New Rotary Compressor Goes Horizontal

The horizontal rotary compressor was designed to keep height to a minimum.
TECUMSEH, MI — A horizontal rotary compressor and low-profile condensing unit for supermarket applications has been introduced by Tecumseh Products Co. The company said the compact refrigeration components were developed to meet the needs of store designers and operating personnel.

“Merchandisers have told us they want sleek, self-contained display cases,” said Todd W. Herrick, Tecumseh president and ceo. “Our new horizontal rotary compressor and condensing unit are ideal for the new designs, and they need no external piping that would keep the display case anchored in one location.”

According to company officials, most self-contained refrigerated display cases today use reciprocating compressors that have more moving parts than rotary compressors. They contend that laboratory and field experience indicate that the rotary compressor is more reliable than the compressors they replace, and they also offer lower sound and power consumption.

Tecumseh has made rotary compressors for several decades, but just recently adapted the concept to commercial refrigeration. Company engineers developed a horizontal version that can be combined with a low-profile condensing unit to achieve an overall height of 7 in.

Tecumseh's horizontal rotary compressor and low-profile condensing unit were developed for use in display cases. (Photos courtesy of Tecumseh Products Co.)
The new horizontal rotary compressor is also said to help minimize the weight of display cases. Semi-hermetic compressors in supermarket display cases typically weigh 65 lb or more, while horizontal rotary compressors with comparable capacity range from 22 to 30 lb.

The horizontal rotary compressor is available now with R-22 and -407C in 1/4- to 3/4-hp sizes. Future plans include compressors that can use R-134a and -404A and are available in the same horsepower ranges. Tom Moffatt, national sales manager, said the development of rotary technology for refrigeration comes with “material changes and microfinishing processes” from those used for air conditioning applications. “In this way, we are able to maintain the reliability of rotary compressors for commercial refrigeration,” he said.

“This introduction culminates several years of hard work by the people of Tecumseh,” stated Herrick. “It began with all of the experience we have making rotary compressors in vertical configurations, which set the standard in the industry. Our horizontal prototypes endured countless cycles of endurance testing in the laboratory, followed by rigorous field testing in cooperation with several customers.

“We are delighted to now make the horizontal rotary compressor and low-profile condensing unit available to case makers everywhere.”

Moffatt noted that Tecumseh is also involved in testing horizontal scroll compressors for larger commercial refrigeration applications.

For more information, visit Tecumseh’s website at

Publication date: 06/03/2002

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