An air compressor is a device that generates power using air pressure by compressing atmospheric air to operate various air tools. You need some type of piping system for the compressed air to travel and run the operation that connects the compressor and the air tool. But since you are here, reading this article, we can safely assume that you already know this. In most cases, the users seem to mostly focus on the air compression process and the compressing device itself and don’t pay much attention to the piping system.

However, the air distribution system of your setup has a significant impact on the overall efficiency of your machine, and we strongly believe that the compressed air piping system connecting the compressor to the end-user devices deserves equal attention, if not more. You will face problems like unnecessary pressure drop resulting in an adverse effect on your machine performance when your air piping design is not done correctly. And, the inevitable power loss due to the faulty compressor piping system will be a costly mistake for you. So, you should pay attention to your layout, materials, installation, and future maintenance of your air compressor piping system to prevent waste of energy and save money.

air compressor piping system

However, developing this air compressor wiring diagram is quite a complicated process. You have to give much thought to different aspects according to the requirements of your projects to come up with an appropriate piping system layout for your workspace and understand the piping requirements before installation. For instance, let’s assume you have to set up a paint spraying workstation, and you need to design a piping layout for that. Then you should consider implementing the air compressor piping diagram close to an outside wall because you will be requiring heavy air filtering and good ventilation for this type of operation.

But don’t worry. We are here to rescue. This article will provide you with the necessary information, extended guideline, and helpful tips about the best ways to prepare the appropriate air compressor piping layout for your workshop.

General Rules for air compressor piping system

  • Read and properly understand the piping requirements of your system before installation. Seek expert’s help if necessary.
  • Smooth airflow around the system must be ensured when designing the air inlet and outlet.
  • Drain the system using the drain valves regularly and adjust the intervals as the need. Drain valves are used to dispose of the contaminants accumulating in the system, especially during heavy use. 
  • The discharge pipe and the compressor outlet has to be of the same size.
  • The air should be allowed to cool down at room temperature. So, the main lines should slope at least 0.1 m (almost 4 inches) away before it travels through the pipes.
  • The first air drop should be 50 feet away from the compressor for the performance to be optimum. 
  • Same air drop should not be used by multiple users
  • Shut-off valves must be installed. It will allow the air to stop along the way when filter maintenance is required.
  • Install an extra receiver at the end of the line to help you with the peak air demands.

Top tips for developing air compressor piping diagrams

Moisture Control

Moisture and water are pretty harmful to the air compressor and problematic for the air compressing process. But this a byproduct of the compressing system that we can’t totally avoid. Moisture present in the atmospheric air becomes compressed with the air during the compressing process and converts to its liquid state, water. This water is deposited in the pipes and other parts, corrodes these parts, and forms rust in the long run. This phenomenon results in damaging the components of the machine and reduces the air pressure by creating turbulence.

Moreover, the rust flakes also create obstacles for the operation by traveling to the air tool. They clog the nozzles of the end-user equipment damaging the device along with sabotaging the project. So, this is a problem that you can’t overlook.

Changing the inlet supply source

One way to deal with this, probably the easiest way, is by changing the inlet supply source. Water is heavier than air, and after compressing, the water will occupy the bottom of the tank. So, if we use the top portion of the tank’s air, we should not have to face any moisture-related problems.

Loop type distribution

Another way to deal with this is to use a loop-style piping system. In this method, we will set the main header line in a loop. In this way, the air flows from the compressor on both sides while using a drip leg with an automatic drain. When the airflow is downstream, the water will go down the drip leg, and the auto tank will drain the contaminant out. And, when the air is running upward, the water, because of the weight, will come back down.

loop style piping system

The basic concept here is to make it difficult for the water to go up and easier to go down.

Aftercooler filter

An aftercooler can also be used to get rid of the moisture. Its work is to cool the air down and separate the water from the air before the air gets into the pipe.

aftercooler filter for air compressors

Dryers

Drying the air to separate the moisture before feeding it to the compressor with the use of a dryer is another way that can be utilized.

compressed air dryers

Air piping diagram angle

When working on your air compressor hose diagram, you should always avoid sharp angles. This has pretty detrimental effects on piping air to the air tool. Because these sudden sharp angles slow down the flow of air, and as a result, the pressure also drops.

Let me explain it with an example. Imagine you are driving your car going smoothly through the road, suddenly you see a sharp angle turn. Now, what will you do? You’ll, of course, hit the brake and slow down, right? That’s what the air flowing through the air compressor pipe does too.

Sharp turn interrupts the airflow and slows it down. So, to speed up again, the flow of air ricochets around the air pipes wastes energy, subsequently resulting in pressure loss.

Keep a straight path

Straight path is the best for the air flow in air compressor systems. If implementing a straight piping layout is not possible, then keep the number of tees, elbows, and other fittings in the air distribution piping as low as possible to at least have an acceptable pressure drop.

Avoid sharp angles

If you keep a 90-degree elbow in your air compressor piping, a huge probability that you will lose 3 to 5 PSID air compressor pressure due to turbulence, which’s a massive waste of energy.

Keep the air system piping angle from 30 to 45 degrees to maintain optimal performance and pressure efficiency.

Pipe Materials

The variety of materials used to build the air system have a significant effect on pressure efficiency. Using pipes of unsuitable material will hinder the energy efficiency and performance, may result in mechanical failure, and may even cause accidents and severe injury during work. The compressed air piping materials basically fall into two categories-

Plastic

The advantages of plastic pipe are that

-it is a non-corrosive pipe material.

 -easier to handle.

 -comparatively less expensive.

plastic air pipe for compression

However, there are some drawbacks. Plastic pipes are less durable. More importantly, they won’t be able to handle high air temperature and high air pressure.

Suitable plastic pipes-

  • Polyethylene (PE)
  • High-density polyethylene (HDPE)
  • Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS)
suitable plastic pipes

Metal

If you ask any professional, they will definitely choose metal pipes over plastic ones, and there are solid reasons for that.

-metallic pipes have better strength and rigidity; hence they have better durability.
-metallic pipes are capable of withstanding high pressure and temperature.
-compressor lubricants won’t be able to degrade metal piping easily.

metallic pipes for air compressor

However, metal piping is expensive and corrosive in many cases; installing and maintaining these kinds of pipes takes more effort.

There are different kinds of pipes in this category-

  • Stainless steel pipe
  • Black steel pipe
  • Galvanized steel pipe
  • Aluminum pipe
  • Copper pipe
metal air piping system for compression

Obstruction

By obstruction, we mean the contaminants or phenomena that narrow the path of airflow and interrupt the flow of air supply in the system resulting in pressure drop. Among other things, corrosion and rust is the main reason for these kinds of problems. As we mentioned, they narrow down the path of airflow by accumulating and clogging the air pipe; The rust flakes and other debris flying with the air stream can damage your compressing machine and air tools and can also sabotage your works; corrosion by lubricants can create leaks in your air piping system.

Clear blockage

If there is a blockage in your obstructing the airflow. You have to find that and clear the path or change the part. You can isolate the position of the blockage by the difference of pressure. There will be high pressure before the bottleneck, much lower pressure after it.

Air filter

You should use an air filter to prevent the contaminants like dust, debris, and moisture from getting into the system.

air filter to prevent dust

Non-corrosive material

You can use pipes built with non-corrosive materials to tackle the corrosion problem.

Pipe size and distance

Size

You should choose the pipe diameter according to the need of your operation. The output pressure will be higher with a narrower pipe, but higher pressure doesn’t always mean good. Higher pressure won’t magically improve your work efficiency. On top of that, operating continuously at a higher pressure is harmful to your machine parts and tools, leading to costly maintenance. So, you should choose an appropriate size according to your need.

Distance

Try to keep the distance between the system and the operation (or the point of use) as close as possible. There is an energy loss (resulting in pressure loss) due to the air traveling a distance, and the longer the distance, the higher the energy loss.

Temperature

It is crucial to maintain a recommended temperature level in the system. Temperature fluctuation in the system has a negative effect on the operation.

Too much low temperature may condensate the air in the system. On the other hand, too high a temperature may damage the pipes and even cause accidents.

Expansion

This is not a must, but if possible, you should consider if there is any possibility of expansion of your system in the future while designing the compressor piping diagram. Then, when the time comes, it will be much easier to modify and much less expensive.

Conclusion

So, now you know the importance of the air piping system in air compressors. We hope that the tips and suggestions in this article will help you design the appropriate air system for your compressor and secure optimal performance and efficiency. Follow our tips to minimize the damage to your machine, most importantly, to ensure the safety of your own.

Thank you for reading.

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Author

Hi, and welcome to Toolented. My name is Michael D. Sanders. I am a Mechanical Engineer by degree, who is a blogger by passion, and this combination of knowledge and passion is what brought Toolented to life. On my blog website, you will find necessary information about your needed automotive tools, reviews of your potential choices, and comparisons between different types of tools. To learn more click here.

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