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rleonard
Aug 19, 2017

Thoughts on compressed air for the home shop.

4 comments

 

A few words about your home shop compressed air system.

Your compressed air system is the most expensive utility in your shop. If setting up a new place or upgrading your system, here are some things learned after correcting deficient systems.

 

The compressor is where it all starts. For intermittent use as in our home shops, a reciprocating piston unit still reigns king. Slow speed, belt driven, cast iron compressors will outlast you if sized, maintained, and installed properly. When planning, purchase the largest compressor that your space and budget will allow. Allow for expansion.

 

The available electrical power is often a limiting factor. 120 VAC single phase will limit you to about 2HP. 240 single phase, will get you about 5HP. Beyond that you will get into three phase units.

 

Allow space around the compressor for maintenance and cooling. A compressor is sometimes installed in a separate room to minimize noise, but be sure that there is space and proper ventilation available. A compressor gets hot and needs cooling air.

 

An air compressor draws in moisture with the air. Dealing with moisture in an air system is a given. First, install a valve and pipe to drain the receiver tank. Drain the tank regularly.

 

There are many air piping systems available. Aluminum systems allow adaptability and easy installation, but are beyond the scope of most home shops. Most plants still rely on black pipe. Installed properly it will give a lifetime of service. I have seen installations with white plastic PVC pipe. Although the initial cost is low, there have been spectacular failures and people injured with exploding pipe. Compressor oil can weakened the pipe or it is stressed by impact or force. Avoid plastic pipe unless it is specifically designed for compressed air service.

 

Tilt the main runs of pipe away from the compressor and provide ball valves at the end of each run to blow down the pipe. Place Tees in the line pointing up to draw air from the top of the pipe. Any rust flakes or moisture will be at the bottom of the pipe.

 

Compressed air is a critical infrastructure to any shop. If it is cleaning, airing a tire, running a sand blaster, painting, or powering all sorts of air tools, it is wise to research your investment carefully and install the best components that you can.

Frank Donahue
Aug 20, 2017

very good info well presented too

have a good day and a better tomorrow

Gerald Gardiner
Aug 21, 2017

the black pipe is prone to rust in it, A better solution is copper pipe.

rleonard
Aug 21, 2017

Gerald, copper pipe is an excellent choice. As the size of the piping system increases, it quickly becomes cost prohibitive. Aluminum piping systems are becoming more economical. No rust in them either.

Gerald Gardiner
Aug 21, 2017

Back when I did pneumatic systems it was the other way round Aluminum was the premium choice and copper was the economical substitute, with black pipe more common in industrial. The hard part was convincing people that drainage was important both tank and drop legs.

New Posts
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    Sep 20, 2017

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    Aug 20, 2017

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