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Top Tips for Choosing the Best Oil for Your Screw Compressor

Selecting the appropriate oil for your screw compressor is essential to guarantee top performance and equipment longevity. Oil explicitly designed for screw compressors can be synthetic or standard. Screw compressor oil is usually free of build-up-causing impurities like carbon and sulfur, and it doesn’t include detergent like motor oil does. 

You may use standard oil in recreational compressors, while you typically use synthetic oil in screw air compressors. Although screw compressor oil has a variable composition and color, it is often yellow or light brown and turns darker with time as it becomes contaminated. The right oil increases performance and lowers wear and tear, saving money on maintenance and averting downtime. In this blog, we will explain screw compressors, the vital role oil plays in their operation, and essential things to think about when choosing the right oil for your screw compressor.

One kind of gas compressor that uses a positive displacement mechanism is a screw compressor. The male and female rotors of a screw compressor rotate in opposing directions. As the gap narrows between the rotors and their housing, this action pulls in compressed air. Next, the outlet receives the compressed air displacement. 

The length and pitch of the screw determine the fixed, built-in pressure ratio of each screw element, in addition to the discharge port’s shape. You must adjust the built-in pressure ratio to the necessary operating pressure for optimal operation. The rotors are set at a specific speed to reduce volumetric losses (air losses at a deficient speed) and mechanical losses (heat at a very high speed). The continuous supply of compressed air is one of the main advantages of employing a screw air compressor over other types of air compressors. Screw compressors have additional advantages that make them perfect for independent and mobile use.

The role of oil in screw compressors.

The heat generated during compression and continuous movement requires lubrication. Thus, oil serves a variety of purposes: 

  • Lubricating the moving parts, including the rotors,
  • Cooling the compressor component.
  • Eliminating the heat produced during compression.

Additionally, oil aids in preventing any compression chamber leaks.

Key Factors to Consider for Choosing Oil for Screw Compressor


We refer to the thickness or flow resistance of the oil as its viscosity. Using oil with the proper viscosity is essential to keep enough lubricant between the compressor’s working parts. Viscosity grades—typically denoted by numbers like ISO 32, ISO 46, or ISO 68—are used to classify compressor oils. 

Viscosity impacts the oil’s performance at various temperatures. Higher viscosity oils perform better in hotter climates, whereas lower viscosity oils are better suited for colder climates. Proper lubrication minimizes wear on compressor parts and reduces friction when the viscosity is correct. You can always find the appropriate viscosity grade for your compressor in the manual.


Additives are frequently added to compressor oils to improve their performance. Chemical substances called additives are added to the base oil to enhance certain aspects. They are essential to our lubricants’ maximum performance and dependability. 

Anti-wear additives prolong the life of compressor parts by reducing friction and wear. Oxidation inhibitors extend the oil’s life and preserve performance by preventing it from degrading when exposed to air. These additives shield the oil from oxidation, corrosion, wear, and sludge accumulation, which enhances the oil’s performance. Choosing oil with the appropriate additives will help your screw compressor operate more efficiently and last longer.

Compatibility with the Compressor:  

Not all types of screw compressors are compatible with all kinds of oils. It is crucial to select compressor oil compatible with your compressor’s components. Incompatibility may result in damage, rust, and expensive repairs. To make sure the oil you choose is appropriate for the metals, seals, and gaskets used in the building of your compressor, always refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Using incompatible oil may degrade, harden, or swell these materials.

Operating Temperature Range: 

The compressor’s working temperature range is another important consideration. The single most crucial factor to consider when choosing an oil is temperature. This is the main element affecting oil oxidation and, consequently, oil life at high temperatures. The rate at which the oil combines with oxygen increases with temperature, as does the oxidation process as a whole. It causes the acid to build more quickly, which raises the viscosity and ultimately causes deposits and sludge to accumulate. 

Manufacturer Recommendations: 

The manufacturer’s recommendations should always be taken into account when choosing oil for your screw compressor. To ensure compatibility and peak performance, manufacturers test their equipment extensively to find the finest oil. Following these recommendations may keep your compressor’s warranty intact and help avoid future problems.

Top Tips for Choosing the Best Oil for Screw Compressor

Consult the Manufacturer’s Manual: 

Use the operating manual, maintenance schedule, and lubrication recommendations found in the compressor manufacturer’s documentation. Manufacturers frequently provide specific lubricant specifications, such as viscosity grade, base oil type, additives, and brand recommendations. Following these recommendations guarantees that the screw compressor oil you choose satisfies the manufacturer’s performance and dependability requirements.

Consider the Operating Environment: 

Environmental considerations like biodegradability and eco-friendliness may influence your choice of oil. When environmental impact is a concern, some applications can benefit from using biodegradable screw compressor oils. Always consider the ecological repercussions of your decision, particularly in susceptible environments.

Regular Oil Analysis:

  1. Create a program for lubricant monitoring and maintenance after a lubricant has been chosen.
  2. Maintain a regular check on the state of the lubricant, including an analysis of the oil for viscosity, pollution, and additive depletion.
  3. As the manufacturer advises, perform routine maintenance procedures such as oil changes, filter replacements, and lubrication top-ups.

Opt for High-Quality Brands: 

Speak with suppliers of lubricants, professionals in the field, or maintenance workers who have handled compressor lubrication before. Purchasing premium screw compressor oil from reliable manufacturers can have a significant impact on your screw compressor’s lifespan and performance. Manufacturers develop exquisite oils to meet or surpass industry standards, providing exceptional protection against wear, oxidation, and thermal breakdown.


Essential components of compressor maintenance include selecting the appropriate screw compressor oil for your screw compressor and appropriately discarding spent oil. You may choose the finest alternative for your particular demands and operating conditions by being aware of the various compressor oils available and their characteristics. You can make sure your screw compressor runs well, reducing downtime and increasing its service life, by paying attention to these pointers.

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