How to Choose the Right Air Hose
Hoses can be complicated, and choosing the right air hose will depend on different factors. To have air transported to a pneumatic application from a compressor, factors that will need to be considered include the dimensions of the hose, its function and the manufacturing material.
The hose dimensions include its internal diameter and overall length. There are many materials that can be used to construct a hose, and the environment in which the hose is used will also influence that choice.
Air hoses can be supplied in a wide array of lengths, and there are different lengths for air hoses intended for use with the same types of application. The distance that will need to be covered between the compressor and the pneumatic tool’s workspace will be the determining factor in the length that is chosen.
Long hoses allow for much greater separation between the compressor and the workspace, though this will result in some air pressure being lost during transmission. Shorter hoses are easier to manoeuvre in tight spaces, work well with portable compressors and better maintain pressure.
When making the decision as to what air hose to choose, a great deal will also depend on how manoeuvrable the pneumatic tool is as well the size of the workspace. It may be easier to just move the compressor rather than have to trail around a long hose, but if the application will require a lot of moving around then it will be necessary to use a longer air hose.
Shorter air hoses can always be extended with the use of supplementary air hoses and couplers, though some small pressure drops should be expected when making use of couplers.
The hose’s ID is important as it determines the supply rate of the compressed air. The most common IDs are 6, 9 and 10 millimetres. The higher the diameter the more litres of air can be given to the pneumatic tool per minute, though a big bore will also add a significant amount to the hose’s weight, which will make it more difficult to manoeuvre.
How many litres of air are required by an application should be calculated, after which the corresponding ID required to supply that much air and keep its pressure over the travel distance can be chosen.
Today air hoses are available in a wide array of synthetic materials that have mostly replaced rubber hoses. Fibre layers or braided steel wires can reinforce lightweight materials, providing great resistance and strength to hoses while enabling them to keep their flexibility. The intended place of use and function of the air hose will help to decide the right material to choose.
Polyurethane is a good option, being lightweight, durable, resistant to abrasion and flexible in many working temperatures.
Nylon hose is lightweight, abrasion-resistant and suitable for high pressure applications with low permeability mixed with superb dimensional stability.
Neoprene, a lightweight synthetic rubber, makes a very flexible air hose capable of tremendous precision in up to 200 psi pressures and is heat and cold resistant.
The air hose chosen should always have a maximum working pressure higher than the pneumatic application for safety reasons. All specs of all system parts should be checked prior to choosing a particular air hose.