Oil Vs Oil Free Compressors: The Main Difference, Pros / Cons

Many of garage owners remain confused about selecting the best air compressor that will not only handle their job but will also make working easy for them.

However, before deciding on the best air compressor, you came across different models like an oil-free compressor and an oil compressor.

So, it becomes tough for one to decide which one is best and know the difference. For those reasons, I am here to support your queries and help you select the best one out of these. So, let’s catch up.

What is Oil Lubricated Compressor?

You have got the meaning by name. However, oil lubricated air compressors are those that use oil for performing.

This type of compressor uses oil and cools the pump through the operation. Also, oil-lubricated air compressors can prevent the compressor from overheating and damaging.

Oil Lubricated Compressors are large and mostly used for heavy jobs. Most of the oil-lubricated compressors contain splash lubrication.

In splash lubrication, the oil is plashed up continuously on the walls of a cylinder with the help of drippers. There are also some compressors using pressure lubrication.

In pressure lubrication, the oil is pressed and enforced into the main area while working. Pressure lubrication compressors are more expensive than splash lubrication.

What is Oil Free Compressor?

In oil-free compressors, there is no need for oil. These type of compressors works by pumping. Non-friction metals like Teflon coat the parts of this compressor. In this way, there is no excessive heat or damage created in the compressor.

Oil-free compressors are usually used for light jobs and in homes.

Some major types of Oil-free compressors are:

  • Oil-free rotatory screw air compressors.
  • Oil-free scroll air compressor.
  • Oil-free piston air compressor.

Major Differences between Oil and Oil-Free Compressors

There are many major differences between an oil and oil-free compressor. So, let’s have a look at them:

Prolongation

Oil-based compressors need more care and maintenance as compared to oil-free ones.

  • This is because, in the oil-based compressor, you need to change the oil after some time. Also, you must ensure you don’t mix different or old and new oils together. However, you need to take care of the oil requirements of the compressor while buying. You always need a regular checkup on oil-based air compressors to save yourself from the future mess.
  • However, when it comes to oil-free air compressors, you never need to take care of oil and change it continuously. Also, your oil-free compressors are already obstructed with forever solutions. So, you will don’t need to take much care of these compressors.

Pollution

Oil-free compressors are more efficient in terms of pollution than oil-based compressors.

  • Mainly oil-based compressors submerge oil with compressed air and extract blighted oil. There is also the risk of obtaining dull or bad results on the tools with oil-based compressors. Oil-based compressors are best for machinery with no issues of oil pollution.

If you are running a garage fixed with an oil compressor in a low amount, oil contamination will never be an issue for your tools. So, you can easily use an oil compressor.

However, if you are performing a tough job with a large amount of oil. There will be an issue of contamination evolved into compressed air. This is where you will need to use an oil-free compressor to avoid damage.

You can also use an air filter with an oil air compressor to save oil contamination and mix oil into the air. But this solution is not the best.

  • However, when it comes to oil-free air compressors, no oil is present in them. There will be no issue of oil contamination and other damage.

Longevity

Oil air compressors are tended to have more longevity than oil-free compressors.

  • Oil-based compressors work by pumping oil. These compressors usually have less friction and are more durable while performing. You have easy access to remove and change the oil. If you notice that your oil needs to be changed, you can do it to get perfect results.
  • However, when it comes to oil-free compressors, there is permanent lubrication of oil. So, oil-free compressors can wear out and are less durable. Once lubrication in oil-free compressors breaks out, they become noisy and vibrant.

So, therefore oil-based compressors are perfect for tough jobs and commercial applications. You can use oil air compressors for a long time. The time-to-time oil changing and lubrication help the compressor to decrease friction and overheating during the job.

Noise

Oil-based compressors are more perfect when it comes to noise production.

  • Oil-free compressors are loud and create more noise. So, you must keep them away from working areas to slow the tragic sounds. Many oil-free compressors are quieter and comprise 10-15 decibels less than the other versions.
  • Oil air compressors run smoothly with less amount of noise. This is just because of the presence of oil in them. So, when working in your space, you will never need to keep these compressors away from the area. Furthermore, these types of air compressors are best for heavy businesses.

Operation

Although the main functionality of oil and oil-free compressors is the same. However, when it comes to equipment. Both of these versions are somewhere different.

You can rely on oil-based air compressors if you have to perform heavy-duty jobs and construction work. This is because oil air compressors are more effective in power tools and can run for long time spans. Also, they are capable of compressing the air as much as required.

However, you can rely on oil-free air compressors for household and low-duty applications. These compressors are best when it comes to no air contamination. Plus, oil-free compressors are light in weight and are portable to tackle and carry around.

Pricing

Regarding pricing, oil air compressors cost you more than oil-free compressors. However, oil air compressors have a factor of longevity and perfect air capacity in terms of power tools and teams.

  • In most oil lubricated air compressors, the working life is more than 15,000 hours if kept properly. You can change the oil every 200 to 700 hours to maintain the working and performance of the machine. Oil changing not only enhances the life span but also improves the cost and life span of the compressor.

When it comes to oil-free compressors, they cost less in the pocket. Along with that, the lifetime is not guaranteed because due to permanent oil present in the tank. Oil-free air compressors can collapse easily.


Oil-free compressor life expectancy is a maximum of 1,000 hours. However, with the new technology and measurements introduced in oil-free compressors, their lifetime has increased to 2,000 hours.

Pros And Cons Of Oil-Based And Oil-Free Air Compressors

Oil Lubricated Air Compressors:

Plus Points
  • Extracted less amount of heat.
  • Perfect for heavy-duty operations.
  • Creates less to no noise at all.
  • Easy to use for domestic and industrial jobs.
  • Less maintenance is required.
  • Greater life span and working hours.
  • Suitable even in hot environments.
Minus Points
  • Less portable.
  • Requires air filter for avoiding oil containment.
  • Is costly.

Oil-Free Air Compressors

Plus Points
  • No oil is required for compression.
  • It is super light and portable.
  • No need for air filters, so there is no risk of oil contamination.
  • It is suitable for household activities and small work.
  • Is cheap.
  • It can be easily used in cold spaces.
  • No higher maintenance is required.
Minus Points
  • It is noisy, so you need to keep it away from workspace.
  • Has less CFM, PSI, and RPM.
  • It can’t help you constantly working for a long period of time.

Best Recommended Products

Oil Lubricated Air Compressors

  • Quincy QT-54
  • Metabo HPT air compressor
  • Twin Stack
  • Cast Iron
  • Oil Lubricated Pump

Oil-Free Air Compressors

  • Portable air compressor 110V
  • Ultra-Quiet 59 dB
  • Ultra-quiet air compressor oil free
  • 4.6-gallon aluminum twin tank
  • Portable Oil-Free Pump

Final Verdict

As for now, I hope that you have identified the major differences between oil-based and oil-free air compressors. Depending on your needs and other requirements, you can go with the one compressor of your choice. If you are still worried about any fact, you can simply post it in the comment section. Also, as for suggestions and adding new tips to this article, you are more than welcome. Thanks.

FAQs

Is an oil-free air compressor better than an oiled one?

Oil free compressors are cheap, light in weight, don’t require much maintenance and are more durable. However, in the case of oil-based compressors you need proper maintenance and money. So, depending on your need, you can go with the compressor of your choice.

How long will an oil free compressor last?

An oil free compressor lasts from 10-15 years. Some of the advanced oil-free models can last more than 15 years. In general, oil-free compressors can work from 2,000-8,000 hours efficiently.

What is the advantage of an oil-free air compressor?

Oil-free compressors are light in weight, easy to tackle, require no air filter, and have no risk of air contamination. Along with that, oil-free compressors are cheap and require no specific maintenance.

How do I maintain my oil-free air compressor?

Although oil-free air compressors require no extra effort, however, you can maintain them by checking up for leaks, observing the pressure of the compressor, draining out the receiver every week, check for the power lead and working.

What is a good psi for an air compressor?

An average air compressor requires a psi between 70-100. With this PSI, you can easily cover light to medium-duty tasks. However, if you are willing to perform heavy-duty construction, you need to get an air compressor with high PSI.