Ask the Expert: Where should I place my receiver tank in my compressed air system?

Q: Where should I place my receiver tank in my compressed air system?

A: Where you put your tank really depends on what you want it to do. Receiver tanks can perform a number of valuable functions in a compressed air system:

  • Remove liquid moisture formed at the discharge of the compressor;
  • Provide a cooling zone to allow moisture vapor (and oil aerosols) to condense into liquid;
  • Create a volume buffer that reduces compressor cycling on and off;
  • Provide volume for users that are not getting stable air supply or for large, periodic demands that exceed the capacity of the compressor;
  • Reduce compressor run time and save energy.

Many industrial compressed air systems have two (or more) tanks: a “wet tank” before the dryer to reduce the moisture load on the dryer, and a “dry tank” after all dryers and filters for compressed air storage. Some systems benefit from tanks closer to points of use for large, intermittent demands. 
Since many shops invest in only one tank, a wet tank is usually the better choice.  It can separate a large portion of the moisture naturally occurring during compression before it enters the dryer. It will also store air and reduce compressor cycling on and off too rapidly. As a rule of thumb, the equipment order for most small shops should be:

  • Compressor
  • Tank with automatic drain
  • Refrigerated dryer with automatic drain
  • Coalescing oil filter with automatic drain

Information provided by: Kaeser Compressors, Inc.