Sort of car related- air compressor question

My old 3 gallon compressor needs replacing. I want to go larger, probably 21 gallon.
I have noticed oil lube compressors are less expensive than oilless compressors at similar PSI/CFM.
Advantage/disadvantages of each type please.

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 - Oilless air compressors for residential use are more affordable than oil-filled machines.

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 Pros

Durability - For residential use, oil-filled air compressors are far more durable. They are larger and sturdier, and they last longer.

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.

Thank you, but I was looking at HF units (I realized not the best quality)
Their oil lubed units are less expensive than oiless.

I prefer the old belt driven compressors that have a crankcase full of oil. I have owed two for use at home and the current one is from Tractor Supply and has operated for 20+ years trouble free. I tried a Sears oilless model long ago but it was a total failure right out of the box.

I have a Campbell -Hausfeld oil-type compressor that I’ve owned since about 1985 or so. It was the largest compressor I could buy that would still run on 115 volt service. 3.5 Hp.

The tank failed about 15 years ago so I bought a huge industrial surplus tank and bolted on the compressor. I needed to replace the regulator, the belt and the pressure switch as well. To summarize, every piece of the original compressor has been replaced EXCEPT the oil-type compressor itself.

Compared to my buddy’s oil-less compressor of the same size, the noise is about 10 times less. His is in an insulated room on the far wall of his attached garage but can still be clearly heard inside his house. Mine is sitting open in my garage and I can barely hear it run.

I can’t vouch for HF oil-type quality but you CAN pour in good quality synthetic oil to help that out a bit.

I would not get my air equipment from Harbor Freight. As you noted, the quality is not the best. And that’s an understatement.

Sanborn, on the other hand, is reasonably priced and is oiled. I know Menards carries it, and there are other outlets if you don’t have one of those near you.

The problem with the oil-less is that the lubrication has to come from the parts themselves, generally via a Teflon coating.

Ever have a non-stick pan and scrape a whisk or a fork across it, and you end up with scratched Teflon and now everything sticks to your non-stick pan? Well, that’s what happens over time to the Teflon in your air compressor. And once that gets rubbed away, your compressor is gonna die.

If the oiled compressors at HF are cheaper than the oil-less, that tells me the build quality is so abysmal that the Teflon coating process actually makes the compressor more expensive than casting oil passages. I wouldn’t count on such a compressor for anything other than set decoration.

Thank you, no Menards in Florida. But I will check around. I guess it would be better to buy quality. Most HF products I do consider single use…lol

I have one of these I bought almost 30 years ago-

It still works like the day I brought it home. It’s been used extensively over the years. For half it’s life, it was the only compressor I owned and rebuilt many cars in that period. When I moved to a house with a home garage and a work garage, I bought an oil filled compressor. This oil-less unit still serves the home garage and gets at least weekly use. Just did a 4 wheel brake job and front hubs on a friend’s truck last weekend using it. It’s been transported to many friend’s homes to help on various projects including cars and home renovation. It’s only real drawback, as noted, is how loud it is.

Craftsman today is a sad shadow of what it was 30 years ago, unfortunately. It’s not even owned by Sears anymore - Stanly/Black&Decker bought them recently. Hopefully that means the brand will eventually be as good as B&D (read into that what you will). OP shouldn’t expect to get the same quality you got from them anymore.

Thank all of you for your input. I would mark this solved but can not figure out how !

I pretty much agree with the others and would avoid HF. They are the cheapest of the cheap. You can order on line or go to Home Depot, Lowes, or a farm store. You don’t need to just go to HF. At any rate I’ve had both and now just have the CH oil less. Mainly due to space limits and 120V. I have the garage and house plumbed and the compressor is on a switch. The oil type will be more substantial but for most of us DIYers, we really don’t need anything huge unless doing body work again. The thing with the oil less though is they don’t last and need to be just replaced every 5-10 years.

I’ve always assumed the major motivation for using oil-free compressors is when you want to do a high quality spray paint job and don’t want oil from the compressor to contaminate the paint finish appearance.

Well, Stanley Black and Decker (SBD!) makes Mac automotive tools, and their fastener systems are high reliability items used in many critical applications. I don’t recognize a lot of their brands. I typically think of Stanley hand tools or Black and Decker power equipment. They are more for general consumption and not professional use. SBD does make some high quality tools, though. Here’s the brand list:

Okay folks, here is the final. My old oil-less compressor was a 3 gallon Porter Cable that is 10 years old, it is still operating well but the CFM was just inadequate for my current needs.
So, I shopped around, found a P-C 4 gallon oil lube on clearance from a big box store, less than 1/2 retail, free delivery, and from out of state so no sales tax !

They definitely own some good brands. I’d love to have Lista cabinets in my garage.

But I suspect Craftsman is gonna end up at or below B&D level – there’d be quite the hill to climb to get people to stop seeing the brand as junk now, and that would cost a lot of money in lost sales while they waited for word of mouth to get out.

They might pull it off if they just re-badge Mac tools, but then people would figure that out and start buying whichever identical tool was cheaper, like they did when they discovered that B&D batteries fit DeWalt drills. :wink:

Not really true since body shops use industrial sized oil type compressors. You just add oil-separators inline or in my home-use case, add a filter-ball right at the gun to prevent any oil or water blowing onto the paint.

The oil-less compressors are just low to no maintenance and they used to be cheaper than oil-type.

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Yeah I’ve got the in line filter but I always also just used a filter that attaches right to the spray gun as a final filter. I never really noticed any difference in the oil bath or oil less, except after taking one apart, the oil less is pretty much a disposable compressor. Still it fits my needs and space but I fear I might need a new one pretty quick.

I imagine SBD will try to rebadge their tools that could be sold at a Craftsman price point, like Stanley hand tools, some BD power tools, some Porter Cable equipment, and Dewalt power tools. It was shown long ago that if you are going to lose business to another brand, you might as well own that brand too.

Does anyone have a suggestion on preventing rust in the tank?

Drain it daily.

If you don’t use it for a long time, leave the petcock open.

Speaking of petcocks, make life easy on yourself. Get an NPT elbow, extension, and ball valve and replace the petcock with it. Like this:

You’re much more likely to drain the tank when you don’t have to deal with a lousy petcock that breaks all the time.

If you use it a lot, you can also get an auto-drain that will do it for you.