Oiless or oil lubed compressor?

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Forum topic by Brenda T. posted 06-03-2013 10:45 PM 2212 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Brenda T.

36 posts in 1866 days

06-03-2013 10:45 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

So, I haven’t hade much time lately to finish setting up my shop and use my new Grizzly table saw. I have been at a friends helping with some renovations. But I am going to have a little money and want to get a compressor. I would like one that has enough capacity to feed a spray gun, but I am unsure what kind to get. My question is, if i buy an oil lubed compressor do I have to worry about oil getting into the spray gun and ruining my finish? Am I better off getting an oilless compressor? I was looking at this Campbell Hausfeld as a possibility or a similar one from Harbor Freight. Any info or opinions are appreciated!

-- Brenda T., Bodega Bay, CA.

22 replies so far

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 2441 days

#1 posted 06-03-2013 10:54 PM

I would stay away from oil less compressors,they are too laud,oil lubed ones are quieter ,I have heard Rolair compressors are efficient and exceptionally quiet:l

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View sixstring's profile


296 posts in 2238 days

#2 posted 06-03-2013 11:16 PM

I’ve got a Porter Cable pancake style oil-less compressor and while it does a fine job (finish nail gun and staple gun) it’s mighty freaking loud. I plan on building a rolling cabinet for it to curb the noise, or maybe even build a shed outside my garage to tuck it away into… I regret not getting the other kind but it would have cost twice as much and I dont use it that often…

There’s my 2 cents on the matter.

-- JC Garcia, Concord, CA : "It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission..."

View papajohn54's profile


11 posts in 1818 days

#3 posted 06-03-2013 11:20 PM

Brenda T.

I’m some what new at this fourm thing, but I’ve been woodworking off and on for about thirty years. I am still on my original oil lubed compressor that runs about twenty hours a week. I doubt that an oilless compressor would stand up to that type of use. Reguardless of which type of compressor you get you should install a water/oil trap (filter) on the discharge from the compressor to trap any oil or condensation caused by the warm / hot air in the tank cooling off and forming water in the bottom of the tank, and causing it to rust out. The amount of condensation is mostely dependant on the humidity. If Bodega Bay is very dry, such as Palm Desert or Phoenix, AZ. then you shouldn’t have to worry about condensation very much, and would need to drain the tank once a week, if you are using it every day. On the other hand if it’s rainy most of the time like it is here in Washington state, I drain my tank every day completely when I’m done for the day. Hope this helps.

-- John, Washington,

View taoist's profile


124 posts in 2486 days

#4 posted 06-03-2013 11:34 PM

It’s my opinion that all compressors need oil. The ones that don’t use it will eventually wear out because the lack of a lubricant. I have a small 30 gallon oiling compressor that I got from Lowes and it seems to handle everything I throw at it. There have been a couple of times when I had to stop working to let the compressor catch up but not many. The ones that use oil are quieter than the oilless ones. I also am NOT a fan of Campbell Hausfeld.

View kdc68's profile


2657 posts in 2271 days

#5 posted 06-03-2013 11:34 PM

Brenda...My $.02 here too…..An oil less system is loud for sure…A small capacity compressor like what you have posted might get you by if you have a HVLP sprayer ??.....Too small of a compressor capacity may be cumbersome during finishing …Other than capacity there’s PSI…. And another important factor to look at is the CFM… What is the PSI and CFM requirements of your spray equipment and your other air tools…...I think no matter which compressor type you chose, you will want to look into a air dryers that include dual pre-filters (particulate and coalescing) to remove contaminates, water and/or oil from the lines….or even a more elaborate desiccant dryer system….
Again this is my $.02….Maybe someone will post more helpful info

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

View nwbusa's profile


1021 posts in 2281 days

#6 posted 06-03-2013 11:57 PM

Oiled is quieter and will likely last longer.

-- John, BC, Canada

View Brenda T.'s profile

Brenda T.

36 posts in 1866 days

#7 posted 06-04-2013 12:37 AM

Thanks everyone for your replies. I was leaning to the oil lubed type anyway. I know that the maintenance guys where I live use one of the porter cable pancake types, and it is loud. But the price is very good on the smaller ones like the Porter Cable.

I hadn’t thought that the oilless would need a dryer, but PapaJohn and KDC make a good point that I should get a dryer/trap regardless.

KDC, I checked out HVLP spray guns and they seem to need about 45 CFM at about 40 psi so that is my criteria. I can’t go with too large a compressor due to cost and space.

I guess my search is on for an oil lubed compressor!

Thanks everyone!

-- Brenda T., Bodega Bay, CA.

View BBF's profile


143 posts in 1833 days

#8 posted 06-04-2013 01:55 AM

I have an oilless compressor that is at least 20 years old it gets used 5-10 hours every week it is loud but still works very well, I just have it in another room and then the noise doesn’t matter.

-- I've never been disappointed buying quality but I have been disappointed buying good enough.

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2281 days

#9 posted 06-04-2013 02:04 AM

I’ve got a smallish Stanley Bostich and it stays on 24/7. It’s oiless and not any noisier than others I’ve heard. Comes with a brad, finishing, and staple gun too. Only one gun broke, the staple, but I dont really use it.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7755 posts in 2908 days

#10 posted 06-04-2013 02:25 AM

I’ve got a 10yr old 33gal Craftsman oilless compressor and indeed it is loud. I bought it when all I had for it was pumping tires and a rare need for an air-ratchet. Now it gets used daily. What I did not know then is that this thing has 6hp peak BUT 2hp RUNNING. Fill times are longer so that means the loud noise lasts longer as well.

If I had it to do all over again, I would have gone with an oil lubed type and higher hp. This was my first compressor and it has lasted for my needs, however… woulda, coulda, shoulda…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View NiteWalker's profile


2737 posts in 2571 days

#11 posted 06-04-2013 10:08 AM

Oiled. Quieter and lasts longer.

That said, for spraying, even with an oilless you’d still need a water/oil filter.
The pros at car shops and similar places use compressed air for spraying, but after using a compressor system for a couple of years, I recently switched to a turbine for spraying (fuji mini-mite 4) and wish I had done so when I first started spraying.

Depending on the gun, you’ll need a very beefy compressor. For me, to run a full size gun (the qualspray QS-600WB is a great gun sold by homestead finishing) I would need a good sized compressor, which would cost almost as much as a turbine unit.

The pros for the turbine are no filters needed and compact size. A 4 stage will spray most anything.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View MrRon's profile


4764 posts in 3238 days

#12 posted 06-04-2013 09:42 PM

Be aware, there are two types of oil lubed compressors; a direct drive type and a belt driven type. The latter is the one to get. The former is almost as noisy as the oil-free types. I think you are going to have to pay at least $250 for a belt driven type compressor. If all you want a compressor for is painting, I would go with a HVLP type compressor.

View mbs's profile


1656 posts in 2935 days

#13 posted 06-05-2013 01:36 AM

I’ve got both types and prefer the oil type.

-- Sorry the reply is so long. I didn't have time to write a short reply.

View BilltheDiver's profile


253 posts in 2880 days

#14 posted 06-05-2013 04:27 AM

I retired an oiled compressor after 30+ years. I needed a replacement, so I found a deal on a Craftsman oiless. It was so loud that I am giving it to a son (he will only use it to fill tires etc) and bought myself a oiled 60gal unit. Now I have a quiet compressor with enough capacity for almost anything I want to throw at it.

-- "Measure twice, cut once, count fingers"

View redSLED's profile


790 posts in 1887 days

#15 posted 06-05-2013 09:25 PM

I have an oil-less compressor – which I bought because it was cheap. I regret the purchase because it is the most annoying (too loud for what it does) power tool in the shop. I will outright recommend spending more on a oiled compressor. AND – don’t go by name brands or deals, go by owner reviews of particular models.

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

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