For customers looking for a new air compressor in the 5-15 kW power range this is a common question.

The answer is it depends on the amount and frequency you require compressed air that dictates the type of compressor suited to your application.

If you are a frequent user of compressed air, as in you require compressed air for long durations of time, such as an entire shift, generally a rotary screw compressor would be best suited to your application. Rotary screw compressors perform at peak efficiency when run for long periods of time and are not suited to short periods of demand and long periods off duty. The majority of rotary screw compressors are oil lubricated so not unlike an engine the warmer it gets the better the lubrication and higher the efficiency. Running a rotary screw compressor in short bursts can cause excessive wear and tear due to running cold, decreasing efficiency and increasing maintenance costs. Rotary screw compressors are generally more expensive than reciprocating compressors but they also come with advantages such as superior efficiency (in suitable applications), and can be programmed to turn off during breaks or at the end of the shift to avoid energy usage when no compressed air is required.

Compressed air users that only require short periods of compressed air and have periods of 15 minutes or longer with no demand are generally better suited to a reciprocating compressor. Reciprocating compressors are air cooled so cannot run for long periods of time or overheating issues will arise. Reciprocating compressors are recommended to short duration compressed air applications as they are generally cheaper and have lower maintenance costs.

To determine whether a reciprocating or rotary screw compressor is best for your application than you need to determine your compressed air usage profile to see which compressor will provide the best balance of price, performance, efficiency and maintenance costs over the long term.

If you would like assistance determining the right compressor for your application don’t hesitate to contact Southern Cross Compressor on 1300 098 201 or simply complete the ‘Enquire Now’ form on this page.