Piston Versus Rotary Screw Compressors


June 25, 2013 by kaeserusa

By: Michael Camber

Piston_Rotary_ScrewAutomotive Re-manufacturers

Piston compressors are still the most common type of compressor found in the automotive service industry that includes gas stations, general service, quick lube shops, tire stores, fleet maintenance facilities, dealer fixed operations, and collision repair. For most of these facilities, the relatively low air demand and quality needed make the piston a cost effective choice. Collision repair shops, however, typically use much more compressed air and have higher air quality needs than other automotive service businesses. In these respects, collision repair is similar to manufacturing. In fact, many modern body shops might be more accurately referred to as automotive re-manufacturers.

These days, many body shop owners are finding out they have similar compressed air needs to larger industrial facilities and that rotary compressors offer significant operational benefits. Rotary compressors provide an extremely reliable supply of clean, dry compressed air. This may not be as critical for general repair, but collision repair stands apart because the end product is directly affected by air quality. When deciding between rotary and piston compressors, it is important to consider duty cycle and performance, energy efficiency, air quality, maintenance, and installation costs. The table below gives an at-a-glance comparison between these two types of compressors.

This blog entry is an excerpt from the whitepaper, “Piston Versus Rotary Screw Compressors: A Short Comparison for the Collision Market”. To download a complimentary copy of the whitepaper, visit

Michael_Camber_for_Web_100pxX150pxMichael Camber is currently Kaeser’s Marketing Services Manager. He has been in a number of sales, marketing and training roles since joining Kaeser in 1997. Michael is a member of Kaeser’s active training team, educating both Kaeser’s distribution network and customers on reliable and energy efficient compressed air system design.

4 thoughts on “Piston Versus Rotary Screw Compressors

  1. Dmitry says:

    Actually in my country this is more the question of start investments into machine. A lot of benefits come tomorrow, but the customer pays today.

    • kaeserusa says:

      I agree—for many people the initial investment for purchasing the machine is the biggest hurdle. That is why it is so important to take a step back and really think about all of the other factors that contribute to the entire cost of buying and operating the unit and not just the initial price. I’ve spoken to numerous people who went with a piston compressor only to realize too late that they should have gone with a rotary screw for exactly that reason.

      Have you experienced anything similar?

      • Dmitry says:

        I would rather say, that numerous piston users realise the screw benefits. A big part of them are mostly to go for a screw machine when byuing a new one. The problem is that getting a cheap screw e.g. Turkish, they get very few benefits, but more problems even. This is my experience. So then when premium producer is coming with an offer – the customer sometimes has a screw fobia, telling that having a piston used to be much easier.

      • kaeserusa says:

        That is an interesting observation. Thank you for sharing!

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