Reciprocating vs Rotary Compressor – Know The Difference!

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In India, we all are familiar with the extremely hot summers. Therefore, presently for every home air conditioner has become a mandatory electrical appliance. Considering some important aspects, we can easily purchase the best air conditioner. Then by just switching it on, we can spend a comfortable summer at least in our home.

While purchasing an air conditioner, it is very important to understand the compressor carefully. In an AC unit, a lot of procedures run inside. But, in this post, we will focus on the basic difference between Reciprocating vs Rotary Compressor.

Before going further about the Reciprocating vs Rotary compressor, lets see the basic principle of an air conditioner.

Working Process of an Air Conditioner

An air condition usually functions on three main functions that include compress, condensation, and evaporation. Here, we will discuss these three functions first.

working process of air conditioner


In any AC unit, you can see three main components, compressor, condenser and evaporator. You may compare the compressor of an AC with the heart. The primary function of the compressor is to move the cool, low-pressure, refrigerant gas.

Then the compressor compresses the gas by converting it and releasing the hot and high-pressure gas.


The fans of the AC unit take over as they blow cold air over the coil. And thereby extract the heat of the room and transfer it to the outside air.

Once the heat passes from the gas, it gets transformed into a warm liquid. Then this liquid passes under high pressure to an expansion valve. And then, the temperature of the warm liquid decreases gradually.


Then this liquid passes through the evaporator coils where the pressure remains low. Over these coils, the warm air blows over by another set of fans. That is how the heat transfer reaction happens.

Then the machine releases cold air to the rooms. That is how the refrigerant completes the cycling and turns into a low-pressure gas.

This entire cycle continues to repeat to supply a continuous flow of cool air in the room.

Reciprocating vs Rotary Compressor

After knowing what a compressor is, now it’s time to know some other things. There are mainly two types of compressors used in an air conditioner namely Reciprocating Compressor and Rotary Compressor.

We will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of these two compressors.

As we mentioned previously, a compressor is the heart of an AC unit, now we have to know thoroughly about it.

Reciprocating Compressor

Reciprocating Compressor

The reciprocating compressors work on the cylinder and piston arrangement. These compressors work like automobile engines. The piston works in a back and forth movement for compressing and discharging the gas.

Pros of Reciprocating Compressor
  • The pistons and shafts of this compressor need maintenance. But you can easily maintain them. Moreover, maintenance is also not an expensive process at all.
  • The reciprocating compressor can work at extremely high pressure.
Cons of Reciprocating Compressor
  • With these compressors, you will experience vibration. Also, AC units with reciprocating compressors make high noise while the compressor functions.
  • The reciprocating compressor releases air at a higher temperature.

Rotary Compressor

Rotary Compressor

The AC units that come with Rotary compressors come with a pair of rotors. These rotors are mainly designed with very little clearance between them.

These rotors rotate in opposite directions, and hence the air comes out at high pressure when it emanates through the rotors.

Pros of Rotary Compressor
  • Rotary compressors are suitable for large-scale cooling such as industries, offices, or factories.
  • In comparison with the reciprocating compressors, rotary compressors don’t make much noise.
  • The out-coming air is also a bit cooler in comparison with the reciprocating compressors.
Cons of Rotary Compressor
  • Rotary compressors are more expensive than reciprocating compressors.
  • In these compressors, higher usage is needed for maximum working.

Why do we have to use the Rotary Compressors for a particular period?

In Rotary compressors, there can be the formation of water condensate if you don’t use the compressor for a particular period. It can cause corrosion of metals and cause damage to the motors.

Therefore, customers have to understand the functioning of the Rotary Compressors.

Reciprocating vs Rotary Compressor – Verdict

Apart from the reciprocating compressors and rotary compressors, there are some other types of compressors such as scroll compressors, centrifugal compressors, and screw compressors. Still, the Reciprocating and Rotary compressors are the most popular.

The usage of the air conditioner is very vital before selecting the type of compressor. If you are purchasing one for your house for intermittent usage, it is always better to choose the reciprocating compressor. If you want to run a shop or an office, You can go for a rotary compressor.

But you will see that domestic air conditioners always come with reciprocating compressors.

We believe the difference between reciprocating vs rotary compressor is clear to you.

If you have any queries regarding purchase of an air conditioner please write them in the comment section below. We will be happy to answer them.

Source: Wikipedia, Bijlibachao, Samsung


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1 thought on “Reciprocating vs Rotary Compressor – Know The Difference!”

  1. Dear Indians, Summer is Coming!

    Also, in India, Temperatures hit the 50 years during summers.

    With these burning temperatures rise, the lone advantageous choice right currently is to purchase an AC!

    A great deal of brands with a ton of kinds of AC are accessible to serve you and befuddle you also!

    We should take care of you!

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