Wednesday, September 20

Differentiating Between Intake & Inline Filters

You have probably heard the terms 'intake filter' and 'inline filter' when discussing your air compressor.  Believe it or not, these are describing two different filter systems within your air compressor.  Read below to understand the difference between an intake and inline filter.

Intake Filters

Intake filters (also called inlet filters) filter the ambient air before it goes through the compression process. This filter is the first piece of your compressor that will encounter the air. Because of this, the rest of the compressor system relies on it to be able to pull the air in and pull out the larger pieces of particulate that may try to sneak in. This helps to clean the air prior to compression and helps protect the internal components of your compressor. Most models come with an intake filter already installed, but if you find that your compressor is missing one, it is essential to get an intake filter installed immediately.

Inline Filters

Inline filters are used after the compression process to remove particles, aerosols, oil vapors, and other contaminants before the pressurized air is released for use. These filters are used to ensure no contaminants enter your production process. Inline filters must be purchased separately and added to your compressed air system, positioned after the air compressor itself. There are multiple kinds of inline filters you can purchase dependent on the contaminants that need to be removed and your applications. Below are the three most common inline filters:

  • Particulate Filters

    • Particulate filters remove the larger, coarse, solid particles from the air. Examples of contaminant they remove include dirt, pollen, metallic elements, cottonwood, and dust. This is done by filter material trapping and holding the particulate as the air passes through. Because it holds onto the particulate, this filter element must be replaced every few months.
  • Coalescing Filters

    • Coalescing filters attack the finer particles that are a single micron in size or smaller. In general, they can filter out water, oil, aerosols, and other fluids but cannot stop vapors. Instead of the filter material trapping these particles, the filter material causes the small liquid droplets to stick together and form larger drops. These larger drops fall to the bottom of the filter where they are drained out. These filter elements should also be changed every few months due to some excess solid particles slipping through and building up, causing a block to the clean air flow.
  •  Activated Carbon Filters

    • Activated carbon filters utilize adsorption to remove gases and vapors from the compressed air stream. Adsorption utilizes a specific media filter that encourages the vapors to bond and stick together, catching them as the air gets cleaned and passes through. These filters use activated carbon or charcoal to collect and remove the contaminants. These filters also need to be replaced every few months due to some of the finer charcoal particles eventually coming loose and causing risk of entering the clean airstream.




Zorn is the Midwest leader of custom, engineered compressed air and vacuum solutions. We provide the best customer experience by understanding your applications and needs and offering an unparalleled commitment to customer satisfaction. 

Our comprehensive product and service solutions keep you running 24/7.

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Our compressed air experts look forward to meeting you to discuss your equipment and support needs. Please contact us directly at (262) 695-7000 with any questions or to schedule service for your system moving forward.

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