compressed air regulator and drier

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Forum topic by thewoodmaster posted 02-28-2014 03:02 AM 1043 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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62 posts in 2611 days

02-28-2014 03:02 AM

I am looking at getting a regulator and drier for my air compressor that I use in my garage shop. Wondering what others use or recommend.

-- dan "insert pithy woodworking coment here"

6 replies so far

View bigblockyeti's profile


3570 posts in 1139 days

#1 posted 03-01-2014 04:32 AM

I use an FRL unit with NO oil in the lubricator, the only thing that might help with is some of the air tools. Finishing would be a disaster as would using a hose that had oil in it at any point in time. I think mine is a Norgren, lots of quality stuff out there, usually you get what you pay for and remember to drain the filter on a regular basis. If your doing a lot of finish spraying, a desiccant dryer might be a good idea, though some can be pricey.

View hydro's profile


208 posts in 1170 days

#2 posted 03-01-2014 04:51 PM

“I use an FRL unit with NO oil in the lubricator”

That combination is simply an “FR” or Filter Regulator. No sense buying a lubricator if you are not going to use it. I suggest looking for a combination unit with both functions in one assembly.

Now, if you want dry air for finishing, it can get very complicated, so investigate how much air prep the finish material you are spraying actually requires. There is no sense installing a series of very expensive filters/dryers if they are not needed for your usage.

To set up the basic air prep system, you need to remove water from the air, then regulate pressure, and finally filter as needed at the point of use. First of all, you want a water trap in the air line, at least 10’ from the compressor. The air needs to cool enough so the water in the air condenses from vapor to mist before you can trap it. I would not put a regulator at this point, rather, put it at the point of use. Just before the hose to the sprayer or tool, install a regulator/filter combination. These “FR”units typically come as a 25 or 5 micron filtration size, and either is fine for spraying wood finishes. If you want, you can add a third filter with an activated carbon element to remove any oil vapor at this point. You really do not need a dessicant dryer for any available wood finish available today.

Overall, the complete air delivery system should be considered to maximize the quality of air at the point of use. Never use iron or galvanized pipe as they both corrode internally, Never use PVC as it can explode and fracture sending splinters through the air, Copper is fine, but expensive. Industrial users are moving to the aluminum pipe systems to get away from these problems.

As part of my job I work with end users every day to address these issues and provide them with the best working solutions for compressed air management in their shops. No two customers needs are alike and I get to see every kind of cobbled together system, many of which do not work at all. For reference on these components you can check out the Prevost website here: I would also be happy to answer your questions offline so feel free to send me a PM.

Wherever you choose to buy your system components, please try to find a sales person who knows how to set up the entire system, and not rely on someone trying to sell a single component.

-- Minnesota Woodworkers Guild, Past President, Lifetime member.

View AlanBienlein's profile


159 posts in 2093 days

#3 posted 03-01-2014 06:12 PM

I got mine at harbor freight. Best one I ever had as it’s the first one that actually regulates the air as I no longer get pressure drop when I use my air tools.

View bigblockyeti's profile


3570 posts in 1139 days

#4 posted 03-01-2014 06:43 PM

It’s still an FRL, it is unit construction. The lubricator can be useful if you have a dedicated air hose just to run your nail guns. I might have others laying around that can be assembled in the desired configuration, this one just doesn’t happen to be one of those.

View hydro's profile


208 posts in 1170 days

#5 posted 03-01-2014 07:14 PM


A properly sized regulator does not reduce “Pressure Drop” when operating air tools. Rather it provides a supply of air at the correct pressure for operating the tools, over the range of flow that the tool requires. The regulator requires a higher pressure upstream and adequate flow capacity to operate. If you are seeing pressure fluctuation at the tool it is likely caused by a restriction in the plumbing system upstream of the tool.

If a tool is rated at 90 PSI and say, 6 CFM, you want the regulator to reduce the line pressure to 90 PSI and be able to hold that pressure with 6 CFM of air flowing through it. A quality regulator manufacturer will provide a flow/pressure curve to help size the regulator correctly.


Your FRL combination could use a diverter block tap before the lubricator. That way the lubricator could be used with oil for tools, and clean dry air can be tapped off before to use for painting, blow off etc. where oil is not desired. Norgren offers this accessory for all of their FRL body sizes. (I used to be a rep for Norgren as well.)

-- Minnesota Woodworkers Guild, Past President, Lifetime member.

View brianjenkins's profile


4 posts in 978 days

#6 posted 03-01-2014 08:51 PM

I bought a campbell hausford at Tractor Supply long ago. Pressure regulator and a filter. There’s hardly ever been any water in the filter. But my compressor is also hugely oversized (80g, 7.5 hp – 2stage IR) and hardly runs. That keeps some of the moisture out.

If you’re going to do finishing, a separate dryer may be useful. I have a membrane type dryer (it’s sort of a bypass, so you lose air in the process) that I’ve never plumbed into the line. However, if I was finishing, I’d plumb a separate branch and only use that.

IIRC this site is what I used back in the day….

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