Heat and Your Compressor - What to Expect This Summer - CAPS

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Heat and Your Compressor - What to Expect This Summer - CAPS

Posted on 27th February 2017 in

Your air compressor generates a tremendous amount of heat!

When ambient air is compressed to do work for you, considerable heat of compression is released. As a rough illustration, the heat of compression released from a 100 horsepower air compressor could heat 4 homes in the worst of winter in the northern hemisphere. If not handled properly in the summer, that heat can become an enemy to your air system.


Many compressors don’t react well to extreme temperatures. Unless oversized coolers are ordered as an option, there will be very little excess capacity available in what comes in your packaged rotary screw compressor. It is most important to assure that the coolers are kept clean inside and out.

Oil flooded rotary screw compressors typically operate in the 71 – 82.2 degrees C range. That same machine will probably not shut down due to high temperature until it reaches 110 degrees C – but bad things begin to happen long before it shuts down. 

Excessive heat kills most compressor oils. It is a well-accepted rule of thumb that you cut oil life expectancy by half for every 6.7 degree C rise above normal operating temperature. In many cases, the high price you pay for synthetic compressor oils is squandered because the oil breaks down prematurely due to overheating. To protect from high acid numbers, loss of lubricity and increased viscosity, long oil change intervals must be monitored with frequent lube analysis, particularly when exposed to high ambient temperatures.

Air compressors operating in elevated temperatures pass a lot more water into your air system. An air cooled rotary screw compressor in a hot, poorly ventilated, dusty environment can pass six times the water through your air system as a clean machine running at normal temperatures. Remember… for every 6.7 degree C rise in discharge air temperature, compressed air will carry twice as much water vapor to condense out in your air piping and equipment.

An air compressor running at elevated temperatures is not an efficient compressor. Hot compressed air will experience pressure losses as it passes through air treatment and distribution pipework. When your airend is running at elevated temperatures it is slowly opening up its clearances and accelerating wear. This will lead to less efficient operation and shortened life down the road.


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