The Difference between Air Compressor and Refrigeration Compressor

Air compressor vs refrigeration compressor
Air compressor vs refrigeration compressor

Air Compressor vs. Refrigeration Compressor

Compressors are used for compressing gases such as nitrogen, refrigerant, and air, among others. When the gases are compressed, the pressure is increased. These high-pressured gasses are then used for various applications.

For instance, compressed air can be used in the operation of electronic instruments or pneumatic machines. It can also be used for cleaning or in tubes of automobiles, among other things. High-pressure hydrogen is usually filled in cylinders to be used for various purposes. When we talk about compressed refrigerant, it is a component of the refrigeration cycle.

Refrigerant present in air conditioning and refrigeration systems is gas as well. However, there is a marked difference between the refrigeration compressors and air compressors. We are going to elaborate on the key differences present between these two types of compressors.

Independent items

Air compressors are usually separate items. This implies that the compressor is merely used for compressing air or gas, following which the air can be used for any purpose. These compressors are usually not connected to any specific type of machine. However, it is essential to keep in mind that various machines and equipment do rely on these compressors to perform their functions.

On the other hand, refrigeration compressors are part of a complete cycle wherein other items such as the condenser, evaporator, and expansion valve also play a crucial role. The refrigeration cycle is of immense value to the cycle wherein if it seizes to function; the cycle will come to a standstill.


The purpose of an air compressor is merely to compress the air. On the other hand, there is more to a refrigeration compressor than that. It not only compresses the refrigerant but does so to the pressure suitable to the saturation pressure, making sure that it is higher than the temperature of naturally available water or air. This ensures that refrigerant is then cooled in the condenser appropriately by atmospheric water or air.

Furthermore, it is the job of the refrigerant compressor to circulate the refrigerant through the cycle. When the refrigerant leaves the compressor, it is forced into the condenser and other components of the cycle, finally being sucked into the compressor for further compression and restarting the whole cycle.


The capacity of the air conditioning system or the refrigerating system depends on the refrigerating compressor. This is not the case with air compressors, as it does not influence the operation of other components of the system. Take the pneumatic tool as an example. While it is true that it cannot operate without an air compressor, its capacity is not affected by it.

Final words

The refrigeration compressor is a vital component of a cycle in which other items play an equally important role. The system will break down in the absence of any of these parts. For a smooth operation, it is crucial that all the components continue to function optimally. If damage occurs to any part, including the refrigeration compressor, the system will collapse.

This is not the case with an air compressor. It is not influenced by the functioning of other items. In case an air compressor breaks down, a standby option can be used easily without the function of the whole unit being affected.

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