Choosing the Right Pressure Regulator

A pressure regulator, also known as a pressure limiter, is a piece of equipment installed on hydraulic or pneumatic networks to limit the pressure on downstream equipment such as pipes, valves, nozzles, or tanks. Excessive pressure can lead to leaks, premature wear, or even destruction of equipment. A pressure regulator is also useful in certain processes where stable network pressure is essential.

The most common pressure regulators on the market are diaphragm pressure regulators.

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  • Why should you install a pressure regulator?

    A pressure regulator protects the pneumatic components in your system. A pneumatic system is powered by compressed air, the maximum pressure of which depends on your compressor. The components of your circuit (valves, filters, etc.) all have a pressure that must not be exceeded. The purpose of a pressure regulator is to ensure that the pressure is regulated in the compressed air circuit, thereby protecting each component and the entire system.

    In addition to protecting your pneumatic components, a pressure regulator is useful for:

    • Protecting your products, especially those handled by your pneumatic cylinders: your cylinders are designed to deliver a particular force at a particular pressure, known as the theoretical pressure. If this pressure is exceeded, the cylinders will deliver greater forces, with the risk of errors throughout your manufacturing process. The regulator is therefore there to limit pressure and avoid this type of problem.
    • Controlling your process: some applications require stable pressure. This is particularly the case if you want to spray a product: you should install a pressure regulator to ensure that the pressure of the compressed air is stable.
  • How does a diaphragm pressure regulator work?

    CAMOZZI pressure regulator

    CAMOZZI pressure regulator

    The most common pressure regulators on the market are diaphragm pressure regulators.

    The diaphragm pressure regulator comprises a screw, a spring, a valve, and a diaphragm. The principle of this regulation is based on the balance of forces on either side of the diaphragm: on one side, the spring compressed by the screw, and on the other, the downstream pressure of the fluid. The slightest variations in pressure are immediately corrected by the regulator. When the pressure drops, this disrupts the balance of forces on the diaphragm. As the force of the spring becomes greater than the force exerted by the fluid pressure, the valve opens, the outlet pressure rises, and reaches its new equilibrium. Conversely, when the downstream pressure increases, the force exerted by the fluid against the diaphragm compresses the spring and closes the valve.

    With this type of regulator, upstream pressure fluctuations do not affect downstream pressure.

  • How to choose a pressure regulator

    Unlike a pressure reducer, which only reduces the outlet pressure of a fluid, a pressure regulator can compensate and stabilize it. Depending on the pressure in your system, you may need to install a pressure reducer in addition to a pressure regulator.

    • If necessary, you must first select a reducer suited to the fluid’s inlet and outlet pressures. To reduce pressure, turn the knob or screw controlling spring tension. Then install the regulator and readjust the pressure in the circuit.
    • You should also check the flow rate. Regulators operate at specific flow rates specified by each manufacturer.
    • The size of the inlet and outlet connection is also an important consideration.

    Pressure regulators are generally supplied pre-set, but they are all adjustable. Options can even be added to your regulator.

    These include:

    • a manometer option for accurate pressure measurement (results are displayed in bar and/or psi)
    • an easy-set option
  • Where are pressure regulators used?

    Pressure regulators are found in most machines that use a fluid to operate. They are found in industry (compressed air circuits, water circuits, hydraulic circuits) but also in household appliances (dishwashers, washing machines), refrigeration machines such as air conditioners or refrigerators, boilers, and in all vehicles to regulate brake or fuel pressure.

    Pressure regulators are therefore found everywhere, and are essential to the smooth operation of a wide range of equipment. They can break down, but their very affordable price means they can be replaced at a fraction of the cost. On the other hand, their failure can cause much greater damage to other equipment downstream from the system, so be sure to check them regularly.

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