For years now, variable speed air compressors have offered an energy saving alternative to the traditional compressor. But is it the right choice for you?
Variability was always something the air compressor industry was keen to eradicate. After all, variable pressures and flowrates tend to add to production time and rework. So it seemed counter-intuitive that variable speed air compressors would ever make their mark in the compressed air sector. But actually, it makes perfect sense.
Traditionally, air compressors have been on or off. They’re either giving you 100% or they’re giving you nothing – there’s no middle ground. That’s dramatically different from, for example, your car which, in addition to ‘off’ or ‘full throttle’, delivers a range of power depending on how heavily you plant your foot on the accelerator.
It’s a similar situation with a variable speed drive (VSD) air compressor, which can adjust its motor and elements to match the demand. That could be a big deal for organisations relying on air power, especially when 70% of an air compressor’s cost is energy. VSDs could cut air compressor energy consumption by 35%. And since there’s less requirement for compressors to run flat out, there should also be a corresponding improvement in lifespan.
There is a catch. Variable speed air compressors are more expensive than their simpler, more traditional counterparts. Yet those businesses that have used them find the additional cost is more than covered by the savings in energy costs.