Variable-Speed vs. Fixed-Speed Air Compressors

The decision to install either a fixed-speed compressor or a variable-speed compressor is an important one for any plant owner or manager. Naturally, you’re probably well aware of the overall air compressor capacity you need to run your facility during peak production cycles. But when it comes to evaluating the initial cost differences and subsequent benefits of fixed-speed versus variable-speed rotary screw air compressors, it’s worth taking a closer look at the operational differences of the different machines and how they stack up against your facility’s needs.

Fixed-Speed Air Compressors

As its name clearly indicates, a fixed-speed air compressor operates by supplying a consistent — or fixed — voltage and frequency to its motor, which in turn drives its rotary screws at a consistent speed to draw in and pressurize air. If your plant operates on a 24/7 basis without significant fluctuations to production cycles, then your energy consumption may be fairly consistent, and a fixed-speed air compressor might be a good choice.

If, however, your facility goes through daily, weekly or even seasonal changes to its production outputs and subsequently has varying levels of air demands, then a fixed-speed air compressor will wind up using more energy and be somewhat wasteful over the course of its life cycle.

Variable-Speed Air Compressors

Unlike fixed-speed compressors, variable-speed air compressors have the added ability of varying the frequency they supply to their motors, which are then able to change the speed at which their rotary screws spin. This means depending on the air pressure needs of a given facility at any one time, a variable-speed air compressor can either slow down or speed up to meet those specific needs without wasting energy.

However, it must be mentioned that since variable-speed compressors have the ability to change their operational speeds, they are highly susceptible to any inconsistencies coming from their power source. That said, let’s put what we know together and see what the big picture tells us.

Benefits and Advantages

It should be clear that if you’re weighing the differences between fixed-speed and variable-speed air compressors, you need to look beyond the initial cost involved. Naturally, if your plant is prone to seasonal peaks in its production cycles or daily fluctuations in its air needs due to shift differences, you’re going to want to look at how long it will take a variable-speed compressor to start saving you in lower energy costs when compared to a fixed-speed model. However, if your facility’s power source suffers from uncontrolled surges and drop-offs, then you may wind up paying a price for using a variable-speed compressor.

It’s also worth noting that for those who qualify for energy savings programs and tax incentives, there may be further financial benefits attached to installing a variable-speed compressor.

Kaishan for All Your Air Compressor Needs

For more than 60 years, Kaishan has been providing world-class air compression machinery for a wide range of industrial and commercial applications. If you have any questions or would like more information regarding our fixed and/or variable-speed rotary screw air compressors, simply fill out our contact form today.

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