Reciprocating Vs Rotary Compressor In Air Conditioner

An Air Conditioner has a wide variety of parts, which together make the room atmosphere cool and comfortable. In this article, we will discuss a particular component of the air conditioner called ” Compressor“. There are two types of compressors used in the air conditioner, Rotary compressor, and reciprocating compressor. Let’s find out the Difference between reciprocating vs rotary compressor in this article.

We will also learn about how a Reciprocating vs Rotary Compressor contributes to the whole process of air conditioning. What is the Difference between Rotary and Reciprocating Compressor and which one you should choose for your air conditioner?

But before we learn about compressors, we should know how an air conditioner works and what is the role of a compressor in an air conditioner or a refrigerator.

Working Principle Of Air Conditioner

All refrigerators or air conditioners have mainly three components, the compressor, condenser, and evaporator(s) along with an expansion valve to reduce the pressure of refrigerants.

If you don’t know about refrigerant, then you should read the below article first and then come back to this article.

Must Read: What is refrigerant in Air Conditioners

A refrigerator or an air conditioner does not supply cool air, but these machines conditions the air. What does that mean is that, it takes the heat out of your room and that’s why you feel cool. You might feel that what the blower does in the air conditioner. The blower just recirculates the air which is already conditioned.

This whole concept of conditioning the air is called HVAC ( Heating Ventilation And Air Conditioning)

Reciprocating Vs Rotary Compressor In Air Conditioner


When the refrigerant is in the evaporator, it is in a gaseous state with low pressure and temperature. Due to the low temperature, it can easily absorb the heat and goes to the compressor.


In the compressor, the refrigerant gas is pressurized with the help of the compressor motor and thus increases the pressure and temperature of the refrigerant. The refrigerant is still in the gaseous state in the compressor.


The high pressure and high-temperature refrigerant gas flow to the condenser where the temperature is reduced. Because of that, the refrigerant gets converted to a liquid but the pressure remains high.


The cold refrigerant liquid then goes through expansion valves that reduce the pressure. While the refrigerant leaves the expansion valves, it is low pressure and low-temperature liquid.

In the evaporator, the liquid refrigerant absorbs the heat again and converts itself into a low pressure, high-temperature gas, the cycle then continues like that.

Now we have seen that a compressor plays a major role in the entire air conditioning system. How Refrigerant gas converts into a high-pressure liquid is determined by the compressor itself. That is why a compressor is called the heart of a refrigerator or an air conditioner.

Different Types Of Compressors In Air Conditioner

There are two types of compressors used in air conditioners. Both compressor types have their own advantages and disadvantages

Reciprocating Compressor
Rotary Compressor

Reciprocating (Piston) Compressor

Reciprocating compressors contain a mixed system of a cylinder and piston similar to an engine of a vehicle. The movement of the piston creates pressure on the refrigerant and thus the pressure and temperature of the refrigerant get elevated.

Reciprocating Vs Rotary Compressor In Air Conditioner

The compressor is run by a motor. It can be a single-stage compressor for a home air conditioning system and a double stage compressor for large scale industrial use

Rotary Compressor

Rotary Compressor consists of specially designed rotors. The clearance between the blades is very less. These rotors rotate in the opposite direction of the inlet of the compressor. Thus it can easily suck air. Sucked air then passes through rotor blades and increases the pressure and temperature of the refrigerant.

Reciprocating Vs Rotary Compressor In Air Conditioner

Apart from these two types, these are the other types of compressors that are commonly known, like screw compressors, centrifugal compressors, and scroll compressors, etc. However, These compressors are not as popular as compared to the compressors mentioned above.

Difference Between Reciprocating Vs Rotary Compressor

After seeing both Reciprocating compressors vs rotary compressors, it is natural for people to raise the question that what type of compressors should we choose while buying air conditioners. To answer this question, we are listing here the pros and cons of both types of compressors so that it can help you in making the right decision.

Reciprocating Compressor

  • Easy maintenance
  • Works well under high pressure
  • Produces a lot of noise and vibration
  • High temperature air comes out

Rotary Compressor

  • Good for large offices and industrial sites
  • Less noise than reciprocating compressors
  • The temperature of the air coming out is low
  • More Expensive

Thus it is understandable from the above factors that the selection of the right air compressor only depends on the needs of the consumer. Therefore it is very important to understand your requirements properly before choosing a particular compressor for air conditioners.

What Is Inverter Compressor?

Inverter compressors can be rotary or a reciprocating compressor. These compressors use a variable speed motor instead of a fixed speed motor. The inverter compressor uses a variable frequency drive to control the speed of the compressor motor.

If you are in a confusion between traditional reciprocating compressor vs inverter compressor, then you should always go for inverter compressor for 30-50% power saving.

If you want to know more about inverter compressor, then you should read this below article.

Must Read: Inverter AC Vs Non Inverter AC: Which is the best

Conclusion: Rotary vs Reciprocating Compressor in a refrigerator or an Air conditioner

When we analyzed and researched the difference between Rotary and Reciprocating Compressor in the market, we found that most AC brands are equipped with reciprocating compressors, while some air conditioner brands have a rotary compressor. Rotary compressors are more visible to us at large offices and industrial sites, these compressors are considered suitable for large space only.

Depending on the specific needs of the consumers, we can say that if you want to cool a large area then a rotary compressor is for you. This compressor will be more suitable. Conversely, if your only requirement is to keep your house, small office, or shop cool, in this situation, reciprocating air compressors are more suitable.

Media Credit : Featured Image –Photo by Mak on Unsplash

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A 2004 batch Mechanical Engineering graduate From NIT, Agartala. Close to 16 years of experience in the field of consumer electronics and appliances domain as a Sr. Design Engineer and Team Leader in India and the United States. A gadget freak by passion and profession and in his free time love to go for a ride with his champ, Rian.

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