Best Pipe for Air Compressor Lines: Aluminum Pipe Vs. PVC Pipe

Contractors and engineers must be careful when choosing the best type of pipe for their compressed air system. Aluminium and PVC pipes use two very different materials, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.

The long-term effects of choosing either type of piping will outweigh any initial costs. This guide will identify the advantages and disadvantages of each, enabling you to choose the best type of pipe to use for your project.

Aluminum Pipe Pros & Cons

While the initial cost of installing an aluminum air pipe system is higher than the AIRnet Compressed Air Pipealternative options, it will likely save you money in the long run. Additionally, aluminum piping has many advantages over the competition when it comes to efficiency.

Aluminum pipes are easy to install since they are calibrated for immediate use. With less assembly time, you can cut your labor time in half.  Threading and soldering are also not required when installing aluminum pipes into your system. While heavier than PVC pipes, aluminum pipes are still lighter than other metal piping such as copper or steel.

Aluminum pipe systems allow for a lot of options and modifications. Pipe fittings can easily be attached to aluminum pipe lines for a number of applications. Aluminum pipe fittings can use elbows, equal tees, and end caps for redirecting or stopping the track of your pipe.

Additionally, adapter unions, manifolds, quick drops, reducing union, threaded reducing tees, straight connections, and valves can be connected to control the flow of air while you replace a filter or fix parts of your pipe. These quick connect parts will fit your system security allowing your air to flow smoothly without any leakage, especially in threaded systems.

This improved efficiency will allow you to save on energy and productivity. Your system will deliver cleaner air than steel and other types of piping. This will not only be better for the environment of your system, but lower maintenance costs as well.

PVC Pipes Pros & Cons

PVC Pipes are made of a synthetic plastic polymer and have been commonly used for transferring water as well as air. PVC Pipes have several advantages and disadvantages compared to other materials used for compressed piping systems.

The biggest advantages of using PVC piping are the cost and versatility of the material. PVC pipes typically run cheaper than aluminum pipes, which will make larger projects much more cost effective. In addition, PVC pipes are also incredibly resistant to corrosion making them useful in a wide range of environments.

You may purchase PVC piping to run through your ceiling and then end up deciding your system would better fit beneath the floor. This is not an issue as PVC pipes are durable through either environment. They will survive the gasses, fumes, and exhaust up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit when installing in a ceiling. Additionally, they will not corrode from the moisture found below ground.  

If any custom shaped sections of pipes are needed for your project, they must be special ordered through the manufacturer. Unlike aluminum pipe systems, using push to fit connectors is not an option for PVC pipe systems.

While there are advantages to PVC pipes, the disadvantages and safety concerns in using them with a compressed air system can outweigh those benefits.While PVC pipes are sturdy, making installation easy, they do have the tendency to become brittle over time. Warped PVC pipes can be highly dangerous when used with compressed air systems.

Furthermore, the compressor's oils from your system will migrate into the air and degrade the glue used when assembling PVC pipe systems. This ultimately allows for the PVC pipes to separate from the fittings under pressure. This can make PVC pipes susceptible to shattering into many pieces causing dangerously shrapnel to fly through the air. As a result, the use of PVC pipes with compressed air systems violates OHSA standards in many cases.

Professionals recommend replacing the PVC pipe used in your compressed air system with aluminum pipe. Waiting to make this change will put your employees at extreme risk. As a result, the danger of using PVC pipes far outweighs any cost savings that come from choosing PVC.

Choosing Aluminum Pipes for Your System

In the long run, aluminum pipe can be the better cost-effective and versatile compressed air pipe system for your garage, shop, or warehouse. Aluminum Air Pipe offers a large inventory of AIRnet products to get you started. Our store features several different sizes of compressed air pipes, inert gas (green pipe), and s-bend air pipes.

Also browse our selection of pipe fittings, hanging materials, tools, and accessories to help you in installing your new aluminum pipe system or expanding on one that is already in place.

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