Sometimes the smallest things can have a big impact on the overall process. One little component can be the difference between operation as normal and a complete process shutdown. Components like the drain valve can play a huge role in your system’s health and the production process’s efficiency.
Removal of condensate is regulated and controlled by small valves, and they can save you thousands of dollars in repairs and downtime. Seemingly insignificant components like drain valves are the hidden heroes of protection from rust and premature decay. The simple process of collecting and removing condensate can have an exponential impact on the health of your system.
By implementing drain valves you protect yourself from unnecessary downtime due to condensate build up in your pipes. Not only do you protect yourself from downtime losses, you add a layer of mental peace as well. Automatic train valves provide you with the piece of mind that your system won’t randomly go down
What Is A Drain Valve
Whether you are manually installing your own or going with a service company to handle the selection and installation, you will be better off knowing the basics of drain valves and their variations for different applications. But before we can understand the variations we need to understand the basics of drain valves.
What is the baseline for being a drain valve? Are there specific components that make it a drain valve and not just a valve? Well just take a look at the figure below to get an idea of the basic layout of a drain valve.
Drain valves are made up of two central parts of a stem and a hollow cylindrical body. These two components run parallel to each other, so that when the stem opens up liquid or gas travels into and through the hollow area. Stems close the passage through the body by rotating to close the opening that the liquid and gas originally passed through.
The stem design is going to be a crucial factor in the process of forming condensate. Designs will determine the way flow is enabled or prevented. The gate may be the shape of a disk or a ball and this will directly affect how particles pass through. Due to the importance of design, you will need to make sure that the drains you install will give you the best performance and least amount of headache.
Types of Drain Valves and Models
There are 3 main types of drain valves that you will run into out in the field. Valve types indicate how the drain is going to be activated; which will determine what threshold has to be reached for the condensate to be ejected.
Yes, you read that right, some people use nothing as their preferred drain option. This can come about from not installing anything, not repairing a failed drain, or installing a manual drain where you are expected to remember to release the condensate accurately and consistently.
The prevalence of manual/no drains is a lot higher than it should be, especially for the problems they cause. Manual drains should be a last resort, because if we know anything about humans, we will forget, even with the best intentions.
Manual drains should only be used as a last resort, we don’t acknowledge no drain valve as an option for compressed air systems. You’re better off throwing your compressed air system away and trying a different industry, you’ll have a lot less headaches.
Timer Operated Drain
Rather than rely on a human element, these drains expel condensate on a preset interval. This makes timer drains a much more reliable and popular option than manual drain valves when it comes to well run compressed air systems. What’s not to like about easy installation, cheap to purchase, and quite reliable if installed with an inlet strainer.
Timer operated drains are standard on small refrigerated dryers due to the ability to adjust on-time and interval durations between drain events. Alongside a relatively simple setup procedure, maintenance on timed drain valves consists of pressing the “test” button, ensuring it is plugged in, and cleaning the inlet strainer. Nothing else to it but that.
As ideal of a solution as these drains seem, they really should only be a temporary fix and not your long term condensate solution. With similar issues to manual drain valves such as moisture not completely clearing, wasting compressed air from being open too long, and oil particles emulsifying in the drain.
No Waste Drain
Both the broadest, but also the ideal category, no waste drain valves eject collected condensate without sacrificing your valuable compressed air. Automatically adapting to changes in the compressed air system is a breeze for these drains. With a wide range of models, these drain valves can tackle a wide range of applications with a nearly identical result.
One of the most common types of no waste drain valves are float drains. Float drains are the ideal solution for many filter applications, especially since modern filter bowl floats are much more reliable than they once were.
No Waste Drains can be a little confusing and are often referred to as anything but. Blame versatility in applications for that one because referring to a drain as no waste does not provide any helpful information aside from the fact that you can tell it is run off a sensor and not a timer. So most no waste drains will be referred to by the type of sensor or release mechanism, so on something like the float drain you can assume that it is a no waste drain valve.
Drain Valve Models
With only 3 different types of drain valves, there can’t be that many different models can there? According to the market, there are definitely many different models out there to fit all sorts of applications and condensate levels.
With all of these options available, it is not a one size fits all situation, it is the exact opposite. We are dealing with Cinderella’s slipper and not a ShamWow with drain valves. You need to find the perfect fit for your compressed air system and not put in the first drain valve you find.
Don’t worry if you are unsure of what you are supposed to choose, at the end of the day our technicians will know exactly what your system needs and take all of the guesswork out of it. However, you still might find it beneficial to know more about drain valves for your compressed air system in the future.
Electronic Timed Drain Valve
Simplicity and convenience are the cornerstones of electronic timed drain valves. They are one of the most popular models on the market for those reasons alone. The electronic timer is set to open and close at a predetermined interval to clear the collected condensate and debris.
Being able to adjust the timed intervals make these drain valves effective solutions for a wide range of applications. Adjustments will allow you to match the fluctuations in your compressed air system as the moisture levels and temperature change throughout the year.
Zero Loss Drain Valve
Completely automatic moisture and debris removal is possible with a combination of solenoid valves and electronic sensors on zero loss drain valves. Consistent, efficient, and effective condensate removal is an expectation rather than a goal. The discharge process is completely automatic and leak-free.
Motorized Ball Valve Drain
Motorized ball valve drains are the ideal solution for large compressed air systems that require high precision and control their condensate removal. A motorized ball valve that opens and closes the drain valve is the primary reason for the consistent and accurate expulsion of condensate.
These drains are highly accurate, incredibly durable and can even be used in harsh industrial environments without experiencing difficulties or condensate related issues. The accuracy alone makes these drains one of the best options available for your system, and then when you add in the durability there are few competitors.
Timer Controlled Solenoid Drain Valve
As you can probably guess by the name, this drain valve operates in a similar manner to the electronic timer by operating on predetermined intervals to eject the condensate. However, rather than using a combination of electronics and solenoids, these drains use only a solenoid valve.
Manual Drain Valve
The last on the list and the last option for your compressed air system is a manual drain valve. Manual says everything you need to know about these drains, you are going to need someone to consistently and properly open and close the valve every time condensate needs to be ejected.
If it is left up to humans to remember to do something, there is going to be a time when it is forgotten or done incorrectly, and that will have a direct impact on your system and its performance. A good rule of thumb is if you cannot move the equipment, you shouldn’t have a manual drain valve.
Benefits of a Drain Valve
As noted by our friends over at Warthog Air Compressor Store, an auto drain system has several benefits, which the main ones are:
Prevents Damage to Equipment
Accumulated condensate can cause corrosion, rust, and other damage to the equipment, reducing its lifespan. The auto drain system ensures that the condensate is removed from the system, preventing damage to the equipment.
Improves Air Quality
Condensate in the compressed air system can cause contamination and affect the quality of the air. The auto drain system removes the condensation, improving the air quality.
Reduces Maintenance Costs
Regular maintenance of the compressed air system can be costly. The auto drain system reduces the need for frequent maintenance by removing the condensate regularly.
A10 Close Air Support
Deciding on a drain valve can be a stressful process that feels unnecessary to some people, and we understand that. So let us take the guesswork out of drain valves and condensate treatment. A10 provides close air support where you need it when you need it with 24/7 emergency support and a team of qualified, experienced, and knowledgeable technicians.
Whether it be an emergency rental, routine maintenance, or revamping your compressed air system, there is no better option in South Carolina than A10 Compressed Air Services.
Check out all of our products and services here.
Learn More From The Sources:
From Atlas Copco
From Warthog University