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How to install reliable air compressor systems

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article image Ventilation, maintenance access, shelter and environment should be considered when deciding the installation location for the air compressor

Prior to installing a new air compressor system, one must determine the most suitable location to maximise the unit’s performance. A poor installation location can dramatically decrease efficiency and increase wear and tear leading to higher maintenance costs.

Four key factors to consider when deciding the installation location for the air compressor include ventilation, maintenance access, shelter and environment.


Overheating is one of the leading causes of unscheduled breakdowns in air compressors. Compressed air systems generate large amounts of heat and therefore, require effective ventilation. 

Insufficient ventilation leads to heated air from the compressor exhaust re-circulating around the unit and then being re-inducted into the compressor, increasing the operating temperature of the unit till it eventually shuts down. 

It is advisable to duct the air exhaust of a compressed air system to an outdoor area or a heat recovery system. Regardless of how the exhaust heat is ducted out, addressing this issue at installation time can help extend the life of the compressor. 

Maintenance Access

It is important that the installation location allows for adequate maintenance access. Service technicians need enough room to properly access the compressor to perform preventative and scheduled maintenance, and for any future repairs requiring the removal of component parts within the compressor. Inadequate maintenance access will only increase costs as it will take more time and resources to complete service and repair work.


In many plants, compressors are installed outside to free up floor space inside. However, it is important that the compressor, if installed outside, has a purpose-built, well-ventilated shelter or enclosure to protect it from rain and UV light. 


Compressor installers must beforehand, check the quality of air that will be drawn into the compressor. One can get to know the environment better by evaluating the size and make-up of air-borne particulates and ask questions such as: Is the compressor near a chemical process? Is chemical cleaning being done in the area? Is the compressor likely to ingest abrasive dust particles?Are noxious fumes present?

Most environments fall into one of three categories: clean, dusty or hostile. 

A clean environment is defined as having low dust and debris, and does not require anything beyond standard maintenance. 

Dusty conditions may contain abrasive dust as well as dirt, casting sand, and other airborne particulates, which can be reduced by using a high dust inlet filter. While it may not remove any additional particles, it can reduce frequency of replacement.

A hostile environment is defined as having caustic gases/chemicals, chlorine, ammonia and acids in the air. One solution may be to remove the problem by relocating the compressed air system or the hazardous materials.

The best way to ensure correct installation of air compressors in an appropriate location is by consulting with a compressed air expert so that the compressor runs at peak efficiency and reliability and keeps maintenance costs to a minimum.

Contact Southern Cross Compressors Australia Pty Ltd for more information or advice on selecting a suitable location for air compressors.

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