What Are Industrial Compressors Used For?

An industrial compressor is one of the most important components in any industrial HVAC or refrigeration system.

In fact, the entire system is built around the specifications and capabilities of the compressor.

Once the compressor is selected, it will be at the heart of your system. This particular make and model will be consistent throughout the life of the system. Choosing the right industrial compressor at first and then sourcing the correct replacements throughout the life of your system are both essential.

If you are new to the HVAC or refrigeration industry, you might wonder exactly what the compressor does and what makes it so significant. After all, it’s a major investment – one of the biggest you can make in any of your building systems. Take a look at the facts, and you’ll see just why it’s worth the money.

The Compressor Makes Your Industrial HVAC and Refrigeration Functions Possible

Whether you are talking about an industrial compressor, a commercial compressor, or even the smaller ones found in appliances in kitchens and dorm rooms around the country, the basic operating principles remain the same. To understand a compressor, it’s best to start there.

As the name suggests, the compressor’s core function is to compress the refrigerant gas. No matter if you are cooling or heating a space, refrigerant gas is used, and the compression function is key. As the unit compresses the gas, it is made available to the other parts of the system.

The refrigerant is the medium through which ambient heat is routed away from the area you want to keep cool. Any time the system is in operation, there is an ongoing back-and-forth between the compression function and the expansion function.

The compressor is crucial to the refrigeration circuit since it is the only mechanical component in most basic refrigeration systems. It is often called the “heart” of the system because it pumps refrigerant where it needs to go by creating a pressure differential.

As the gas is pressurized by the compressor, its temperature increases. The gas then moves on to the condenser, which rejects heat from the now-superheated refrigerant. This process turns the gas back into a liquid as the temperature drops below the saturation temperature.

The last major stop is the evaporator, also known as the cooling coil. It converts the refrigerant from liquid to vapor before returning it to the compressor. The movement of the refrigerant is caused by changes in its state, but only the compressor is designed to add mechanical energy to the process.

Thanks to the compressor, the same refrigerant can be used many times.

Why Are Some Compressors Considered Industrial Compressors?

A unit might be called a commercial or industrial compressor based on the operating environment. These designations don’t necessarily mean the compressors are designed differently. Instead, the terms indicate higher performance specifications and greater reliability.

There is no official dividing line between a commercial compressor and an industrial compressor. As a general rule, a commercial compressor is found in commercial settings like hospitality properties, and industrial compressors are used in even more demanding environments, like manufacturing structures.

When an industrial compressor is needed, it is usually “mission critical.” That is, failure to cool the space may present a significant danger to human safety or make it impossible to maintain production. When a compressor fails, it may mean that the whole operation grinds to a halt.

No matter the specifics, a compressor can and will work harder when other elements of the system are not as efficient as they should be. This will keep things rolling along for a while but will ultimately age a compressor before its time, impeding its performance in the latter half of its 8-10 year lifespan.

By contrast, no other component can compensate for a failed or damaged compressor. The system will come to a stop until repairs are made, or a replacement is introduced. Industrial units are often optimized for maintainability and can sometimes be repaired in the field with the right spare compressor parts and skilled professionals.

Replacing an Industrial Compressor

Industrial compressors are high-end units meant for the most difficult jobs. OEMs and their affiliated wholesalers may not have a backlog of these units. You might end up waiting months for a replacement.

A remanufactured industrial compressor is the best way to avoid this situation. This allows you to use your existing compressor core to speed up the replacement. You don’t have to wait for an all-new core to be fabricated. Instead, the existing unit can be completely re-engineered.

With compressor remanufacturing, the unit is cleaned and inspected inside and out. All components are checked, and those that fail to meet performance or environmental standards are replaced. This can reduce your total replacement time to a few days, keeping your industrial workplace on track and your budget happy.


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