Differences between air generated with oil-free compressors vs oil-lubricated compressors

The oil-free vs oil-lubricated compressors have great differences. As a result, oil lubricants generate contaminated compressed air. This consequence can generate in your system from simple setbacks to the total chaos in the equipment and in the final product of your company, depending on the application of the air. The most notorious consequences are:

  • Premature wear of machines and tools.
  • Rust and corrosion in tools, pipes and equipment.
  • Damaged instruments
  • Paint surfaces with bad finishes and even damaged.
  • An unsafe and unpleasant work environment.
  • Final product contaminated.

The oil in the compressed air affects the products and the work environment. Since this component is very concentrated during the compression process.

The air usually contains around 1.8 billion particles of dust, water vapor, oil mist, which enter the compression process and are transformed into 2 billion dust particles and 0.03 mg / m3 of oil vapor, a result of the heating the air and mixing it with oil generating carbon monoxide.

The mist and oil vapor that come out of the compressed air cause malfunctions in the machines, generating scales and gaps in the application of painting processes. And if it is used in medical and food processes there is a risk that the process and final product will be contaminated.

The problem of oil mist increases when it is mixed with condensed water after compression, making the air treatment process more complex.

With oil-free vs. oil-lubricated compressors you ensure high-quality air in your compression process. With the installation of an adequate treatment of compressed air, the oil-free compressors are able to produce air according to ISO8573.1 standards without the need for high-cost filters to remove the mist and vapor of odor from the processes. On the other hand oil-lubricated compressors require more elements such as filters.

To ensure the quality of compressed air in your production, is it worth using a compressor lubricated with accessories to try to achieve air purity or invest in an oil-free air compressor? To answer this question, check out five items to consider when choosing the most appropriate solution for your business.

Oil-Free Air Compressor or Oiled Air Compressor: Which is the Best Option?


Oil (lubricated) compressors require accessories such as filters (air / oil separator and coalescing filters) to reduce the chance of contamination. In oil-free compressors, as the name itself reveals, there is no need to use oil, so the risk of contamination ceases to exist. This basic difference is a lesser concern for those who opt for oil-free compressors because there is no oil contact with the air, they do not send oil to the line and, in addition, the water purge is not contaminated with oil, which avoids the need for condensate treatment.


Because they do not need to use filters (air / oil separator and coalescing filters), the oil-free compressors also do not spend extra energy on the compression to overcome the restriction with these accessories, which guarantees even less head loss on the line. Therefore, in terms of performance, oil-free compressors provide higher efficiency delivery, ensuring air quality .


Thus, it is worth remembering that, in a process like this, the more accessories are inserted, the more responsibility is created. In other words, it is necessary to use accessories in the lubricated compressors, attention must be paid to the possibility of low reliability of these items. It is necessary to acquire good products to make sure the quality of the delivery, otherwise, the cheap is expensive .


Also, since they do not use oil in the compression circuit, oil-free compressors use fewer spare parts and are more readily available, which means less need for maintenance shutdowns. On the other hand, by the use of oil itself, lubricated compressors need continuous maintenance and greater attention in replacing filters used to reduce the amount of oil.


And since the financial part cannot be left out at the time of the purchase decision, you need to consider cost-benefit and investment value. Lubricated compressors are more affordable, which solves the problem of any business in the short term. But because of maintenance and replacement costs, in addition to other values related to the concern with quality and reliability they demand, the return on investment in oil-free compressors becomes a reality in the medium term and the scenario changes from being this is a safer and cheaper option over time.

The types of oil-free vs. oil-lubricated compressors are:

  1. Piston compressors.
  2. Scroll (energy saving)
  3. Oil-free screws greater than 45kw with screws covered in teflon and oil-lubricated gearbox or bearings.
  4. Oil-free screw from 4kw injected and water-lubricated (energy saving)

Source: Air compressors

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