Five Ways to Improve Compressor Efficiency
Your compressor is a vital aspect of your system. Without it, productivity can slow down, and staff might be affected. By improving your compressor efficiency, you are also able to improve your own bottom line, pass the savings on to your partners and customers, and be a steward of the environment.
Even though there are many ways to improve compressor efficiency, few are “set it and forget it.” Continual checking on and maintenance of efficiency tactics is just as important as implementing them in the first place.
To enhance your compressor’s operation and keep it running smoothly, consider the following improvements.
1) Check Constantly for Leaks
Leaks in compressors are not always immediately discernible. Thousands of dollars worth of energy can be wasted simply because a leak exists somewhere in the system. Such inefficiency can slow down not only the compressor, but the entire system.
Some new systems provide automatic leak detection. Even with this protection, it’s important to remain on alert against leaks, which can form at any time. Just a few hours with a leaky system can be costly and demanding on a compressor. Energy bills—gas, electric, and water—can spike overnight. Checking for leaks at the beginning and end of each day, before and after every shift, and after snaps of weather extremes can help to catch a small problem before it becomes a big one.
2) Weatherstripping and Insulation
No matter whether your compressor is located outside or within a controlled environment, it is vital to ensure that it can efficiently withstand the elements and regulate severe temperatures. Doing so ensures that your system will not have to work as hard on normalizing its conditions and can concentrate instead on the task at hand.
Weatherstripping can come in many forms. It is best used in areas where small holes may appear in either domestic or industrial equipment. Weatherstripping can also prevent holes which are not visible to the naked eye. Since it is used in areas where a tight seal is necessary, applying it can be especially helpful where compressors are concerned. Sometimes weatherstripping takes the form of a small silicone or rubber strip. A sealing agent specifically designed for industrial use or compressors is best.
Insulation can come in the form of an exterior coating, applied either by the manufacturer or afterwards where the compressor is housed. These are most important when it comes to protecting the compressor from extreme hot or extreme cold.
Other forms of insulation can reduce the vibration and noise a compressor may make. While on its face this might seem a good tactic to make for a more comfortable working environment for employees, this can also make the compressor more efficient. Vibration can lead to tiny cracks in the compressor, which can invite leaks and corrosion. Not only does this affect your compressor’s efficiency, it can shorten its working life.
3) Controls Affecting Compressor Efficiency
Believe it or not, the way in which your compressor turns on and off can affect its efficiency. Although it may not seem like much, the simple act of turning the system on and off might be working against its productivity.
Controls which simply turn a system off and on can reduce a compressor’s working life because they can occur suddenly. A new generation of controls which come with variable speed drive are key in turning compressors on and off in ways which support energy efficiency. Some variable speed drives are even able to alert operators to leaks.
Variable speed drives are also known as adjustable speed drives, and are currently present in about five percent of all industrial controls. They work with the temperature and fan speed in the system to help manage power. By addressing rotational speed, variable speed controls help make motors, and therefore compressors, far more efficient.
4) Energy Recovery
The production of heat is the byproduct of any system. In the past, the heat was vented into the air, which raised the temperature around the system, which in turn demanded more resources to remove it from the area in order to regulate the immediate environment. However, if the heat is put to use, it’s not a problem to be removed. It’s a help which can reduce energy costs while also helping to protect the environment.
Energy recovery redirects heat not out into the air, but internally. It specifically channels it to other areas of a system, sometimes an entirely different area in a manufacturing plant. Through energy recovery, heat which was once wasted and controlled is now harnessed to heat water, sterilize equipment, or even help heat a building in in the winter. This creative and efficient use of heat is highly beneficial.
5) Pay Attention to Intake
The harder the compressor needs to work in order to regulate its intake, the more energy it requires to perform its most basic tasks. Paying attention to the environment immediately around a compressor’s intake can help it operate more efficiently.
Compressors have less work to do when it comes matter that is already cool. Carefully controlling the density and temperature of what is fed into the system can pay off dividends when it comes to the actual operation of the compressor.
Humidity affects the efficient operation of compressors as well. Just as with cracks, as humidity builds, the system becomes compromised and vulnerable. The compressor might quickly become rusted or corroded if humidity and moisture aren’t controlled. As with leaks, regular checks for moisture buildup can maintain a system more than any after-market piece of equipment.
It’s also important to ensure the matter entering the compressor is purified as much as possible. If a compressor’s intake is dirty, these contaminates can slow down the system. They might affect each part of the compressor, preventing matter from travelling easily through the system.
When particulates are present and not immediately removed, the output of the compressor is adversely affected. Using filters and changing them according to manufacturer’s directions can help control dirt and debris.
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