Compressed Air Basics: Air Compressor Separator

Air compressors are essential pieces of equipment used in many different industries and applications. They are extremely durable and can withstand as long as 100,000 hours of frequent use, which is equivalent to more than 15 years. Aside from being durable, air compressors are also versatile machines that can be used for a variety of tasks that require air in an increased pressure or in a reduced volume.


To ensure optimal operation, it is essential to use an air compressor separator. Most air compressors available on the market today do come with a compressor separator, however if your equipment doesn’t feature one, you should consider buying an air compressor separator and have it installed on your air compressor. Using an air compressor separator in a compressed air application is necessary for a number of reasons. For example, if your air compressor cut-out pressure is at 150 PSI or even higher, you may be wasting fluid because not many air-using applications need a compressed air supply at this pressure level. In other words, the separator controls the pressure of air and ensures you get only the sufficient amount for your application.

A separator uses two gauges: one before the compressor separator monitors higher tank pressure and another one after its monitors air-line pressure. To provide an efficient operation, an air compressor separator has to:

  1. Provide air at constant pressure regardless or upstream flow variation or pressure
  2. Reduces the quantity of pressurized air that is wasted, thus allowing the system to perform more economically
  3. Enhance operation efficiency
  4. Promote safety by operating the actuator at lower pressure
  5. Increase component life
  6. Produces readily controlled variable air pressures when required

One of the main advantages of using an air compressor separator in a pneumatic system for example, is that by regulating the pressure down to the lowest functioning level during the application, you can reduce the costs related to compressed air generation. Compressed air is a fluid, and we can say that it is one of the most expensive types of fluid since it requires other forms of energy in its generation. Running your air tools at low pressure setting whenever possible will save you a great amount of money.

It is important to mention that the accuracy of the air compressor separator is directly connected to its level of quality. Low quality separators provide different degree of response time and accuracy than high-quality air regulators. In addition to quality, when purchasing an air compressor separator look for these features as well:

  • Low carryover – to reduce the amount of make-up fluid required, reducing maintenance costs.
  • Low differential pressure – to provide more energy efficiency which saves money
  • Pleated micro glass media – to provide more surface area so elements last longer
  • Guarantee – to perform for 6000 to 8000 hours under normal conditions