There are plenty of people who rely upon refrigeration technology every day for their business without realizing that there are two different ways to drive refrigeration compressor. The most obvious, and well known, version involves a motor driven by electricity delivered through a socket in your facility. The often overlooked variation on this technology is available from natural gas compressor companies, who specialize in compressor technology with a few key differences and benefits over their electronic counterparts. Today, we’re going to break these differences down for your consideration.

Brief History of Gas Versus Electric Refrigeration

Truth be told, gas refrigeration compressors were on the scene from the early days of residential refrigeration, they were first developed in the 1920s. What made the difference for electric refrigerators was that electric companies had buckets of money to throw both at developing technology to reduce the initial cost, and marketing their brilliant inventions. Gas refrigerators were popular thanks to their longevity and reliability, but their marketing budgets simply could not compete with the might of electric firms for household customers. Instead, gas refrigeration units slipped more or less out of view, save for select industrial refrigeration operations.

Benefits of Gas Refrigeration Compression Units

Now that you know a gas compressor is nothing new for refrigeration, let’s take a moment to understand the key benefits of gas over electric refrigeration technology. First and foremost, as we alluded to in the history crash course above, gas refrigeration compressors are incredibly reliable. This is largely due to their lack of moving parts, as gas refrigeration compressors don’t rely on a motor to achieve refrigeration. This means there’re no motorized components to potentially fail. Instead, gas compression units use a system of valves to regulate pressure and achieve appropriate refrigeration levels. As no electricity is used for cooling with a gas unit, there is tremendous potential savings on your utility bills depending on local tariffs. An additional perk to not using an electrical compressor is that gas units are portable, so suitable for use virtually anywhere appropriate ventilation is possible.

Downsides to Gas Refrigeration Compressors

Though the benefits of using gas-powered refrigeration units are worthwhile, there are three primary downsides you need to consider when making your specifications. The first notable of which is that natural gas compressors require significant ventilation systems (or an outdoor situation) to avoid potential health risks for your employees. Second, gas compressors often make the initial cost of a refrigeration unit higher than their electrical counterparts. And the third key downside of a gas refrigeration compressor is that you’ll need access to an on-site gas line or an ongoing supply of canisters to keep it running. There’s no option to just plug it into a generator if your gas bottle runs out while you’re at an event, or to run it off the mains power of a site temporarily if natural gas service is disrupted for some reason. These three factors eliminate gas refrigeration compressors from consideration for many, but the benefits of overall efficiency gains, lower power costs and longevity of the units themselves often outweigh the negatives – especially for those with a location already serviced by a natural gas hookup.

Hopefully this quick rundown of gas refrigeration compressor facts helps clear the air for you. Making the choice of which type of compression unit best serves your refrigeration needs doesn’t have to be difficult, simply answer these three key questions:

  1. What’s the availability of natural gas and/or electrical connections?
  2. What is the spatial reality of your site (will appropriate ventilation be possible)?
  3. And finally, can you afford a short-term expense for a long-term savings?

With an understanding of those areas, you’re well on your way to working with a natural gas refrigeration compressor.


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