Refrigerated compressed air dryers are a type of compressed air dryer that helps remove moisture from the air stream to protect the air compressor, its piping, tools and equipment.

This page will provide you with all the relevant information about refrigerated air dryers and then provide a review on the best ones readily available.

Table of Contents

What is a Refrigerated Compressed Air Dryer?

Compressed air will always contain water due to the air that is sucked in to the compressor carrying vapor. If you’re wondering Why & How to Get Rid of Condensation & Moisture From Air System then visit our guide for more information!

Refrigerated compressed air dryers are one of the most commonly used types of air dryers due to their simple design, the fact they need very little maintenance and their relative cheapness. The other types are desiccant and deliquescent air dryers.

Refrigerated compressed air dryers tend to be a standard choice if you’re shopping for a dry and don’t have special requirements like an ultra-low dewpoint. Refrigerated dryers reach an acceptable dew point in general industrial plant air applications and do not require much if any special maintenance.

Buying a quality refrigerated air dryer and installing it properly will allow you to adopt a set-and-forget mentality, knowing that you’re going to receiver dryer air with little to no problems here out.

How Do Refrigerated Compressed Air Dryers Work?

As you may have guessed already, refrigerated compressed air dryers work by cooling down the air just like your refrigerator in your kitchen does to keep your produce fresh at the right temperature!

It’s also quite similar to a home air conditioning system, the compressed air is cooled in an air-to-refrigerant heat exchanger to about 35° Fahrenheit. At this point, the condensed moisture is separated from the air and drained off.

The air is then re-heated in an air-to-air heat exchanger by means of the incoming air, which is also pre-cooled before entering the air-to-refrigerant heat exchanger. This allows the compressed air leaving the dryer to have a pressure dew point of between 35°F and 50°F.

A lower dew point is not possible in a refrigerant dryer as the condensate would freeze at anything below 32°F.

The process is best described in this youtube animation below. Not all refrigerated compressed air dryers function exactly like this, but it’s a good example.

Types of Refrigerated Compressed Air Dryers

There are two main types of refrigerated compressed air dryers, these are:

  • Cycling
  • Non-cycling

Cycling Refrigerated Compressed Air Dryers

Cycling type refrigerated compressed air dryers use refrigerant to chill a mass surrounding the air passage within the heat exchanger. This mass could be a metal like aluminium block, or a liquid such as glycol, which act as a heat sink.

This heat sink cools the compressed air, its temperature is controlled by a thermostat and shuts off the refrigerant compressor during reduced loads, providing savings in operating costs but unfortunately, at higher initial capital costs.

Advantages of cycling designs include:

  • Energy savings at partial and zero air flow

Disadvantages of cycling designs include:

  • Dew point swings
  • Increased capital cost
  • Increased size and weight due to the heat sink mass

Non-cycling Refrigerated Compressed Air Dryers

The non-cycling refrigerated compressed air dryer is the most common type and are extremely reliable. In these types, the refrigerant circulates continuously through the system. This design provides rapid response to changes in operating loads.

Since the compressed air flow varies and so will the ambient temperature, a hot gas bypass valve or unloader valve often is used to regulate the flow of the refrigerant and maintain stable operating conditions within the whole refrigerant system.

In most non-cycling refrigerated dryers, the refrigerant evaporates within the air-to-refrigerant heat exchanger (evaporator) and is condensed then after the compression by an air-or-water-to-refrigerant heat exchanger (condenser).

Advantages of non-cycling designs include:

  • Minimal dew point swings
  • Refrigerant compressor operates continuously

Disadvantages of non-cycling designs include:

  • No energy savings at partial and zero flow

5 Best Refrigerated Compressed Air Dryers

I have picked out 5 of the best refrigerated compressed air dryers readily available on Amazon in no particular order, but first of all lets look at what numbers you should be interested in!

What to Look For When Buying a Refrigerated Compressed Air Dryer

When shopping for a refrigerated compressed air dryer, please keep these in mind:

  • Maximum pressure: the maximum pressure of the dryer must be the same or higher than your compressors
  • Maximum flow: the maximum air flow that can flow through the dryer must be higher than what you compressor is capable of delivering. A too small air dryer will result in big pressure-drop and you’ll need to set your compressors pressure higher to compensate for this – costing you more money.
  • Maximum inlet temperature: if this temperature is exceeded, you will damage parts of the dryer, or the dryer won’t have the capacity to reach the desired dew point.
  • Maximum ambient (room) temperature: Putting your air dryer in a hot room will increase the chances of it over-heating and shutting down. You must buy a dryer that can handle the maximum temperature (peak summer) in your compressor room

Ingersoll Rand Refrigerated Air Dryer – Type D25IN 15 CFM

First up is this Ingersoll-Rand Compressed Air Dryer, an Amazon choice for refrigerated air dryers. It boasts an air flow capacity of 15 CFM and a maximum pressure of 203 PSI.

Ingersoll Rand are a very well respected brand name within the industry, they’re known for their high quality productions.

The overall dimensions are 16.5 x 16.5 x 14 inches, and it’s cost is reasonable compared to others in the market, especially for the quality.

It has a built-in stainless steel demister that removes all moisture and a fully adjustable programmable electronic drain valve helping it reduce energy use and minimize air loss.

The heat exchangers are corrosion resistant, the moisture-separation is highly-efficient and the control-system is enhanced to ensure a steady long term supply of dry air.

Maximum pressure: 203 PSI
Maximum flow: 15 CFM
Maximum inlet temperature: 140° F
Maximum ambient temperature: 115° F

Quincy Refrigerated Air Dryer – Model QRHT 25 CFM

Next up is this Non-cycling Quincy, high temperature air dryer. It has a maximum PSI rating of 175. Quincy are a very reputable company that provide terrific innovations within the air compressor industry.

It’s dimensions are 17.5 x 18.75 x 17.75 inches, so it definitely takes up some space!

This dryer uses R134A and R404A refrigerants to cool air from anything up to 180° F down to between 39° F and 50° F.

These units integrate five different components that perform five different functions to eliminate water, oil and dirt from air systems, preventing damage to pneumatic tools and cylinders. 

Maximum pressure: 175 PSI
Maximum flow: 25 CFM
Maximum inlet temperature: 180° F
Maximum ambient temperature: 100° F

MTA Refrigerated Air Dryer – DEiT0035 35 CFM

This cycling refrigerated air dryer with pulse technology saves energy by controlling the refrigerant flow to the compressor and at very low loads the refrigerant compressor cycles off completely. It has a maximum working pressure of 232 PSI.

At 16 x 14 x 12 inches, this compact 3-in-1 aluminium heat exchanger increases efficiency by maximising the heat transfer rates.

It uses refrigerant R134a and a mesh-type separator that insures the moisture is removed at all compressed air flow rates.

Maximum pressure: 232 PSI
Maximum flow: 35 CFM
Maximum inlet temperature: 158° F
Maximum ambient temperature: 115° F

Speedaire Refrigerated Air Dryer – 3YA50 15 CFM

This Speedaire unit offers 15 CFM at a high maximum pressure of 250 psi. Speedaire, the house brand of Grainger, offer dependable reliability under demanding conditions. 

This 17 x 17 x 20 inch air dryer uses R-134a refrigerant to cool air from a maximum inlet temperature of 120° F.

This dryer has a high-efficiency separator and a no air loss float drain.

Maximum pressure: 250 PSI
Maximum flow: 15 CFM
Maximum inlet temperature: 120° F
Maximum ambient temperature: 110° F

Ingersoll Rand Compressed Air Dryer – D54IN 32 CFM

Similar to the first refrigerant air dryer presented but this Ingersoll Rand dryer boasts a larger CFM of 32.

This large 20.5 x 19 x 17.5 air dryer has a maximum pressure of 203 PSI. With its advanced smart microprocessor control, you’re able to easily adjust and manage system parameters.

Maximum pressure: 203 PSI
Maximum flow: 32 CFM
Maximum inlet temperature: 140° F
Maximum ambient temperature: 115° F

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How does a refrigerated air dryer work?

Refrigerated compressed air dryers work by cooling down the air just like your refrigerator in your kitchen
or a home air conditioning system, the compressed air is cooled in an air-to-refrigerant heat exchanger to about 35° Fahrenheit. At this point, the condensed moisture is separated from the air and drained off.

Do I need a refrigerated air dryer?

It depends on the kind of application you are doing, of course. If you do not require an ultra-low dew point and want to keep costs low then a refrigerated dryer will suit your needs.

What is refrigerant dryer?

A refrigerant air dryer is a specific type of compressed air dryer that is used to remove the moisture present in compressed air, which always contains water.

How does an industrial air dryer work?

Its working principle is based on de-humidifying air by rapidly cooling it, condensing it, and then draining off the moisture. The operation is very similar to that of a home air-conditioning system or domestic refrigerator.


If you have any questions about refrigerated compressed air dryers then please leave a comment below with a photo if applicable, so that someone can help you!