Compressor vs Submersible Pumps

Compressor vs Submersible Pumps: 8 Differences

Last Updated on July 23, 2023

Compressor pumps and submersible pumps are two distinct types of pumps used for various water pumping applications. While both serve the purpose of moving water, they differ significantly in their operation, installation, performance, and more.

The compressor pumps rely on compressed air to create pressure, which moves the water and allows it to be pumped. They operate by creating a vacuum to draw water into the pump and then using compressed air to force the water upward and out.

In contrast, submersible pumps are fully submerged in the fluid they are pumping and convert rotary energy into pressure energy to push the water to the surface.

It’s easier to make good choices when you understand the difference between compressors and submersible pumps. 

We’ll explain the differences between compressors and submersible pumps so you can make the right choice.

Compressor vs Submersible Pumps: The Differences

Compressor vs Submersible Pumps The Differences

There are several differences between compressors and submersible pumps in these categories:

  • 1. Operation
  • 2. Installation
  • 3. Performance
  • 4. Maintenance
  • 5. Noise
  • 6. Efficiency
  • 7. Cost
  • 8. Durability
  • 9. Water Quality

Let’s examine the differences in more detail.

1. Operation

You’ll be amazed at how effortlessly a submersible pump operates. It seamlessly converts rotary energy into pressure energy, all while staying cool in the surrounding fluid.

Unlike compressor pumps, submersible pumps don’t require priming since they fully submerge in the fluid they are pumping.

As the pump’s motor spins, it drives a series of impellers that draw in and push out the fluid, generating pressure that moves the fluid to the surface. Compressor pumps, on the other hand, rely on compressed air to force water upward and out of the pump.

They create a vacuum in the suction pipe, drawing water into the pump, and then use compressed air to generate the pressure needed to move the water.

This process makes compressor pumps more complex than submersible pumps, which can lead to more maintenance and repairs over time.

However, compressor pumps are better suited for certain applications, such as pumping water from deep wells or in areas with low water pressure.

2. Installation

The installation process for compressor pumps and submersible pumps differs significantly.

Compressor pumps are typically installed above ground, away from the water source. They require a source of power, like an electric motor or a gas engine.

The pump is connected to the water source through a suction pipe or hose. This setup allows the compressor pump to draw water into the pump for further compression and upward movement.

The above-ground installation provides easier access for maintenance or repairs since the pump is readily accessible.

On the other hand, submersible pumps are installed inside the fluid they are pumping, such as in a well or a sump pit. They are designed to be fully submerged in water or fluid. Submersible pumps are connected to the power supply through a waterproof cable that runs from the pump to the surface.

It is crucial to ensure proper sealing to prevent water from entering the motor. The installation of submersible pumps requires specific well or pit configurations and may involve more complex setup procedures compared to compressor pumps.

Due to their above-ground installation, compressor pumps offer more flexibility in terms of installation location.

They can be placed in various positions above the ground, allowing for easier access during maintenance or repair operations.

On the other hand, submersible pumps are limited to being installed inside the fluid they are pumping. This means installation requires specific well or pit structures to accommodate the pump, which can involve more planning and construction.

3. Performance

performance of compressor vs submersible pumps

In regards to the performance of compressor vs submersible pumps, it’s important to look at factors such as discharge rates and flow rates.

Compressor pumps have lower discharge rates compared to submersible pumps, which means they may need help to provide high flow rates. This can be a disadvantage in applications requiring a large volume of water, as the compressor pump may not be able to keep up.

On the other hand, submersible pumps are known for their high efficiency and ability to handle solids or wastewater. They can provide higher flow rates, making them suitable for applications requiring a large volume of water.

To better understand the differences in performance between compressor and submersible pumps, consider the following table:

Performance FactorsCompressor PumpsSubmersible Pumps
Discharge RatesLowerHigher
Flow RatesLowerHigher
Handling Solids/WastewaterLimitedHigh-Efficiency
Suitability for Deep WellsLimitedSuitable

As you can see, submersible pumps outperform compressor pumps regarding discharge rates, flow rates, handling solids/wastewater, and suitability for deep wells.

However, compressor pumps may still be suitable for certain applications where the water yield is low or in areas with loose soil. When choosing between compressors and submersible pumps, you must consider your specific needs and requirements to select the best option for your water system.

4. Maintenance

Maintaining your pump is crucial for ensuring its longevity and preventing costly repairs down the line. When comparing compressor pumps to submersible pumps, it’s important to note that the former typically require more frequent maintenance due to their higher number of moving parts.

On the other hand, submersible pumps are more challenging to access for maintenance or repairs since they are located inside the fluid being pumped. The pump may need to be lifted or pulled out of the well or pit if maintenance is required.

Here are four key points to keep in mind when maintaining your compressor or submersible pump:

  • Compressor pumps require periodic inspection and adjustment of their priming mechanism. This ensures that the pump can maintain its prime and continue to function properly.
  • Submersible pumps may require less frequent maintenance due to their simpler design, but when maintenance is required, it can be more difficult and time-consuming.
  • Both pumps require regular cleaning to prevent clogs and debris buildup. This is especially important for submersible pumps, as they are more susceptible to clogging due to their location.
  •  It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule and procedures to ensure that your pump is functioning at its best. Failure to do so can result in decreased efficiency and costly repairs.

Overall, both compressor and submersible pumps require regular maintenance to ensure their longevity and optimal performance.

While the specific maintenance needs may differ, following a regular maintenance schedule and proper procedures can help prevent costly repairs and keep your pump working efficiently.

5. Noise

Compressor pumps can produce a considerable amount of noise during operation, especially if they need to be properly isolated or equipped with noise-reducing features. This can be a significant consideration, particularly in residential settings where quieter operation is desired.

Excessive noise can be a nuisance to those living near the pump and can even be a health hazard, causing hearing damage or sleep disturbances.

On the other hand, submersible pumps operate silently since they’re submerged in the fluid. This can be a significant advantage, especially in residential settings or applications where noise reduction is important.

Submersible pumps are ideal for environments where noise reduction is a critical factor, such as in residential areas or in applications where noise pollution is a concern.

6. Efficiency

To maximize efficiency, you should consider the pressure of the surrounding fluid when selecting a pump. Submersible pumps have a distinct advantage over compressor pumps in this aspect.

The surrounding fluid pressure helps the submersible pump to push water to the surface with less energy input. This means that submersible pumps are generally more efficient compared to compressor pumps.

7. Cost


Compressor pumps tend to be more affordable upfront compared to submersible pumps. This is because compressor pumps typically have a simpler design and construction.

They consist of a pump unit and a separate power source, such as an electric motor or a gasoline engine. Installing a compressor pump usually involves connecting the pump to water via a suction pipe or hose. The simpler design and installation process contribute to a lower initial cost for compressor pumps.

On the other hand, submersible pumps generally require specialized construction and materials to withstand being submerged in water or other fluids.

They are designed to operate efficiently and reliably in submerged conditions, often requiring more robust and corrosion-resistant components.

The need for waterproof seals, specialized cables, and protective casings adds to the cost of submersible pumps. These factors make submersible pumps more expensive upfront compared to compressor pumps.

8. Durability

If you’re seeking a pump that can withstand harsh environmental conditions and last for a long time, you’ll want to consider the durability of your options.

Regarding durability, submersible pumps are designed to be more robust than compressor pumps.

Here are three reasons why:

  • Protection from environmental factors: Submersible pumps are designed to be submerged in water, which means they are protected from environmental factors such as dust, debris, and extreme temperatures. This protection increases their lifespan and reduces maintenance costs.
  • Heavy-duty construction: Submersible pumps are constructed with heavy-duty materials that can withstand the wear and tear of constant use.

The motor and other components are sealed and protected from moisture, which reduces the risk of damage and extends their life.

  • Lower risk of mechanical failure: Compressor pumps can be prone to mechanical failure due to the high pressure and temperature they operate under.

On the other hand, submersible pumps operate under lower pressure and temperature, reducing the risk of mechanical failure and increasing their reliability.

Quick Comparison Chart of the Compressor vs Submersible Pumps

AspectCompressor PumpsSubmersible Pumps
OperationCompress air to move waterFully submerged, convert energy to push water
InstallationAbove ground, connected via suction pipe or hoseInside fluid, specific well or pit installations
PerformanceLower discharge rates, suitable for low water yield or loose soilHigher flow rates, efficient for large volumes or lift requirements
MaintenanceEasy access for maintenance and repairsChallenging access, may require pump removal
NoiseCan generate noise during operationOperate silently submerged in fluid
EfficiencyLower energy efficiencyHigher energy efficiency
CostMore affordable upfrontGenerally more expensive due to specialized construction
DurabilityLess durableMore durable and long-lasting

Which is better for home use, the compressor water pump or a submersible pump?

For home use, a submersible pump is generally the better choice over a compressor water pump. Submersible pumps are more efficient, as they are designed to be submerged in the water source, thus pumping water with less energy.

Furthermore, submersible pumps operate more quietly, making them ideal for residential areas where noise pollution can be a concern. Additionally, submersible pumps require less maintenance as they are designed to be self-cooling, which reduces the risk of overheating.

But, the final decision on which type of pump to choose will depend on factors such as water source, required water pressure, and budget.

Nonetheless, a submersible pump is usually the superior option for residential use due to its increased efficiency and reduced maintenance needs.

Can a compressor pump be used in deep wells?

Can a compressor pump be used in deep wells

In deep wells, compressor pumps can work, but their performance may be limited. Compressor pumps are ideal for low-yielding wells or loose soil conditions.

However, their pumping capacity decreases with greater depths due to their reliance on compressed air to move water.

On the other hand, submersible pumps are specifically designed for pumping water from deeper wells, making them more efficient and reliable in these applications.

Therefore, if you have a deep well, it is advisable to consult with a pump specialist to determine the most suitable pump type for your specific requirements.

Making the Right Choice Between Compressor and Submersible Pumps For Your Pumping Needs

You now better understand the differences between compressors and submersible pumps.

The choice ultimately depends on your personal needs and preferences, since both types have advantages and disadvantages.

If you’re looking for a pump that can handle high pressure and deliver water quickly, a compressor pump might be the right choice.

However, a submersible pump might be a better option if you need a pump that can operate quietly and efficiently.

It’s important to consider factors such as the depth of your well, the amount of water you need to pump, and your budget when deciding.

By weighing the pros and cons of each type of pump, you can make an informed choice that meets your needs and helps you get the most out of your investment. So, take your time, research, and choose the right pump for you.

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