Scroll compressors are by far, the best choice for meeting the toughest air quality requirements in hospital and dental applications.

Dental compressors must be oil-free and water-free, as the quality of air affects both the health of the patient and the quality/longevity of the dental work. Choosing oil free compressors will guarantee oil free air, while desiccant compressed air dryers will lower the water content in the air to maximally decrease the probability of bacterial growth. 

Hospital air systems should be able to provide breathing air quality compressed air. Some compressors will include an integrated refrigerant dryer and/or air receiver. While these packages have the advantage of offering a slightly smaller footprint, they limit the versatility and serviceability in comparison to standalone units. Standalone dryers/receivers give the end-user the versatility to completely tailor the system to requirements. In-built refrigerant dryers are often suitable for European conditions but may not be appropriate for Australian ambient temperatures or able to offer the air quality delivered by a desiccant dryer system.

Maintenance costs and downtime should also be considered when selecting a compressor for dental or medical applications. Scroll compressors require minimal maintenance. Hitachi scroll compressors require yearly filter replacement, with servicing and certain replacement parts every 4-8 years, depending on total hours operated. The dryer, which is located outside of the compressor can be serviced easily and quickly compared to an in-built dryer. The compressor does not have to be taken offline during servicing.

While oil-free compressors are prone to corrosion in comparison with lubricated compressors, the addition of pre-filters reduces any probability of rust. Certain models have added flexibility with multiple compressor heads, allowing the machine to continue operating with the remaining heads in the event that one is taken offline.

Hitachi scroll compressors offer whisper-quiet operation, allowing their installation in residential areas or close to the customers.

When selecting a compressor, it is important to ensure correct sizing and energy efficiency since the capital cost of the compressor is about 15% of the total cost of the ownership, while electricity consumption makes up 75%. 

Hitachi scroll compressors are able to operate in multi-drive mode, automatically matching the air supply to the need of compressed air. As a result, a 15 kW unit, running at 50% capacity, will use 36% less energy compared to a load/unload style compressor. 

Finally, one must think 10 years ahead before investing in the equipment and calculate energy costs and future maintenance costs of the compressor. A cheaper option today may turn out to be not so affordable in the long term.

Hurll Nu-Way Pty Ltd is the Australian distributor of Hitachi air compressors and can be contacted for advice on scroll compressors for medical and dental applications.