The Cost of Compressed Air
A question that is occasionally asked by our customers to Ash Air is 'what is the cost of compressed air?' This article looks at the
product costs involved with compressed air, as well as minimising the energy cost of compressors and cost allocation. When looking at
these factors, we need to realise what causes dropped efficiency of your compressor, leading to increased costs of compressed air.
- Air Leaks - are a common cause of wasted compressed air, infact 10%-30% is wasted through leaks.
Pressure Drop -filters, air dryers, valves, and piping are all in-out systems which cause and create pressure drops. To compensate for
pressure drops, you'll find that the compressor will have to be set to a higher pressure than usual, which in turn increases the
Pressure to high (Artificial Demand) - this is seen when you use a pressure that is higher that what you really need. If your compressor
operates at 8 bar, but only really needs 7, then you'll find that the extra 1 bar isn't actually needed, and if your compressor has
leaks at the higher pressure level you will unfortunately end up losing more energy.
Inefficient air production - assumptions are commonly made that the compressor runs at full load when operating, when really the compressor
will sometimes start and stop, running unloaded and fluctuations of pressure and air demand will be evident.
Another point to make is about the power of knowledge - having knowledge of your compressor, its specifications and its suitable operating
capabilities will definitely help you on your journey to understanding and recognising when your compressor is functioning well, and
when it isn't. Caring for your compressor system, regular servicing and check ups will help you greatly to reduce wasted cost every day
of the year. A compressor system that is say, medium sized can amazingly save between $10,000 and $30,000 per year!
Check out our compressor services here
The production costs of compressed air
The production costs of compressed air can vary. When planning a new investment, it is best to look as far into the future as possible and
attempt to assess the impacts of new situations and demands that might affect the compressed air installation. Typical examples include
environmental demands, energy-saving demands, increased quality requirements from production and future production expansion
Optimised compressor operations are becoming more important, especially for larger, compressed air-dependent industries. Production will
change over time in a developing industry and, consequently, so will compressor operation conditions. It is therefore important that the
compressed air supply be based both on current requirements as well as on development plans for the future. Experience shows that an
extensive and unbiased analysis of the operating situation will almost always result in improved overall economy.
Minimizing the energy cost of compressors
Energy costs are clearly the dominating factor for the installation's overall cost. It is therefore important to focus on finding solutions
that comply with demands for performance and quality as well as the demand for efficient energy utilization. The added cost associated
with acquiring compressors and other equipment that complies with both of these demands will be perceived over time as a good
As energy consumption often represents approx. 80% of the overall cost, care should be taken in selecting the regulation system. The
significant difference in the available regulation systems exceeds the significant differences in types of compressor. An ideal
situation is when compressor full capacity is precisely matched to the application's air consumption. This frequently occurs in
applications. Most types of compressors are supplied with their own on-board control and regulation system, but the addition of
equipment for shared control with other compressors in the installation can further improve operating economy.
Speed regulation has proven to be a popular regulation method because of its substantial energy-saving potential. Think carefully and allow
your application requirements to govern your selection of regulation equipment in order to obtain good results. If only a small amount
of compressed air is required during the night and weekends, it may be profitable to install a small compressor adapted to this off-peak
If, for some reason, a particular application needs a different working pressure, this requirement should be analysed to find out whether
all compressed air production should be centralised in a compressor central plant, or whether the network should be split up according
to the different pressure levels. Sectioning of the compressed air network can also be considered to shut down certain sections during
the night and on the weekends, in order to reduce air consumption or to allocate costs internally based on airflow measurements.
We recommend this section of our website to explore regarding energy savings and heat recovery:
Energy Savings and Benefits
Investment costs are a fixed cost that include the purchase price, building infrastructure costs, installation and insurance. The share of the investment
cost as a part of the overall cost is determined partly by the selection of the compressed air quality level and partly by the depreciation period
and the applicable interest rate. The share of energy costs is determined by annual operating time, the degree of load/unload utilization and the unit
energy cost. Additional investments, for example, equipment for energy recovery, offer a direct payoff in the form of reduced operating and maintenance
Talk to the team today to see how we can help you minimise costs and maximise efficiency.
Ash Air is here for your business longevity!
Your business performance is what we strive for. Ash Air offers a full range of Chicago Pneumatic and Alup air compressors, tools and on-site solutions.
We also provide oil-free compressors and food-grade oil to suit your needs. Ash Air are specialists in vacuum pumps, blowers, and medical gas solutions.
Ash Air offers complete quality air solutions as well as advanced piping systems for the performance and efficiency of your compressed air system.