How does pressure drop cost me money?
Every compressed air user needs to understand the importance of minimizing pressure drop. Pressure drop is costing you money if, in order to maintain the desired pressure at your point-of-use, you have to run your air compressor at a higher pressure than the minimum pressure needed to keep your factory operating. It takes more energy to produce air at a higher pressure, and energy costs money. To put it in context:
If a machine only needs 90 PSI to function properly, but you have to operate your air compressor at 120 PSI in order to maintain the 90 PSI, this tells us that you have 30 PSI of pressure drop.
The reason you are experiencing this pressure drop is more than likely one or more of the following:
- Undersized piping
- Incorrect piping configuration (i.e. dead end piping instead of looped piping)
- Undersized dryers and filtration
- Poorly maintained filtration
- Incorrect or excessive use of quick coupling connections
- Extensive hose lengths
These are considered industry common reasons for pressure drop however, one of them may not necessarily be the cause for pressure drop in your system.
The six points above are all causes of pressure drop due to restricted air flow in your compressed air system. This costs you money because you have to run your air compressor at a higher pressure in order to overcome these restrictions. Running your air compressor at this higher pressure costs money because you are paying for more energy consumption than your system actually requires to operate.
As a rule of thumb, every 2 PSI of overpressurization costs you 1% in energy. This means that a 100 horsepower air compressor operating in a 24/7 environment could cost up to 78,000 dollars per year in electricity to operate (at 10 cents per Kwh). If you are running your machine at 120 PSI in order to get 90 PSI at your point-of-use, you are overpressurizing by 30 PSI. This is a 15% increase in energy consumption which could result in nearly $12,000 of excessive energy costs.
As you can see, pressure drop, or operating your air compressor at a higher pressure than needed, can quickly cause an increase of energy consumption and operating costs.