What Does a Scroll Compressor Heat Pump Do in HVAC System?

For heating and cooling your home with a heat pump, the compressor is one of the most important components…
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For heating and cooling your home with a heat pump, the compressor is one of the most important components of your equipment. The create an optimal balance of temperature, humidity, and air quality levels, one of the best solutions for your heat pump unit is a scroll compressor. A unit that is powered by a scroll compressor provides greater efficiency, energy savings, enhanced durability, and reliability, among many other benefits. A scroll compressor is a uniquely designed component that compresses gas using two inter-fitting scrolls. A scroll compressor heat pump is an example of the innovation and advancements that have taken place with HVAC technology over the last 50 years. Let’s look at scroll compressors and the benefits they offer in your HVAC system.

Scroll Compressors


Standard reciprocating HVAC compressors function by pulling in refrigerant and heating it. The refrigerant is heated by raising and lowering a piston that causes the volume to decrease and pressure and temperature to increase. In general, this process is inefficient because of the number of moving parts needed for the operation. However, scroll compressors operate through a much more efficient means. A scroll compressor in your heat pump or air conditioner operates by compressing refrigerant through a moving scroll in a smooth, spiral motion. As the refrigerant moves through the center of the scroll, increasingly smaller pockets are created that eventually increase in temperature and pressure. With fewer moving parts, scroll compressors are quieter and more efficient.

Greater Efficiency

As discussed, the operation of a scroll compressor requires fewer moving parts and, as a result, operates more efficiently. The compressor has a compact design that can cool large amounts of air much faster than standard compressors. Across a wide range of speeds, the volumetric efficiency of a scroll compressor can range from 89 to 94 percent. This means that scroll compressors operate with higher efficiency than reciprocating compressors that only offer around 60 percent. A small scroll compressor can produce the same amount of air as larger standard compressors. As a result, your heat pump operation will require less energy. Some studies suggest that a scroll compressor consumes around 25 percent less power than other compressors.

Flexible Operation


Scroll compressors can come in various designs with a wide range of operations. A single-stage unit is usually the least expensive and operates at only one speed. They are either on or off but still provide efficient heating and cooling. For even greater efficiency and flexibility, two-stage units have the ability to operate on a high or low setting. A two-speed compressor allows full-powered airflow when needed, but it can also offer a consistent low stream of comfortable air to flow through your home. As a result, you will avoid temperature swings in between cycles and require less overall energy usage to heat and cool your home.

Reliability and Durability

Unlike reciprocating compressors, scroll devices have fewer moving parts. Relying on a fixed scroll and an orbital scroll, fewer parts mean less opportunity for breakdowns or malfunctions. Due to the operation and motion of scroll compressor parts, there is less rubbing and friction than occurs with other units. As a result, a scroll compressor offers enhanced durability and longevity. In general, scroll devices are lower maintenance and require less attention over their lifespan. While it is important to have regular annual HVAC maintenance, your scroll compressor in your heat pump or air conditioner will require fewer repairs.

Scroll compressors are an innovative HVAC component that has revolutionized how people can heat or cool their homes. Offering quiet operation, enhanced controls, low maintenance, and greater efficiency, scroll equipment can save your money and improve the comfort in your home. You can consult with a qualified HVAC technician to learn more about a scroll compressor and how it might benefit your specific situation.