Bearing Isolator

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Bearing isolators are an essential part of many machines and equipment. But what exactly are they, and what do they do? If you’re responsible for maintaining bearings in your facility, it’s important to understand what bearing isolators are and how they can help protect your equipment. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at bearing isolators and explain what they are and how they work. We’ll also explore some of the benefits that come with using bearing isolators in your machines and equipment.

What is a Bearing Isolator?

A bearing isolator is a mechanical device that is installed between a bearing and its mount to reduce the transmission of vibration from the moving part to the stationary part. Not only does this help to protect bearings from overloads and shocks, but it also can help reduce wear on both parts and extend the life of the bearings. There are several types of isolators, each with its benefits and drawbacks. They are typically made of elastomeric materials and work by absorbing the energy from an impact or shock, which helps to keep the bearing in good condition. It is important to select the correct type of isolator for your application to ensure optimal performance.

Bearing Isolators for Lubrication Management

Lubricant contamination is one of the main reasons why industrial equipment fails. Lubricants can offer years of wear prevention if you keep them dry and clean. But, if you have a high level of contaminant ingress, it is difficult to go weeks or even months between oil changes. A very common entry point for contaminants, if the oil was clean at first use, is a broken oil seal. In the most demanding applications, you can resolve this contamination issue with an oil seal or bearing isolator that is well-designed and properly fitted to your equipment.

Optimizing Your Bearing Isolators

Not every bearing isolator is created equal. You can enhance performance by modifying the isolator’s design and using technology that is appropriate for the equipment type.

Check for Energy Balance

Most conventional bearing isolators are quite good at preventing contamination while in use. The bearing isolators rotate, using centrifugal force to eject any contaminants that might enter. However, due to a shift in energy balance at equipment shutdown, contaminant ingress could happen.

For example, typical bearing housings interact with their surroundings by constantly attempting to maintain equilibrium. Because it is hotter and under more pressure than the atmospheric side, the housing vents to the atmosphere while it is in use. The temperature inside the housing drops after equipment shutdown. The bearing housing creates a vacuum because the cool air is denser than heated air. As a result, outside air enters until the housing achieves balance again. If you don’t have an efficient oil seal, moisture and dust that enter with this air will contaminate the lubricant.

Consider Specialized Bearing Isolators

For certain pieces of machinery, you may need a bearing isolator with an application-specific design to completely preserve lubrication. Standard bearing isolators are adequate for the majority of rotating drives. However, you may want to consider an equipment-specific design, if the application is crucial or specialized.

Pillow Block Housings

Labyrinth (LOR/LER) rings are frequently used by producers of pillow block bearings as standard issue seals. But, these rings may not be sufficient for long-term operation and maintaining lubricant life. Simply swapping out the standard issue seals for a new bearing isolator can greatly increase the equipment’s and lubricant’s lifespans. These must, however, fit into the LER/LOR ring grooves that already exist. Since pillow block bearings must fit tightly, clean oil is crucial. If the original seal fails too soon, many end users choose to replace it with a bearing isolator made for pillow block bearings.


A lot of gearboxes are located below the machinery they drive, which makes them subject to contaminants dripping or leaking from above. For this reason, gearbox seals may need to be more durable. The lubricant must be kept free of water, dust, and other impurities regardless of the lubrication method you use. The cleanliness of the lubrication system may be enhanced by using an oil seal made especially for gearboxes. Gearbox-specific bearing isolators include a lip seal shelter that helps them provide a strong seal without rubbing against the equipment and wearing it down.

Steam Turbines

Power generation companies’ use of steam turbines presents a difficulty for sealing technology. Due to the high temperatures at which these rotating assets work, they are at risk of steam entering the lubricant. A bearing isolator made for turbines might need to be carefully chosen and installed. It frequently comes in two pieces and must fit snugly to completely protect the bearings.

Small Details Make a Difference in Lubrication Management

Bearing isolators are an important part of any lubrication management strategy, and it is essential to optimize them for your specific application. By paying attention to the small details, you can ensure the success of your lubrication management program. This includes understanding the different types of bearing isolators available and how to optimize them for your specific needs. Continuous improvement in small and large ways can ensure that your bearings run smoothly and reduce wear and tear on your equipment.

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