Air compressors are part of our everyday life and help us get work done efficiently. From pumping tires to pressure washing, they proved to be useful in getting work accomplished around the home or on the road. Not only this, but they are employed in industries such as manufacturing, pharmaceutical, dry cleaning, agriculture, food and beverage, and energy exploration. That steers us toward the advantages and disadvantages of an air compressor.
An air compressor is classified into positive and dynamic displacement based on the air compaction method. In the positive displacement, the air compressor forces air in the chamber, reducing volume through the motion to compress the air.
In dynamic displacement, the air compressor uses a rotating blade to speed up the air to a high velocity. Then, it restricts the airflow as the reduction in velocity creates pressure. Each displacement compressor has a distinct type and is used for household as well as industrial applications. Now that you have an overview of the topic, it’s time we delve into a detailed breakdown.
What is an Air Compressor?
It is true that we use air compressors a lot in our daily lives, but what do they actually do, and how do they do it? It is time to learn about their real definition, so we can understand their work.
Air compressors are machines that work by capturing the air from the environment and increasing the pressure by compacting it. That air is captured inside the tank and is known as the compressed air. That store’s air is later used as a power source for a number of applications.
Now, do not underestimate the ability of that compressor air. It can be very versatile and is often known as the “fourth utility” in industries. It gets as much importance as water, gas, and electricity when it comes to usage. It is the source of power for tools like drills, hammers, and sanders. Such tools are mostly used in construction and manufacturing.
We all know how strong the compressed air can be. The pressure inside can be very powerful. Air compressors are also used for processes like spray painting and air blowing for cleaning. We can see air compressors at gas stations for inflating tires and in our refrigerators and air conditioners, as well.
Advantages of an air compressor
Using an air compressor gives more control over air quality and usage, which leads us to the additional benefits mentioned below.
1. Air compressors are safe and convenient
Traditionally, electric-powered tools were used to perform a vast range of domestic and industrial chores. However, we realized that air tools were much more efficient. The air compressor supplies the compacted air to the tools that perform various functions.
This way, the need for a heavy internal motor was eliminated, thereby making tools much more convenient and safe. Also, the tool design is compact and lighter, allowing the operators to use instruments for longer without experiencing fatigue.
2. Air compressor operates quietly
The air compressor deals with massive airflow, yet works silently. So much so that, you can be in the compressor room and still talk and listen to others. You won’t need to yell over the noise. The noise insulation and effective lubrication are the reasons that air compressors are silent. This makes them a suitable tool for indoor use as well as small workshops.
3. It increases productivity
The air compressor improves productivity by dependably supplying clean and stable air to the appropriate pressure. The controls of the air compressor system can be managed to increase its efficiency, which eventually raises production efficiency.
Also, it is simpler to replace the conventional tools with the air compressor as it is easy to set up and use. Complex operations can be completed quickly with the power and versatility of air compressors, too.
4. Air compressor conserves energy
Compared to traditional tools, air compressors consume way less electricity. Also, they can be effectively controlled to consume less energy and cut costs.
For instance, the air compressor can be maintained well, which allows for reducing energy costs and preventing breakdowns. This makes them economical. Furthermore, you can turn off the compressor when not in use to reduce the electricity bill.
5. It requires low maintenance
The best part about air compressors is that they need low upkeep. Unlike electric-powered tools, they don’t have many moving parts that can cause frequent problems. Also, the use of electric-powered tools is limited. For instance, you cannot use them in the presence of water. But there’s no such risk with the air compressor.
Moreover, the operator won’t have to worry about getting electric shock anymore using air tools. Additionally, the air compressor can work in locations where other forms of energy are restricted due to explosion and fire hazards. It can even function at high temperatures.
Disadvantages of an air compressor
The packed air from air compressors can be dangerous and sometimes deadly too. These are a handful of other downsides of an air compressor.
1. Air compressors cause flying debris
The air compressor tools are used to get rid of dust and debris. While using them is a convenient way to remove residue, in reality, it is not that good as it causes flying debris. In case you’re unaware, flying debris can harm the operator and nearby workers. These fine particles can cause serious injuries, hence, operators are required to employ effective chip guard barriers.
2. Air compressor may have pressure problems
The high pressure of the air compressor can get injected into the body. If this happens, it can cause serious injuries such as air embolism and oil injection. Air embolism occurs when high-pressure compressed air penetrates the skin while cleaning the skin and clothing. It enters the bloodstream and blocks the blood vessels by air bubbles.
In oil injection injury, the high-pressure fluid creates a puncture wound in the skin. The fluid infiltrates the body which leads to extensive tissue damage. In the worst-case scenario, it could result in the loss of a limb.
3. It can be harmful to health
Compressed air can contain pollutants and contaminants that are detrimental to health. It may also contain carbon monoxide and debris from the surroundings. The operator must wear protective gear while working with compressed air.
Additionally, it is suggested to operate an air compressor in the presence of natural air. The health problems with compressed air are severe. If accidentally blown into the mouth, the compressed air can rupture the lungs, stomach, or intestines.
Also, it can blow out the eye from the socket with as little as 12 pounds (5.44 kg) of compressed air. Because of the dangers associated with air compressors, various countries have regulations around them to prevent injuries. It is advisable to wear personal protective equipment that includes safety goggles, hearing protection, and gloves when using air compressors.
4. Air compressor releases hot emissions
The air compressor emits hazardous fumes. This is especially true for gas-powered and diesel-powered compressors. It is not safe to use it in an enclosed space because of the deadly toxins released and the blowout of particulates. Also, air compressors release carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, which in enclosed spaces can build up to deadly levels of concentration.
Applications of Air Compressors
Air compressors have plenty of uses. Let us have a look at them one by one:
- Power Pneumatic Tools: One of the most common uses of Air compressors is operating pneumatic tools. If you have not heard that name before, well these tools are nail guns, staple guns, sanders, etc. Most of these tools are mainly used in construction and manufacturing sites. These tools are reliable and power efficient.
- Automotive industry: Air compressors play an important role in automotive workshops. They are the source of power for tools that are used for vehicle assembly and maintenance tasks such as tire inflation, painting, and engine repairs.
- Manufacturing Processes: As we have already discussed before, air compressors are used a lot in manufacturing sites. But they are used because of their reliability and efficiency. Most of their uses are for operating automated machinery, material handling, packaging, etc.
These were the most common uses of air compressors. But they are not only limited to the industrial sites. Air compressors are used in agriculture sectors as well. They are used in dairy machines and also used in the energy sector during drilling activities.