Compare Oil-Free vs Oil Air Compressor Costs
Oil-Free Air Compressor Overview
Air compressors have a variety of uses, from light residential tasks such as sandblasting and spray painting, to construction work such as powering a nail gun, to heavy-duty manufacturing applications like powering robotic tools.
The term “oil free” can be a bit confusing. With oil-free air compressors, the compression chamber is sealed off from the oil-powered parts of the machine, meaning that no oil escapes into the air when the tool is used. It does not mean the machine operates without the use of oil.
How Much Do Oil-Free Air Compressors Cost?
For residential use, oilless compressors are less expensive than oil-based air compressors because they are less powerful. You can usually find reliable oilless air compressors starting at $200 and ranging up to about $1,000.
The opposite is true for heavy-duty compressors that are used for manufacturing and industrial applications, which begin at about $2,000 and can range upwards of $50,000, depending on power. The additional technology required to prevent oil from escaping escalates the price.
Oil-Free Air Compressor Pros
- Portability - With residential machines, oil-free air compressors are much lighter and easier to transport. They’re a better choice if you’ll be working on a project in the garage one day and a project in the yard the next.
- Price - As mentioned, oilless air compressors for residential use are more affordable than oil-filled machines.
- Air quality - For commercial applications such as food processing where even a tiny bit of oil in the air is unacceptable, oilless air compressors are the clear choice.
Oil-Free Air Compressor Cons
- Durability - Residential oil-free air compressors have a shorter lifespan. They break down sooner than oil-filled machines.
- Noise - Oil-free air compressors are VERY loud. You don’t want to operate one near a sleeping baby, that’s for sure.
Oil Air Compressor Overview
Like their oilless counterparts, oil air compressors (also called oil-filled) are used to convert power into pressurized air. When the compressor is hooked up to a tool or machine, it provides a powerful stream of air in quick, short bursts.
With traditional oil-filled machines, the oil used to lubricate the motor sometimes gets into the air. In most cases, particularly in residential applications, this is no big deal. With residential machines, the difference between oilless and oil-filled has more to do with the power of the machines than air quality.
How Much Do Oil Air Compressors Cost?
With residential machines, oil air compressors are more expensive than oilless because they are more powerful. You might find a basic model for around $600, but more sophisticated and powerful versions range up to $1,500.
Again, the opposite is true for manufacturing and industrial air compressors, which can cost up to $50,000.
Oil Air Compressor Pros
- Durability - For residential use, oil-filled air compressors are far more durable. They are larger and sturdier, and they last longer.
- Power - Residential oil air compressors are more powerful, too. They can be used for bigger tasks.
- Noise - Oil air compressors are much quieter.
Oil Air Compressor Cons
- Price - Again, oil-filled air compressors for residential use are more expensive than oilless models.
- Weight - Residential oil-filled compressors are heavy and difficult to transport. They are not ideal if you plan to move the air compressor around on a regular basis.