How to Determine Your Cost of Compressed Air

Compressed air plays a role in a staggering number of applications and industries. A serious home mechanic or solid auto repair place uses a variety of pneumatic tools, such as impact wrenches, spray guns, and orbital sanders. At the industrial facilities level, you see compressed air used for clamping, stamping, injection molding, and more.

The potential home mechanic and factory owner face a similar problem. You must figure out the cost of compressed air for your purposes.

If you’re considering a compressed air system, keep reading and we’ll offer a strategy and some tips for calculating the cost.

Understand the Actual Costs

For most equipment, the initial purchase price represents the lion’s share of the cost. After that, it’s primarily maintenance with some electricity thrown into the mix. For compressed air, everything is inverted.

Electricity represents about 3/4 of the total cost over the system’s lifetime. The actual equipment and installation run you about 12% of lifetime cost. Maintenance accounts for the remainder.

Calculating the Cost of Compressed Air

You’ll need a few specific pieces of information or your best guesses for an initial calculation. Specifically, you need the expected run time in hours, compressor/system wattage rating, and your local electricity cost. As a general rule, electricity is measured in kilowatt-hours.

You should figure your run time hours for a specific period, such as a month, for ease of long-term projections.

You start by multiplying your voltage by the system wattage. This gives you a general power-used-per-hour figure.

You multiply that power-used-per-hour number by the run time to get your wattage hours. You can divide that by 1000 for kilowatt-hours. You multiply that by your local electricity cost for compressed air costs over a specific time period.

Other Considerations

Something else that you must consider in your calculations is the efficiency of the different compressed air systems. A Gast air motor, for example, will differ from other motors in terms of its overall electricity use. More efficient equipment typically costs more at the outset, but will often prove less costly in the long-term.

You must also consider overall maintenance demands, such as filter change frequency and cleaning frequency, as these add small but measurable costs to your system. The more frequent the filter changes and cleanings, the more that system costs overall.

Don’t neglect considerations of overall system size. An oversized compressed air system will cost you in wasted electricity. An undersized air compressor will cost you in lost productivity.

Compressed Air Over Time

If you’re getting your first system, you’ll either make some educated guesses or rely on the judgment of professionals. If you do make educated guesses, make sure you recalculate your cost of compressed air once you possess hard data. This will let you make more accurate projections for future costs.

If your business will rely heavily on compressed air, get some professional input about your needs. Experts in the area can likely provide you fairly accurate information about your total needs in terms of a system.

Looking for more business and financial advice? Take a look in our business section for more helpful posts.

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