Minimum temperature to run compressor?

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tmassey

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What do you consider the minimum temperature that is reasonable to run your compressor?

When I bought my compressor, a couple people gave me the advice to run the compressor for at least one continuous hour, at least once a month. I haven’t always done it, but I usually can. The tricky part is, I live in the Great White North, and my compressor is in an unheated and uninsulated structure.

Fortunately, while it’s cold here, it’s not always freezing cold all the time. Even in the winter, we’ll have brief periods where we might hit above freezing.

I figure running the compressor below freezing is an absolute no, just because I don’t want things like condensate drains to be frozen. But there are other things to worry about: effectiveness of lubrication in cold weather, increased viscosity, etc. So, that’s what has led me to my question.

Thoughts?

ETA: I’ve been asked why run it regularly. The reasons I was given include: 1) Like most moving equipment, they last longer and run better when they don’t sit for extended periods. 2) Specifically, running the compressor once a month keeps things moving and lubricated and rust-free. 3) Running for at least an hour helps drive out the moisture from the oil by keeping it at an elevated temperature; running for less than an hour would not do so sufficiently.

That’s what I was told, by people who work on high-pressure compressors. And it doesn’t cost me much to do, so I try to do it!
 

tmassey

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Looks like I shaved it a little bit today: the temperature was 39F, which is 4C.

Meant to mention what lubricant I used: ”Poseidon” (Chemlube) 751.

That inspired me to see if I could find a data sheet. Here’s a typical example: https://lubricon.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/CHEMLUBE_215-229-230-501-751-822.pdf

It’s funny: that lists the temperature range as -15C to 230C. (Yes, I do know what the word “nominal” means. :) ) I don’t think I’d want to operate it at -15C any more than I would want to operate it at 230C, but it seems the manufacturer thinks it can go a little lower.

5C/41F can be a little hard to find here in January or February. 38F is much easier. But a propane heater and fan isn’t hard to come by, either. :)

Thanks for the information. I appreciate it.
 

macado

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My compressor is also in an unheated shed but I run an electrical block heater on mine when it's below 4c (39f) and have an electrical heater to warm it up in there before I start the compressor. I turn these on a couple hours or so before I need to run the compressor. I ran it last week in -7c (18f) but I left the heaters on for quite a while to make sure everything was warmed up.

If you have electric available consider adding a small block heater.
 

NAM001

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interesting posts. I can see the concern about the oil. however once you et it going s wont it heat faster than it will cool to some point. I am thinking that if you can warm it in a tent of some sorts above the min temp get it going for a few minutes then it should self heat itself up without aid of any other room heaters and soon get up[ to 35 C or better and then no more oil concerns. the stage heat transferred to the air being pumped should prevent air line freeze. putting a heat lamp on the compressor for a couple of hours should do the trick.

I like the block heater idea. where would you put it??? in the drain plug location.??
 

tmassey

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I have electricity.

I’ve never used an engine block heater before. There’s no freeze plugs or coolant to use a heater with. I don’t want to use the glue-on type. The magnetic type could work, and are thermostatically protected, which is nice. I also saw an electric blanket type, which got me thinking. I recently bought a 100w heating pad that goes to 60C (and it does: the highest setting is too hot!). That could be good for some direct heat on the compressor, too! And, of course, I’ve got several propane and electric heaters for general space heating...

(And this was never about *keeping* it hot; just like your car in winter, once it starts running, it’ll *stay* running nice and warm... It’s starting it while minimizing the damage that’s the challenge.)

I really can’t imagine me wanting to start the compressor with air temps below freezing. Even in January and February, finding a couple of hours of mid-30’s F temps is not impossible. I think between knowing the lubricant is good to way colder than I want to be out there, *and* a few ways to heat the compressor a bit if the temperature is marginal, I feel a lot better.

And I have *plenty* of banked gas and not a lot of places locally to dive in the winter, so this is much more about keeping the compressor healthy than an urgent need to pump some dive gas... After all, I can only get in so many ice dives in a winter... :)

Again, thank you all for your suggestions. And if you have other brilliant ideas for keeping a compressor warm and healthy through a frozen winter, let us know!
 

rob.mwpropane

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Can you bring it inside for the night...start it in the morning?

Either that or a small propane heater aimed at it a few feet away.

A block heater would work too.
 

Julius SCHMIDT

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To get it running in cold temps it if you don't need to run it, goes against why you want to run it in the first place
 

broncobowsher

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They do make magnetic oil pan heaters for cars/trucks. https://www.amazon.com/Zerostart-34...ansmissions/dp/B0076DUV2Q/ref=sr_1_6?dchild=1

I used one of these years ago when I worked in a movie theater. The popcorn maker had an oil sump that would congeal overnight in the winter. Added the heater so the pump would work.

Once it is up and running it should build enough internal heat to not need a sump heater.

You could also add an infrared heater to the garage and just aim it as the compressor for a while before starting. Could be helpful for other things in the garage during the winter as well.

Bringing in cold dry air should help the compressor be more efficient.
 
https://www.shearwater.com/products/peregrine/

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