Selecting the Best Lubricant for Your Compressor

Authored by: Allan Zieser, STLE, CLS

There are many factors that go into selecting a proper lubricant for your compressor. In this blog, we will touch on some of them to help you get the proper oil for your compressor.

OEM Recommendations – The primary selection criteria should be based on what the OEM recommends for the compressor you have. While you are not required to use the specific brand of lubricant, the type and viscosity of the lubricant should be based on the OEM recommended type and viscosity.

Gas being compressed – Second, you should consider what gas is being compressed as they all have different requirements. Compression of air leads to higher temperatures in the unit which needs to be considered. Inert gasses like ammonia and carbon dioxide tend to lower the viscosity of the lubricant. Hydrocarbon gases also tend to lower viscosity, but typically over a longer period of time. While gasses such as carbon dioxide and chlorine tend to form tack deposits and soaps that can cause issues when they come into contact with moisture in the system.

Environment – The environment around your compressor should always be considered. Many compressors tend to be trapped into small rooms or out of the way locations that do not provide adequate air flow to the unit, causing the internal temperatures to run much hotter. In these situations, it would be better to use a synthetic compressor lubricant that is more able to handle higher temperatures without breaking down and causing varnish inside of the system.

Type of Compressor – The design and type of compressor also play a critical role in the lubricant selection for a compressor. A rotary screw compressor has different requirements than a reciprocating or centrifugal compressor will.

As always, it is crucial to use the highest quality compressor oil for the application at hand. With all of these factors to consider, it is important to contact your Ottsen Oil Expert and have them work through the lubricant choices to match the best compressor oil with your compressor.