The piston type compressor is by far the most common type still in use today. Although the rotary screw and the rotary vane compressor have become more popular and more widely used than ever before, the piston type compressor has a lower initial cost and a lower maintenance cost. However, the piston compressor has only a 50% to 80% duty cycle. Due to this limited duty cycle a piston compressor must be sized at least one class higher than what is really needed.
The piston compressor is available in either a lubricated or oil free configuration.