Choosing Rotary or Reciprocating Air Compressors
If you’re on the market for an air compressor, you may feel overwhelmed by the options available. Many kinds of air compressors exist with various capabilities, but there are two primary types to consider. These are the rotary screw and reciprocating air compressors.
Rotary compressors use two rotary screw-shaped rotors that turn in opposite directions to compress air. Reciprocating compressors compress air using pistons that move up and down within cylinders. Both rotary and reciprocating air compressors are positive displacement equipment (machines that compress air).
Reciprocating Air Compressors Are Noisier
A rotary screw air compressor has a lower decibel rating or dB than its reciprocating counterpart. And the higher the dB rating, the noisier the air compressor, which means the rotary screw is quieter. Anything between 40 dB (great) and 60 dB (tolerable) is good. But if the compressor has a rating of more than 60 dB, it may be too loud and not suitable for domestic use.
Something over 60 dB may be appropriate if you work in an industrial or commercial environment. However, exposing yourself or employees to long periods of that noise level can endanger hearing. So make sure proper earplugs or protectors are used.
Maintenance and Energy Considerations
The air produced by a reciprocating air compressor is typically ultra-hot and oily. That makes these units challenging to clean and dry without using auxiliary cooling, including a filtering system. These compressors usually consume more energy or power per unit output at full load.
Reciprocating air compressors aren’t designed to run continuously at full load without the risk of overheating or causing damage to internal components. The cooling method on these machines is poor, unlike rotary screw air compressors. These compressors are designed to run continuously for hours on end without overheating or becoming damaged.
Rotary screw air compressors have better cooling systems that work similarly to an automobile radiator. These mechanisms produce much cleaner plus cooler air and consume less power at full load. Also worth noting is that rotary screw compressors are typically more expensive than the alternative.
It’s All About Your Needs
Consider how often you’ll use the compressor. Reciprocating compressors are superb if you only require intermittent use or low air production. These machines are best suited for construction work, small businesses, do-it-yourself projects, and workshops.
“A reciprocating air compressor is most likely your best bet if air compression won’t be continuous. That’s because rotary screw air compressors don’t fare well with downtime. These machines rarely turn off completely to limit the frequency of motor starts, so it doesn’t burn out prematurely” – Hertz Kompressoren.
Many commercial and industrial operations need air consistently, so rotary screw compressors are the best choice. These machines can operate nonstop and under a lot of stress without complications, producing a consistent compressed airflow.
Rotary compressors offer some advantages over reciprocating ones but are better suited for commercial or industrial use cases. Reciprocating air compressors are the standard for everything else. When choosing a compressor, consider how noisy it is, energy consumption, maintenance requirements, and air capacity. That way, you’ll buy an air compressor that fits your needs.