Air Compressor Pressure Switch Adjustment

Air Compressor Pressure Switch Adjustment

Many people are opting for an air compressor to drive their pneumatic tools at home and the tools in the industry. They are versatile gadgets and work great with a wide variety of pneumatic tools. Standardized fitting in the pneumatic tools means that you can easily switch over and work with a variety of them with your air compressor.

In the long run, you can save a lot of money and time if you regularly maintain your air compressor and learn the nuances like setting the right pressure with your pressure switch.

Setting the right pressure is extremely important and will go a long way to extend the life and efficiency of your air compressor and pneumatic tools.


Why Should You Adjust The Air Compressor Pressure Switch?

It is sensible to have the right pressure in your air compressor to run your pneumatic tools optimally. Higher air pressure can be detrimental to your tools and your compressor.

The pressure switch control is the most basic and important setting in your compressor.

How to Adjust Air Compressor Pressure Switch

It determines how much air pressure is needed to run a pneumatic device. When you set the pressure controller, it is important to realize that less is better!

If your air compressor is set to run at 125 PSI and your pneumatic tool recommends lesser pressure settings, it makes sense to reduce the pressure settings in your air compressor.

With higher than the recommended pressure settings for your pneumatic tools, you risk damaging it! It makes sense to throttle the pressure according to the tool’s needs.

This will save on energy and the costs incurred in the long run. The added benefit is, of course, the less wear and tear on your air compressor and pneumatic tool.

Some Things To Consider Before You Adjust Your Air Compressors Pressure Switch-

All compressors have an internal pressure switch that controls the ‘cut in’ and ‘cut out’. It basically means when the motor turns on and when it turns off.

The time between ‘cut in’ and ‘cut out’ is set by the manufacturer. This is called the differential value. The ‘cut out’ happens when the compressor is full. 

You can lessen the time between the differential value to decrease the pressure. You can even increase the pressure by increasing the differential value. But that is strictly not recommended.

In old, poorly maintained compressors, anything higher than the recommended pressure could prove dangerous!

You also need to understand that there two types of pressure switches. One comes with a fixed differential value and the other with an adjustable pressure differential. Read the manual to find out the type of pressure switch you have.

How To Adjust Air Compressor Pressure Switch

Step-By-Step Procedure:

Now that you have understood the principle behind the air compressor switch, it’s time to take a look at the process of your air compressor pressure switch adjustment.

  • Unplug your compressor and open the cover of your pressure switch.
  • Set the ‘cut in’ pressure point first. In most cases, the pressure screw will be closest to the motor. If in doubt, refer to the manual. Turning it clockwise will make it kick in later, under higher pressure. Turning it anti-clockwise, makes it kick in later, under lower pressure.
  • Use the drain valve in your compressor to drain out the release pressure in your compressor and then plug it in. Check your new ‘cut in’ pressure. If you want to tweak it further, unplug and drain the compressor before adjusting the pressure switch to avoid electric shock.
  • Set the ‘cut out’ pressure between 20-30 PSI higher than the ‘cut in’ pressure. Unplug the compressor as always, turn the pressure screw clockwise once for a higher pressure level or turn it anti-clockwise once for lower pressure. It is important to maintain a pressure difference of at least 20 PSI between ‘cut in’ and ‘cut out’.
  • In a fixed differential pressure switch, you have a single screw threaded with a spring. Turning the screw clockwise will simultaneously increase ‘cut in’ and ‘cut out’ pressure. Turning it anti-clockwise will simultaneously decrease ‘cut in’ and ‘cut out’ pressure.

Now that you have learned to tweak the pressure settings on your air compressor, you must be raring to try it out.

Before Doing So Please Adhere To The Following Measures-

  • Always unplug your air compressor before adjusting your pressure switch.
  • Wear safety goggles and gloves.
  • Always drain your compressor before tweaking its pressure switch. With water inside, you cannot set the pressure accurately. Too much pressure could have devastating consequences!
  • Never ever increase the pressure differential. There is a risk of your compressor and pneumatic tools getting damaged. The compressor can also burst!
  • Perform the operation in a clutter-free area with good ventilation.
  • Last but not least, do not perform any operation under the influence of alcohol or any medication that may hamper clear thinking.
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A Note On The Safety Valve

Even if this is not directly related to tweaking your compressor’s pressure switch, it is important to know about the safety valve. You need to be careful if you are tempted to coax out more from your compressor.

Nowadays, all air compressors come with a safety valve. This safety valve is set to trigger at about 150 PSI. It contains a small spring that compresses when there is excess pressure and releases air to reduce pressure.

This safety valve, however, is not foolproof. In older or poorly maintained compressors, the little spring in the safety valve may rust. It will not trigger when the pressure is high. In this scenario, your indispensable air compressor will turn into a ticking bomb! It is prudent to change your safety valve with a new one every couple of years.

To Sum Up

Adjusting a pressure switch comes in real handy when you are using a powerful compressor to drive a low power pneumatic tool. You can extend the life of your air compressor and save on electricity when running them underpowered.

As always working with powerful gadgets has its own risks. Read up on the manual before taking up such a task. Regular draining and maintaining the correct power differential will help your air compressor last a lifetime!

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