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Global compressor sales rebound

UK: Global sales of air conditioning, heat pump, and refrigeration compressors bounced back from the coronavirus pandemic in 2021, reaching 486 million units and a value of $42.4bn.

This includes 200 million air conditioning compressors, 5 million heat pump compressors and 281 million refrigeration compressors. According to new reports from BSRIA, this strong rebound, driven in particular by rotary compressors in air conditioning applications, places the market above its pre-pandemic level. 

BSRIA’s latest global market studies are formed of six reports covering the Americas, China, EMEA, India, Japan/rest of Asia, and a combined World overview. Each regional report consists of detailed data on compressor sales and an analysis of the trends in the market.

Reciprocating compressors continue to dominate the market in terms of volume with an estimated 279 million units sold in 2021. The the use of small hermetic for household and light commercial appliances account for the largest segment. 

Rotary compressors account for 190 million of sales, mostly for AC applications and heat pumps. Scrolls, in the third place with 16 million units, are being challenged by rotary compressors in the lower capacities, but are said to be gaining market share in larger capacity segments on the other hand as their performances increase. 

Screw compressors are largely used above a threshold of 250-300kW, in both AC and refrigeration applications. Centrifugal oil-free compressors compete with screw compressors but, according to BSRIA, their use is more limited, due to their cost premium. Sales of screw compressors are expected to progress steadily up until 2023, encouraged by the implementation of inverter technology. 

BSRIA sees oil-free centrifugal compressors gaining market share in AC and heat pumps, while standard centrifugal will remain constant.


China is highlighted as by far the largest producer and purchaser of compressors, in particular rotary and scrolls. However, with the US-China trade war, and the signing of the RCEP transforming Asia into the largest free-trade bloc in history, BSRIA sees production of AC units shifting to other countries such as Thailand, and sales of compressors growing as a result.

The refrigeration market is the largest segment for compressors in the Americas, totalling 19.5 million units in 2021, with high volumes of hermetic reciprocating compressors for residential applications. Air conditioning accounted for 8.6 million units, a drop of 10.3% compared with the previous year. Rotary and especially scroll account for the largest share of AC compressors. The heat pump market is a fledgling market in the Americas, with a mere 0.4 million compressors sold, predominantly in North America.

BSRIA expects sales of rotary and scroll compressors to surge in EMEA due to the rapid growth taking place in the residential AC market.


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