Whether to Use a Refrigerated Air Dryer

Wise woodworkers use air dryers to protect their air-powered equipment from atmospheric humidity. Here's more discussion. June 17, 2013

I went to my air compressor dealer today to get a new regulator and my sales guy was showing me a unit that dries the air as it comes from the compressor. I seems to remember some of you guys mentioning these units before. Anyway, he said that it would make a world of difference in my finish and that the auto body shops that have bought them just love them and would not spray without them. I was just wondering if any of you guys use one of these units and if so, how much difference does it really make? The unit he was trying to sell me costs about $1300.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor C:
We have an Ingersol Rand Nirvana air dryer and it does make a world of difference for both our spraying and our machines. I paid $2200.

From contributor D:
Clean, dry, compressed air is essential for pneumatic machinery and finishing. If you're using a wide belt sander, molder, boring machinery, nail guns, etc, you'll benefit from an air dryer. You'll save yourself time, money, and aggravation from the maintenance and downtime that results from moisture in your air lines. Proper installation and setup of an air dryer is important, but you can easily do it yourself. Check the Knowledge Base, I'll bet the info is there.

From contributor U:
I have a Donaldson and it works great.

From contributor W:
I purchased a Quincy at an auction and was able to switch quick (we run Injection moulding machines 8-16 hours a day on the same system). I looked at creating smaller localized systems for the CNC and edgebander. I did look at Harbor Freight and found when compared to Grainger, Northern, and a few others the prices were not off base. The Quincy is working very well and with the rebuilt Kaeser on standby - here in the south it is a must have.

From contributor E:
Here in CA I can't see spending the cash, especially for a small shop. The humidity just isn't ever that high, and what is there can be precipitated by a long run of pipe. Run a filter bowl before sensitive machinery or spray equipment and you're good to go. Directly from my compressor, I have a 10' pipe running up the wall then back down, followed by a filter bowl. This first filter catches 90% of the water. The rest is caught in another filter right before it enters a machine. My spray booth is at the end of a run of about 100 feet of pipe. The filter in there has never had a drop of water in it. I don't spray solvent-based finishes, so your mileage may vary.

From the original questioner:
I appreciate all the responses. I had no idea that everyone was using these. I have an inline filter that I drain from time to time but have noticed also that some water does get by. Iím in Kentucky and sometimes the humidity does get pretty high in the summer. I will look further into this.

From contributor T:
We have a budget setup from Eaton that has been working well. We never even get air in the receiver tank with the in-line dryer. We have an aftercooler (a fan cooled radiator with compressed air instead of fluid inside) between the compressor and the air dryer. That way, the refrigerator doesn't have to deal with the hotter air.