What is an air blower?
At the risk of stating the obvious, air blowers blow air. They take in air from the environment and expel it again at the outlet. There are several types of air blowers and which one you need will depend on the application. Generally speaking, though, the point of an air blower is to modify the state of the air that’s being expelled – usually to increase the flow, pressure, or both.
Doesn’t an air compressor blow air too?
Yes. But before it delivers its blast of air, an air compressor first squeezes the air tightly. The act of compression reduces the volume of the air. Only when you press the trigger on your air tool is the compressed air released, where it quickly expands back to size, forcing its way out of the air tool in a jet.
What’s the difference between air blowers and air compressors?
Think of it in terms of athletics. You have your distance races, which require stamina and the ability to expend energy slowly over a prolonged period of time. You have the extreme bursts of energy required for the hundred metres. And you have the races in between (e.g. the 1500m) that require a bit of both.
An air compressor is the Usain Bolt of air flow, delivering air at high pressure relative to its volume. Compressed air is usually used in relatively short bursts — in a pneumatic wheel gun, a paint sprayer or air drill, for example – even though that pressurized air may need to be at the ready 24/7.
An air blower, in contrast, is the Sir Mo Farah of the air world. It still delivers high velocity air (no one ever called Mo Farah slow), but it delivers it constantly. It can’t match the velocity of the air compressor, but in some industrial applications what’s needed isn’t the high-powered burst of air, but the ability to keep delivering a constant flow.
Another major difference between air compressors and air blowers is the way the air is used. An air compressor typically delivers its air through a tool (a gun, a saw, a sprayer etc). Yes, you could use an air compressor for blow-off in some industries, but in others the power would simply be too destructive.
With air blowers, the air creates streams or curtains that perform important industrial functions. Here, it’s the air that does the job required of it, not the tool.
What are the applications of air blowers?
Air blowers will often be used in drying, cleaning and moisture regulation environments. The constant flow generated by the dryer can remove or prevent moisture build-up or create protective air barriers, making air blowers ideal for environments that need to be hygienic and contaminant free.
What types of air blowers are there?
There are three types of air blower. Positive displacement blowers deliver relatively high pressure (although not as high as an air compressor) with relatively low flow. Centrifugal blowers produce a high flow rate but low pressure, and regenerative blowers operate in the middle ground with a medium flow rate and low pressure (although not as low as a centrifugal blower).
In terms of which is the better air blower, it’s all a question of application. Any of the above blowers could be the right option depending on the task at hand.
Why might you choose an air blower over an air compressor?
In many instances, an air compressor could do the same job as an air blower. Returning to our athletics analogy, those tasks in the middle of the field could be a job for compressor or blower.
Which you choose is very much task dependent, but providing the air flow and pressure are sufficient, an air blower may be the better option because:
- An air compressor has to use a coolant (usually oil) to prevent overheating, which is a natural effect of squeezing air molecules together. That oil will escape as vapour, making it unsuitable for some environments. You could choose an oil free compressor or you could opt for an air blower, which doesn’t compress the air to anything like the same degree, and therefore doesn’t need coolant.
- Water is a byproduct of compressing air. While much of this can be removed through inline filtration, in applications where moisture would present a problem, an air blower would ensure no air was able to contaminate a production area.
- Air blowers cost less to run than air compressors. Often, an air compressor is the only option for a particular task. But where either blower or compressor would be suitable, an air blower will deliver significantly reduced operating costs.
Do air blowers need servicing?
Yes! It’s as important to check air blower filters, belts and other components as it is with an air compressor, and regular servicing can help ensure your air blower keeps delivering years of trouble-free air.