Monday, March 11

The Cost of Compressed Air

The cost of compressed air is a little more complex than just the cost of the machine itself. There are lots of aspects that contribute to how much it costs a business to operate their compressed air system. Let’s investigate what makes up the cost of compressed air:

Compressor Type

Different models and sizes of air compressors bring with them varying price tags. For example, reciprocating, or piston, compressors are great for light to medium duty applications. They generally cost less than similarly sized rotary screw compressors, as rotary screws are made for heavier duty applications and are the most popular choice when it comes to compressed air. There are also costs associated with installation and startup of the machine as well. The more complex the installation project, the more expensive it will be. Needing to re-pipe a facility or build a dedicated compressed air room are two major factors that can increase the cost of installation.


Electricity is the most expensive operating costs associated with compressed air. In fact, when considering all aspects that contribute to how much operating your compressor system costs, electricity makes up ¾ of total costs. Electricity costs can vary depending on the cost per kilowatt hour which can change depending on the utility provider and location.


The amount of time your compressor is running also plays a role in how much operating your compressed air system will cost. The longer the runtime, the more electricity being used, and the higher the cost. Of course, these costs also vary depending on the different compressed air system ratings your specific unit has. Below are a few ratings to consider when calculating your compressed air costs.

Pressure (PSIG)

The amount of pressure your system is designed to produce to provide airflow that meets your demand, can change the cost associated with compressed air. The higher the required pressure, the more energy your system must provide to reach this pressure, thus the more it may cost.

Capacity (CF)

Capacity refers to the rate at which your compressor can produce air at a given pressure level. Greater capacity means the more air provided or the more machines that can be operated, thus sometimes raising the cost.

Horsepower (HP)

The power a compressor’s motor exerts is considered horsepower. Horsepower affects cost when it is in relation to CFM and PSIG. When they are working at a more efficient ratio together, the initial purchase price may be higher, but the operating efficiencies contribute to lower costs. If it is an inefficient system, the initial purchase price will be lower, but the continued operating costs will be higher.

Tank Size

Tank size can both increase initial costs but decrease long run costs. Storage tanks are utilized to hold already compressed air. The larger the tank, the more air that can be stored. While larger tanks may cost more at first, they allow already compressed air to be stored and used when needed, increasing the amount of rest time your compressor can obtain, thus saving money on energy and potential wear-and-tear.


Maintenance & repairs are unavoidable facets to owning a compressed air system. Planned maintenance schedules can vary depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations and machine type. Planned maintenance can also help to reduce the risk of emergency repairs, which can be costly depending on the severity of the issue and the part that needs repairing. Older machines are more susceptible to breakdowns and demand more frequent repairs. Zorn Compressor & Equipment offers hassle-free Maintenance Agreements unique to each customer to avoid emergency repairs and breakdowns.
To learn how to decrease your compressed air costs, read our blog post, “Top Ways to Reduce Your Compressed Air Costs.”



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.

  • Reliable equipment
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  • Local, 24/7 service

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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