Commercial Mobile Air Conditioning Units: Compressors & Clutches

AC compressors-and-clutches

Commercial Mobile Air Conditioning Units: Compressors & Clutches

The compressor is often referred to as the heart of an air conditioning unit, while the clutch is responsible for turning the compressor on and off when needed. Commercial compressors and clutches for trucks and heavy-duty off-road equipment are engineered to last for hours through the harshest conditions. 

Commercial-grade AC unit parts are needed for reliability and fully functioning capabilities. Keep reading to learn how the compressor and clutch work along with common issues that can cause the unit to malfunction. 

The role of an AC unit compressor

Hence the name, the compressor compresses the refrigerant gas and pumps it through the system (like how your heart pumps blood through the body). Without the compressor, the entire AC unit will fail. Other components, like the evaporator coil and condenser, rely on the compressor to do their job. 

A compressor works by:

  • Taking the refrigerant gas and ‘squeezing’ it until the temperature and pressure rise.
  • Delivering the refrigerant out of the compressor as a hot, high-pressure gas.
  • Pumping the heat-filled refrigerant into the condenser unit so the hot air can be released outdoors. 

The compressor contains a clutch which spins a friction plate to use the motor’s power for turning the compressor on and off when needed.

Common compressor issues

Commercial compressors have an expected lifespan of 10 to 15 years, more if the unit is maintained properly. Most issues with the compressor are preventable and are often caused by underlying issues that put more stress on the unit. 

Some common compressor issues include: 

  • Refrigerant leaks – A refrigerant leak makes it harder for the evaporator and condenser coils to do their job, which causes the compressor to work harder. This additional stress will eventually cause the compressor to break down prematurely and malfunction. 
  • Too much refrigerant – On the other hand, too much refrigerant or the wrong type of refrigerant can also spell disaster for the compressor. 
  • Blocked refrigerant lines – All AC units need to pump refrigerant through the system, but when the lines become clogged or damaged, the increased pressure causes overheating and compressor failure. 
  • Dirty coils – As dirt and debris build up over time on the condenser coil, it becomes harder for the coils to transfer heat and instead deliver warm air into the space. Again, this puts additional strain on the compressor as it works overtime to cool the truck or equipment. 
  • A damaged clutch – The clutch is responsible for cycling the compressor on and off. When it becomes damaged, the compressor is unable to regulate refrigerant flow which can cause it to malfunction.

Where to find commercial compressors and clutches

It’s important to fix the underlying issues before replacing the compressor. If these problems aren’t corrected, the new compressor will likely fail too. If your commercial mobile AC unit requires a new compressor, Polar Mobility specializes in commercial compressors, clutches, and other parts. 


If you can’t find what you’re looking for in our catalogue, give us a call, and we can help customize a solution for your specific worksite or equipment. 

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