How to adjust pressure switch on air compressor

How to adjust pressure switch on air compressor

Setting the correct cut-in and cut-out pressure for your air compressor can save you a lot of trouble and money. An air compressor switch controls the airflow level from your air compressor to your tools. The pressure setting is the most vital setting in both small and large industrial screw compressors. For small compressors, pressure is often set up on the pressure switch. For larger ones, it’s set on the central compressor controller. In this guide, I aim to give you tips on how to adjust the pressure switch on an air compressor. Buckle up and read on!

Reasons for adjusting air compressor pressure switch

There’re multiple and beneficial reasons for setting the right pressure for your pneumatic tools. Higher air pressure can cause serious damage to your compressor or tools. The pressure switch comes in handy when it comes to regulating pressure. It determines how much pressure you need to run your pneumatic tools.

When setting the pressure controller, users must understand that less is always better. What do I mean? Well, the higher the pressure, the higher the risk of damaging your unit. Either way, ensure you throttle the pressure according to your tool’s needs. By doing so, you’ll save greatly on energy costs. Another added advantage is the less wear and tear of both your pneumatic tool and air compressor.

Important things to consider before adjusting an air compressor pressure switch 

Air compressors are all built with an internal pressure switch that regulates both cut-in and cut-out pressure. These are basic terms set by the manufacturer. The differential value is the time between cut-in and cut-out pressure. Users can decrease the time between the differential value to decrease the pressure and vice versa. However, it’s not strictly recommended.

For poorly maintained compressors, setting higher than the recommended pressure can be very dangerous. As such it’s quite crucial that users must set the right pressure. Pressure switches are categorized into two types. One is equipped with a fixed differential value while the other has an adjustable pressure differential. To know the type of pressure switch you have, you can read the user manual.

Step-by-step procedure for adjusting an air compressor pressure switch 

Now that you’re acquainted with the important things to consider before adjusting an air compressor switch, here are the easy steps you can use to adjust your air compressor pressure switch.

  • First up, you’ll need to unplug the compressor and open the cover of the pressure switch
  • Set the cut-in pressure and if in doubt, you can refer to the manual.
  • Allow the drain valve to drain out the release pressure in the compressor then plug it in. Check the cut-in pressure and if there’s a need to tweak it further, you can unplug and drain the compressor to avoid electric shock
  • Now set the cut-out pressure. It can be between 20-30 PSI higher than the cut-in pressure. For security reasons, unplug the compressor then turn the pressure screw clockwise for a higher pressure level. For lower pressure, you can turn it anti-clockwise. Either way, ensure you maintain a pressure difference of at least 20 PSI between cut-in and cut-out pressure
  • If your air compressor has a fixed differential pressure switch, you’ll need a single screw threaded with a spring. If you follow the steps above, you’ll now be in a good spot to try it out!

Safety measures to keep in mind

These safety measures must be adhered to when adjusting the pressure switch of an air compressor;

  • Make it a top priority to unplug the air compressor before starting the process
  • Wear safety gloves and goggles
  • Draining the compressor before tweaking its pressure switch is essential and should be done always.
  • Don’t attempt to increase the pressure differential as it can damage your pneumatic tools and burst the air compressor
  • The procedure should be done in a clutter-free place with excellent ventilation
  • Never ever perform any procedure if you’re under any medication or the influence of alcohol as it can hinder your thinking.

Understanding cut-in and cut-out pressure

I know you might be probably wondering what cut-in and cut-out pressure are all about. Well, understanding these concepts is pretty important when it comes to adjusting the pressure switch on an air compressor. In the simplest terms, these two terms are, basically, the pressure levels at which the switch turns the compressor on or off.

The cut-out pressure determines the highest pressure that the switch can allow in the tank. When the cut-out pressure is reached in the tank, the switch turns off the compressor motor. On the other hand, the cut-in pressure is the minimum pressure maintained by the switch in the tank. When the pressure drops to a cut-in pressure, the switch automatically starts the motor. To understand it even better, check out this simple cycle

  • When an air compressor starts compressing air, the pressure inside the tank keeps rising
  • As the pressure keeps rising, it reaches the cut-out level which then makes the switch to cut the power flow to stop the compressor motor
  • Once this is done, the pressure inside the tank will now start to drop and will keep on dropping until it reaches the cut-in level
  • Once it reaches the cut-in level, the switch starts the motor to continue compressing more air
  • The cycle is repeated continuously as long as the compressor is operational

The need to set the pressure right 

Safety is paramount when dealing with air compressors or any other gadget. You should never tamper with safety settings as this can cause serious damage not only to your unit but rather to yourself or someone else. So, basically, setting the right pressure right goes a long way in keeping you and your compressor safe.

Why lower the pressure?

Logically, lowering the pressure not only helps you reduce costs and maintenance but also improves efficiency. This comes in handy especially when you have an oversized compressor and you’re working on a project that doesn’t need extra pressure.

The risks and dangers of turning up the pressure on your compressor

If you’re doing a lot of work with hardwoods or projects that need more torque, increasing the settings can allow you to get more pressure from your air compressor. Conversely, you must stay cautious not to exceed your equipment’s safety ratings. Increasing it also means added costs on consumption and the risk of destroying the compressor pump.

Another potential risk of increasing pressure is that it can rupture the storage pump. Although most tanks are designed to withstand excess pressure, the risk of exploding is still much higher. This is because many of them are left with water for several seasons, causing them to rust. As always, ensure you get a correctly sized compressor with the recommended PSI for your project.

FAQs onHow to adjust pressure switch on air compressor how do I test the pressure switch on an air compressor?

Simple, you can either use a multimeter or an air source with calibrated pressure gauge. As a safety precaution, ensure the power supply is cut off before testing. If your switch has some defaults or isn’t working properly, consider replacing it. Use the steps above to adjust the cut-in and cut-out pressure whenever necessary.

What’s the right pressure for my compressor?

There’s no optimal pressure for any unit, it entirely depends on your equipment. Conversely, it’s important to note that each extra pressure comes at a higher cost. That said, your goal should be to lower the pressure without affecting the end-user.

Final Words

If you’re using a powerful compressor to drive a low-power pneumatic tool, you’ll need to adjust the pressure switch. I have narrowed down every aspect you need to know about adjusting the pressure switch on an air compressor. I intently hope that you find every data shared useful and helpful.

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