In the realm of compressed air systems, the distinction between an air tank and an air compressor is pivotal, yet often misunderstood. Air compressors and air tanks play crucial roles in a wide array of industrial and commercial applications, each serving a unique function. An air compressor is the heart of any compressed air system, responsible for generating compressed air by reducing its volume and increasing its pressure. On the other hand, an air tank, also known as an air receiver, serves as the lungs, storing compressed air and stabilising the system’s pressure, thereby ensuring a steady supply when demand spikes.

With over 32 years of industry experience, Fluid-Air Components stands at the forefront of providing bespoke solutions tailored to meet the specific needs of medium to large businesses that rely on compressed air for their operations. Our expertise in air receiver tanks and compressors ensures that we not only supply equipment but also impart knowledge, enabling our clients to make informed decisions about their compressed air systems.

In the following sections, we’ll delve deeper into the intricacies of air receivers, their indispensable role in compressed air systems, and the various types available. This exploration will provide a foundation for understanding how air compressors work and why proper sizing and maintenance of air receiver tanks are critical to the efficiency and safety of your compressed air system.

Next, we will explore what an air receiver is and the critical role air receivers play in compressed air systems.

What is an Air Receiver?

An air receiver, often referred to as an air tank, is an integral component of any compressed air system. They provide a reserve of compressed air that can be drawn upon during periods of high demand, ensuring that operations continue smoothly without a drop in pressure that could affect performance. Additionally, by dampening the pulsations from the compressor’s discharge, air receivers contribute to a more stable and consistent airflow, leading to improved operational efficiency and reduced wear on the compressor itself. This stability is crucial for applications where consistent air pressure is paramount.

Air receivers also help in separating moisture and oil from the compressed air. As the air cools within the tank, water vapour condenses into liquid, which can then be drained away, thus reducing the moisture content of the air supplied to the system. This process is essential for preventing corrosion and damage to pneumatic tools and machinery, thereby extending their lifespan and maintaining the quality of the compressed air.

Types of Air Receiver Tanks: Horizontal, Vertical, and Custom Receivers

Air receiver tanks come in various shapes and sizes, tailored to suit the needs of different applications and spaces. Horizontal receivers are ideal for facilities with ample floor space, providing easy access for maintenance and inspection. In contrast, vertical receivers are suited for environments where space is at a premium, offering a smaller footprint without compromising capacity.

At Fluid-Air Components, we recognise that one size does not fit all. Beyond standard horizontal and vertical receivers, we specialise in designing and supplying custom and bespoke air receivers. These are tailored to specific requirements, whether for unique volumes, pressures, or configurations, ensuring that every business can achieve optimal efficiency from their compressed air system.

Understanding the fundamental role and types of air receivers sets the stage for exploring the heart of the compressed air system: the air compressor. In the next section, we delve into the fundamentals of air compressors, providing a basic guide on how they work and the various types available for different industrial applications.

Fundamentals of Air Compressors

At the core of every compressed air system lies the air compressor, a crucial device designed to increase the pressure of air by reducing its volume. Air compressors are the powerhouse, generating the compressed air that drives countless industrial processes and operations.

How Air Compressors Work: A Basic Guide

The principle behind air compressors is straightforward: they draw in air from the atmosphere, which is then compressed within a confined space, increasing its pressure. This process is achieved through various mechanisms, depending on the type of compressor, but the end goal remains the same—to supply compressed air at the required pressure and flow rate for specific applications. The compressed air can then be stored in air receivers, ready for use as needed.

Air compressors operate in cycles, starting with the intake phase, where air is drawn into the compression chamber. During the compression phase, the air’s volume is reduced, which increases its pressure. Finally, the compressed air is discharged into an air receiver tank or directly into the system for immediate use. This cycle repeats continuously, maintaining a constant supply of compressed air.

Types of Air Compressors: From Portable to Industrial Models

Air compressors can be categorised based on their design, operation, and capacity. The two main types are positive displacement compressors and dynamic compressors. Positive displacement compressors work by mechanically reducing the volume of air to increase its pressure. Within this category, there are several types, including piston (reciprocating) compressors, which are commonly used for a wide range of applications, from small workshops to large industrial facilities, and rotary screw compressors, which are favoured for their efficiency and reliability in continuous operation environments.

Dynamic compressors, on the other hand, increase air pressure by converting angular momentum imparted by a rotating impeller (dynamic movement) into static pressure. Centrifugal compressors are a common type of dynamic compressor, ideal for high-volume applications in industries such as chemical, petrochemical, and refining.

Fluid-Air Components is adept at providing both portable and industrial models, catering to a broad spectrum of needs from on-the-go pneumatic tools to large-scale industrial operations. Our range includes cutting-edge technology designed for maximum efficiency and reliability, ensuring that businesses have access to the best compressed air solutions available.

With a clear understanding of air compressors and their operation, the next logical step is to explore how to ensure that these systems work as efficiently and effectively as possible. This leads us to the critical aspects of sizing and maintenance of air receiver tanks, which we will cover in the following section.

Sizing and Maintenance of Air Receiver Tanks

Selecting the correct size for an air receiver tank and maintaining it properly are vital steps to optimise the efficiency and longevity of a compressed air system. Proper sizing ensures that the system can handle demand peaks without pressure drops, while regular maintenance prevents system failures and prolongs equipment life.

How to Properly Size an Air Receiver Tank for Your System

The sizing of an air receiver tank is influenced by several factors, including the capacity of the air compressor, the maximum demand of the compressed air system, and the nature of the usage pattern. The objective is to have a tank large enough to store sufficient compressed air to meet demand surges without causing the compressor to cycle too frequently, which can lead to wear and tear.

Calculating the optimal size requires an understanding of the system’s air demand, the compressor’s output, and the minimum and maximum pressure levels necessary for operation. This calculation ensures that the air receiver can buffer effectively during high-demand periods while maintaining stable system pressure. Fluid-Air Components offers expert guidance in sizing air receiver tanks to match specific system requirements, ensuring efficient operation and reliability.

Maintenance Tips for Air Compressor Tanks

Regular maintenance of air receiver tanks is essential to prevent rust, corrosion, and potential system failures. Moisture, which can accumulate inside the tank due to the condensation of compressed air, is a common cause of internal corrosion. Draining the tank regularly is a simple yet effective measure to remove moisture and extend the tank’s lifespan.

Inspection and testing of safety valves and pressure gauges are also critical to ensure they are functioning correctly and safely. Additionally, checking for any signs of wear, damage, or corrosion should be part of routine maintenance. Implementing a scheduled maintenance plan can significantly reduce the risk of unexpected downtime and costly repairs.

The efficiency and safety of a compressed air system are not solely reliant on the correct sizing and maintenance of air receiver tanks. Safety regulations and routine practices play a crucial role in ensuring the safe operation of these systems. In the next section, we will discuss recommended pressure settings for air receivers and the best practices for routine draining of air tanks, highlighting the importance of adhering to safety standards and regulations.

Safety and Regulations

Ensuring the safety and compliance of a compressed air system is paramount. Adhering to safety regulations and implementing best practices for operating air receivers not only protects the equipment but also safeguards the personnel involved in its operation.

Recommended Pressure Settings for Air Receivers

The pressure setting of an air receiver is critical for the safe and efficient operation of a compressed air system. It must be carefully managed to match the system’s requirements without exceeding the maximum allowable working pressure (MAWP) of the air receiver. This pressure is determined by the design of the tank and is prominently marked by the manufacturer. Operating an air receiver within these parameters ensures safety while optimising performance.

Fluid-Air Components prioritises safety by ensuring that all our air receiver tanks meet or exceed the stringent standards set by relevant regulatory bodies. We provide guidance on setting and maintaining optimal pressure levels, tailored to the specific needs of your compressed air system, thereby enhancing safety and efficiency.

Routine Draining of Air Tanks: Best Practices

Moisture accumulation within air receiver tanks is an inevitable consequence of compressing air. If not adequately managed, this moisture can lead to corrosion, reducing the integrity of the tank and potentially causing failure. Routine draining of the tank is a simple yet effective measure to mitigate this risk.

The best practice is to incorporate automatic drains that regularly expel accumulated water without manual intervention. However, manual checks are still recommended to ensure the drainage system functions correctly. Regular inspection and maintenance of the drain valves are essential to prevent blockages and ensure they are operating effectively.

Fluid-Air Components advocates for a proactive approach to maintenance and safety, offering fittings kits that include safety relief valves and drainage systems. Our expertise ensures that your compressed air system remains not only compliant with the latest safety regulations but also operates in a manner that guarantees longevity and reliability.


In the world of compressed air systems, understanding the distinct roles and functionalities of air tanks (receivers) and air compressors is fundamental to achieving operational efficiency, reliability, and safety. Air receivers act as a buffer, stabilising pressure variations and storing compressed air to meet demand surges, thereby enhancing the overall efficiency of the system. Air compressors, the heart of the system, are responsible for generating the compressed air essential for various industrial and commercial applications.

The journey through selecting the right air receiver tank — considering capacity, pressure rating, configuration, material, and whether a standard, portable, or custom solution best fits the operational needs — is crucial for system optimisation. Maintenance practices and adherence to safety regulations ensure the longevity and safe operation of these systems, protecting both the investment in equipment and the individuals who operate them.

Fluid-Air Components, with over 32 years of experience in the industry, stands as a testament to the commitment to quality, technical excellence, and customer support. Our bespoke solutions, tailored to meet the unique needs of businesses, underscore our expertise in navigating the complexities of compressed air systems. Providing cutting-edge air receivers Fluid-Air Components remains dedicated to enhancing operational efficiencies and ensuring the safety and reliability of your compressed air investments.