Buyer’s Guide: Oil Free or Oil Air Compressor?

An air compressor is a very handy tool, whether you’re working on your house or in your garage. It is of great help for a variety of tasks. However, choosing the right kind of air compressor is a tad bit confusing. The most confusion is when you have to decide between an oil free compressor and an oiled one. Here are a few tips to help you make the right choice.

Oiled vs. Oil-less Air Compressors

Air compressors draw air in with a piston. The air is then compressed into a storage tank. For maximum efficiency, the piston chamber needs adequate lubrication, for which oil is used. These are oil air compressors. However, in oil-free compressors, the cylinder is pre-lubricated (mostly with Teflon) for permanent lubrication. The Teflon coating protects the pump. That’s the major difference. While oil compressors need regular oiling, the latter doesn’t require any lubrication.

Air Compressor Maintenance

Oil compressors require more maintenance than oil-free compressors. This is because the oil has to be changed from time to time, depending on the design and the amount it has been used. The user manual specifies how often the oil should be changed. This is not necessary for oil-free air compressors. Moreover, oil-lubricated compressors weigh a lot more than oil-less ones of the same design. This is because they have lesser parts. The air compressor cost for the two are also different. As oil-less air compressor has fewer parts, it costs less. The designs are also simpler.


While oil-free air compressors are cheaper, lighter and require less maintenance, oil air compressors are more durable. As the oil-free compressors are pre-lubricated, there is no constant maintenance and the unit tends to get dry when the Teflon starts wearing out. They don’t last as long as oil air compressors. However, the oil-less one might be ideal for home use; if your usage is less. They are very useful for non-commercial purposes. That is the reason why oil compressors are used for industrial purposes and long working hours. Moreover, oil-less compressors tend to turn hotter than oiled ones. This is because there is no oil to cool its components.

Air Compressor Noise

There is a huge difference between the air compression noises of the two compressors. Oil air compressors are much less noisy than oil-free ones. This is an important thing to consider if you are going to be using the compressor in a quiet environment. As they are well-lubricated, they run more quietly. You surely don’t want a noisy one at home when your six-month old baby has just fallen asleep.

The bottom line is to weigh the pros and cons, keeping in mind the amount of usage required. After all, this is a one-time investment and it is best to study all available models before settling for the right one.

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