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    High Pressure Air
"With the entire paintball industry gradually separating itself from using CO2 in exchange for high pressure air, many questions are abound. From the simplest questions to the slightly more complex, the following is intended to shed some clarification on high pressure air. The advantages of high pressure air over CO2 are numerous and well known, so those items will not be included in this summary.

Let me start by say that high pressure air is nothing new. Having seen hydrotests dating back to 1919 at 1,800 psi, the process of compressing air at higher than normal pressures is older than most of you reading this. The only changes since these early times are still higher pressures pumped through lighter and more efficient compressors with purification systems that purify air to beyond breathing air standards.

There are many applications of high pressure air, many of which go by unnoticed in many industrial applications. The most prominent role for high pressure air has centered around breathing air, namely for firefighters and scuba divers. Over the past few years, another application for this same air has emerged, paintball. The only difference between the air used by firefighters/scuba divers and the air used by paintballers is that the air for firefighters/scuba divers must be purified to breathing air standards. This is not to say that air for paintball use need not be purified. This air must still be cleansed of all oil, particulates, and most moisture so that it is not passed into the paintball air system and clog up the regulator.

Many people within paintball confuse high pressure air with nitrogen and rightly so. For the end use of shooting paintballs, they are interchangeable. The only difference between high pressure air and nitrogen is mainly how they are derived and how one would actually refill a paintball air system.

Currently, shops and fields have only a few viable options for refilling paintball air systems. The first option one has is scuba fill stations. This method consists of buying a few scuba cylinders and a scuba fill station, then refilling the paintball air systems from the scuba tank. This method is generally the cheapest way to go, but also the most limiting. With standard scuba cylinders, the maximum pressure is 3,500 psi, so you will never be able to fill over 3,500 psi. In addition, with scuba cylinders being so small you will only be getting a few fills before you drop below 3,000 psi and get only marginal fills after that point. Then it is back to the local dive shop to pay for more fills.

The second option for refilling paintball air systems incorporates the use of a booster. What is done in this situation is you purchase a booster (approx. $2,000) typically made by Teledyne, coupled with air or nitrogen purchased at a local welding or gas supply house. You connect your rented (or purchased) storage cylinders to a your booster, then connect to the paintball air system. Some gas supply houses carry nitrogen while others carry compressed air (this is where the two gasses become interchangeable). If you are able to get 4,500 psi gas from your supplier, you can start filling paintball air systems. Once the air in your rented storage bottle gets below your desired pressure, you then turn on the booster and boost the air to your desired pressure. This option is good for low volume refilling and is cheaper (in the short term) than compressing your own air. Negative aspects of boosting air are that (1) you will always need to rent or purchase gas from a supply house which can get extremely costly over the long run, (2) booster systems are not intended for high volume and (3) boosters consume a large amount of gas (boosters use low pressure air to drive themselves).

The final option that I will discuss is our preferred method, and that is utilizing a compressor. Most newer compressors from manufacturers such as Bauer are rated at 5000 psi, so the need for a booster is eliminated. Typical installations with an air compressor include the compressor, some storage cylinders, and a fill station. The compressor takes the ambient air and compresses it through multi-stages to your desired pressure. From the compressor, the compressed air is usually stored in a few storage cylinders (also known as a ‘Cascade System’) and then into your fill station. While the biggest deterrence for people from an air compressor is the startup cost, the long term costs of a compressor are lower because you do not need to continuously buy or rent gas cylinders as you would with a booster. With a compressor based system, you are completely self sufficient.

While this summary is by no means comprehensive, I hope that it cleared up some of the more basic questions. If you still have questions or would like to discuss an air system, feel free to drop us a line at info@paintballcompressor.com or give us a call at (714) 991-8800


PaintBallCompressor.com
1340 Simpson Circle, Anaheim, California 92806
info@paintballcompressor.com
Phone: (714) 991-8800
Fax: (714) 991-1120

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PaintBall.com, 1340 Simpson Circle, Anaheim, California 92806
info@paintballcompressor.com, Phone: (714) 991-8800, Fax: (714) 991-1120

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