Equipment and Solutions

What Is the Best Pipe to Use for Compressed Air?

What Is the Best Pipe to Use for Compressed Air?

Choosing the best pipe for your air compressor lines is crucial for preventing power loss and contamination. Through this article, we’ll help you determine a suitable pipe type and size for your air compressor.

What Type of Pipe Is Used for Compressed Air Lines?

There are many types of pipes commonly used for air compressor lines. Consider the following options to determine the best one for your needs.

Aluminum Pipe

Aluminum is lightweight for easy handling and resists corrosion and leaking, saving companies money. Aluminum pipes are also easier to install and modify than other pipe types, as they don’t require threading or soldering. They are highly recommended for clean air applications. 

Stainless Steel Pipe

Stainless steel pipes are an excellent choice for corrosion prevention and successful airflow. These components exhibit high durability and strength and deliver a cleaner, more consistent airstream. However, the installation process for stainless steel pipes can be time-consuming. The pipes’ threads sometimes freeze or gall, which can create disassembly challenges. 

Black Pipe

Black pipe is widely used for compressed air systems due to its robust and durable construction and wide availability. Additionally, most individuals are familiar with how to install black piping, though it is a lengthy process. While black pipe is strong, it is uncoated, meaning it is prone to rust contamination that can damage pneumatic tooling.

Copper Pipe

While copper piping is on the more expensive side, it’s a great choice for clean air applications. This pipe type promotes reliable airflow and is visually appealing. Copper withstands heat well and doesn’t rust or corrode, meaning it delivers compressed air that’s clean and free of particulates. However, soldering the joints requires skill and can be time consuming. 

Iron Pipe

Iron is a tried-and-true piping material easily accessible at any hardware store. These air compressor pipes are generally inexpensive but are prone to corrosion, which can cause air blockages, debris and leaks. Installing iron piping typically requires the help of a plumber. 

Galvanized Pipe

Galvanized pipe is commonly used for water distribution and general plumbing applications. Though this material is moisture-resistant, its coating can flake off into your compressed airstream and infiltrate your tools, causing severe damage. These particles can also harm workers when exiting the blowgun. With these factors in mind, galvanized piping is not recommended for compressed air.

PVC Pipe

Though PVC pipe is commonly used for compressed air, it is not recommended — in fact, it is prohibited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). While PVC piping is affordable, readily available and easy to install, it can become brittle over time due to heat and oil in the compressor line. These elements degrade the plastic, causing it to crack, break or shatter into sharp shrapnel, which can be potentially fatal.

What Size Pipe Should I Use for My Air Compressor?

Now that you’re familiar with the different types of air compressor pipes, you can begin determining the right pipe size for your application. It’s important to note that you should not choose piping with the same diameter size as the compressor outlet connection or risk excessive pressure loss. 

Industry professionals assert that the maximum velocity of the compressed air within your pipes should be between 20 and 30 feet per second to promote minimal pressure drop across the piping and pipe fittings. You’ll need oversized piping for particularly long runs.

Rent a Top-Quality Air Compressor at RAKA Today

You can rent a reliable air compressor for your compressed air needs at RAKA. We set ourselves apart from other rental companies with our extensive rental fleet, flexible terms, and short lead times.

Contact us for more information on our air compressors today!

Rent a Top-Quality Air Compressor at RAKA Today