Air Conditioner

Rotary VS Reciprocating – Which Compressor Is Better For Your AC?

Air Conditioners can make you feel like you have superpowers. You can literally control the natural phenomenon that is the temperature to your convenience, indoors of course.

You pick up the remote, set the temperature and wait for a few minutes. Voilà! Simple right?

Well, it actually is a little more complex than that. The principle and working of the AC is a little more complex than what we presume.

Let’s see how.

Table Of Content

How does AC work ?

The workings of an AC involves three main processes primarily- Compression, Condensation, and Evaporation. The process is cyclic and starts with compression at the compressor. When the AC is switched on, the process of Compression starts.

The compressor works by applying pressure on the refrigerant which increases its temperature and pressure.

After this, the refrigerant now with higher pressure and temperature goes to the Condenser for the Condensation process. In this process, the gaseous refrigerant is condensed into liquid form.

After this, the refrigerant moves to the Expansion Valve where the pressure and the temperature is reduced, cooling the refrigerant.

Finally, the refrigerant moves to the Evaporator for the final process of Evaporation.

Here the cool refrigerant is used to bring down the temperature of the room. A fan present in the evaporator helps in the process by bringing in hot air from the room.

The hot air is cooled down after it passes through the Evaporator. The fan again proves useful and throws the cold air back into the room. However, among all the parts of an AC, the Compressor is the most important.

Why is the Compressor important ?

The compressor is often called the ‘ Heart of an AC’. Let’s see in brief why is it called so. The compressor is the part that starts the process and provides energy to the refrigerant.

If the compressor stops working, the AC would not provide any cooling.

What kind of Compressor is the best ?

As we discussed, a compressor is the most important part of an Air Conditioner. The entire process of cooling and the efficiency of the Air Conditioner depends on the Compressor.

However, there is a great variety in Compressor. There are many kinds of compressors out there. Screw, Centrifugal, Reciprocating, Scroll, Rotary, etc. are some of them.

Among all the types, Reciprocating and Rotary are the most popular Compressor types in the market.

What are Reciprocating and Rotary type Compressors ?

Reciprocating vs Rotary compressor

As we discussed, Reciprocating Compressors and Rotary Compressors are more popular than other types of Compressors available in the market. Let’s see what they are.

Reciprocating Compressor types work like automobile engines. These types of Compressors consist mainly of a Cylinder and a Piston.

The Piston moves in a to-and-fro motion in the cylinder which compresses the refrigerant and then discharges it. Inside a Reciprocating Compressor, there are multiple such cylinders.

They all work in an arrangement to ensure the Air Conditioner works efficiently.

Now, Rotary Compressors are a pair of specifically designed rotors that rotate in opposite direction to each other. There is very little clearance between the coils.

As we discussed, rotary coils have a pair of specifically designed coils- one at the top and the other, at the bottom. The coil at the bottom is a static central coil. The coil at the top, on the other hand, is a rotating coil.

The rotating coil increases the pressure on the refrigerant by pushing it into the centre of the static coil at the bottom. Now that we have seen, in brief what these types are and how they work, let’s see what are the other differences between them. We will also discuss which is better for your AC.

Rotary vs Reciprocating- which one is better ?

Let’s now address the elephant in the room. Which one of these two Compressor types is suitable for you? Which Compressor should you look for in your AC- Rotary or Reciprocating?

To settle this, and to answer your question, let’s look at the advantages and the disadvantages of these two.

Reciprocating Compressor-

Reciprocating compressor

Following is a list of advantages and disadvantages of a Reciprocating Compressor.

Pros
  • These types of Compressors are easy to maintain and take care of. The Piston and the Shafts do need regular maintenance to keep them in efficient working condition. However, this maintenance is easy to do. Also, the maintenance is affordable as well.
  • Reciprocating Compressor can work with efficiency at extreme pressures as well.
    Unlike some Compressor types, the Reciprocating type Compressor handles pressure really well and works efficiently in at the high-pressure environment.
Cons
  • Reciprocating Compressors release air at a higher temperature.
  • When the Reciprocating Compressor is running, it produces noise and creates vibration.

Rotary Compressor

Rotary compressor

Pros
  • Rotary Compressors are better suited for large-scale uses such as large offices, factories, industries, etc. than houses and small offices.
  • They produce a lot a lesser amount of noise and vibration than the Reciprocating type Compressors.
  • The air released by Rotary Compressors is less hot than Reciprocating Compressors.
Cons
  • The Rotary Compressor is comparatively more expensive than Reciprocating Compressor.
  • The Rotary Compressor needs to work for a minimum amount of time in a day or a week for it to work efficiently. For this reason, particularly, Air Conditioners having Rotary Compressors are better suited for large scale use like office space where it will be functional on a regular basis.

However, why is it so that Rotary Compressor needs to be functional for a minimum amount of time regularly?

Well, the Rotary Compressor functions on a system which is so that if the Compressor is not used in that given period of time, water condensation takes place leading to corrosion.
To put it otherwise, when the Rotary Compressor is not used in a particular timeframe, tiny water drops of condensation (condensate) starts forming. This water will provide moisture which can lead to the corrosion of the metal.

Also, Checkout

What are INVERTER ACs?

Inverter Air Conditioners are fairly newer technology in the market. This is not an entirely new Compressor technology per se but is a new development. The main difference between Inverter and Non-Inverter ACs is that Inverter ACs work at variable speed and the Non-Inverter ACs work at a fixed speed.

Inverter ACs adjust their compressor speed according to the need, slowing it down when the desired temperature is achieved and speeding it up when the temperature changes. This keeps the room cool efficiently and consumes less electricity.

Non-Inverter ACs, also called Fixed-Speed ACs, work at a constant speed to cool the room. They stop working once the desired temperature is achieved and start again when the temperature changes.

Inverter ACs are more energy-efficient and durable. You can read our other articles dedicated to Inverter ACs.

Rotary or Reciprocating- Which One Should You Choose For Your AC?

The choice of AC depends on your use entirely. Where do you want the AC to be installed; How frequently are you going to use it; What is your budget; and so on and so forth. You need to focus on your needs and purpose before getting an AC.

If you are buying the AC for a small office or for domestic use, then a Reciprocating Compressor would be suitable for your use. If you are getting the Air Conditioner for larger office area, or any such institution, then an Air Conditioner with Rotary Compressor would be fit for your purpose.

If you want to save on electricity, have a bigger budget and opt for more durable options, then you can go for Inverter ACs.

A Penny For My Final Thoughts?

Air Conditioners are very useful and important for a comfortable life and work environment. Various factors get into play and you need to be mindful of your needs before deciding upon a model suitable for you.

Hope this article helped you.

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