The Flowtech Guide to Air Compressor Hoses
Air hoses are designed to transfer compressed air and gases from one point of a product or tool to another. They’re otherwise known as compressor hoses, air compressor hoses and air-pro. The industrial-strength tubing of air hoses must be strong in order to deliver consistent power and withstand high pressures without breaking. Flexibility is key in ensuring quick installation around work areas, including on retractable wall or ceiling-mounted reels for easy access and storage.
Available in a variety of colours, strengths and sizes, air hoses are designed for different pressures, operating temperatures and uses. Furthermore, they’re easy to cut to suit any tool. For safety purposes, it’s important to determine the right style and the maximum values for individual applications. Doing so minimises breakage and helps to prolong the lifespan of air compressor hoses.
Answer these questions to select the right compressor hose:
- Which model of air hose is best for my project?
- What is the best material for my needs?
- What minimum and maximum air pressure is required?
- How long does the air hose need to be?
- What is the most suitable internal and external diameter?
Air Hose Materials and Use
Depending on what tasks air hoses are used for, there’s a wide variety of materials available to suit any application. The most popular include plastics and rubbers such as PVC, NBR, EPDM and PUR. The best materials are flexible for ease of use, simple to install in the workspace and easy to cut to achieve the right length.
Air compressor hoses are used for a number of applications by various industries. They include the food industry, mechanical engineering and chemical testing. In workshops, air hoses are used in conjunction with air tools like wrenches, sprayers, nail guns and sanders. They also inflate objects such as compressed gas cylinders and tyres.
Upgrading Air Hoses
Air hoses may need upgrading for a number of reasons. The most important reason for an upgrade is if there’s a defect in the hose. Using different equipment could require a new hose to ensure compatibility. Replacements are often required due to the following common defects:
- A damaged connector or fitting.
- A puncture or an air leak in the tubing.
- A kink or twist that affects performance.
- Cold or dry air that causes early wear and tear.
- High-pressure seepage.
Most industrial air hoses provide a service life of five to ten years. Therefore, they eventually require replacing even without defects. The longevity of compressor hoses generally depends on the quality of the product, the material, the frequency of use and the maintenance performed.
There are several things to consider when buying a new air hose. They include measurements, material and style.
It’s important to consider your applications to decide on the appropriate length for air hoses. For example, a very long air hose is required for movement around a large workspace, such as a mechanic workshop. For the use of tools such as air drills and nail guns on workbenches, short air hoses are more practical.
Most air compressor hoses come with connectors in order to customise the length by joining hoses together. However, if you require longer hoses, connecting them may create restrictions that result in pressure loss. The key is to ensure optimum mobility with low pressure losses. Longer air hoses are subject to more pressure loss as the air must travel further to reach its destination.
The internal diameter of air hoses is measured in metric sizes of 6mm, 8mm and 10mm. A higher internal diameter means higher air capacity. To determine which is best, you must know the CFM, or Cubic Feet Per Minute, of your air tools. This reveals the volume of air required and the volume of air that’s produced.
Compressor hoses are made of different materials that contribute to weight, flexibility, durability and performance. Nylon is one of the most popular materials for home applications as it’s affordable and light. Polyurethane is durable, transportable and suitable for high-pressure applications. For agricultural and industrial applications, Neoprene is heavy, durable and resistant to kinks.
Standard and Recoil Air Hoses
Standard air hoses are stored by loosely wrapping them or mounting them on a hose reel. Recoil hoses are designed in tight coils that retract when released. Choosing between them is an individual preference, depending on the amount of space available and mobility needs.
Determining Air Hose Fittings and Styles
Fittings help to reduce air losses, ensure safety and increase efficiency. Most air compressor hoses come with fittings to suit your application. Air hoses used for a variety of industries include:
- Dust extraction hoses for dust and fine particles.
- Suction hoses for use in the mining, vacuum excavation and construction industries.
- Fuel hoses for the auto and motorsport industry.
- Chemical hoses for high-temperature extraction of corrosive gases and chemicals.
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It becomes necessary to replace air compressor hoses due to defects that negatively impact performance. You might also need an upgrade or a different air hose when changing air tools.
It’s important to choose an air hose of the right length, as this determines how easy your air tools are to use and how suitable they are for the job at hand. Take into consideration the amount of movement you need and the volume of air pressure required. Long hoses help with manoeuvrability, however, air pressure may be lost as a result of the length. Look for a balance between maximum movement possibilities with the least loss of pressure.
The internal diameter of air compressor hoses indicates how much air is carried. The larger the internal diameter of the hose, the more air it’s capable of carrying. You need to know the CFM (Cubic Feet Per Meter) of your air tools in order to choose an air hose with the right internal diameter. For example, handheld tools may only require a 6mm hose, while industrial tools need 8 to 10mm hoses.
Choose air hose material based on your flexibility, weight and performance requirements. PVC is a light option that’s easy to transport, budget-friendly and suitable for home use. Rubber is abrasion resistant, kink-free and heavy duty for industrial and agricultural use. Polyurethane offers great performance and it’s hard wearing for high pressure applications.
Of the two types of air hose, standard hoses lie flat without coils or bends. It’s possible to mount them in a hose reel that’s wound up with a crank handle. Recoil hoses have twists that resemble telephone wires. They open and shrink back for easy storage. Choosing between the two is a matter of personal preference, in terms of requiring easy storage or more flexibility.
Pressure drops are the result of air travelling through the line and dragging on the inner lining. This causes friction that results in pressure drops. Though it’s often unavoidable, running a shorter hose and minimising the use of fittings helps to reduce pressure drops. Opt for a larger internal diameter and use an air regulator.