Adam holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Linguistics, and creative writing has always been his greatest passion. For more than 25 years he's been working for several well-known automobile and travel magazines as an editor and expert consultant, but when Adam started his writing path here, at WisePick, it turned out that he's capable of writing practically anything about everything.
Initially being an engineering specialist, Tom has never stopped learning and acquiring other knowledge and skills. Now he’s involved in technical support for a well-known household appliances manufacturer, so no wonder he knows everything about almost everything you buy for your home.
Last updated: June 15, 2021
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Nowadays, it is becoming increasingly difficult for anyone who uses lots of tools not to have an air compressor. Truth be told, air compressors are capable of opening up a lot of possibilities, so their recent indispensability is totally understandable. With the appropriate pressure from an air compressor, you will be able to utilize various kinds of tools such as brad nailers, nail guns, pumps for car tires, and other power machines that help you complete your tasks much quicker and a lot more efficiently. If you are someone who handles a lot of tools, this guide is aimed at helping you to purchase the best air compressor for your needs.
As you may know already, there are different brands and models of air compressors and they come in several sizes and shapes, which is why a little research is required. To spare you from the hassle of exploring the market all by yourself, we compiled a list of the 10 best air compressors on the market. We considered key criteria such as tank capacity, maximum pressure, noise level, air delivery, and weight, amongst some other important considerations. With that being said, this guide contains a lot of helpful information to help you pick the best option.
We have invested tens of hours reading through technical specs, manufacturers’ product descriptions, and reviews from customers. This allowed us to come up with the very best air compressors you can find around, which are summarized in the table below. After you’re done checking out the highlighted products on our table, proceed to find our detailed reviews and our handy buying guide in order to find an ideal product for your needs.
When you are looking to carry out some medium to heavy-duty projects on your construction site or around your home, you can’t look past the Porter-Cable air compressor. It has a durable cast iron construction and is adequately powerful to get your tasks completed quickly. The pancake compressor has a powerful smooth-performing induction 0.8 HP motor, high-flow regulators and couplers, an oil-free pump, a large 6-gallon tank, and a maximum pressure of 150 PSI. The unit delivers 2.6 SCFM operating at 90 PSI, and with its longer runtime and quick recovery time, we didn’t make any mistake by making this model our top choice.
You can expect the motor to have extra longevity due to its replaceable brushes which allow for prolonged life of the compressor. The pancake tank is solid and durable and the incorporated rubber feet provide maximum stability in every kind of environment. The compressor also comes with a water-drain valve to prevent rusting. Additionally, the unit has two regulated air couplers to allow two users to work with the machine simultaneously.
The machine can be operated from a regular AC outlet, and if there is a need for you to work in outdoor winter conditions, there is an improved handle, shroud, and console cover which protect the unit from wear and tear. Weighing just 30 pounds, the unit is fairly lightweight. It has an incorporated cord-wrap and carrying handle which also makes it easy to store and carry.
The Dewalt DWFP55126 6-Gallon Pancake Compressor is a top-rated compressor due to its compact and portable design. It is powerful enough to operate a variety of tools, inflate tires, and carry out painting tasks. Besides, the air compressor has a very quick recovery time which enables continuous and uninterrupted work.
With a 165 PSI maximum air pressure and six gallons of air, the compressor can deliver 2.6 SCFM running at 90 PSI. The compressor’s engine is built to efficiently perform and start up easily regardless of the climatic condition. While lots of other pancake air compressors produce lots of operating noise, this unit from Dewalt runs at only 75.5 dB, which puts it among the top-rated models when it comes to quietness. The compressor is also leak-free, thereby offering a relatively short recovery time. Basically, this machine is always ready for work.
The regulator of the unit comes with two universal couples, which allow for two users work simultaneously. The unit comes with a console to protect the controls, which makes it easy to repair. The tank can be easily drained through the ball drive chain. Likewise, the air compressor features legs that have a protective covering, thereby preventing likely scratches or damage to the floor.
When it comes to storage, this unit is quite easy to store away since the cord can be wrapped around the top. Measuring 17.2 X 16.6 X 20.1 and weighing 30 pounds only, this unit is very compact and therefore can be moved conveniently from one place to another. This model also comes with a warranty of three years, which boosts your confidence in your purchase.
The California Air Tools 8010 air compressor is also one of the top-rated products on the market due to its size and features. The machine is powerful enough to meet the needs of hobbyists. Powered by a 1HP engine, this unit produces 2.20 CFM at 90 PSI. With its 8-gallon tank, this steel-made air compressor provides high-quality performance for a lengthy period of time. It comes with a thermal overload protector which adds to the safety of its operation.
The compressor is easy to maintain. It doesn’t require oil, which means you don’t have to spend much on preparation. The incorporated piston pump system improves the motor durability. The unit has a maximum pressure of 120 PSI, and it allows you to get the precise pressure you require with two pressure control gauges. Generating 60 dBA of noise only, the unit is effortlessly one of the quietest compressors in its class.
Built for a long uninterrupted use, the motor is capable of accommodating added workload. The charge time is 130 seconds only, and the recovery time is only around one minute. Measuring 26 x 14 x 23 inches and weighing just 54 pounds, this machine is extremely portable and lightweight. It has inbuilt wheels which make it suitable for projects requiring movement from one place to another.
Being one of the quietest and lightest air compressors on this list, the Senco PC1010 air compressor is designed specifically for less heavy-duty projects such as painting, inflating tires and balls, cleaning, finish and trim works. Weighing just 20 pounds, the Senco PC1010 is still a durable and versatile machine featuring a properly placed handle that makes it easy to carry the unit from one work site to another. The unit also comes with rubberized feet which don’t damage or scrap your floor.
The Senco PC1010 has a Hotdog design which is very quiet, so you don’t need to worry about perturbing your neighbors. Depending on the kind of pneumatic tool used with this machine, the Senco PC1010 is capable of delivering between 20 to 44 drives every minute. It delivers 0.7 SCFM running at 90 PSI, which is fairly decent considering that this unit is a mini compressor. Its peak power of 1HP alongside a quick recovery time of around 35 seconds make this compressor worth its weight in gold.
However, since this is a mini air compressor, you have to be ready to put up with some typical mini compressors cons. Its one-gallon tank is very small, which means you will have to be going through the hassle of refilling every now and then.
Do you need a top-rated air compressor that offers dependable state-of-the-art performance? You can’t look past the Makita MAC2400 air compressor. Most people appreciate its powerful 2.5HP motor that delivers dependable optimum performance. Apart from that, the Makita MAC2400 compressor comes with a solid casing which shields the unit from fingers and bumps. This model of air compressor utilizes less electrical power, saving you lots of money.
The powerful 2.5HP motor draws out less amperage which is adequate to handle most household projects. Even when used for heavy-duty projects, the Makita MAC2400 never trips circuits power. Furthermore, the pump comes with sturdy cast iron and re-pressurizes quickly. Weighing 52 pounds, the Makita MAC2400 is quite on the heavy side. It, however, has a handle that offers comfy grip and durable cast wheels for improved movability.
Whether you are thinking of framing nails or inflating tires, the Makita MAC2400 air compressor provides adequate strength to handle any small or professional projects both at work or home – although it’s not the best option for huge jobs – that’s when you’d need a heavy-duty industrial compressor. The machine features a large bore pump with a cylinder build with cast iron material. With this, this air compressor is very durable and therefore guarantees long-lasting service.
Featuring the Makita piston and the Big Bore engineered pump cylinder, the Makita MAC2400 air compressor provides an incredible amount of great performance. The machine features a powerful 2.5HP motor which provides incredible productivity and reduced noise due to the pump which operates at 1,730 RPM only. Also, this increases the overall durability of the pump. The noise is reduced further by the rubberized feet of the machine which help stifle vibrations.
The compressor’s frame is cast iron, which makes it adequately durable to withstand scrapes and bumps on busy construction sites. The air compressor’s roll-cage shape adds to its portability and offers extra protection. The compressor sports a handle on the top making it a lot easier to carry and move from one work location to another.
It is, however, worth mentioning that this compressor is produced using metal and therefore is heavy at 79 pounds. But, that doesn’t take anything away from the sheer quality of this compressor. Despite being very powerful, it’s surprisingly quite durable.
Weighing only 33 pounds and measuring 17 x 17 x 19.2 inches, the Bostitch BTFP02012 Pancake Compressor is one of the most portable compressors on the market. The machine also produces around 78.5 dB of operational noise, making it suitable for use at residential areas. Moreover, the air compressor delivers 2.6 SCFM running at 90 PSI and a maximum pressure of 150 PSI. However, keep in mind that regulating pressure at lower levels can be difficult.
The pump of the machine is oil-free and built for long life. High-flow regulators and couplers are built to optimize the performance of the air tool with two universal couplers to support two users easily. The couplers are designed to standpipe and prevent twisting. Also, the unit has a removable console cover to enable simple repair of the controls. The unit also provides convenient cord wrap for simple storage.
This six-gallon compressor is an excellent choice if you’re in search of a solidly constructed and well-designed air compressor. Most users generally regard this product as an excellent purchase. The machine has an impressive quick startup and quick refill. Besides, it is very easy to carry and is capable of sustaining quite well when used constantly.
Furthermore, it is considerably quieter than other air compressors in its class. When it comes to the drawbacks, the power cord is quite short and the line regulator dial doesn’t react quickly.
If you are in search of an air compressor that’s beautiful, quiet, and adequately light to carry around while working, then the California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S compressor might be a great option for you. Weighing 29 pounds only, this minuscule air compressor is super easy to move and transport. Besides, it produces around 56 dB during peak operation, making it one of the quietest compressors in its category.
Like most California Air Tools compressors, this item is also one of the most durable air compressors out there. The engine comes with a single piston design, making it sturdier and more efficient. The engine operates at around 1680 RPM and is oil-free as well, thus making this compressor very easy to maintain.
Of course, nothing comes without a drawback and there is no exception with this air compressor. The first drawback of this model is its weaker motor. Although it is still capable of operating at a fairly high 120 PSI, recovering will take a bit longer. Therefore, running air gulping tools for a long period without waiting for the machine to catch up might be a bit difficult.
Dewalt is one of the biggest manufacturers on the market, and their brand name is basically synonymous with air compressors. Their latest offering, the Dewalt D55146 is an oil-free air compressor that produces 5.0 SCFM operating at 90 PSI. The compressor’s tank is capable of building a maximum PSI of 225, and the unit’s powerful motor allows for very quick recovery time, as quick as 22 seconds. If you’re in search of a powerful air compressor for professional applications, this product won’t disappoint you.
It is perfect for several applications which include remodeling, carpentry, roofing, light framing, and deck building. This air compressor was designed with the consumer in mind. It comes with a durable telescoping handle and a sturdy lift handle which facilitate movement around the site. Moreover, the unit comes with an inventive vertical stand that enables the machine to be conveyed and stored away in a vertical position, thereby consuming very little space.
Featuring a groundbreaking motor technology and a new high-pressure pump, the Dewalt D55146 Air Compressor boasts high performance and quick recovery. The metal console panel and fully protected roll cage protect the unit from severe site conditions. Many consumers, however, complain about the leakage issue from the outlet, which is non-repairable, sometimes.
What are our favorite features?
Large capacity tank
Maintenance free and oil free
Different tools and nail guns can work simultaneously
What you will love from the California Air Tools 10020C is its super quiet operation with excellent duty cycle. Not only that, but the machine also comes with great construction and an excellent valve. Weighing 82.5 pounds, however, the 10020C is not really lightweight. But its oil-free pump ensures that you don’t need to spend much on maintenance.
Despite its heavy construction, the compressor offers parallel performance. You will find that it delivers a 5.30 CFM running at 90 PSI and 6.40 CFM running at 40 PSI. With this range of high-quality performance, it’s not surprising that this tool is considered one of the very best compressors out there. It can easily carry out such works as inflating, airbrushing, and other similar small tasks. Its excellent duty cycle makes sure that the compressor works for several uninterrupted hours without glitches.
Due to its powerful 2.0HP motor, you can rest assured that you will be able to work quicker and more productively round the clock. Producing 70 dBA at peak operation, the noise level of this machine is manageable considering that larger units run with 90 – 150 dBA. The tool can be used for both outdoor and indoor use due to its large tank that is capable of holding ten gallons of air.
What do we love it for?
Comes with two universal connectors
What were we disappointed with?
It is hard to open the manual drain valve
Things to Consider
Now that we’ve reviewed some of the best air compressors on the market, it is the time to deal with the finer details. In this section, we’ve drawn out some of the most essential buying tips that will help you understand the most important features. Your particular needs, of course, will play a vital part in which product you eventually buy, but we hope that you can make use of some of these added buying tips to streamline the procedure.
What can air compressors be used for?
If you have an interest in construction, a nail gun is a great tool that will provide a lot of help. To utilize a nail gun, however, an air compressor is required, if you are not willing to spend much money. Since battery-operated nailers are expensive compared to pneumatic nailers that are powered with compressors, it’s a nice idea to choose the latter for your construction tasks. An extra advantage is that compressor-powered nailers are easier to use, and their runtime is longer when compared to battery-operated compressors.
An air compressor also makes spray-painting much easier. You can paint cabinets, furniture, and perform smaller painting tasks in no time at all with an air-powered spray gun, just like a real professional. Painting with a brush is actually not a big deal, particularly when you have time on your hands. Otherwise a spray gun might be your savior. You need a spray gun to achieve the smooth, beautiful results you will surely be looking for when carrying out fine painting work like kitchen cabinetry. Your kitchen, in fact, could appear like new, for just a fraction of what you would pay to hire a professional or buy new cabinets.
DIY auto repairs
If you have always wanted to do your own auto repairs without needing to pay the large bill of your mechanic, then you will find an air compressor very handy. Smaller repair jobs, like carrying out a tune-up, replacing a fuel filter or installing a PCV valve, are very doable for the average person, albeit with some instruction on how to perform the tasks. The complicated part, however, for the average car owner is that removing bolts where things have rusted or in tight spaces can be difficult. You could struggle for several hours with a normal socket set or ratchet one the holts. But, if you utilize an air ratchet tool that is powered by an air compressor, you’ll be able to remove that bolt in a few seconds. An air compressor actually makes it possible for pretty much anyone to carry out several auto repairs.
You will be hard-pressed to find a tool that is more versatile and cost-effective than an air compressor. Apart from the basic pneumatic tools, there are several other air tools and machines that you can use with a compressor, and the number of tasks around the house that an air compressor can help you carry out is limitless. Whether you are looking to clean the sawdust over your garage floor up or you are looking to paint your kid’s bike, you can use air compressor-compatible tools to carry out these tasks.
Air tools are a lot more long-lasting and durable than corded or battery-operated ones since they don’t usually have as many moving parts. There is only a motor that powers everything and it is situated inside the air compressor.
An air compressor is a very cool machine. Of course, it takes some getting used to and some time to know exactly how to use it to power air tools, but as soon as you have everything figured out, everything will be pretty straightforward.
Features to consider while choosing an air compressor
When buying an air compressor, you must consider particular attributes in your process of decision making. Modern air compressors are extremely versatile in terms of adaptability and usage. Therefore, whether you require the air compressor for immediate hands-on reasons or longer term maintenance, below are the features you need to look for.
When it comes to the power source, air compressors are usually in two categories: electric-powered and gas-powered. Electric-powered air compressors are most people’s first choice since they are cheap, silent, and more suitable for indoor use. If your requirements are, however, different and you plan to use your air compressor outdoors, then choose a gas air compressor. While they can be relied upon if you require added power, keep in mind that they are fairly noisier compared to electric-powered compressors. Mind that all our picks in this guide are electric-powered models.
One of the first things to consider when buying an air compressor should be than tank capacity which is how much air the tank is capable of holding. This will be very crucial as time goes on, and various projects may require an abundant amount of air, particularly when using pneumatic tools. An air compressor with the largest tank on our list is the California Air Tools 10020C. Although smaller air compressors, like the Makita MAC700, are usually more portable, more compact and easier to set up, they often come with a smaller than conventional units’ tank, which surely has an effect on the SCFM output.
The measure of pressure that an air compressor is capable of generating will also have a say on the amount of it can actually hold. If the maximum pressure of a compressor is higher, it will be able to hold more air, so it will take less time to recover.
Air compressors are typically very noisy, particularly oil-less single-stage compressors. Therefore, if you are going to purchase an air compressor, ensure you consider how to quieten the noise so that you do not disturb your family or neighbors. Also, oiled air compressors produce less noise compared to oil-less models, so you might want to consider opting for an oiled unit.
In addition to that, you also need to take your space into consideration. Larger air compressors usually generate more noise, so ensure the space you have for the air compressor is large so that the noise of the compressor can be stifled a little.
The next thing you ought to take into consideration is the PSI output the compressor is guaranteed to generate. As you may know already, PSI alludes to the pounds per square inch pressure. it’s always a key metric for any kind of air compressors. Even though you should consider HP thoroughly as well when purchasing an air compressor, PSI and SCFM capabilities are better representations of what a compressor is truly capable of.
Weight and Dimensions
If you intend to carry your compressor around, then you should keep its weight in mind. Most times, there will be a tradeoff between capacity and weight, so you will have to choose the best combination for you. Besides, compressors come in various sizes, so you need to find the right size for your needs. For instance, while a workshop will definitely have more space for a larger compressor, smaller compressors can be more easily transported in vehicles.
Safety is very paramount when utilizing any kind of air compressor. For example, you should find an air compressor that provides a considerable amount of thermal protection alongside a dependable pressure gauge. Besides, manufacturers can provide an extensive range of safety features, either with respect to the concrete part of operating the compressor or to make sure that nothing gets loosened over time.
Warranty is also a very important factor you need to consider when shopping for an ideal air compressor. You have to keep in mind that the longer the warranty of your air compressor is, the less money you’ll need to spend should anything get broken.
As we already mentioned up there, air compressors can be utilized in various applications. While you certainly can purchase all of your gears separately, some compressors come with accessory kits, which allows you to save a couple of dollars and make the most of the product.
Whether it is important to consider maximum tank pressure and capacity or not largely depends on what you’re utilizing your compressor to do. For instance, if you’re using it to power a nail gun, where only a very little amount of air is required to fire each nail and the air compressor has a lot of recovery time between each fired nail, tank volume is fairly unimportant. If you are, however, using your compressor to run a saw or a sander, where a constant, high flow air supply to the tool is required, then you’ll need a large tank capacity in order for the air compressor to keep pace with the demands of the tool without coming up short on compressed air.
Typically, an air compressor can be used for a variety of tasks. It can be used to inflate car tires, bike tires, or balls, as well as for spray painting. You can also use the machine to power a pneumatic blower to get rid of dirt or leaves from the floor of your garage. Air compressors can also be utilized for tools that clean brick or stone. For construction site use, you can use the air compressor to power wrenches, nailers, saws, and hammers.
The notation CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) refers to a volume of air produced by the air compressor at a given pressure or PSI (Pound per Square Inch). The right size air compressor will meet your needs in two essential areas: air flow (CFM) and pressure (PSI). It’s important to get a compressor that meets your needs in both areas – otherwise, you risk damage to both your tools and the compressor itself. Always use CFM and PSI specifications from the nameplate on the product.
Due to the increasing popularity of air compressors, there are so many options available on the market nowadays. The three models that are listed below are our top three picks when it comes to air compressors.
Our winner from this round is the Porter-Cable C2002 air compressor. With its powerful smooth-performing induction, 0.8 HP motor, high-flow regulators and couplers, an oil-free pump, a large six-gallon tank, and a maximum pressure of 150 PSI, this model is probably the most versatile air compressor on the market.
Our runner-up is the Dewalt DWFP55126 air compressor. Apart from the fact that it has the best warranty terms on this list, it also has a myriad of great features. With a 165 PSI maximum air pressure and six gallons of air, the compressor can deliver 2.6 SCFM running at 90 PSI. Moreover, being an oil-free compressor, this model is very easy to maintain.
Our third pick is the California Air Tools 8010 Air Compressor. It has a powerful, yet sturdy motor that performs excellently and quietly. Besides, this model is very portable, which makes it suitable for both indoor and outdoor use with nearly any air tools.