Kaishan USA | January 05, 2021 | Air Compressor Information
If your business relies on an air compressor, winter can be a difficult time. Freezing temperatures risk blockages, breakdowns, and higher running costs—unless you have taken steps to avoid these problems. Here, we will explain what's different about winter operations and what can be done to prepare.
In many factories and processing plants, as well as on farms, ski slopes, and elsewhere, compressed air is as important as electricity. It is a power source for hand tools, drive actuators and mechanisms, and transports powders. It is also used in applications as diverse as crop spraying, venting silos, and making snow.
In all of these applications, no compressed air means no work. That usually hits the financial bottom line. Low temperatures, which means below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, can cause a range of problems for a compressor and even stop it from running.
To avoid this and other temperature- and environment-related problems, some businesses place their compressors in an air-conditioned environment. But those are a minority. In many cases, the compressor is placed in an unheated shed or even outside and exposed to the elements. If that is the case for your compressor—and if ambient temperatures may drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit—brace for problems.
Low temperatures cause four main problems:
Here is a deeper dive into each of these:
This condensation causes corrosion on exposed metal. This is a major problem inside electrical enclosures, wherein it can make contacts stick, delaminate printed circuit boards, and create short circuits.
When temperatures drop below freezing, water in condensate traps and elsewhere will turn to ice and create blockages.
A second problem relates to water density. This peaks at 39.2 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning water expands at temperatures on either side. When ice melts, expansion can burst hoses and crack water fittings.
Ideally, the compressor should be installed in a room where ambient temperatures will stay above 45 degrees Fahrenheit. If that is not possible, it should be winterized by taking the following steps:
All of these will help you avoid problems when running an air compressor in winter. However, a better approach is to anticipate low-ambient temperatures when choosing a new compressor.
At Kaishan Compressor USA, LLC, we understand it is not always possible to situate your compressor in a warm location. For that reason, we offer a low-ambient option. This comprises an electrical enclosure heater, a sump heater, control line tracing heating/insulation, and independently controlled thermostats. Here's more info:
While factories and process plants run their compressors year-round, there are some seasonal applications. Two interesting ones include winterizing water lines and making snow. Winterizing entails blowing out water lines with an air compressor. This is done to prevent cracking when any trapped water thaws after freezing. Irrigation and sprinkler systems are prime examples, but this may also be done in buildings that will be left without heat through the winter.
As skiing enthusiasts may know, snowfall is always unpredictable. Hence, to avoid disappointed guests, most ski resorts now make snow rather than relying on nature. Snow machines work by blowing compressed air through a stream of water. The velocity breaks the water into small particles and the pressure drop causes rapid freezing with the resulting particles being blown over the slopes.
Unless prepared appropriately, a compressor will perform differently—or simply will not work—in winter. If it is not possible to place the compressor in a warm room, follow the advice given above to protect it against low temperatures. If purchasing a compressor that will be exposed to cold, ask about low-ambient options.
Using a compressor that is not matched to the application will increase operating costs and may result in an uneven or inadequate supply of compressed air. Kaishan manufactures high-quality air handling products, including compressors that go from compact, belt-driven models to powerful, direct-drive, 2-stage units.
A Kaishan product specialist can help you choose the right compressor for your application. Contact us today to start the conversation.
If your business relies on an air compressor, winter can be a difficult time. Freezing temperatures risk
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