An oil-free air compressor, also known as an oil-less air compressor, is a type of air compressor that doesn’t require oil to operate. Oil-free air compressors are used in the construction industry and by DIY homeowners. The best oil-free air compressor will be lightweight, portable with wheels, and features a large air tank. In this article, we will take a look at examine the top oil free air compressors. We will compare them and choose the best based on CFM, HP, PSI, Design, and Value. We will also consider the machines reliability and warranty. After that, you’ll find a buyers guide where we will walk you through how to choose the best oil free air compressor.
Oil-free Vs. Traditional
Oil-free air compressors are compressors that are capable of fulfilling everything that a conventional oil-based air compressor can, but without the need for frequent oil changes and annoying daily maintenance. They are generally lighter, and they function just a bit different from their oil burning counterparts. The standard design focus of oil-free air compressors is efficiency and higher cleanliness through a pre-lubricated design that removes the need for the application of oil.
Traditional air compressors are usually constructed in a way that they depend on an external lubrication system to keep them running. In contrast, oil-free air compressors do not use oil on the cylinder walls. A relatively new innovation, oil-free air compressors depend on self-lubricating materials that allow their piston to slide smoothly in their cylinders.
Because of the absence of oil in the system, oil-free air compressors provide cleaner air output. This makes these air compressors much more environmentally friendly than their oil-breathing counterparts. In most piston-type oil-free air compressors, lubrication is replaced by a Teflon or silicone coating that protects the moving parts. Oil-free compressors also typically rely on grease that is in their sealed bearings.
Most oil-free air compressors range between 100 to 135 PSI, and some have a maximum air pressure of up to 150 PSI. On the other hand, traditional air compressors can get up to 200 PSI.
How do Oil-Free Air Compressors Work?
The process of how these compressors work is quite complex internally, yet for users, their operation is entirely straightforward. The process starts by pulling in air from the outside through a valve and optionally, an air filter.
After this, the low-pressure compressor element begins to compress the air, while other parts cool the air to render it safely usable. A piston does the work of shifting the newly compressed air to where it needs to be for further compression. The compression process generates quite a bit of heat, which is where a cooling system comes in. Most air compressors use some sort of inter-cooler system to cool down the recently compressed air. This not only makes the air cool enough to be used, but it also keeps the machine itself from overheating and prematurely wearing out.
Due to condensation, many designs use a filter to remove excess water to keep air quality high. Once cooled, further compression continues in the main chamber. Additional cooling is conducted in what is called the after-cooler. When the main chamber runs lower than a specified level, oil-free air compressors will start this process over automatically to maintain a set air-pressure in the tank.
Best Oil-Less Air Compressors
1. Porter-Cable PXCMF220VW – Best 20 Gallon Oil-Free Air Compressor
This oil-free air compressor by Porter-Cable features a very portable design for its size. It’s got a 20-gallon tank that provides enough air pressure for small to medium-sized projects. Buyers love this air compressor, and that’s clearly reflected in its high customer satisfaction rating.
High Powered And Low Maintenance
With a maximum pressure of 150 PSI, this oil-free air compressor is a miniature powerhouse. It features a maintenance-free induction motor and pump, and it has a fully enclosed shroud that safely covers all of the working components. The compressor does not require regular service. Another great thing about this air compressor is that it supports a low voltage startup, which is a benefit for a portable air compressor.
High CFM Output
It can produce 5 CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) of air at 40 PSI and 4 CFM at 90 PSI. It comes with 7″ wheels for easy mobility and includes rubber feet for stabilization. It’s also equipped with a built-in voltage regulator, gauges, and a quick-connect hose connector.
What We Like
- Lightweight and portable
- Wheels allow for greater ease of movement around the job site
- Ample air storage for extended use
What We Didn’t Like
- It can only be used in an upright position.
- It does not come with its air-hoses, requires a manual supply.
2. EnviroAire Series – Best Oil-Free Screw Air Compressor
This is an industrial air compressor. This Rotary Screw air compressor is ideal for automotive, aviation, petrochemical, and power generation industries. It provides a continuous supply of clean air.
100% Pure Air
In the above industries, air purity is critical. A smallest drop of oil can cause lots of damage to the system, and because of this, EnviroAire unit from Gardner Denver contains absolutely no oil.
Direct Driven Air-End
The directly driven air-end offers a high level of efficiency and is very reliable. Its got an innovative design, which compresses air on both sides of the rotor. It features exceptionally low rotational speeds. This significantly reduces the bearing loads and increases efficiency.
This compressor has many features and functions including the compressor status, line/network pressure sensing, motor speed, alternate pressure setting, total run hours reading, auto-restart after a power failure, fault history log, Integrated cooling, dryer control, remote control via programmable inputs, and much more!
Variable speed compressors from Gardner Denver can efficiently and reliably handle a varying air demand. The right variable speed compressor with the proper application can deliver significant energy savings and will provide a stable air supply at constant pressure. Using a variable-speed compressor can easily save 25% on energy costs by using just the right amount of energy to get the job; no more, no less.
What We Like
- The wide array of different power levels from 15 kW to 110 kW for different compression needs
- Efficiently produces high quality and clean air
- Very long service life with routine inspection and maintenance of the rotary screw and the rest of the compressor
What We Didn’t Like
- Larger models have lengths of around 85 inches so you must ensure you have sufficient space to operate the more powerful models safely
3.Puma Industries PD1006 – Top Rated Oil-Free Air compressor
The Puma Industries PD1006 features a direct-drive design. Because of this configuration, this allows the compressor to be mounted in any direction. It’s ideal for off-road, RV, agriculture, construction, and motor-sport use.
It runs on 12-volt DC (Direct Current) power, and it includes a long, 10-foot battery cable that has easy to use alligator clips. You can use this compressor just about anywhere.
Quiet And Reliable
The Puma PD1006 requires a 50aH (Amp Hour) battery that is unfortunately not included. It is, however, relatively quiet, producing only 78dB (decibels). It’s got newly redesigned high-efficiency cooling system, which helps the compressor pump last longer than previous models.
This air compressor has an over-sized cooling fan that helps prevent the motor from overheating, so its made to run continuously. It doesn’t need a ‘cool-down’ period, so its ideal for high-demand applications. The PD1006 has a sort-of small 1.5-gallon air tank, but that’s just fine for most household tasks. Also, it has got a anti-vibration feet to help reduce noise and excess vibrations. It’s on-board gauges monitoring this compressor a breeze. Like a lot of other modern air compressors, this unit features a quick-connector for fast tool changes.
What We Like
- The absence of oil allows for cleaner air compression, creates fewer pollutants and is quieter than many oiled models
- Consumes less power than other models, allowing for less costly power bills if you used compressed air often in regular projects
- Can reach pressure up to 135 PSI
What We Didn’t Like
- Electric cord-based power supply makes it dependent upon outlet locations on-site.
- Usage of extension cords with air compressors of all types is not recommended.
- Small air storage tank makes it portable
- Batteries not included
4. Tichop Portable Air Compressor – Best Oil-Free Portable Air Compressor
Easy to Use Interface
It’s got a digital LCD controller, making pressure settings visible, convenient, and accessible. This set up makes monitoring or setting pressure from 40 psi to 130 psi a simple process. This product is an example of a big compressor coming in a small package. It weighs only 16.5 lbs, yet it can support three nail guns at the same time.
Automatic Protection System
This Tichop oil-free portable air compressor has an automatic protection system that shuts the device down when an over-voltage or over-current condition is detected. This safety feature, combined with the easy to use control system, means you can focus on your work, instead of worrying about your air supply.
Low Noise Levels
Its got a low noise level, at just 68dB. This provides a quiet and peaceful working environment without disturbing the neighbors.
What We Like
- Supports a wide variety of tools that may be used across your worksite that rely upon compressed air
- Quiet 68d engine noise, making it less of a bother on-site
- High-efficiency system and digital gauges that make it very easy to monitor compressed air supply and compressor status
- Built-in safety measures
What We Didn’t Like
- Requires an additional tank if you wish to store lots of compressed air for more heavy-duty work
5. California Air Tools 15020C-22060 – Oil-Free Quiet Air Compressor
This compressor also features an ultra-quiet and oil-free design. Its one of the quietest 2.0 HP (horsepower) air compressors on the market, producing only 70dB of noise. The powerful motor operates at a low and reliable speed of just 1680 RPM. This creates less sound and less wear and tear.
Longer Run Times
The New SP Series Ultra Quiet Air Compressor Motor has been specifically designed to increase the duty cycle while allowing for longer continuous run times. The oil-free dual-piston pump system is made for high performance and extra-long durability.
This pump is long-lasting. It’s made to have an extremely long service life as compared to the average air compressor. This reflects a bit in the price, but it’s well worth it.
Wide Temperature Range
The oil-free pump operates over a wide variety of temperatures and has no problem with cold stars. Its got a very robust design and performs well on uneven terrains. It supports a maximum of 130 PSI of air pressure, which is more than enough for most basic tasks. Also, its easy start valve feature makes this compressor draw less current than a traditional model.
Easy To Move
It has a large 15-gallon steel-constructed air tank, and includes wheels that make it easy to move around garage or job-site. This compressor is constructed for someone looking for power, high airflow, less required maintenance, and less noise.
What We Like
- Powerful yet quiet, with an engine that produces sound up to 70 decibels
- Wheels and handle make it much more portable despite its weight
- Can store a hefty 15 gallons for extended use and high compressed air demanding projects
What We Didn’t Like
- More significant storage space results in a weight of 98 pounds, which means a sacrifice of portability for greater effectiveness.
Oil-Free Air Compressor vs Oil Lube Air Compressor
As you can visualize, while internally, they function a bit differently, both types of air compressor achieve the same ultimate effect. They differ in matters of lubrication, performance, and internal design.
Oil-free air compressors are more environmentally friendly. In conventional air compressors, the oil used for lubricants can often times linger in the local air as a pollutant, so proper ventilation is always recommended when using them. Due to their design, oil-based compressors are often more suitable for use in warmer climates types. Because they use a lubricant system, they tend to have a much higher RPMs compared to their oil-free counterparts.
Think of it as a diesel truck vs. a gasoline car. One is designed for really high-end industrial-scale usage, while the other is more frequently used for smaller scale and intermediate work, depending upon the model. Oil-less air compressors operate at much lower RPM, again depending upon the model, and are quieter than traditional compressors for the most part.
Oil-free air compressors are much more superior for residential and small commercial use and are far more versatile overall. They are usually much more portable because they require no extra materials such as oils and filters. By nature of their design, they are typically much more suitable to be used in colder climates than traditional compressors.
Advantages of Oil-Free Air Compressors
One of the major benefits of oil-less air compressors over their manually-oiled counterpart is its lower short term maintenance demands. Overall, an oil-free air compressor requires less maintenance, routine checkups, and adjustments to keep it running smooth.
Modern oil-free air compressors feature quiet motors. That peaceful nature often implies efficiency, and that definitely rings true in this case, as most modern oil-free air compressors tend to be more efficient and cleaner than oil-using models.
Frequently Asked Questions.
What’s Better: An Oil-Less Air Compressor or a Conventional Model?
Which type is better strongly depends upon the needs and project context. Those who require an air compressor that has low maintenance needs and is willing to accept a slightly shorter operational lifespan should consider buying an oil-free compressor. Generally speaking, pretty much any short-term or low-intensity project that requires compressed air is likely to be a good fit for an oil-free air compressor.
On the other hand, somebody who doesn’t mind the frequent upkeep and higher maintenance costs, and needs a slightly more extended service life should consider getting an oil-based model.
Oiled air compressors are excellent for large teams working on long-duration professional projects that require compressed air. More people can regularly keep track of the machine’s needs in these situations because it serves as a critical tool in high-dollar projects that usually involve lots of people. So more staff can more easily ensure a constant supply of the necessary oil and maintenance needed to keep these compressors running.
How long will an oil-free compressor last?
While exact timelines are hard to determine as they vary wildly upon several different factors, your oil-free compressor can, in theory, last for years without much maintenance at all. Beware, however, that the longer you operate an aging oil-free air compressor, the longer it will overall cost versus its oiled counterpart, even despite the oil-free models’ generally lower demands for maintenance in the short term. This is mitigated slightly with the latest lines of oil-free air compressors as the technology has matured. Also, generally only older ones tend to fall into this disadvantage more often.
Can you lay down an oil-free air compressor?
Considering how it varies from model to model, newer air compressors are generally safe to lay down. You should, however, avoid putting older air compressors at odd angles, as this can result in things like dirt and sludge buildup that can gum the system. Whenever in doubt, consult your compressor’s user manual and all additional documentation before laying your oil-free air compressor at an irregular angle from the norm.
How do I maintain my oil-less air compressor?
Though oil-free air compressors require a lot less overall maintenance compared to its peers, it is still a machine. Like all machines, your oil-less air compressor needs some TLC and routine maintenance to keep it running smoothly for years. The best way to ensure the continued reliability of yours is to ensure preventing as much dust and dirt as possible from entering the system. Alongside that, always be sure to drain the compressor’s tank entirely after each use. Lastly, routinely check your air compressor’s safety valve and every part of the unit such as hoses, valves, and seals included, for any signs of damage, wear, or tear.