HVAC Reciprocating Compressors
HVAC reciprocating compressors were the workhorse of the HVAC industry and when someone mentioned a compressor the first thing one thought about was a reciprocating compressor. A reciprocating compressor has a piston(s) that compresses vapor and in the cases of an HVAC compressor the reciprocating compressor compresses refrigerant vapor. There are two general types of reciprocating compressors in use in HVAC: One is the semi-hermetic and the other is the hermetic compressor. A hermetically sealed compressor cannot be worked on as the internal components of the compressor are permanently sealed while the semi-hermetic reciprocating compressor is a compressor that can be rebuilt and put back into service.
Reciprocating compressors are also used in other applications to compressor other gases however for the purposes of keeping with the subject of air conditioning and heating we will cover only the basics of the compressor for HVAC applications.
Origins of the reciprocating compressor goes back to Otto Von Guericke who used an air pump similar to a reciprocating compressor to create a vacuum. When the industrial revolution came upon us the need to compress gases became a necessity and the dawn of the compressor. Similar devices were used as steam engines where high pressure steam was used to drive a piston around a crankshaft to create motion.
Reciprocating compressors were mass produced and used in refrigerators in post war America and later became popular air conditioners and heat pumps to provide heating and cooling for homes and businesses. Compressors are an important component in the refrigeration process.