Many industrial applications rely on air compressors, but their reliable, long-lasting operation relies on the efficient removal of condensed water and coalesced oil. Compressed air condensate drains accomplish this by regularly discharging liquid that builds up over time, increasing equipment lifespan and reducing energy costs. To maximize savings, it’s important to learn about the main types of compressed air condensate drains, how they work, and what to consider when selecting one for your system.
What Is a Compressed Air Condensate Drain?
As air compressors draw in and compress air, the machine accumulates atmospheric moisture that must be released. Compressed air condensate drains discharge built-up condensate to keep the internal system free of damaging water and oil that accumulate normally with use. These drains are also found on compressed air dryers and compressed air filters.
There are different methods of accomplishing this, and the right method depends on air compressor use, capacity, environmental factors, energy costs, and other factors. For any type of condensate drain, the goal is the same: to remove as much condensate from the equipment as possible while retaining maximum compressed air levels.
Compressor Air Condensate Drain Types
There are two primary types of automatic condensate drains: timer drains and demand drains.
Timer drains are preprogrammed to discharge condensate from an air compressor at regular intervals. They are a low-cost solution and easy to install. Though timer drains cannot detect condensate levels, they are often adequate for lower-volume air compressors, which produce a small amount of condensate slowly over time.
The main drawback is that timer drains open at exact intervals, so during heavy usage, condensate levels may build up long before being released. During light usage, the timer drain may open more often than necessary, wasting expensive compressed air.
Also known as zero-loss or no-loss drains, demand drains allow condensate to fill the reservoir completely before discharging it. To do so, a demand drain must continually monitor system usage and ambient conditions. The major advantages of demand drains are that they only open for as long and as frequently as necessary, and they do not waste compressed air. As a result, they are extremely energy efficient. The most efficient demand drains will quickly offset their cost and create less wear and tear on the air compressor itself.
Deciding between a timer or demand drain can be as easy as using timer drains on smaller air compressors and installing demand drains on larger air compressors. However, infrequently used air compressors of any size that rely on timer drains can still waste a significant amount of energy, because they create less condensate and have no need to open regularly. For specialty air compressor needs, where regular use alternates with heavy or infrequent use, a demand drain is the most flexible solution.
Factors to Consider When Selecting a Condensate Drain
Choosing the wrong type of compressed air drain wastes compressed air and electricity, creating higher operating and maintenance costs. It could also damage your equipment. Selecting the proper drain size and type is necessary to minimize energy loss and keep your air compressor functioning at peak conditions.
Factors to consider when selecting an air compressor condensate drain include:
- Compressor size
- System pressure levels
- Amount of contamination
- Frequency of use
- Site conditions
Ambient environmental conditions must also be taken into account, including humidity levels, exterior and interior temperatures, sea level, and local weather patterns.
Quality Air Compressors From Airmatic Compressor
Airmatic Compressor is the premier compressor specialist in New Jersey, providing advanced compressor technologies for businesses in a wide range of industries. We specialize in high-performance compressor solutions, including air compressor condensate drains, nitrogen generators, and more.
For technical or service-related questions, please contact us or request a quote today.