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Oiled or oil free compressor?

I am a DIYer, but I like things that work for a long time and work well.

How big of a pain is it to oil a compressor? I want a Makita 4gal compressor (or maybe the little hot dog?) MAC2400 or MAC 700, but I have been told that oiled compressors are a pain?

Any advice?

Re: Oiled or oil free compressor?

Changing oil is no pain and has to be done periodically for long lasting, dependable service.

Which one should you get? it depends on what you will use it for, how often you will use it, what you are willing to pay and how long you intend to keep it.

Oil compressors cost more, weigh more, last longer. Mechanics use them because they deliver what mechanics need. Change the oil on time and it will run like a Toyota.

Non oil compressors are lighter, cheaper and easy to move around. However, after some time they lose their factory lubrication and start failing. They are framers' favorite because they are more portable for the job site..

A. Spruce
Re: Oiled or oil free compressor?

The only difference, maintenance wise, between the two is that you periodically change the oil in an oiled compressor. It is extremely quick and easy to do.

In both types of compressor you will still need to service the air filter periodically, and drain the water from the storage tanks that builds up over time.

Oil type compressors are quieter too.

Re: Oiled or oil free compressor?

DJ nailed this one I'll add one thing;

If the compressor sets in one spot its whole life then weight isn't a factor. Mechanics get huge compressors. Contractors get a model they can lift into the bed of the pickup truck after a long day of work.

Re: Oiled or oil free compressor?

There are lots of oiled compressors that are small and portable. I only want something 2-6 gallons, mostly for nailers and construction type air tools, but it would be a big plus if it would work OK with a pneumatic wrench (I won't sacrifice much size/portability for that though).

I am not comparing big to small compressors. I am comparing small oiled to small oil-free compressors.

These are the two I am looking at that are oiled:

Makita MAC2400

Makita MAC700



California Air Tools

A. Spruce
Re: Oiled or oil free compressor?

First, stick with good quality name brands, that will exclude anything with the Ryobi on it. I've never heard of California Air Tools, it is likely a cheap, rebranded something or other, I would want to know the manufacturer before purchase. I would trust the Makita name, as I would Porter Cable, Campbell Hausfeld, Hitachi, and others. I would never purchase a compressor from Harbor Freight, as those are extremely low quality tools with questionable performance, service, and customer support.

Second, when it comes to air tools, you've got to match your compressors CFM (cubic feet per minute ) capacity to the tool's requirements. You can easily run any framing, roofing, or finish nailer from any type of compressor. When you get into air wrenches, those puppies require big CFM for the tools to work, let alone work properly.

If you're going to use the compressor hard, such as with running air wrenches, then you definitely want a name brand AND I'd also recommend sticking with an oil type compressor, as they can handle the constant running more than an oil-free type compressor.

Re: Oiled or oil free compressor?

If it is not working properly due to any reason, I think you should definitely go for replacement or any other substitute!!

Re: Oiled or oil free compressor?

ok... i have to disagree with dj about oiless compressors being favored by framers.. i know a ton of framers and none of them run oil less compressors. framers require large compressors that can handle having 3-5 guns running off them constantly .. to keep up the pig has to have high cfm`s.. meaning the pump delivers alot of air each cycle to refil the tank.. oilless models are low cfm and get really annoying quick because they take forever to fill up. also a oiled compressor can last you 10+ years if maintained.. oil less models youll be lucky if you get 4 years.. the diaphram on them wears out and cost almost 1/3 the cost to replace the tool

for finish work a hot dog is fine, it wont be able to run a impact wrench and will be running non stop if your using a framing gun

regarding brands.. you cant lose with makita. ive used the 2400 and have a few friends with them. they run super quite, deliver plenty of air and have great recovery time. and to boot their not actually made by makita, their rebranded ROl-Air which are one of the best compressors made

regarding hitachi.. they use to be amazing compressors.. however when they switched from japanese manufacturing to taiwan the quality went with them.. the new ones are toys, poor quality control has caused them to last maybe 1/5 as long as the earlier models.. i have a EC 21 4 gallon. i thoiught i got a japanese made model i was wrong.. they dont perform nearly as well as the makita's

the porter cable pancake is ok if your going to be using it once in a blue moon and only doing light finish work.. they struggle with framing guns and multiple finish guns. i had one of the last ones to be actually made by porter cable now their made by black and decker and dont even compare.. under moderate use i got 3 years of use out of mine before diaphram wore out.. it was going to cost between $70 - $110 to replace it.. i opted to buy a oiled compressor instead considering a new pc is about 180

Re: Oiled or oil free compressor?

I've had a Campbell Hausfeld "Turbo Hotdog" compressor for my trim guns since 1997. Oilless. still works fine. Has run framing guns too, but not what I bought it for. Oil-bath compressors are heavy, heavy, heavy.

A. Spruce
Re: Oiled or oil free compressor?
Sombreuil_mongrel wrote:

Oil-bath compressors are heavy, heavy, heavy.

This has been said several times, and while I'm sure it can be true, it isn't necessarily accurate. I started off with a Fini Shuttle when working for another contractor. It was an oil compressor and while you knew you were picking something up, it wasn't that big of deal, the typical pancake compressor weighed as much or more.

Before I quit working for that contractor I bought my own compressor, a Superior, which is also an oil compressor. Again, you know you're picking something up, but it's about the same as the typical pancake style compressor.

The point is, shop around, check out the different styles and brands. Look at their specs, both CFM and their weight, and then decide if it's too heavy for your needs.

Oh, and that Superior I bought, I'm still using it after nearly 20 years. The first 10 years of its life it was used very heavily. The only things that have been done to it are periodic oil changes, and the cut-off switch has been replaced a few times. It has run framing guns, finish guns, roofing guns, and believe it or not, texture guns. It really doesn't like doing texture, the CFM is too low, however, when you know what you're doing, it is perfectly adequate when you work within the compressor's limits.

Re: Oiled or oil free compressor?

I'll probably get some grief on this, but oilless compressors are great for homeowners and light duty work, and by light duty, I mean on a more occasional basis, like a few hours a week. Home owners are less likely to perform the needed PM on things like this. Its like the lawnmower that quits after 5 or 6 years and the oil that came with it new is still in the engine.


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