Electric vs. Diesel Industrial Air Compressors: What’s the Best for My Application?

Electric vs Diesel Industrial Air Compressor Blog

Determining the most energy-efficient air compressor is crucial for any business as these compressed air systems are costly. When it comes to choosing between a diesel or electric compressor — which stands out best in terms of cost and energy efficiency? This isn’t straightforward as it heavily relies on the site location, power availability, local energy costs and the application. Compressors are fundamental across various industries like agriculture, medical, construction, oil & gas, mining, rail and transport, manufacturing, and food & beverage. Each industry has different standards and regulations that determine which types of compressors are suitable for your application. To help you choose the most efficient compressor for your needs, We’ve highlighted the advantages and disadvantages of diesel and electric compressors.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Diesel Air Compressors

Diesel air compressors have historically been favoured because they are durable, easy to service, portable and do not require separate power sources, making them indispensable for remote worksites without access to electricity. Diesel air compressors are known for their robustness and power, delivering high volumes of compressed air for extended periods. Diesel compressors are suitable for heavy-duty applications, such as mining, and offer durability in the harsh conditions experienced in Western Australia. While they’ve undergone substantial technological advancements, especially in emissions compliance and reduced maintenance, diesel compressors typically fall short compared to electric ones, in terms of cleanliness and energy efficiency due to higher emissions and lower air quality.

Benefits of Diesel Air Compressors:

  • Mobile and easily transported for use in remote or non-powered sites.
  • Suitable for outdoor applications.
  • Long life cycle as they are durable, robust and easy to service.
  • They do not require an external power source, making them ideal for non-powered sites.
  • Deliver high volumes of compressed air for extended periods.

Disadvantages of Diesel Air Compressors

  • Diesel compressors require regular maintenance compared to their electric counterparts.
  • Lower air quality due to increased condensation levels.
  • Emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants that contribute to your carbon footprint.


Electric Compressor image

Advantages and Disadvantages of Electric Air Compressors

Electric compressors are gaining popularity due to their efficiency, safety, reduced pollution, and ease of use. They rely on electricity, making them suitable for indoor use and areas with stable power sources. Electric compressors produce minimal noise and zero emissions, making them more environmentally friendly and ideal for enclosed spaces or settings where noise reduction is essential.

One of the key advantages of electric compressors is their lower operating costs compared to diesel models. They require less maintenance, have fewer moving parts, and offer consistent performance without the need for fuel refills. ELGi’s electric compressors, offered by Pneumatic Engineering,
provide further savings with service-friendly motors. Typically, finding 30-40% lower operational costs and reduced maintenance intervals. Electric compressors are also available in various sizes and configurations to suit different applications.

However, their reliance on a power source limits their mobility, making them less suitable for remote or off-grid locations without access to electricity. Additionally, in areas with unstable power supply or during power outages, electric compressors may not function, causing interruptions in operations.

Advantages of Electric Air Compressors:

  • Minimal noise and essentially zero fume emissions, suitable for indoor use and noise-sensitive environments.
  • Smaller than comparable diesel models.
  • Variable-speed types are highly efficient.
  • Consistently produce high-quality air.
  • Cost-effective in both initial upfront costs and maintenance.

Disadvantages of Electric Air Compressors:

Dependence on a power source limits mobility and is less suitable for off-grid locations without electricity access or a diesel generator.

Diesel Compressor image

Choosing the Right Power Source for Your Compressor:

When selecting between diesel or electric air compressors, consider your specific requirements. Evaluate factors such as mobility, power availability, operating costs, environmental impact, and the intended application before making a decision.

Each type of air compressor comes with its unique strengths and limitations. Diesel compressors are ideal for remote outdoor tasks or heavy-duty applications due to their mobility and power. In contrast, electric compressors are the ideal choice for indoor or environmentally sensitive settings where noise and emissions need to be minimised.

In conclusion, the choice between diesel or electric air compressors largely depends on your specific needs, the working environment, and the intended application. Assessing these factors will help you choose the right compressor for your requirements and priorities.

Still unsure about whether a diesel or electric air compressor is the best fit for your specific needs? Contact our experts today!

About Pneumatic Engineering

Pneumatic Engineering is a Western Australian compressor sales and servicing company based in Welshpool, Perth with 45 years of experience supplying compressed air solutions. We are the only and proud distributor of ELGi compressors in Western Australia. Pneumatic Engineering is a proud member of The Crommelin Group.

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