into a
storage tank. 

For Dual phase compressors, following the
primary round of compression, air is dispelled into a second chamber at a rate
of 175PSI, where the air gets compressed for a second time.

The piston forces movement allowing
compression to occur, as both types of compressors are usually powered by
electric or power motors.

Fixed and Variable Air
Compressors

Fixed speed air compressors send continuous
streams of power into the motor.

It’s great for certain industries where power
demand is continuous. However, while being cost-effective, they are not energy
efficient.

Variable speed compressors automatically
adjust the motor speed in conjunction with air demand.

Power gets drawn into the convertor and
converts AC power into DC power. A capacitor cleans the AC and converts it into
DC using a transistor, acting as switches. This then ensures the power’s
frequency is controlled that is distributed to the motor, thus also controlling
the speed.

Variable speed compressors are more power
efficient as you can control the output of what you need, which means that if
you were to use less power, money would be saved and it would be more
beneficial for the environment.

Unfortunately, maintenance repairs are
frequent and there are higher capital costs. This compressor type is not
recommended for machines that require streams of power that are continuous.

Piston, Scroll and Rotary Screw
Compressors

Scroll compressors are a type of piston
compressor, also known as reciprocating compressors.

The piston travels downwards, following
pressure in the cylinder being decreased which creates a vacuum. This pressure
change causes the cylinder door to open and draw air in. The piston then
travels back up forcing the air to be released from the cylinder at a higher
pressure point.

While they are able to cool down quickly and
are energy efficient, they are harder to maintain and initial costs are high.

Rotary screw compressors use rollers to
compress air. These are positioned in the middle of the shaft and one side of
the rollers are constantly in contact with the wall, and they rotate an extreme
speed.

Despite costing less, rotary screw compressors
require frequent maintenance checks and cooling ability is quite limited.

Overall Thoughts

When choosing an air compressor that is needed
for a particular job, there are vital aspects that need to be reviewed.

Do you require air compressors for continuous
use of industrial machinery or only occasional use?

It is important to think about the budget
because some compressors will be more cost-effective than others, and you need
to consider how much maintenance work there will be in the future. Failure to
maintain tools regularly will lead to them malfunctioning.

With all of this taken into consideration, you
should be able to make an informed decision on selecting the right air
compressor for the required job, one of which is the most suitable for saving
your company money and being energy efficient.

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