Why Is Compressed Air Temperatures Important?

Post By: Tom Rowse On: 14-12-2023 Read Time: 5 minutes - Guides - Pneumatics

When you work in pneumatics, your compressed air equipment is the central focus of your operations. At the front end of this operation, your air compressor is an essential tool, providing the driving force for many manufacturing and industrial processes. You’ll be using compressed air in a wide variety of applications, from power tools and process machinery to producing a breathable air supply in hazardous environments.

Careful compressed air equipment maintenance is crucial to efficient, reliable performance. Temperature is also an important factor. Most manufacturers design their air compressors with a maximum operating temperature of 105°F, which corresponds to the maximum rating of the compressor’s motor insulation. If you install your compressor in a room where the ambient temperature is between 50°F and 85°F, its internal temperature will remain below 105°F.

How Is Compressed Air Equipment Affected By Temperature?

You might be surprised how much fluctuations in temperature can impact your compressor’s performance. Where it’s situated and the ambient temperature of its environment will significantly influence how it operates. It’s critical to maintain your compressed air at the optimal temperature range for efficient operation. 

If your compressor is outdoors, it will obviously be subject to more extreme variations in temperature. But, temperature ranges for indoor air compressors can also fluctuate wildly if you keep them in areas without any climate control or uninsulated storage rooms. When siting a compressor for a pneumatic system, you should aim to limit potential temperature fluctuations in the ambient environment. This will help to preserve the lifespan and functionality of your equipment and prevent costly malfunctions and repairs.

Heat And Cold

Both hot and cold ambient temperatures will affect your compressed air equipment. These will cause a number of errors and malfunctions. Heat may increase the humidity and make your compressor overheat. Cold is less humid but condensation may freeze. 

Too Hot

If your equipment is situated in a high-temperature environment, it may:

  • overheat

  • start smelling of burnt oil

  • trip the circuit breaker

  • shut down by itself

  • take longer to reach full operating power

  • require more rest between cycles

  • develop more frequent problems and malfunctions.

Too Cold

Extreme cold is equally destructive. If your equipment is situated in a low-temperature environment, it may:

  • crack system components

  • freeze condensate inside the compressor

  • develop ice in control lines

  • obstruct air and water flow inside the compressor

  • thicken compressor oil so components are improperly lubricated

  • over- or under-pressurise equipment

  • increase wear and tear

Achieving the correct balance between heat and cold is key to ensuring the optimal performance of your compressed air equipment, to keep it from freezing or overheating. Stay within the generally prescribed boundaries, and your compressor shouldn’t suffer any detrimental effects.

What’s The Best Operating Temperature For Compressed Air Systems?

Why Is Compressed Air Temperature Important

Most experts agree that the optimal temperature range is between 50° to 85°F. Operating compressed air equipment naturally produces heat as a by-product, raising the location’s ambient temperature. Setting a threshold of 85°F means it can safely accommodate the heat your compressor produces. This generated heat can be reduced by using a proper ventilation system. You can divert the hot air generated by your compressor to the outdoors, through as short a distance as possible of air ducts. Alternatively, you might be able to divert the excess hot air to another part of your premises for repurposing. Any exhaust egress should be kept as far away from the compressor’s air intake as possible, to avoid hot air getting back into the system.

Another reason that the ideal operating range for compressed air is set at 50°to 85°F is humidity. When it comes to compressed air applications, humidity is something to avoid at all costs. Air contains less humidity at lower temperatures, but too low an ambient temperature is also harmful. Beyond a certain point, the cold encourages water to condense in your compressor. If the ambient temperature drops too low, this water will freeze and expand, causing damage to your compressor from the inside out.

Using Compressed Air Equipment In Heat And Cold

You can safeguard the health of your compressed air equipment in heat and cold by adopting appropriate maintenance procedures: 

Cold

  • If you can control the climate, keep the temperature above 50°F. Install heaters in the room where your compressor is situated, add insulation and seal up any gaps or cracks in the walls.

  • Keep your air compressor warm, with an internal heater to maintain heat inside, trace heating around pipes, and adequate insulation.

  • Carry out extra maintenance when it’s colder. Check components every day for any build-up of moisture or ice. Since your compressor will also be working harder to combat the lower temperature, keep a regular eye on its oil levels.

Heat

  • It’s harder to keep the temperature below 85°F in the summer, when hot air is being pumped out of your compressor. Fans and an air-conditioned location will help, but make sure the exhaust hot air is vented to another location.

  • Your compressor may consume a lot more oil in hot temperatures, so it’s important to check oil levels regularly.

  • Keep the air compressor systems clean, including air filters and places where there might be obstructions. 

Keeping Your Cool

As well as high ambient temperatures, your air compressor might also overheat because of inadequate ventilation around it, or if you’ve sited it next to some other heat-generating equipment. Air compressors are more likely to overheat when they get older and system components begin to wear. They’ll also overheat if pushed beyond their normal capacity. If you find your system overheating frequently and showing signs of early deterioration, this may suggest that your facility requires a new or larger capacity air compressor to meet your operational demands.

Remember: it’s important for optimal performance to keep your compressed air operating temperatures between the recommended 50° to 85°F levels.