Air-Cooled Compressors vs. Water-Cooled Compressors

A common consideration for individuals when selecting a rotary screw compressor is whether to go with an air-cooled or a water-cooled model. While both variations have their advantages and disadvantages, the majority of rotary screw compressors are air-cooled. Air-cooled versions are generally more readily available and require less installation costs. Nonetheless, there are some applications that benefit from water-cooled compressors.

An air-cooled compressor uses air to bring down the temperature of the compressed air and any other material present. When the compressor generates heat, the air-cooled circuit cools the hot air with a fan and radiator. As such, industries are able to recover the heat loss for an air-cooled compressor by using the energy to heat buildings or power a preheating battery; thus, it saves companies money on utility expenses.

A water-cooled compressor, on the other hand, uses liquid coolant from an external unit to reduce the temperature of the compressed air and any other substances present during the compression process. The cooling circuit cools the air with a shell and tube exchanger. In general, water-cooled units are more common in high-horsepower applications. Moreover, companies can repurpose the water from the compressor in a hot water heating system for showering, washing, or cleaning.

Energy Costs Explained

One of the most important factors to take into consideration when purchasing an air compressor cooling system is the energy costs. Please note that air-cooled units necessitate more power than water-cooled units. However, water-cooled compressors are more costly because of their electricity and water expenses; thereby, air-cooled can save you money in this regard.

Another concern you may encounter is the ability to recover resources. Both types of compressor cooling systems provide reusable resources to recoup energy expenditure costs. For instance, you can reuse a liquid-cooled unit’s water to preheat boilers, allowing you to save on gas and heating bills. Additionally, you can utilize the heated air from an air-cooled unit to make a room warmer and power a fluid heat exchanger.

Requirements for Air-Cooled Compressors

Air-cooled screw compressors require ample cool air and space to provide sufficient airflow. In addition, improper installation and planning can result in issues with regulating your commercial facility’s temperature. To protect your equipment and maintain continuous workflow, you must install ductwork from both ends of the compressor, enabling air to make its way through your space evenly. Furthermore, you can also utilize the heat from the vents to warm up your space in colder months.

Requirements for Water-Cooled Compressors

Water-cooled screw compressors need top-quality cooling water to operate properly. For example, water from a lake, river, ocean, or well must be filtered with a cooling tower and closed-loop system. If your facilities do not have such equipment, you must include the cost of purchasing, installing, and maintaining this machinery, along with the compressor.

Which One Is the Best?

Determining which compressor is better depends on the application in question; thus, you should examine the needs and limitations of your operations. More than that, you should also consider the operational environment your unit will be situated in, making sure to include appropriate ventilation and layout plans to best suit your requirements.


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