Different Types Of Air Compressors – Which One Should You Choose?

There are many types of air compressors. Each type is usually differentiated by how it processes air into the compressor tank. After which, they can be classified further by what their power sources are, and if they require lubrication. Here we’ll discuss the most basic types of air compressors and their differences.

Basic Types of Air Compressors


This type of air compressor is a positive displacement machine which increases the pressure of air by reducing its volume.  It takes in air continuously and stores it in a closed space for use. This method is achieved through a piston inside a cylinder as the compressor and displacing element. It is further categorized with the single-stage and two-stage air compressor which can provide 70-100psig and 100-250psig respectively.


The rotary type of air compressor is also a positive displacement machine. They consist of a compressor with a casing and two rotors with no valves. They are oil-cooled, air-cooled, or water-cooled with the cooling process done at the interior of the compressor. This avoids overheating to the working parts of the equipment. It is further categorized with the common single stage helical and spiral lobe oil flooded compressor.


This type of air compressor is a dynamic machine that depends on energy transfer through a rotating impeller. It produces a high-pressure discharge by converting angular momentum from the impeller. For this to work, the compressor rotates at higher speeds than normal air compressors. This effectively makes the equipment suitable for higher capacities because of its continuous air flow.

Lubrication Requirements

Oil-injected Compressors

Oil is usually an important part of how air compressors work. They mainly help lubricate so that the equipment won’t be damaged by too much friction from operating. Besides this, oil is used for cooling the interior parts of the compressor, making sure that overheating is avoided. It can also clean the parts of the air compressor by avoiding any dust or other particles from getting inside.

Oil-free Compressors

Oil-free air compressors do not require you to periodically replace or put in oil to make your equipment work. This type of compressor produces cleaner air compared to oil-injected ones because of their interactions with oil while inside the tank. However, do note that although it produces cleaner air with cost saving features, the unit itself will be more susceptible to overheating due to a lack of oil to cool it.

Power Consumption


This type of air compressor is very useful at construction sites or at places where there is no immediate supply of electricity. Just fill the air compressor with gas for it to do the work. This convenience makes it a great choice when travelling to a far site where there is little to no electricity. However, because of the gas added, it can be quite heavy to transport around. It should also be used outdoors as the gases are toxic when inhaled too much.


This type is for home and commercial use where there is a reliable source of electricity nearby. This is best for simple home constructions or renovations as it can be powered up immediately at where you are. It is also lightweight compared to gas-powered air compressors as no more gas weight is added to the unit. It is also quiet when operating, eliminating the possible irritation that noisy air compressors bring to quiet neighborhoods.

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