The more you know...

Expanding on the different types of compressors

HVAC terminology can be challenging to understand if you are not in the industry. It can be very frustrating when your HVAC system stops working, and you are left guessing at the problem. At Commercial Service, we are committed to helping people understand their systems in a way that is not overwhelming. Today, we elaborate on the air compressor definition and its different types.

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What is a compressor, exactly?


One basic fact to remember about an HVAC cooling system is that an air conditioner does not add coolness to a room, it merely removes heat. Coolness is the result after the heat has been extracted from indoor air and transferred outdoors. The process that accomplishes this is a closed-loop refrigerant system that relies on two factors: a liquid turning into a gaseous state absorbs heat, and a gas turning into a liquid releases heat. This reaction is facilitated by the forces of compression.

In layman’s terms, without the compressor squeezing the refrigerant into a smaller and smaller space, producing a gas under extremely high pressure, the heat would not be extracted and filtered out of your home, meaning your home would never cool down.

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Types of compressors

Rotary compressor

This type of compressor is used for smaller jobs, and the type you see in most window air conditioning units. It may be small, but a rotary compressor is one of the most reliable types of compressors available. Along with reliability, another desirable feature is that a small rotary compressor is quiet. Despite these benefits, keep in mind that the rotary compressor is not the most efficient compressor on the market.

Reciprocating compressor

Another type of compressor is the reciprocating compressor. It is the most commonly used compressor today. Reciprocating compressors are also very economical to operate and are commonly used for lower-efficiency, split-air conditioners.

Scroll compressor

The scroll compressor is becoming more common in HVAC equipment, and may even surpass the reciprocating compressor as the most commonly used compressor in the future. Since the ‘80s, it has proven itself reliable and highly efficient. The main reason for its reliability is the fact that it has fewer moving parts than the reciprocating compressor.

Variable speed compressor

Rather than being fully on or fully off, variable-speed compressors can operate at a variety of speeds. This results in your AC cooling your home at lower speeds for longer periods, which saves energy, and can also save money. Variable-speed compressors are more expensive, but if you feel the initial investment is worth it, you can save more in the long run.

If you have more questions about compressors or would like for a trained Commercial Service technician to assess your HVAC system, call us today at 812-339-9114.