Centrifugal vs. rotary screw air compressors

Written by brock cooper
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Centrifugal vs. rotary screw air compressors
There are many differences between a rotary screw and centrifugal air compressor. (tools image by Stelios Filippou from Fotolia.com)

Air compressors have commonly been used to clean work spaces, fill tires and other rudimentary jobs around the home. There are several different kinds of air compressors on the market including rotary screw and centrifugal.


An air compressor takes outside air and sucks it into a tank and stores it at high pressure. When you want to use it, the air is expelled at a high rate through a narrow opening. This happens regardless of the type of compressor being used.

Rotary Screw

In a rotary screw compressor, two rotors inside the compressor compress the air for use. These compressors are known for their high output with small size. They tend to have a long life because the operating parts never experience high temperatures.


With a centrifugal air compressor, an impeller rotates and the compressor uses the angular momentum to create high pressure, according to The Engineering Toolbox. They are generally high-capacity compressors since the impeller creates a continuous air flow.

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