Air Compressor Dryers: What Are My Choices?

When you’re shopping for air compressor dryers, the choices may seem endless. Every brand seems to have its own special product that they claim is totally different than the rest. Although small details can make a huge difference in performance, there are really only two main types of air compressor dryers: refrigerated and desiccant.

Refrigerated dryers are subdivided into three more categories: cycling, non-cycling, and high temperature. However, they all work essentially the same way. By cooling the air inside of it to 33° to 39°F, these air compressor dryers reduce the dew point enough that water in the air condenses, capturing within its drops any dust, particulates, or free oil that may have been carried by the air. Once it has been contained, this water is usually drained from the machine via an automatic drain valve. By reducing the water and debris in the air going into the compressor, this dryer decreases the wear and tear on the machinery, resulting in longer life and increased efficiency.

Another type of air compressor dryer, desiccant dryers are categorized as heatless, heated purge, or blower purge. Unlike refrigerated dryers, which rid air of water using temperature, desiccant dryers use different types of materials to absorb the water from the air. A common design known as “dual” or “twin towers” uses two alternately active tanks, each containing a dessicant, to dry the air with absorption. While one tank’s desiccant dries air, the other is being “purged,” removing the water from the desiccant contained inside so it can be used again. Accordingly, the active tank is known as the drying tank, while the other is known as the purging tank. Once the drying tank reaches its capacity, they switch. In heatless models, some of the dried air is used to purge the inactive tank, while in heated purge models, heated air is blown into the purge tank to speed up the drying process. In blower purge models, a combination of heat and the surrounding air is used to dry the inactive tank.

Although both types of air compressor dryers serve the same purpose, they each have their own unique method of achieving the goal: to provide your compressor with clean, low humidity air, and save you money on repairs and excess energy usage.

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