5 Types of Commercial A/C Compressors That are Commonly Used in the HVAC Industry

When it comes to commercial HVAC and refrigeration system, the compressors play a critical role. Commercial compressors come in a wide variety of styles and sizes to fit any budget, design, and application. If you’re new to shopping for compressors, you will want to have a firm understanding of how compressors are categorized before you buy. Here are five types of compressors that you will see online:

Constant or Variable Speed

The first thing you will need to consider is the speed settings of your compressor. Many compressors are designed to run at a constant speed to provide regular airflow. When the system reaches its desired temperature, the compressor will just turn off and wait for things to warm up again before it turns back on at full blast. By contrast, variable speed compressors are more efficient because they can ramp up or down their speed in smaller increments. Thus, they can maintain temperatures at a comfortable level without having to go through peaks and valleys. When running at a lower speed, the compressor reduces the energy required to keep the building cool and cuts down on wear and tear on the system.

Open or Hermetically Sealed

Compressors can also be categorized as an open body, hermetically sealed, or semi-hermetic. An open body compressor is one that can be easily opened and serviced by a technician. Special gaskets and sealants are used to ensure that the body is leak-free when closed up to maintain pressure. On the other end of the spectrum, hermetically sealed compressors are welded shut. This means that they are not serviceable in most cases. Semi-hermetic compressors are right in the middle with a bolt-together body so that some parts of the system can be easily serviced in the field while other important components remain sealed.

Single or Multi-Stage

Another topic worth considering is the number of stages used to compress the air. In a single stage compressor, the air is only compressed one time before leaving through the outlet. For systems that require higher levels of compression, the air will go through multiple stages where it is cooled and then re-compressed until it reaches the desired pressure. Obviously, multi-stage compressors are more costly than a single stage, but they are also more effective and have a wider range of applications.

Lubrication Type

Today’s commercial compressors also offer several different lubrication types. There are both oil flooded and oil-free options on the market. Oil-free compressors are becoming more popular due to the simplicity of the systems and the reduction of maintenance requirements, but they do require a larger investment up front.

Cooling Methods

From the outside, you will also need to consider how the compressor itself will manage to stay cool. When compressors overheat they can seize up and break down. Some compressors are air cooled while others use water or oil to whisk the heat away from the main body of the compressor. Air cooling is simple and straightforward but may not be sufficient if your compressor is operating under heavy loads all the time.

As you head online to shop for commercial compressors, you will see many of these terms used to describe your options. Now you should be able to identify what they mean and how each type of compressor will function within your system. If you are unsure of which type is the right fit for you, you should consult an expert at Compressors Unlimited today to get further guidance and clarification. With so many different compressor options available these days, it is important to find just the right fit for the size of your building and your application.


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