Belt Drive Versus Direct Drive? Which Air Compressor To Choose

Posted on: 23 January 2019

Compressed air is important for many reasons, especially in industrial and manufacturing facilities. This air may be necessary for automating equipment, powering tools, and even moving vehicles and assembly/production lines. If you own or run an industrial or manufacturing facility, knowing all of your options before choosing an air compressor is smart. This guide will help you understand the differences between belt drive and direct drive air compressors and which option is right for your specific needs.

Belt Drive Versus Direct Drive

One of the first things to remember is that rotary air compressors are available in a belt drive or direct drive version. Each option works effectively and can be beneficial to your needs, but they are very different. A belt drive compressor consists of a belt that is connected to the motor of the compressor pump. When the motor runs, the belt turns, powering the pump to your air compressor. With a direct drive air compressor, the crankshaft is connected directly to the compressor's motor.

Many experts believe a belt drive compressor is better because a properly lubricated belt system will run in a more smooth manner, which can be both efficient and quiet. On the other hand, belts can wear down, causing you to repair or replace the belts to ensure the compressor is able to function again.

Since there is no belt system, a direct drive compressor will be easier to run and maintain. Oil or any type of lubrication is not required, reducing operating and maintenance costs/time even further. Without a belt system, a direct drive compressor can also produce more power, which is beneficial for effective and efficient function.

Which Is Right For Your Needs?

You can most likely see the benefits of a belt drive and a direct drive compressor. Therefore, choosing the right one for your facility's needs can be a challenge.

Adjustability is important for many. If you need to adjust the speed and power of your compressor, choosing a belt drive compressor may be a better option. However, if reliability, ease of maintenance, cost-effectiveness, and power is more important, a direct drive compressor without the belt system can be a good investment for your industrial or manufacturing needs.

No matter which option you choose, you need to focus on a few factors to make a smart decision for your business's needs. The cubic feet per minute, or CFM, is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a new air compressor. The total CFM your compressor will need to produce depends on what your compressor will be used for.

To determine the right CFM, total up the total CFM requirements for all of the tools/equipment your compressor will be used for. Then, add an additional 30 percent to accommodate any extra tools and equipment you may require, but have not accounted for.

If you are not sure how many CFM certain tools/equipment require, check the owner's manual or contact the manufacturer for the exact recommendations.

When choosing an air compressor, either a belt drive or direct drive, focus primarily on the actual CFM. Also known as the ACFM, the actual CFM because the cubic feet per minute are calculated around actual situations using different variables, offering a more detailed estimate on how much speed and power your air compressor produces.

Because determining the ACFM is a bit extensive, many professionals bring in engineers to conduct the calculations. This can actually be a great investment for your company, ensuring you purchase the exact compressor you need without increased costs and wasted energy.

Learn more about belt drive and direct drive rotary compressors from a local company.


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