Should I use an air tank with my compressor?


Air tanks – which are also referred to as receivers – are a way of storing additional compressed air capacity for times of peak air demand.  In other words, they act as buffers or reservoirs supplying additional pressurised air essentially smoothing out any spikes in air use.


Not all air powered applications require a receiver, or tank however.  A CMM (Co-ordinate Measuring Machine) with a steady air flow requirement can be powered solely by a compressor which is fitted according to the known air needs.  However, an application such as a nail gun which has periods of downtime punctuated by a peak air requirement as the nail is fired, would benefit from a reservoir of additional pressurised air to ensure smooth operation.  This removes the need for the compressor to work intermittently at peak-load to meet the spike in air demand. Instead, the additional air is taken from the receiver.  As well as ensuring a uniform air output to the air powered tool, any wear and tear on the compressor is minimised.


Reasons for considering an air tank/receiver


  1. Receivers ensure that the compressed air pressure is held at a consistent level even during times of peak demand, which maintains the productivity of downstream tools


  1. Any wear and tear on the compressor motor caused by spikes in air demand is minimised


  1. Receivers can reduce the level of condensation and contaminants reaching the air powered tool. Atmospheric air contains moisture and particulates and as this air is compressed it warms and any moisture held within it turns into gas.  Once the warm compressed air enters the cooler receiver, any moisture held within the air condenses back into a liquid form and gathers at the bottom of the tank, trapping any dirt or impurities within it.  These can then be removed via the drain valve, preventing the contaminants reaching the end use application.


Sizing the correct tank/ receiver for your needs


Air compressor tanks come in all shapes and sizes and can be used with virtually any compressor type.  Here is a list of the main things to consider when selecting the right tank for your application


  1. The output pressure and flow of your current compressor


  1. The duty cycle of your compressor. This will dictate how long it will take your compressor to re-pressurise the tank before the next spike in air demand.  Care must be taken not to run the compressor for longer than the recommended duty cycle as this can shorten the life span of the compressor and lead to long term damage, (See our blog post on why it is important to understand your compressor’s duty cycle


  1. The pressure and flow requirements of the end use application throughout the day. There is no point investing in the storage of additional pressure if it is still not enough to power your application during times of peak demand


  1. Safety systems: Will the air receiver be needed to enable production processes and systems to be safely started-up or shut-down in an emergency situation. If yes, the receiver should be specified accordingly and care should be taken to meet any safety legislation regarding the use and ongoing maintenance of receivers. 


If you use compressed air and are unsure if you need an air tank to keep your business working then contact the Vert team at we are always happy to help.