It can sometimes feel like the winter has no redeeming features for workers in manual and industrial jobs, especially those located outside, but not all of the effects of cold weather on industrial air compressors are negative.
For example, the air passing through your system has to come from somewhere, and when that source is colder, it means the inlet air going into your air compressor is already denser.
This effectively gives the compressor a head start, allowing higher levels of compression to be achieved with less energy expended.
However, it’s worth noting that experts disagree on how well this increase in mass flow works to save energy in the real world, as well as disputing whether it’s best on rotary screw compressors with or without oil, or on centrifugal compressors.
On the other hand, there are some clear negative aspects of colder weather that affect industrial air compressors unless you take precautions to prevent them.
For example, in oil-lubricated compressors, the colder oil becomes thicker, and this increase in viscosity can cause it to be less effective as a lubricant, and may even increase the amount of energy it takes to turn the compressor.
Any water or condensate present in the system – including condensation that may have collected in the low points of your pipework – can also pose a risk in extremely cold weather.
For this reason, the winter is a good time to check how well your air compressor dryers and filters are working, and look for any signs of condensate where it should not be found.
Having said all of that, remember that all air compressors come with a recommended safe operating temperature range, so you should take action to avoid running them below their stated minimum temperature.
Remember too that the outdoor air temperature might not necessarily be the same as your air compressor’s running temperature – it may generate a certain amount of heat of its own, especially in enclosed spaces, and any indoor location is likely to be warmer than outside to an extent.