Manufacturer: RapidAir Products
Now that the shop has the power upgraded with multiple outlets, mostly eliminating the need for extension cords, the next order of business is to eliminate the need for air hoses to be laying across the floor. One way to accomplish this is to have multiple air outlets around the shop; distributing air in the shop can be done using several different methods:
- Black pipe – Traditional method, inexpensive but difficult to install
- Copper pipe – Easier that black pipe, expensive
- PVC – Very easy to install, and cheap, but dangerous when it fails
- Flexible hose like pex or the RapidAir system
Initially, the black pipe solution was going to be installed. Needing the ability to thread pipes, even with a cheap Harbor Freight tool, the project would become expensive and complicated. The RapidAir system was chosen because it is a cost effective solution that would be a relatively easy installation. It’s a combination of nylon tubing, push-to-connect fittings an some 1/4″ NPT. The RapidAir Home Garage kit was selected.
This installation deviates from their recommended layout in that the distribution manifold is not used, that method would make sense if the compressor is at the front of the garage, splitting left and right. But since the system will start on the right side and circle around the garage the split design does not work. The system begins at the compressor then to the filter and an outlet. First a board was mounted to accommodate these items. Between the filter and the compress, a small ball valve was installed, this allows the compressor to be isolated during the installation.
With the first part completed and checked for leaks, the process was continued around the garage.
Running the system behind the pegboard proved a little tricky, and the parts in the kit would not help. The space behind the pegboard is actually quite narrow and the quick connect fittings with a T would be too deep to fit. If this space was a typical wall cavity, it would not be an issue. Instead a black pipe T with a nipple adapter was installed, the two push-to-connect fittings installed in the T. Black pipe fittings where chosen because of price: the brass counterpart is $10 compared to $2.50. (All parts were purchased at Home Depot).
The connections were made and was ready for installation, the only issue was to create a structure to hold the air outlet block. The pipe installation was continued along the wall, all pipe secured with 1/2″ cable clamps secured every 16″ on a stud location.
For now, the installation stops at the manifold block (that has several plugs in it). Eventually, an air outlet block will replace it, and the air line will continue to the ceiling were a hose reel will be installed.
One of the great things about this system is the flexibility. In the future, if another air outlet is required, behind the pegboard for example, then the hose/pipe can be cut, fittings installed and the system is complete. This is a well-designed, cost effective solution for distributing air in the garage.