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Clean, dry air for vehicle service applications

Tuesday, August 14, 2018 - 06:00
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Air cleanliness and filtration are especially important in a shop environment because of the equipment that compressors power. Clean, dry air, free of debris and moisture, keeps pneumatic shop tools and equipment running reliably for a long time. Effective compressed air drying also has a significant impact on the quality and integrity of vehicle service applications. A compressor system with moisture present experiences reduced performance, which raises energy costs. With dryer technologies, shop owners can save energy and protect their equipment and tools from harmful water in an efficient and effective way.

Top 4 Things to Evaluate When Considering Compressed Air Dryers
Having dryer solutions in place directly impacts end results, including paint finishes, where you can see issues such as fish eyes and orange peels. When using tire pressure monitoring systems, tire filling applications need clean, dry air. Keeping the air dry and clean enhances rim and tire longevity. Consider adding dryer equipment to a compressed air system to assure that the system is outputting high-quality air. Shop owners should evaluate the following components when considering new dryer solutions:

  1. Location, location, location. Where a shop is geographically located is an important factor to consider because it will impact the amount of moisture that runs through your compressed air system. A shop in the warm and humid south will need completely different equipment than one up north in sub-freezing temperatures.
  2. The type of work shops perform can also help determine which dryer technologies are best for a shop. Do you mostly do mechanical work? Or do you work in a paint and body shop where really dry air is critical for your paint booth?
  3. The load profile of a shop should also contribute to dryer selection. Depending on if a shop needs air constantly or just for intermittent tasks, there are dryer options that meet a variety of demand profiles to maintain an efficient operation.
  4. How a piping system is routed matters too. If a compressor or piping is exposed to outside air, shops need to understand the impact changing temperatures will have on the compressed air.

Types of Compressed Air Dryers
After considering each of the above factors, shop owners can narrow in on the type of dryer they need in their shop:

  • Refrigerated Dryers: Refrigerated dryers provide appropriate drying for a comparatively low acquisition cost and low cost of operation. These dryers are ideal for mechanical work or areas where the ambient temperature is above freezing.
    • Cycling or non-cycling: There are two types of refrigerated dryers, if your air demand is high and constant, a non-cycling dryer is most efficient for your shop. Non-cycling dryers are designed to run continuously. A cycling dryer, in contrast, allows the refrigeration system to cycle on and off in proportion to the compressed air demand, which may vary over the course of a workday.  
  • Desiccant Dryers: For applications like paint booths that require extremely dry air, or if the compressor and air piping is exposed to sub-freezing temperatures, desiccant dryers provide air with average pressure dew points ranging from -40 degrees Fahrenheit to -100 degrees Fahrenheit.

While much thought and calculation often go into the selection of an air compressor to assure the necessary volume of air is generated, selecting the proper dryer will have a significant impact on the quality of the air that is ultimately delivered in vehicle service shops. Learn more here.

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