Difference Between Pumps and Compressors


It’s always easy to mistake two similar things as the exact same thing. Jam and jelly, weather and climate, and pumps and compressors. While sometimes misunderstanding the difference is no big deal, other times it means that you just bought the wrong mechanical device for your project.  

Pumps and compressors are both mechanical devices used to move hydraulic fluid through a system, from point A to point B. They work by utilizing high pressures and serve many different functions. However, they’re completely different. A pump can move both gases and liquids and a compressor can only move gas.

Pumps are machines that move fluids, liquid or gas, from one place to another. The two basic types of pumps are positive-displacement and centrifugal. Positive-displacement pumps move fluid by moving and forcing a fixed amount of it into a discharge pipe; they include reciprocating pumps, power pumps, steam pumps, and rotary pumps. Centrifugal pumps convert input power into kinetic energy by accelerating liquid in an impeller. The most common centrifugal pump is the volute pump which lets fluid enter the pump through the eye of the impeller and rotates at high speed, creating a vacuum that in turn creates more suction to draw in more fluid.

Compressors are machines that squeeze a gas into a smaller volume and pump it somewhere else at the same time. The two basic types are the positive-displacement and the dynamic or negative-displacement. Most compressors are positive-displacement compressors, they force air into a chamber and compress the air by decreasing the volume. Positive-displacement compressors include rotary compressors and reciprocating compressors. Reciprocating or piston-type air compressors pump air with pistons and one-way valves to guide air into the cylinder chamber. Dynamic or negative-displacement compressors typically use a spinning impeller to generate centrifugal force to accelerate or decelerate captured air in order to pressurize it.

 Even more important than knowing which machine to use is knowing how to maintain and repair them. At Just Parts Unlimited, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we’re a premier supplier of aerospace and aviation parts and components. Whether you’re in the market for pumps or compressors, new or obsolete and hard-to-find, we have it all in our vast ready-to-ship inventory. For more information or a quick quote, visit us at www.justpartsunlimited.com or call us at +1-412-212-0606. We’re available and ready to help 24/7x365


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