This is Why Compressed Air is So Expensive!

By - Ron Singh

Updated -

Compressed air is a vital utility in industrial workplaces and factory facilities. It also cleans out dirt and debris stuck inside laptop and desktop keyboards.

However, running compressed air is expensive, and many factors contribute to this high expense. 

Understanding how to use compressed air properly will reduce the cost of running it and avoid wastage.

This article highlights and explains why compressed air is so expensive and how to go about it.

Compressed air is mainly expensive due to the huge amount of electricity air compressor machines draw. Mismanagement and waste from manufacturers also add to the high cost of running compressed air. The energy that could have been put to work generating more compressed air wastes away as heat. 

Why Is Compressed Air so Costly?

Why Is Compressed Air so Expensive

The reason why compressed air is so costly is majorly due to the high volume of electricity it takes to compress air.

Compressed air aids various industrial activities, including bottling, manufacturing, woodcarving, etc. 

It is an extremely useful application in business production which has made the high cost of compressing air a major source of concern over the years.

This concern has eventually led to the development of effective cost reduction techniques. Also added to this is the cost of running air compressors. 

Naturally, the size of an industry and the duration of time activities last for the day will affect the amount of compressed air it would need.

A bottling plant that is fully operational all day round will consume more compressed air than a small-scale workshop. However, Air Compressor technology has improved with time. 

The type of Air compressor you use will seriously affect the cost of running and maintaining it. More energy-efficient Air Compressors draw less power, hence reducing cost.

In addition to this, below are examples of a few cost-effective practices you can follow to reduce expenses while running compressed air:

#1. Reduce pressure

An increase in pressure directly increases the equipment’s energy consumption. Likewise, a reduction in pressure directly reduces the machine’s energy consumption.

Applying a higher pressure for a low-pressure application is a bad practice that eventually leads to energy waste. Higher pressure loads may seem more effective. However, this is not the case.

Regulating the pressure load and correctly calibrating the amount of pressure needed to perform specific jobs will reduce costs and avoid waste. 

#2. Switching off equipment, not in use

Leaving your system on when not in use is a huge waste of energy and will add to costs. When compressed air is not needed, switch the system off.

If you operate a business or a plant that uses compressed air, turn off the system during weekends.

#3. Make use of a heat recovery system.

A huge amount of the energy used to compress air wastes away as heat. A heat recovery system enables you to reclaim that lost heat and stretch your equipment’s capacity to compress more air for longer. 

Ensuring your machine runs as efficiently as possible is a major criterion in reducing cost and cutting off wastage.

Since energy consumption is the biggest expense in producing compressed air, utilizing efficient methods and trimming wastages is necessary.

Below is a list of a few portable air compressors that are cheap and very easy to use:

Compressor Description
RIDGID 6-Gallon Pancake Air CompressorThis Air Compressor is very affordable. However, it is for light-duty projects.
AstroAI Portable Air CompressorThis Air Compressor is for cars. It is for small tasks like pumping deflated tires. It is very light and portable.
Husky 12/120 Volt Auto and Home InflatorThis Air Compressor is a versatile option that can run at different voltages. 

How Much Should Compressed Air Cost?

Compressed air does not have a fixed price because several key factors determine the pricing.

However, you can use a benchmark of 0.30 US Dollars per 1000 standard cubic feet per minute to make personal estimates. 

To calculate the exact cost, you will need to consider a host of factors, including electricity consumption cost, equipment maintenance, and repairs.

All these form the actual price charged for compressed air. And as compressed air consumes a huge chunk of electricity to produce, it reflects on the price sold. 

Efficient management and cost-effective practices can reduce the cost of producing compressed air and, in turn, the prices.

But this factor depends on the management practices of the manufacturers, the energy efficiency of their air compressors, and, generally, their cost of production. 

There is no exact figure compressed air should have. However, there is a range and benchmark you can use to make personal calculations and estimates, which is 0.30 US Dollars per 1000 standard cubic feet per minute.

What Is an Alternative to Compressed Air?

Balloon pumps and Electric air pumps are good and less expensive alternatives for compressed air. However, they may not be as effective as compressed air.

For cleaning purposes, balloon pumps and Electric air pumps can serve well, especially in cleaning computer keyboards. 

Higher tasking jobs like tire inflation require much more expensive air compressors.

Air compressors are powerful and last longer than cheaper alternatives like Balloon pumps and Electric air pumps–even though these alternatives serve effectively. 

Using a balloon pump is much more tasking than using an air compressor or an Electric air pump.

Balloon pumps are the cheapest alternatives but would require you to pump with your hands to get compressed air out continuously. 

Below is a table of a few good quality Electric air pumps and Balloon pumps you can select from:

Electric air pumpsDescription
Outdoor Master Shark IIOutdoor Master Shark II is a corded electric air pump that comes in handy for blowing up inflatable boats and kayaks.
iRocker Electric Air pumpiRocker Electric Air pump is a light, compact air pump that is great for inflating paddle boards.
Tota Handheld 2-Way Balloon Air pumpThis Balloon Air pump is of great quality for how budget-friendly it is. 

What Can I Use Compressed Air to Clean?

Compressed air cleans holes, cracks, or crevices that normal cleaning agents can’t reach where dirt and debris accumulate. Compressed Air forces out the dirt and dust from these tiny spaces.

A few examples of things you can clean with compressed air include:

#1. Laptop or Desktop keyboards

Compressed Air forces out accumulated dirt and dust from the spaces between keypads. Using a wet rag or a dry rag can damage some computer components.

Compressed air cleans the crevices thoroughly without damaging any component.

#2. Device Ports

Cleaning the inside of your phone or laptop ports is quite a hassle. Simply spraying into those tiny spaces will force out accumulated dirt, dust, and debris, clogging the port space. 

The compressed air comes in handy in situations like those. Compressed air also cleans Airpods and Headphones. 

#3. House Furniture and Decorations

Compressed air is useful for cleaning furniture and house decorations such as artwork or picture frames.

Compressed air forces out dust and debris from the intersections of chairs—areas where a wet or dry rag will have some difficulty cleaning properly.

How Long Does Compressed Air Last?

It depends on the size of the can of compressed air, how long you use it, and if the body is intact without leaks.

Compressed air has a shelf life of up to 10 years as long as it stores properly. If used sparingly enough, it can last even more than ten years. 

The temperature of the shelter should not exceed 58 degrees Fahrenheit. However, you should keep it under good storage conditions. Ensure they are in cool, damp-free spaces. 

Inspect the can of compressed air thoroughly before purchasing. Look out for leaks or signs of rough handling. 

You could store compressed air properly, but if the container leaks, it will finish faster than expected.

The pressure within the can is quite high and may explode. Avoid putting compressed air close to fire or shaking all the time vigorously.


High electricity consumption is the major reason why compressed air is so expensive.

Other factors include manufacturers’ energy mismanagement practices and inefficient equipment to compress air. 

Compressed air is for cleaning keyboards, device ports, and furniture. Mainly crevices are too tiny for other cleaning agents to access. Always store compressed air in a cool, dry space.

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