What is the difference between desiccant and refrigerated air dryers?

Moisture is the enemy.  If you’re paying attention at all to the air compressor you have installed and this blog, you know that for a fact.

Keeping the compressed air you utilize moisture-free is critical to the lifespan of your compressor and the well-being and operation of your facility.

There are two predominant ways you could choose from to de-humidify the air you use: Refrigerated Dryers, and Desiccant Dryers.

Here’s what you need to know about each:

Refrigerated Dryers: These dryers work by dropping the temperature and condensing the moisture in the air. Refrigerated dryers cannot achieve temperatures less than freezing, so they are slightly limited in just how much moisture they can remove.

Desiccant Dryers: You know when you purchase a new piece of clothing or electronics, there is a little packet of granules that says “DO NOT EAT?”  That is a packet of desiccant, in this case a silicon-based substance that causes or sustains a state of dryness. Some desiccants absorb moisture, but some (like what we’re discussing here) are used to control the amount of water in gaseous streams.

For our purposes, desiccant dryers use a material that absorbs water vapor, and when one filter becomes saturated, the air flow switches to another while the first one dries out.

The primary difference between desiccant dryers and refrigerated dryers, is that a desiccant unit can reach much colder temperatures- up to 40 degrees below zero, Fahrenheit.

There are heated desiccant dryers which use higher temperatures to remove water vapor from the desiccant material not in use (once it is saturated) but these use large amounts of steam or electricity.  Heatless desiccant dryers use the dry air the compressor creates to dry the saturated supply of desiccant and are perfect for instrument-quality air applications.

Our experts know everything there is to know about dryers, moisture, and their effect on your air compressor.  Give us a call at (866) 413-8077 and we can help you choose exactly the dryer that will work best for you.

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Air Components

Air Components & Systems is the leader in providing efficient compressed air systems, parts, and repair. With locations in Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina, we are able to assist with your compressor needs right away. Call us at (866) 413-8077.