Compressed Air Piping Systems

Monday 29 August 2016

Why Compressed Air Piping Size Matters

Posted at 8:20 AM

compressed air piping sizingThe purpose of air compressor pipes is to transport the air from the compressor to the end-users with minimal leakage. So, it should go without saying that piping is an important element in your compressed air distribution system.

Compressed air piping sizing is tricky, so selecting the right pipes can be a challenge. Obviously, the bigger your compressor and the higher your air-demand, the bigger your pipes should be. But how do you know if they are big enough? You can find various calculations and complex formulas to determine the appropriate sizing and proportions, but relax, it’s actually a lot simpler than it seems. You just need to use some common sense and follow a few basic rules.

Some drop in pressure is to be expected when moving compressed air through the system. A properly designed system will lose less than 10% of the compressor’s discharge pressure. This measurement can be found on a gauge on the outlet of the compressor. If pressure loss is greater than 10%, you will need to evaluate your distribution system. Every two pounds-per-square-inch decrease in compressor pressure will reduce your operating costs by 1.5%.

One reason that pressure loss may increase is because of the size of the air compressor pipes. The longer and narrower the pipes, the more difficult it is for the air to pass through. You can avoid this problem by installing bigger pipes. If you are struggling to decide between two sizes, go with the bigger one.

Approximately 70% of all manufacturers have a compressed air system, yet so many of them struggle with compressed air piping sizing issues. When factories expand, installing new machines or adding extra air tools, the existing piping might be too small to handle the increase in air demand. Inevitably, that will lead to breakdowns and downtime.

Imagine the facility as a city and the piping as the roads. As the city grows, more businesses pop up and more people are out on the streets, the roads will start to experience serious traffic jams. The roads are just too small to handle that level of traffic!

Size is important, but so is design. Also like a city with busy streets, the air compressor piping must follow a well-planned layout.

Again, compare your system to the road map of a city. If you want to drive from one place to another, there may be more than one route. Too few routes or roads will cause a traffic jam. The same is true for your piping layout.

What are you compressed air piping sizing solutions? Do you have any additional advice or questions? Contact us today for more information.