by Chuck Westhofen

How much does it cost to rent a compressor for a month?  The short answer is the standard monthly rate.  However, like most things, it’s not that easy or simple.  There are other factors to consider that will impact the “total cost of rental.”

These factors include fuel, maintenance, ease of delivery and return, ease of set up and disassemble among others.  How easy it is to drop off the compressor where it is needed?  Can it be delivered on a roll-back truck or is a crane required?  Usually, with a rollback truck, compressors on wheels can be quickly dropped off exactly where it is needed.  With smaller skid mounted units, a forklift may be needed to move it into place.  If a crane is required, that certainly complicates delivery, adding time, multiple safety issues and crane costs.  Double all these factors for returning the compressor to the supplier.

How easy is the set up?  Most compressors are equipped with quick connections making hose connections fast.  Be sure to ask your supplier when their hose was last pressure tested.  This is an important safety consideration.  Is the control panel intuitive to use? Who will train the operator?

What about maintenance?  A diesel compressor running 24/7 will need service every 10 days – more comprehensive service.  Is maintenance included or will the supplier send a service invoice every time they touch the compressor?  How will the supplier know when service is needed?  Can they monitor the health of the compressor remotely or do they have to physically access it each week?

What about downtime?  Ask how breakdowns are managed.  Does the customer have to call the supplier?  Or do they have a monitoring system that automatically contacts the supplier when issues are approaching?

The biggest and most tangible additional cost is fuel.  A Tier 4 interim engine in a compressor will have 12% lower fuel consumption than an older Tier 3 powered compressor.  A quick payback calculation will determine when Tier 4’s save the customer money.  Tier 4 Final compressors achieve another 5% fuel savings over Tier 4 interim.

Spending many additional labor hours moving, setting up, training, contacting the supplier for service or breakdowns can quickly add up – wasting any money saved on renting the cheapest compressor.  Same for fuel.  If a diesel in required and you’re going to run the compressor, make sure you do a quick fuel cost calculation.  Your local rental air expert can help with this calculation.

Make sure you don’t waste labor hours or fuel dollars if you rent the cheapest compressor available.  Ask lots of questions to determine the true total cost of your rental.