Oil vs Oilless Air Compressor in 2021: Which One Is the Best?

Oil vs Oilless Air Compressor

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Choosing the right compressor for your workshop chores depends on many parameters. And the oil and its relevance play a vital role here.

However, there are two types of air compressor based on the oil-filling mechanism

#1. Oil-based air compressor and
#2. Oilless air compressor

And as you’ve landed on this page, we assume you’re confused between oil vs oilless air compressor.

So, which one is better? It depends on several variables.

In the first place, it depends on what type of work you are going to do with the air compressor. Oilless compressors are more of amateur and irregular uses, and oil compressors are for the heavyweight, industrial chores.

So, both can be the cup of your tea to some extent, but you have to choose according to your needs. Make a list of your jobs that you are going to do with an air compressor. Once you can finalize the task list of the compressor, it’s almost done.

Are you done with the list?

Let’s move to the next section to breakdown the oil vs oilless air compressor and decide the right one for you.

Oil vs Oilless Air Compressor: Comparison

Best Oil Air Compressor
Metabo HPT EC99S Air Compressor, 4 Gallon, Electric, Twin Stack, Portable, Cast Iron, Oil Lubricated Pump, 135 PSI, 1-Year Warranty
Best Oilless Air Compressor
BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor, Oil-Free, 6 Gallon, 150 PSI (BTFP02012)
Metabo HPT EC99S Air Compressor, 4 Gallon, Electric, Twin Stack, Portable, Cast Iron, Oil Lubricated Pump, 135 PSI, 1-Year Warranty
BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor, Oil-Free, 6 Gallon, 150 PSI (BTFP02012)
Editor's Rating
Prime Status
Best Oil Air Compressor
Metabo HPT EC99S Air Compressor, 4 Gallon, Electric, Twin Stack, Portable, Cast Iron, Oil Lubricated Pump, 135 PSI, 1-Year Warranty
Metabo HPT EC99S Air Compressor, 4 Gallon, Electric, Twin Stack, Portable, Cast Iron, Oil Lubricated Pump, 135 PSI, 1-Year Warranty
Editor's Rating
Prime Status
Best Oilless Air Compressor
BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor, Oil-Free, 6 Gallon, 150 PSI (BTFP02012)
BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor, Oil-Free, 6 Gallon, 150 PSI (BTFP02012)
Editor's Rating
Prime Status

The oil air compressor

oil air compressor

This type of air compressor is most favorable, no doubt. But is it really for you?

Let’s have a look at the pros and cons to find out the answer-

What We Liked
    • Cast-iron metal and extra metal sheet are used to make it durable
    • Made to use for commercial purposes.
    • It can serve you for long hours.
    • Less noise, so, not bother others.
    • Reliable performance.
    • No heat issue found while using it regularly.

What We Didn't Like
  • Require regular maintenance.
  • The price tag is very high.
  • Lots of parts are used

An oil air compressor is a heavy-duty compressor, which is mainly used for industrial and commercial purposes. Let’s have a look at their features and benefits-

Strong Built Quality
An oil-based air compressor is usually made from cast-iron and has a new metal shield to protect its body. So, if something hits the compressor, it will not break easily.

So, these are reliable and last longer. If you are going to use an air compressor for a long time, then an oil-air compressor is the best choice.

Less noise
The oil air compressor creates less noise. If you live in a populated area, then less noise is preferable. Because you will not get any complaints regarding noise.

Bigger models need more power. An oil air compressor is more significant than an oilless compressor. So, it takes more power.

It takes more power to complete a big task. This is a powerful tool that is used for commercial and industrial jobs. Those jobs are heavy indeed. So, you have to have a powerful air compressor to complete this job.

In that case, an oil compressor is the only alternative to an oil compressor.

Lasts Longer
The oil air compressor lasts longer. Thanks to its heavy-duty metal body.

Though the metal body makes it heavier, it is well protected. And it is not a problem for industrial use.

You can do all compressed air work with an oil-air compressor. There is no limitation like an oilless air compressor.

So, you are getting all the jobs done and a longer lifespan from an oil-air compressor.

It can withstand any severe condition and serve you. You need regular maintenance and changing the oil. You will not face any hassle to use it.

You can use an oil-air compressor the whole day without getting any heating issue on break.

Weighty product
This is a summary of the oil-air compressor. Uses, lifespan, portability, and durability are the primary concern from my point of view. What do you think?

Yes, you should think about that if it can serve your purpose or not. And then those factors. So, move to the next section to know about the oilless air compressor and you will able to make your decision.

Our Recommended Best Oil Air Compressor on Amazon:

Metabo HPT EC99S Air Compressor, 4 Gallon, Electric, Twin Stack, Portable, Cast Iron, Oil Lubricated Pump, 135 PSI, 1-Year Warranty
61 Reviews
Metabo HPT EC99S Air Compressor, 4 Gallon, Electric, Twin Stack, Portable, Cast Iron, Oil Lubricated Pump, 135 PSI, 1-Year Warranty
  • MOTOR: 15 Amp direct drive induction motor for efficient and reliable performance
  • PUMP: Cast iron, oil lubricated pump for cooler operation and greater longevity
  • LIGHTWEIGHT: Only 52.9 lbs for easy jobsite transport
  • REGULATOR: Locking regulator ensures the proper pressure is delivered to your tool
  • GAUGES: Industrial air pressure gauges, encased in steel for higher durability

The oilless air compressor

oilless air compressor

What We Liked
    • Ideal for home use.
    • The lightweight design makes it portable.
    • Small in size requires less space.
    • Affordable in price. This is great for DIY-ers.
    • Fewer amounts of parts are used to make it.
    • Quality air to use in sensitive places, such as the food processing area.
    • Require less maintenance.
    • Require less power to operate.

What We Didn't Like
  • It is very noisy.
  • Get hotter quickly
  • It can breakdown with a single hit.

What do you think about the term “oilless”? The term oilless is a bit confusing here. It doesn’t mean that it can run without oil. Yes, it still uses oil. But the oils are set and sealed by the manufacturer. That means no oil can evaporate or escapes by other means.

You don’t have to add oil for its lifetime. That’s it. Isn’t it simple?

Let’s have a look at the features and benefits of an oilless air compressor-

No maintenance
Compared to an oil-air compressor, it requires no maintenance. Its oilless function minimal the maintenance need.

So, you are getting less hassle to maintain.

An oil-free air compressor is made for home uses and DIY-ers. And fewer parts are used to make it. There is no extra metal protection. That makes it affordable in price tag.

It is a great advantage for homeowners and DIY-ers as they are not going to heavy use with an air compressor.

Related Reading: Air compressor Price

If you are working on small projects in various places, you should have the portability option.

The oilless air compressor is lightweight. So, it is easy to transport from one place to another.

High Quality of air
This is an oil-free model. There is some sensitive area where the air compressor is used. Such as food processing area. There you can’t use an oil-air compressor. Because it can release oil with compressed air. Though it is very negligible but not acceptable in a food processing area.

So, oilless air can help you in this regard. Because it does use oil, but the oil is in sealed condition. And its air is free from any harmful objects.

This is a summary of an oilless air compressor. You may now understand the term oilless and its uses. You can get this if it matches your requirements.

Our Recommended Best Oilless Air Compressor on Amazon:

BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor, Oil-Free, 6 Gallon, 150 PSI (BTFP02012)
  • Note:Item does not includes hose or gun kit
  • 150 max PSI 6.0 gallon tank (22.7 L) and 2.6 SCFM* delivered @ 90 PSI pump
  • High efficiency motor for easy start up in cold weather ; BOSTITCH high efficiency motor for easy start up in cold weather or extension cord application [14 ga or larger, 50 ft. (15.2 m) or less]
  • 78.5 dBA** operational noise level for a quiet work environment
  • High flow regulator and couplers to maximize air tool performance

Are you still confused? Well, read the below section for a head-to-head comparison. I think it will make stuff clear to you.

Comparison of size

An oil air compressor is more significant compared to an oilless air compressor. And that is why it is more powerful. But not portable.

On the other hand, the oilless one is small and requires less space. You can quickly move it to your project area if you want.

Winner: It is depending on your need.  Are you a heavy user and going to do jobs only in one place? If yes, then go for the oil-based otherwise oilless is best for you.

Comparison of cost

We know that oil-based is more significant and influential. That’s why it is pricier. The minimum price of an oil-air compressor is $600.

On the other hand, an oilless air compressor can be found at only $200. Surely it is a low price regarding its versatile works.

Winner: If you compare the price, then oilless is the winner for sure. And if you compare price with type work, then oil-based is the winner.

Comparison of type of job

What kind of air tool are you going to use?
That is the prime concern. An oilless air compressor can run two nail guns simultaneously. And as I told you previously, it is ideal for home applications.

And the oil-based air compressor is for industrial, such as for construction jobs. Are you a professional in such a job? Then it is for you.

Winner: It also depends on your job type. So, choose according to your job type.

Comparison of build-quality

The oilless compressor can break down quickly, and it does by the single metal hit. As it is built with fewer parts, it happens for that reason.

Comparatively, oil-based is made from cast-iron with other metal to protect. Thus, it is durable and excellent in build-quality.

Winner: No doubt, an oil-air compressor is a winner.

Comparison of uses of power

Oil-based is more considerable and works more big jobs than oilless. So, it will require more power comparatively oilless. Though air compressor is a power-hungry machine. It is just a comparative discussion.

Winner: Less power is the winner. So, the oilless compressor is the winner.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question #1: How do oil-less air compressors work?

Answer: Oilless air compressor brings air from outside via an unloaded valve, and the air is filtered through an inlet air filter. Then the air compressed and stored in the tank.

Question #2: Do compressors need oil?

Answer: Of course, an oil-based air compressor needs oil. But oilless air compressor doesn’t need to add oil from time to time. The oilless is pre-lubed for its lifetime.

Question #3: What oil should I use in my compressor?

Answer: If you own an oilless air compressor, then there is no need to add or change the oil.

But for an oil air compressor, non-detergent, 20 weights or 30 weight oil is recommended.

Question #4: Can you use motor oil in an air compressor?

Answer: Most of the motor oil is a detergent type of oil. It is because of the safety of engine parts to prevent deteriorating. But the air compressor works differently. Detergent oil will cause additive to building up pistons. So, avoid such oil to use.

Question #5: How often should you change air compressor oil?

Answer: There are two types of air compressors based on the mechanism, Rotary and reciprocating.

You need to change the oil every 8000 hours if it is a rotary screw air compressor. And for the other kind, you should change every 120 days.

In Conclusion

So, you may now well educate about oil vs oilless compressors.

No matter which type of air compressor you are going to choose. Make sure that it can fulfill your demand.

Lots of people around us are choosing the wrong product because of a lack of knowledge. They found that they are wrong after using the product.

So, it is better to get a clear concept about the product you wish to purchase.

I hope all the above information can help you to find the right type of product.

Both types are great for finishing the job accordingly.

About the author

John Patterson

Hi there! My name is John Patterson. I’m a meticulous guy who loves to deal with the perfect tools for various needs. No matter if it’s a woodworking tool or gardening tool or anything else, I don’t compromise the quality and usability. Since 2010 I’ve been testing different tools for different DIY and professional tasks. Later in 2015, I decided to share my knowledge with the world. I started by answering people in the forums and several Q/A sites like Quora. Then I founded this blog to aid others like you with my knowledge and experience.