Reciprocating Vs Rotary Compressor In Air Conditioner

An Air Conditioner has a wide variety of parts, making 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 compressors in this article.

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

But before we learn about compressors, we should know how an air conditioner works and 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 refrigerants, you should read the below article first and then return 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 recirculates the air, which is already conditioned.

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

refrigeration cycle
Refrigeration Cycle


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.

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

So it is the evaporator that absorbs the heat from the refrigerator, and the compressor helps in conditioning the air so that condenser tubes can dissipate heat to the atmosphere.

Now we have seen that a compressor plays a major role in the entire air conditioning system. 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 Compressor

Reciprocating compressors contain 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.

resiprocating compressor
Schematic Of Reciprocating Compressor

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.

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

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
Schematic Of 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

What Is Inverter Compressor?

Inverter compressors can be rotary or reciprocating compressors. 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 confused between a traditional reciprocating compressor vs an inverter compressor, you should always go for an inverter compressor as it offers up to 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


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. Conversely, if your only requirement is to keep your house, small office, or shop cool, in this situation, reciprocating air compressors are more suitable.

Do you still have any doubts? Please write in the comment section, and I will be happy to respond.


Rajib is the Co-Founder and the Lead Product Analyst of RiansTech. A BTech in Mechanical Engineering and a veteran in the Home Appliance industry with over 17 years of experience in designing appliances for industry leaders like GE and Whirlpool. He also runs a successful niche blog (RiansClub) on Mechanical Engineering

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