Rotary screw Vs reciprocating air compressors – what is the difference?

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When choosing an air compressor, the most commonly asked question is, “What is the difference between a rotary screw Vs a reciprocating air compressor and which one is best for me?”

The answer is easy to provide, as 9 out of 10 times it will depend on how you use compressed air.

In this article, we look at the basic differences between the two and which system is best for the most common applications.

Industrial rotary screw compressor machine

Rotary screw compressors

Rotary screw compressors use two rotors that are designed to trap air and reduce the volume of the air as it travels through the rotors. As the volume of the air is reduced, the result is compressed air.

Rotary screw air compressors are a newer version of traditional air compressor systems such as reciprocating air compressors. Generally, a rotary screw air compressor will deliver more air for longer than its counterpart, the reciprocating air compressor. Rotary screw air compressors have a 100% duty cycle, which means they operate continuously with zero downtime needed to avoid overheating.

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Additional advantages of a rotary screw compressor

You get the picture that a rotary screw air compressor is a workhorse. With 100% duty cycle, they can keep going all day every day. However, there is more to a rotary screw compressor than just an appetite for long working days. As a general rule, they take up less space and are lighter than a reciprocating air compressor. More grunt for less real estate is a big advantage, especially in industrial environments. Another key advantage, particularly with Pilot Air’s range of Italian manufactured rotary screw compressors, is their robust, low maintenance construction.

Our rotary screw air compressors are built for performance and sustained use. They are designed with lower air end speeds, which greatly reduce wear and increase service life. From day one to the end of their long life span, they will continue to perform at the highest level.

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Who needs a rotary screw air compressor?

When you require an air compressor for continuous use all day with greater power, then a rotary screw compressor is the answer. Pilot Air’s rotary screw air compressors are designed to operate non-stop, making them ideal for commercial or industrial users where there is a constant demand for air. Pilot Air manufactures various rotary screw compressors for various needs and budgets. You also have the option to integrate a dryer into the package, which is ideal for applications that require clean and dry air.

Rotary screw type compressors are also available in variable speed drive configuration, which constantly matches the output to the compressed air demand to improve efficiency and reduce energy consumption.

See our full range of rotary screw air compressors here and contact our experienced and professional team for advice.

Reciprocating air compressor machine

Reciprocating air compressors

Reciprocating air compressors have been in use for decades. These units are also known as piston-driven air compressors. Reciprocating air compressors use cylinders fitted with internal pistons. They use the principle of reciprocation (to move something back and forth). The pistons use positive displacement to increase pressure in the air, which results in compressed air. In comparison to the rotary screw air compressor, they are generally less in initial capital outlay and are very easy to maintain. Pilot Air reciprocating air compressors are ideal for short air compression needs and are very popular with smaller workshops and DIY projects that do not require a continuous demand for compressed air.

Vertical Reciprocating air compressor machine

Additional advantages of a reciprocating air compressor

The primary advantages of the reciprocating air compressor are cost and maintenance. As they are not designed for heavy industry or heavy commercial use, they are less expensive than rotary screw air compressors. Pilot Air reciprocating air compressors are also very easy to maintain and are a low cost, highly effective solution for operators who require short bursts of air on an intermittent basis. They’re perfect for homeowners, DIY projects, smaller workshops, onsite construction and tradesmen. Pilot Air reciprocating air compressors are manufactured for quality, and as an added advantage come in both horizontal and vertical configurations.

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Who needs a reciprocating air compressor?

Pilot Air reciprocating air compressors are very popular with home handymen, tradesmen, smaller workshops including auto repair, and other businesses that need intermittent compressed air. The Pilot Air reciprocating air compressors are very energy efficient and the MEPS-approved electric motor is designed to minimise energy costs. They are the ideal solution for those who don’t have a continuous demand for compressed air and the Pilot Air range of reciprocating air compressor’s reputation for performance and longevity is widely recognised in both domestic and small commercial operations.

See our full range of horizontal and vertical reciprocating air compressors here and contact our experienced and professional team for advice.

From air compressors through to compressed air storage, treatment and distribution, our 40 years of experience means we’ve got you covered. And if none of our standard compressed air products are suitable, we offer custom-built solutions to meet your individual requirements.

Our product range and large stock levels, combined with our comprehensive spare parts inventory, ensure we maintain your compressed air system’s reliability and efficiency while reducing whole-of-life operating costs.

Learn more about our compressed air products or chat with one of our team specialists to find the best solution for your needs.

Air Compressor Products

From air compressors through to compressed air storage, treatment and distribution, our extensive range of compressed air products ensures we have the right solution for your business needs, no matter the industry or application. We also offer custom-built packages and compressed air systems that are fit for purpose and tailored to your budget.

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