World refrigeration compressor market

In 2019, the world refrigeration compressor market recorded a significant increase but the growth rate has noticeably decreased, mainly due to the decline in the Chinese air conditioning market.Inevitably, the 2020 compressor market is expected to drop significantly due to the Covid-19 epidemic.

According to JARN (1), the 2019 global rotary compressor market amounted to 174.94 million units, a year-on-year decrease of 5.1%. Although down in China, the main market for rotary compressors (130.61 million units), demand has increased in Southeast Asia (19.13), India (5.32), Europe (4.75), Japan (3.68), Brazil (2.53), Middle East (2.03) and US (1.5 million). This global decline follows three years of increase since 2015, corresponding to a total market increase of around 50%. Overall, the rotary compressor market is growing at a much faster rate than other types of compressors. Costs are gradually being reduced and the technology is becoming more mature. The application range of rotary compressors has been expanding from air conditioners (ACs) to heat pumps and even refrigeration equipment. Rotary compressors benefit from advantages in terms of cost and performance at partial load.


Global demand for scroll compressors showed 1.7% growth in 2019, corresponding to around 15 million units. This market is roughly stagnant since 2017. Scroll compressors benefit from higher demand for air-conditioning systems such as room and packaged ACs, chillers and variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems. As the world’s largest market, the US recorded a 5.1% growth to 8.33 million units, while China, the second largest market presented a decrease of 8.4% to 3.18 million units. The European market (except Turkey and Russia) saw an increase (4.8%), as well as Southeast Asian market.


The global screw compressor market amounted to 129,100 units in 2019, demonstrating 2.5% year-on-year increase after two years of stagnation. The three major markets were respectively China (58,900 units sold, up 3%), Europe (23,900, +1.1%) and the US (22,800, +5.1%). India and Southeast Asia have a large potential market. In the air-conditioning field, screw compressors are in competition with both parallel scroll compressors and magnetic-levitation centrifugal units. However, the screw compressor market for medium- and low-temperature applications is rapidly growing in China and other Asian countries.


Reciprocating compressors have a long history and wide range of applications. The hermetic type, which dominates the reciprocating compressor market, recorded a 19.8 million units demand in 2019, an increase of 4.8% compared with 2018, in which the US, Europe and Asia accounted for about one-third. Hermetic reciprocating compressors are used in air conditioning and refrigeration in both the residential and the light commercial applications. Global demand for semi-hermetic reciprocating compressors surpassed 530,000 units in 2019, a year-on-year increase of 3.8%. This type of reciprocating compressor is used for air conditioning in the commercial segment as well as refrigeration in the commercial and industrial applications. Generally speaking, reciprocating compressors for air conditioners saw a drop in sales, but sales for refrigeration applications have continued to rise year after year.


Finally, the world sales for centrifugal compressors have reached 18,500 units in 2019, up 3% compared to 2018, driven by growth in China, US and South Korea. Most centrifugal compressors are made for chiller applications. Magnetic-bearing centrifugal chillers have gained market recognition thanks to their energy saving features, low noise and easy maintenance.


(1) JARN, World Compressor Market, March 25, 2020