Oil vs Oilless Air Compressor

Oiled vs oil free air compressor, which is best? We are confused about this while buying an air compressor. Actually it is quite confusing to choose between an oil-lubricated compressor and oil less compressor.  Following is a guide to help you choose the best one. If you want to buy the best air compressor for painting, here you will get exclusive tips for buying the best one for your work.

The California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S Portable Air Compressor, generate only 56 decibels, which is no louder than a normal conversation. The 4 pole induction motor operates at only 1680 RPM. As you know, the less RPM the less vibration and less noise. This also translates to longer motor life. The Rolair JC10 is another oil-free air compressor which is less noisy and powered by a 1725 RPM motor.

The CAT-2010A, for example, has a life cycle of 3000+ hours and generates only 60 decibels of sound.

what is an air compressor

Oil vs Oilless Air Compressor

Oil Air CompressorOil less Air Compressor
For the high capacity workloads, it’s a great choice for industrial purpose.Mostly use for household, car painting work and comes with a smaller tank size (non-commercial uses)  
Oil air compressors are likely to be more durable and more functional. Lifespan is short and motor are used to decay over time.    
Heavy dusty compressing with high psi and CFM rating. For heavy duty and long term usageNon- commercial purpose
Less noisyQuite noisy when operated at the household environment, It doesn’t have protective coating against damage  
The main drawback- needs the high amount of maintenance and needs regular effort to change the lubricator oil.It has few hassle of manual lubricating. This system uses a teflon sleeve or coating in the compression chamber, they do not require any lubrication.    
The other drawback is-too heavier as they particularly made for industrial purposesThey are more compact, simpler and lighter in weight. Another advantage of oil less is it starts easily in cold weather.
ExpensiveThe price is also cheaper than oil air compressors.
Industrial and commercial heavy duty work.Application: inflating car tires, operating a nail gun, furniture color, wall color or blowing away wood debris, a lightweight, oil-free compressor is an appropriate choice.  

What is Oil Air Compressor?

Air compressors take the air inside with the help of a piston. Then the air is pressed into a capacity tank. The reason behind using oil in an oiled air compressor is maximum productivity of the piston. For most extreme productivity, the piston needs sufficient oil. Oiled air compressors need to be oiled on a regular basis.


  • One of the most useful advantages of an oiled compressor is its lifespan. It is designed with a longer life expectancy than an oil-less compressor. Oiled compressors last 7 times longer than oil free compressors. Oiled units will keep going for as long as 15,000 hours.
  • The reason behind an oiled compressor being so solid and enduring is, they use cast iron head in it. These progressively tough cylinder heads are an increasingly considerable metal. Which is another handy advantage.
  • Also, induction motors are used in oiled air compressors. Which tend to last longer than universal motors. As I would like to think, if you are buying a shop compressor then you should consider an oiled air compressor.


  • The maintenance is a drawback for an oiled air compressor. These compressors need more care when you are working. Generally, the oil changes ought to happen at regular intervals where the oil is depleted and replaced.
  •  Furthermore, you need to make a daily schedule of checking the oil levels every prior day you start work. Another concern for an oiled compressor is, the oil may spill out on the floor if the blower gets kicked over.
  • Oiled air compressors are more expensive than oil less compressors.  Occasionally it is harder for oiled compressors to begin and assemble pressure in cold weather. Because oiled units manage thicker oil.


  • More Durable
  • Recommended for commercial use
  • Less noisy
  • No extra hassle


  • Heavy in weight
  • Not Remote able
  • Need extra maintenance
  • Costly in budget

What is oilless air compressor /oil free air compressor?

You can predict a little about it by hearing the name ‘oil less air compressor’. In this compressor, you don’t need to use oil. Yet, don’t imagine that these compressors are not greased up by any stretch of the imagination. They come to be somewhat pre-greased up.

oilless air compressor
Oilless air compressor

You don’t need to lubricate an oil free compressor on a regular basis, because the workload of this tool is less than an oiled compressor. These models are increasingly smaller, more straightforward and lighter in weight. Hence, the cost is additionally less expensive than oiled compressors.

Oil-free air compressor pros and cons

Why oil-free compressor is a good option-

  •  Oil free compressors are not very big in size, you can carry them anywhere with your hands.
  • There is no need of manual lubricating in oil free compressors. That’s why there is no extra hassle using them.
  • It is much easier to use an oil free compressor. Because they are small and simple in size. Also, you don’t need big space to store these compressors.
  • Oil less compressors are very handy for non-commercial use. If you are looking for compressors to use in your home, then you should choose an oil free compressor.
  •  Another benefit of this compressor is, it is cheaper in price.


  • The life expectancy of an oil-less compressor is not much longer. And the usefulness of the engine is utilized to rot after some time.
  • You can’t use these compressors for heavyweight compressing. They are not designed for commercial use.
  • The disturbing thing about this compressor is its sound. It is quite noisy when you work in your residential area.
  • Oil less compressors don’t have any additional defensive coating, which can fight the damage. The tank of this compressor is also smaller in size.


Oil-free vs oil-injected compressor

Oil InjectedOil Free
Lubrication in a regular basisPermanent lubrication
Heavy in weightLight in weight
Enduring life spanShorter life span
Less Noisy Much Noisy
Expensive PriceCheap Price
Commercial UseHousehold Use

How to Choose an Air Compressor

Oil vs Oilless Air Compressor- Buying Guide to Choose The Right one?

Buying an Air Compressor decision- Types of work like will you only be using the air compressor for small jobs or hobby or DIY ? Do you need oil or oil-less air compressor for painting?

Do you need a larger tank for car painting or for furniture or for restoration? For heavy duty air compressors, you can easily relay on reputed brands such as Bosch, Dewalt, Makita or Porter and Cable. 

 Oil Free Air Compressor Life Expectancy

Oil less air compressors are not famous for their life expectancy. Generally, you can use these compressors for about 2000 hours. Since an oil less compressor is currently working for an increasingly broadened timeframe, it makes more warmth, which further debases the pre-greased security. But if you want long-lasting performance from this compressor, don’t work continuously for a long time.

Oil Air Compressor Maintenance

The maintenance for oiled and oil free compressors are not the same. Oiled compressors need more care than oil free compressors. You should change the oil of oiled compressors on a regular basis. It depends on how it is structured and how frequently it has been used. You can get a clear idea about this in the user manual.

Noise Level

There is a major difference in the noise level of two different compressors, though it is not directly connected with their performance. But before purchasing one, you should look at every specification. Oiled compressors are less noisy than oil free compressors.

In spite of being compact in design, oil free compressors are much noisy. If you are going to work somewhere it is mandatory to work silently then you should choose an oiled air compressor. Otherwise you can work in a soundproof room. 

Price Quality Ratio

You will see so many models of air compressors in the market. The price of these compressors differs from model to model. If you do some research about the price, you will surely get a clear idea. The price is between 100$ to 5000$. Regardless of the price, it will serve you with a specific worth. But the oil less compressors are much cheaper than the oiled ones.

Warranty and Service from Manufacturer

Warranty and good quality service depends on the brand value. First class brands will offer you definite and free fix service. Popular brands like Hitachi, Senco and Bostitch will provide you good quality service and ensure warranty. There are some newbie brands, which will give you cheaper prices but won’t ensure quality service.

So, if you are going to use an air compressor for industrial or commercial purposes, then I would suggest you buy a compressor from quality brands. Otherwise, a sudden flaw in your compressor may cost you badly. That’s why ensure warranty and service quality before purchasing.

Oil or Oil Less Air Compressor for Painting?

So as to have the option to convey adequate CFM for painting, you will commonly require a 2 phase blower. A 2 phase air compressor will give around 4 CFM of air for each drive of the blower. In examination, a Single stage blower (which is the thing that most air compressors you will discover at home improvement shops are) just conveys around 1 CFM per drive. So on the off chance that you will utilize your air blower for painting or painting vehicles, you will need to consider a 2 phase blower with at least 5 Horse capacity to appropriately give air to your shower firearm.

*What is an air compressor

An air compressor is a pancake or hot dog shaped machine that converts power by using an electric motor, diesel or gasoline engine, etc. into potential energy stored in pressurized air (i.e., compressed air). An air compressor forces high level air into a storage tank, increasing the pressure. Source

Frequently Asked Questions

  •  How long do oil less air compressors last?

Well, oil less air compressors last less than oiled air compressors. Generally, you can use an oil less compressor for 2000 hours which means 18 months. Maybe a couple of months more, if you take good care.

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

There are many advantages to an oil free compressor. They are compact in design. Which makes them lighter and smaller. You don’t need a lot of space to store them. Also, you don’t have to face any hassle of changing oil. They are cheap in price too.

  •  What is the best oil to use in an air compressor?

While picking an air compressor oil, the major point is the compressor’s oil consistency necessities. A SAE 30 weight oil is suggested for compressors that work in conditions where the temperature ranges from 34° to 100° F. If the temperature is colder, SAE 20 is a good option.

  • Why are oil less air compressors so loud?

There are many reasons behind the noisy sound of oil less compressors. To stifle the sound there is no crankcase in this device. Also the thickness of its cylinder is very hefty. That’s why this tool is so noisy.

Bottom Line

No matter whether you are working in your garage or on your home, an air compressor is a very useful instrument. So, after this long discussion, I can tell you that both of the air compressors are good. They are just made for different purposes. If you have a commercial purpose and your budget is high, then you can choose the oil-injected air compressor. On the other hand, if you are looking for a cheap air compressor for your household then you can choose an oil-less air compressor. Hope you can choose the best compressor for your use.

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