Oil lubricated compressors are reliable and efficient machines that can be used in several industries to power a wide range of tools and applications. Although these compressors are oil lubricated, they can be connected to downstream equipment including filters and dryers to remove oil from the air before it reaches the application.

Most air compressors use oil to lubricate parts within them including the cylinders to protect the pump. These parts work alongside an inter-cooler keeping temperatures low and preventing overheating. There are different types of oil lubricated technology available including lobe, screw, vane, liquid ring, and scroll. These compressors also come in various sizes and capacities.

How do I choose between oil-free or oil lubricated?

The first step in understanding which compressor technology type to purchase for your system is to assess the requirements of the facility and applications which need powering. When the risk of oil contamination is too high and air purity is essential, many businesses will select an oil-free compressor to assist with compliance. This is common in industries like Food & Beverage, Medical & Healthcare, Pharmaceutical and even Automotive where breathing air applications are required. These industries would be using compressed air for food processing, sterilising surgical equipment, product drying and many more.

However, many industrial processes still use oil lubricated compressors, as the compressed air doesn’t come into direct contact with the end product and therefore, poses no danger to the consumer. This includes industries like Distribution, Engineering and some Manufacturing companies. The applications being powered by oil lubricated compressors here would consist of conveyor belts, picking machines, metal cutting and many more.

Still unsure of the compressor type that you need? Don’t make the decision alone!

To ensure that you’re selecting the correct option for your system, our Direct Air team are happy to provide their expertise in providing you with the perfect solution.

West Midlands: See our air compressor services in Birmingham, Coventry & West Midlands

South West: See our air compressor services in Bristol, Gloucester, Cheltenham & the South West

Direct Air service and maintain compressed air systems at 29 Royal Mail sites up and down the UK. The compressed air is used to power flat sorting machines which work similarly to the conveyor belts and picking machines used in the Distribution industry.

At the Royal Mail sites, these compressors must run 24/7 to feed the high demand of mail sorting and if any were to breakdown it would be costly for the company – which is why they require reliable, industrial size compressors.

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Advantages of oil lubricated air compressors

These compressors are lubricated with oil which prevents the bearings from rusting or seizing up, the oil also helps to keep the motor cool so that less heat and noise pollution is generated.

The above benefits mean oil lubricated compressors are reliable, durable and have a longer product lifespan. It also demonstrates why oil lubricated compressors are ideal in industrial settings to power heavy duty applications and cope with factory conditions.

What kind of oil should I use in my air compressor?

Oil is really important for the efficient functioning of a compressor, especially oil lubricated ones. You should use oil that is recommended by the air compressor manufacturer or your service provider, as there are pros and cons to different types of oil dependent on the make and model of your compressor. Using the correct oil during routine servicing also prevents the void of the compressors warranty.

There are different types of oils available on the market:

Synthetic air compressor oils – This type of oil is more expensive, but it doesn’t degrade like other oils and protects better against wear and tear, therefore working more efficiently within the air compressors engine. It is recommended for high-performance industrial compressors.

Petroleum based (mineral) air compressor oil – This is the cheaper option and the most common type of oil. It works well for multiple kinds of compressors and depending on the application of the system, this oil can also be used as synthetic or food oils.

Motor oil – Motor oil is not suitable for air compressors because it contains abrasives and detergents. These detergents in the oil are used to keep oil sludge from building up on car and truck engines, where as air compressor engines require this oil to stick around in order to lubricate the moving parts.

Food grade compressor oil – This oil is used for compressors supporting Food & Beverage, Packaging, Pharmaceutical and other cleanroom environments in circumstances where the applications being powered do not require compressed air to come into direct contact with the product – which is why oil lubricated machines can be used! Although not intended, there may be a slight chance of the compressed air accidently coming in contact with the product, which is where food grade compressor oil can be utilised to follow regulations.

How often should I change the oil in my air compressor?

This will depend on your compressor type as well as how much you use your compressor, and the oil change is usually carried out in connection with recurring maintenance.

Mineral compressor oil should be changed after every 4000 hours of operation and synthetic compressor oils can usually be operated twice as long. However, depending on the installation and plant room conditions, these oil change intervals may vary – this is something your service provider can help you out with.

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