Air-Cooled Vs. Water-Cooled Compressed Air Systems
September 23, 2019
When it comes to choosing an air compressor, it can be daunting thinking about all of the different options. One of the common choices is whether to pick an air-cooled or water-cooled compressor which both come with their advantages and disadvantages.
Questions to Help You Decide Between Air-Cooled and Water-Cooled
How Often Will You Use Your Air Compressor?
Whether you will use your air compressor constantly or less frequently will ultimately have an impact on your decision between these two cooling options, as well as the amount of space you have to store it. If you don’t require a constant demand, multiple smaller horsepower compressors may be a better option to suit your needs – These are not usually water-cooled.
If your workspace requires a constant demand, a larger horsepower air compressor would be more suitable which would be available in both air-cooled and water-cooled varieties. However, you need to take into account where you would place your air compressor and how much cooling air flow would be obtainable within this space. If there wouldn’t be enough, it would be better to opt for a water-cooled compressed air system to guarantee cool air.
Where Will You Store Your Air Compressor?
Following on from the previous point, the space where you will store your air compressor plays a big part in choosing between air-cooled and water-cooled. Ventilation is key for an air-cooled air compressor because if it isn’t sufficient enough, the system would not stay cool leading to equipment failures and downtime.
If you have enough space but the room is located next to a boiler room or close to a production room which creates fumes, this will not work well with an air-cooled compressor. There is more versatility when it comes to choosing a water-cooled system because they can be stored in a confined space or within a high temperature area, as long as they have a good supply of cooling water.
Will You Use Energy Recovery Methods?
The cost of these two varieties of systems depends on whether you use energy recovery methods in your plant. A water-cooled compressor typically has a lower specific power compared to an air-cooled compressor, meaning that they are more efficient. However, an air-cooled compressor is more cost-effective when you take into account the electricity, water and water treatments costs of a water-cooled system.
Nevertheless, water-cooled compressors can make up for this cost if you utilise energy recovery techniques. The cooling water from a water-cooled system can be used in a hot water heating system, providing a supplementary heat source that will save heating fuel in the boiler. This will save you energy and possibly money on your heating bills, making it more cost-efficient. Air-cooled systems also provide energy recovery methods, however, they are limited to colder months of the year.
Should You Choose Air-Cooled or Water-Cooled?
At the end of the day, it’s completely up to your usage requirements and plant environment to decide between these two compressors. If you are still unsure and want some expert advice, contact us today and one of our team would be happy to help.