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The Cost of Compressed Air

In order to evaluate the cost of compressed air, you must look past the initial investment in machinery and equipment. The compressed air system itself, on average, only amounts to about 18% of the capital investment. Compressed air operating costs during the first year can be as much as 1½ to 2½ times the initial purchase price of the equipment. It is therefore crucial to consider the overall system efficiency of your compressed air system, over the initial cost and make sure you choose a system that is going to run most efficiently for your business’s requirements.  Glaston’s team of professional engineers will be able to create a bespoke system that will be tailored to your specific needs.

The factors to consider for the cost of compressed air should be:

Electrical Costs: Over a ten year period, more than 70% of compressed air cost is electrical expense. Energy costs will vary depending on the kW size of the air compressor and the demand for compressed air in your business and of course the price of energy itself.  Different air compressors will vary in efficiency. Power costs in one year are likely to exceed the cost of the compressed air system itself.

Cooling Costs: If you are considering an air-cooled compressor, you must factor in the electricity used to run the cooling fan motors required. In considering a water- cooled compressor system, you must consider the quantity of water required, and also consider the quality of water, as well as the treatment, electrical and disposal costs.

Maintenance Costs:  An air compressor system requires the following of a prescribed maintenance schedule to keep it running as effectively and efficiently as it can. Maintenance costs amount to about 7% of compressed air system’s lifetime costs. Following the manufactures recommended maintenance schedule will ensure that the air compressor system is running to its peak potential. Using original manufacturers’ consumables is key, as it regularly servicing the compressor. It is also vital to ensure that there are qualified service technicians in your area. In essence: the easier your system is to maintain, the bigger the savings that can be made in the long run.

Leaks: Unfortunately in some cases as much as 50% of compressed air produced can be wasted due to air leaks.  It is inevitable that air leaks will occur in compressed air systems; therefore clearly it is a factor that should be addressed when looking at energy and cost savings.

 A compressor that runs 24 hours a day, at a rate of 0.10p per kWhr, with a seemly insignificant leak as small as 2mm in diameter could amount to nearly £1,200 worth of wasted compressed air per year. Consider that there is likely to be more than one leak in each air compressed system.

There are simple ways to overcome this:

  • Introduce a leak detection program in-house.
  • Utilise an ultrasonic leak detector (USLD)

It’s also an idea to contact your compressed air service provider and add leak detection to your scheduled maintenance program.

Unnecessary Demand: It may be that your air compressor is over producing compressed air at times, due to changing shift patterns and the variations in production. It thus would make significant financial sense to adjust compressor performance to suit actual demand.

The majority of compressed air systems include numerous compressors, which can also vary in size. In such systems a master controller is utilised to coordinate the individual machines. With a master controller, compressed air can be effectively managed to suit actual compressed air demand, and prevent over production and waste. Glaston tailors solutions that have the ability to constantly analyse all operations and execute the best combination of compressors to suit the required compressed air demand.

Reliability: An unreliable compressed air system costs money, machinery down time is expensive:  A lost production day can never be made up. Investing in a compressed air system that will be reliable is crucial: having less chance of going wrong. If something does go wrong, it is important that it can be fixed as quickly as possible to minimise downtime.

70% of long term compressor cost is electricity