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Air Compressors Buyer's Guide - Compressors And Energy Costs

Air Compressors Buyer's Guide - Compressors And Energy Costs

Published: 03/26/2011

» Business Equipment

Compressors And Energy Costs


Operating costs for an air compressor can be surprisingly high. Estimates differ, but industry experts say that over a five or ten year span, you can expect the cost of the machine and all maintenance to make up only 10% to 30% of the total cost of ownership. The other 70% to 90% is purely the energy cost to run it.


For example, start with a typical electricity cost of eight cents per kWh. At that rate, a 15 hp compressor running eight hours per day, six days a week, will use $2,000 to $3,000 in electricity annually. A 100 hp compressor in a two-shift operation can consume $35,000 in electricity in a year – much more than the initial cost of the compressor itself.


The smart business shopper will recognize that saving 20% or 30% on the initial purchase cost is insignificant compared to the overall costs. Get the most efficient compressor you can, even if you pay a premium to get it by comparing the CAGI data sheet for each model you’re considering.


The Compressed Air and Gas Institute (CAGI) is a non-profit industry association that has developed standards for testing and reporting statistics on air compressors, including flow, pressure, horsepower – and expected energy consumption. The data sheets are similar to the yellow energy efficiency stickers you see on appliances: the net result is that you’ll be comparing apples to apples.


Any dealer should be able to provide the CAGI data sheet for the compressor you’re considering. Also, some manufacturers make them available on their web sites. Be sure to include this step in your evaluation.