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I hear people say that cold start valves are needed especially in winter for air compressors, are these really needed?

I know they close after some pressure buildup (around 30psi) to help the pump/motor start up but isn't the unloader valve already doing this by relieving all the pressure in the line and closed when the pump starts. I can maybe see that the unloader valve closed too quickly and the pump/motor can't overcome pressure built up.
 

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yes and no es
it all depends on the temps where the compressor is located.
if it is in a warm 60 deg F shop then no a cold start system is not needed.

but if it is located in an area that is lets say 10 deg F or lower...
yes a cold start package is a great idea.
some of the packages are a simple magnetic warmer for under the pump mount to keep the pump and pump oil warm.

some are a electric by pass valve that is on a countdown timer set to 2 min or so to let the pump freewheel to speed and warm up the oil a bit before closing to build pressure.

for me the simple 600 watt stick on tank heater to stick on the bottom of the compressor mount with a thermal switch is what I use.
easy to setup and low cost to run.
I put the unit on a timer so it starts the warm cycle 2 hours before I start the work day.
 
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