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Reciprocating Compressors vs. Rotary Air Compressors

Reciprocating Compressors vs. Rotary Air Compressors

Compresstech Resources is a Philippine leader in the air compressor technology with a global industry experience that spans for more than three decades.

Throughout the years, we have established a reputation as the largest compressed air systems company in the country that caters a wide range of innovative products and sustainable solutions to clients in various industries.

Whatever your application, Compresstech has an array of compressed air systems that will help you get the job done in the most efficient manner. If you are looking to know more about your best options in air compressors, this article will walk you through the two main types of air compressors: reciprocating and rotary air compressors.

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Both reciprocating and rotating air compressors fall under one of the two basic principles for air compression: positive displacement. This method works by trapping in a volume of air in a chamber, and literally compressing it by reducing the volume of the chamber where it is confined to increase its pressure.  

Reciprocating Air Compressors

A reciprocating air compressor is a traditional type of compressed air machines. It is fairly described by its sturdy performance, configurations that meet different needs, and high-efficiency in terms of operational and life-cycle costs as well.

As any other positive displacement machine would, it pressurizes the air by reducing its volume. The only downside to this device is that it requires a relatively high maintenance.

There are two common types of reciprocating air compressors commercially available:

  1. Single-Acting Compressor – a compressor is considered single-acting when the process of compressing air is completed using only one side of the piston.
  2. Double-Acting Compressor – on the other hand, a compressor using both sides of the piston is identified as double-acting.

Aside from these options, there are four other reciprocating air compressors including diaphragm compressors, tandem piston compressors, v-shaped compressors and in-line compressors. These are further categorized depending on their pressure range and capacities as well as whether they are air-cooled or water-cooled and lubricated or non-lubricated.

Rotary Air Compressors

A rotary air compressor is among the latest in compressed air technology and is another model widely used in many industries. It uses two asymmetrical rotors or helical screws and works by drawing in the air on one side and trapping them between the rotors. It is considered an ideal tool for various applications for its continuous process and smooth, quiet operation.

Further, it is also distinguished for its compact size, easy maintenance, high output volume and user-friendly operation. It generally comes in three models including:

  1. Screw Air Compressor – this type of air compressor proves to be efficient in terms of air pressure requirements and energy consumption. It has the ability to deliver continuous air in a quiet operation.
  2. Vane Air Compressor – a vane model has a fixed casing in which a rotor is placed to hold the sliding plates. Every time these plates slide away, the air is trapped and compressed into a chamber.
  3. Lobe Air Compressor – a lobe model is considered the most user-friendly model with its straightforward components. It consists of two lobes in which the air is trapped and compressed.

Similar to reciprocating air compressors, rotary compressors are further classified based on their cooling method, capacity and whether they are oil-lubricated or oil-free.

Reciprocating Air Compressor vs. Rotary Air Compressor

Reciprocating Air Compressors Rotary Air Compressors
Old-school technology Latest technology
Sturdy Performance Easy maintenance
High maintenance Compact design
Relatively expensive More affordable
High output volume High output volume
70% efficiency 80 – 90 % efficiency

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