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choosing the perfect pressure switch air compressor

Having trouble with a pressure switch? Replacing it is the easiest solution if you can find the right replacement at the right price.

Whether you’re a technician, contractor, or facility manager, choosing the perfect pressure switch for an air compressor isn’t as simple as it sounds. Some switches — especially for old or uncommon systems — are notoriously hard to replace.

But that’s what we’re here for. At Industrial Stores, our specialty is service with a human touch. We won’t just help you find the right pressure switch for your compressor—we will also supply any information, tips, and advice you need to get your machines running again.

In this detailed guide, we’ll cover four key questions you need answered in your quest for a replacement pressure switch.

  • What is a pressure switch?
  • What types of pressure switches are available?
  • What features of a pressure switch should you look for?
  • What’s the price range for a high-quality pressure switch?

By the time we’re done answering these questions, you’ll be ready to order your pressure switch, and we’ll be ready to deliver.

1 - Know What Kind of Pressure Switch You Want

An air pressure switch for an air compressor should disconnect power at a certain maximum pressure, then kick in again when the pressure drops below the minimum point.

Pressure switches used to be electromechanical, relying on moving parts that reacted to changes in pressure to make or break electrical contact. With advancements in technology, modern electronic pressure switches operate differently and are much more efficient.

The Tecumseh low-pressure model below is a good example of a pressure switch that you are likely to find today.

Tecumseh compressor low-pressure switch

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There are many companies that make pressure switches for compressors. Some of the most common names you are likely to come across include:

  • Danfoss
  • Merrill
  • Antunes
  • Square D
  • Tecumseh
  • Quincy
  • Asco

All these brands produce high-quality pressure switches for air compressors, but the design and features of each can vary.

2 - Focus on the Features

The features of a pressure switch vary from one model to the next, depending on the manufacturer, type of switch, and intended applications. Here are the most important features to consider in a pressure switch.

Operating Pressures 

The switch's operating pressures should match the minimum and maximum pressures for the air compressor. For example, if your compressor operates at 100 – 150 PSI, you should get a pressure switch that cuts in and out at those points.

Expert Tip: Modern solid state pressure switches are adjustable, so you can buy one with higher operating limits and tune it to the level you need.

Maximum Pressure and Electrical Ratings

Make sure that the switch’s proof pressure—the maximum pressure it can handle without damage—is high enough to account for spikes and surges.

Issues such as faulty components and restricted flow can cause these extremely high pressure (overpressure) conditions. A high proof pressure keeps the switch functional even after surges. The one below is perfect for such applications.

Tecumseh Compressor 84095-1 High Pressure Switch

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Similarly, the electrical power components should be well within the manufacturer’s guidelines. Most compressors operate on 110V or 240V mains, which almost all pressure switches can handle.

Adjustable Range

Whereas electronic pressure switches allow you to set your operating points along their full range, mechanical switches have a limited adjustable range. For example, most cannot have setpoints in the lower 15% of their range because they become inaccurate below that level.

Expert Tip: If you can’t get a pressure switch that fits your air compressor’s requirements, look for one with adjustable controls instead.

Compatibility of Fittings

There have been too many horror stories of leaks and condensation happening after swapping a pressure switch. Make sure that fittings such as O-rings, pistons, diaphragms, and other wetted materials are compatible and fit perfectly.

Even a small surface rip in an O-ring will lead to pressure leaks, so make sure there is no visible damage as well.

Deadband

A pressure switch’s deadband is the difference between its high-pressure and low-pressure setpoints. For example, if the deadband cuts in at 90 PSI and cuts out at 100 PSI, it has a deadband of 10 PSI.

Most mechanical or electromechanical pressure switches such as the Asco below have fixed deadbands.

Asco XHC16A215-15298 Pressure Switch

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With a fixed deadband, you have to get a switch that matches your compressor exactly. Such switches are more reliable and require less time to install.

On the other hand, electronic/solid state pressure switches have an adjustable deadband. You need to calibrate and adjust it during installation to make sure it operates within the compressor’s parameters.

Operating Environment

If you’re using the pressure switch outdoors or in hazardous environments, there will be extra safety requirements for it. For example, some regulations require explosion-proof casings if there are inflammable materials in the vicinity.

3 - Invest In a Good Quality Pressure Switch

You can always save a buck or two if you go for cheaper pressure switches. Sometimes you can even get by with a repair on the existing pressure switch. However, in terms of safety, both options are terrible ideas, and the switch would not last long.

Faulty or low-quality pressure switches experience problems such as:

  • Leaking - This usually happens when fittings are worn out or damaged.
  • The compressor no longer starts or stops correctly - This can happen if the switch is faulty, or if it is not operating within its optimum range.
  • The compressor stops before it reaches the cutout pressure - This can indicate leakage at high pressure or defective pressure switch components.

If your pressure switch has one or more of these problems, save yourself the trouble and buy a new high-quality model to enjoy the following benefits.

1 - High Safety Standards

Modern pressure switches (especially solid state models) have a high safety margin with almost unlimited duty cycles. They are also better designed to avoid electrical arcing, leaking, and other potentially dangerous issues.

2 - Easy Fitting

Getting the right pressure switch will make installation much easier and quicker. For example, a switch with a fixed deadband will be a direct fit with no calibration or setting required. 

Proper fitting also ensures maximum safety and durability. Low-quality replacements may fit poorly with the rest of the system and require extra work to fix leaks and similar problems.

3 - Long Service Life

Pressure switches, especially modern electronic models, should last for many years before requiring replacement. Mechanical pressure switches are very reliable, so they are preferable for long-term redundant installations or for harsh operating conditions. Electronic models are great when you need quick, accurate, and programmable functions. 

However, getting the wrong pressure switch can reduce its service life or even that of your air compressor unit. For example, a pressure switch that cuts in too late can cause your compressor to surge and damage its motor. Leaks can also cause problems down the line.

Always buy from reputable manufacturers and get a good warranty whenever possible. The best pressure switches will have warranties measured in a million cycles or more.

4 - Versatility During Operation

If you want to have more control or increase the capacity of an older air compressor system, a new programmable pressure switch could give you more options.

New electromechanical and electronic models have adjustable deadbands and a higher adjustable range for more versatile operation, as opposed to older fixed models.

Johnson Controls P77AAA-9351 Pressure Switch

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The Johnson Controls pressure switch above is one of the most versatile models we sell. You can use it for control or limit functions depending on the model number, and it also works as a differential pressure switch.

4 - A Pressure Switch Doesn’t Have to be Expensive

Pressure switches vary greatly in price based on their technical specifications and features. Some models for small, portable air compressors are available for under $20, while advanced units for industrial systems can usually cost you $100 or more.

Here are some common pressure switch models and their prices to help you get an idea of what they cost.

Product Low Price High Price Average Price
Air Zenith PS200 Pressure Switch (160-200psi ¼) $11.00 $22.50 $20.00
Quincy 110512-008 Pressure Switch 60Psi On 80 Psi Off $54.00 $111.00 $88.00
Tecumseh compressor 84026-2 low pressure switch $92.00 $120.25 $103.77
Danfoss 060-213166 pressure control $117.00 $230.00 $132.00
Swipe left to see more

Prices change with time. However, at Industrial Stores, we strive to give you the best prices every time.

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testimonial from Teresa Browder

5 - Buy Your Pressure Switch From Us — This Is What Others Said About Industrial Stores

Our commitment to excellent customer service over the years has earned us the loyalty and praise of happy customers. Many of them are pleasantly shocked at how fast their products are shipped, as well as the concern and care we accord each customer.

Other advantages that our customers have praised us for include:

  • Fast shipping with easy tracking
  • Accurate product sourcing and shipping
  • Easy installation
  • Affordable product pricing and shipping
  • Extraordinary customer service

"Received the order shipment tracking number. It was great news."
Luis S. Valverde, Hollywood, Florida

"I just wanted to thank you for your extremely quick shipping. I will be a customer from now on!"
Janet Wartschow, East Hartford, Connecticut

"Great! I was able to do a self install and I couldn't be happier to have saved hundreds of $s!"
Ruben Marquez, Madison, Wisconsin

People Also Asked

How do I choose an air pressure switch for an air compressor?

Your replacement pressure switch must be a perfect match for your compressor system. That includes meeting technical parameters such as pressure and electrical ratings.

The new pressure switch also needs fittings that will fit perfectly onto your compressor system.

Can I put a higher pressure switch on my air compressor?

Your air compressor can probably handle slightly higher pressures than its specified ratings. However, that is highly dangerous, especially in older air compressor systems. If you exceed the maximum pressure your compressor can handle, it can rupture or explode.

Always adjust your pressure switch so that its operational range is well within what the air compressor can handle. The video below will show you how to do that.

 

Are all air compressor pressure switches the same?

No, there are different types of pressure switches with different technology. You can find them in all kinds of applications, including refrigeration and HVAC.

The main types are electromechanical and electronic pressure switches, but these can further fall into the following categories:

  • Diaphragm switches
  • Bourdon tube switches
  • Semiconductor/solid state pressure switches

Expert Tip: Mechanical switches can handle higher compressor motor currents and are more reliable, but electronic models are more versatile and durable. 

mechanical switches compressor motor

Get Your Perfect Air Compressor Pressure Switch Now

Air compressor pressure switches are critical components in any pressurized system. If you have a faulty switch, replacing it immediately is your best course of action to keep the air compressor working safely and efficiently once again.

With so many types and options available, choosing the right pressure switch can be a difficult task. Let us help you by tapping into our years of expertise in the industry and extensive supply networks.

Best of all, we will get you the best prices and fast shipping to make sure you get your air compressor working again in no time. Check the latest prices below to get started and experience the Industrial Stores difference.

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