No matter what kind of refrigeration system you’re developing, choosing the right compressor is crucial. That becomes even more important in an industrial refrigeration configuration where millions of dollars are on the line if there is a refrigeration failure. Just a few minutes of faulty refrigeration can wreak havoc.
Among the most consequential decisions in any system design is the type of compressor. While there are dozens of major commercial compressor manufacturers out there, they all utilize the same basic technologies. You’re well on your way once you understand the different compressor architectures.
If you are replacing a commercial compressor, it is essential to choose one that not only uses the same technology but is the same make and model as the original. This is one area where remanufactured commercial compressors come in especially handy. You don’t have to wait weeks or months for order fulfillment.
On the other hand, you might find yourself designing an all-new industrial refrigeration setup. When you are planning things out from the ground floor, you can build out the entire system around your choice of compressor. A good compressor enhances reliability and efficiency while reducing the cost of ownership.
Three Industrial Refrigeration Compressors to Consider
The function of the commercial compressor is to help circulate refrigerant gas inside the circuit. Without this, the rest of the system comes to a stop. The main difference in today’s various compressors is how they achieve the level of compression necessary to pressurize and evenly distribute the gas.
Let’s take a look at three industrial refrigeration compressors:
1. Reciprocating Compressor
The reciprocating compressor is descended from some of the earliest compressor designs. Decades have passed, but it is still the most common compressor design thanks to its reliability and low upfront cost. It is well known by compressor technicians and easy to service.
The reciprocating compressor tends to have the smallest footprint of any commercial compressor. This gives you the opportunity to optimize your space effectively. That said, it can be noisier than some others, which may dictate careful placement in certain situations.
Reciprocating compressors are somewhat vulnerable to mechanical issues arising from vibration. This can be countered through careful placement and use of the compressor and regular maintenance. In most situations, the compressor will easily last eight to ten years.
2. Screw Compressor
The screw compressor is one potential answer to the design questions posed by the reciprocating style unit. Its goal is to reduce both vibration and mechanical friction. In practical terms, it tends to have a larger size and may be more pricey to source than a reciprocating compressor.
Whereas a reciprocating compressor uses pistons, a screw compressor relies on two closely mated screw rotors. These rotate at high speeds during operation and compress the gas using positive displacement. At no point are the two rotors actually in direct contact.
A screw compressor is considered to be very durable when installed correctly. It may maintain high levels of performance efficiency deep into its lifespan. Some of today’s screw compressors are well known for exceptional energy efficiency. However, maintenance demands can be more sophisticated than with a reciprocating compressor.
3. Scroll Compressor
Scroll compressors initially became popular for HVAC applications but have appeared more and more frequently in industrial refrigeration over the years. As more companies work on updating their compressors, seeking lower environmental impact, the scroll compressor looks like a great selection.
A scroll compressor utilizes one fixed scroll that stays stationary throughout compression. Another scroll “orbits” around it through the use of a swing link. The motion pushes pockets of refrigerant to a central point between the scrolls, gradually reducing the gas volume.
Scroll compressors are especially interesting because of the wide range of sizes and form factors that can pack a lot of power into a small space. Depending on your needs, you can find a scroll compressor perfect to operate self-contained refrigerated cases or medium size commercial walk-in freezers.
Within the largest systems, you’ll also hear of the centrifugal compressor. Because of their vast size and expense, they are used only in a minority of industrial settings. Also known as a turbo compressor, they have specialized uses in various heavy industry applications.
No Matter What Compressor You Choose, If Possible, Make It a Remanufactured Commercial Compressor
When your responsibilities include a commercial refrigeration system, it’s vital to prepare for eventual replacement of your individual compressors. Compressors are highly reliable and are rarely the direct cause of a system failure, but they will still age out over time.
With a remanufactured commercial compressor, a compressor unit undergoes a complete engineering process to ensure it meets all applicable performance and environmental standards. Each compressor offers the longevity and reliability you would expect from equipment you source directly from an OEM wholesaler – but it is available at a deep discount and will arrive much sooner.