Air compressors make life a lot easier. They can power spray guns, pneumatic tools, or make your cleanup chores easy when your project is complete. How do you know which brand or model will be the right one for you? By taking advantage of the best air compressor reviews. Real outcomes from real trial uses or long-term personal testing can let you know if your preferred air compressor has the quality you need.
The Best Chart for Air Compressors
Because air compressors come in many different shapes and sizes, it is important to find one that has the features you need at a price your budget can afford. The chart below is a great way to begin the shopping process.
|Picture||Name||Our Rating||SCFM (at 90 PSI)||Price|
|Porter Cable 3.5 gallon 135 PSI Pancake Compressor||4.6 ||2.00|| $
|DeWalt 6 Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor||4.6 ||2.60|| $$
|Makita Big Bore 3.0 HP Air Compressor||4.5 ||6.50|| $$$$
|Senco PC1010 1 HP Peak 1 Gallon Compressor||4.4 ||0.60|| $$
|DeWalt 15 Gallon 200 PSI 120v Workshop Compressor||3.7 ||5.00|| $$$$$
|California Air Tools Oil Free 6.3 Gallon Steel Tank Air Compressor||4.5 ||2.35|| $$
|Campbell Hausfeld 8 Gallon Air Compressor||4.6 ||3.70|| $$
|Rolair Oil-Less 1 HP Compressor w/ Overload Protection||4.6 ||2.35|| $$$
|Industrial Air Contractor Grade Direct Drive Pontoon Air Compressor||4.4 ||5.00|| $$$$$+
|California Air Tools 1 HP 1.6 Gallon Aluminum Tank Air Compressor||4.6 ||2.35|| $$
|Picture||Name||Our Rating||SCFM (at 90 PSI)||Price|
How to Find the Best Air Compressor for Me?
There are 5 basic factors that should be considered when shopping for an air compressor. Based on your individualized needs, you can then rate these factors in importance. This allows you to find an air compressor which has the strength to meet your toughest jobs.
- Power source. Some air compressors are gas-powered. Others are electric or battery-powered. Knowing where you plan to use your air compressor will help you find the right one to meet your needs.
- Tank size. Some air compressors don’t have a tank at all. Others have very large tanks. Some tanks are small and look like a pancake. Some have more than one tank. If you have a large job to complete, you’ll need an air compressor with a larger tank size.
- Portability. Air compressors can be very lightweight, under 10 lbs. Others weigh between 10-40 lbs. and are still considered portable with some effort. Stationary air compressors may weigh 80+ lbs..
- Pump type. Air compressors can operate continuously, start and stop with cutoff pressure, be single stage or two-stage, and be oil-free or require oil-lubrication.
- Performance. Horsepower, PSI (Pounds per Square Inch pressure), and SCFM (Standard Cubic Feet per Minute flow rate) are all performance ratings to consider when comparing brands and models. Different air powered tools require different minimum SCFM & PSI ratings.
Matching your air compressor to the demands of your project is the best way to find the ideal compressor to meet your needs. Portable air compressors are generally great for home use or if you have multiple job sites to service. Stationary air compressors provide a high volume of air, which is needed for many air tools.
Consider these 5 factors as you read through the best air compressor reviews and you will have confidence in knowing that your final selection is the right air compressor to meet all of your current and future needs.
The Benefits of Owning the Best Air Compressor
Once you’ve considered the 5 basic factors that separate air compressor brands and models, you’re ready to think about some of the additional features that you’ll find in each review. Air compressors may have any combination of these 4 common additions.
- Thermal overload switch. This allows the air compressor to shut off automatically if it begins to overheat. This typically increases the overall life of the tool and helps to protect your investment.
- Roll cage. This structure helps to protect the air compressor. It prevents the unit from being battered or crushed while you’re working.
- Air cooling systems. Some air compressors include a system that helps to keep its machinery cool during operation. This extends the life of the motor and can sometimes allow you to use the unit in an enclosed area if it isn’t a gas-powered unit.
- ASME certification. This certification comes from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and indicates that the air compressor you’re looking at meets or exceeds expectations in craftsmanship and materials.
You’ll also find that many air compressors like to advertise their safety features. This may include electrical system overload protections, crank case protections for oil-lubricated compressors, and belt guards. These are important, but so is using personal protective equipment. When using an air compressor, you should always have goggles, earplugs, gloves, and a respirator on hand so you can work safely.
Common Issues with Air Compressors and How to Solve Them
The most common problem owners face with their air compressor is that they don’t have enough air. This may be because the unit is undersized for the project. It can also be an indication that a leak may be present. Use soapy water on all joints and threads to see where the leak may be and then tighten as needed.
Air compressors may also be very loud. Hearing protection is a must-have item for everyone on the job site. Although you can’t always muffle this sound, our Ultimate Guide to Air Compressors has some specific troubleshooting strategies that can reduce the decibels you’re hearing.
It is also important to know if you’re purchasing an oil-less air compressor or an oil-lubricated unit. Failing to keep an appropriate level of oil in the crank case of the air compressor can cause it to malfunction, make the motor fail, and it will also void the warranty. Check oil levels frequently to avoid this issue.
What Are the Prices of the Best Air Compressors?
Price points for air compressors are dependent on their combination of features and basic factors. You’ll find that portable air compressors typically run in the $100-$200 range. If all you need is a tank-less inflator, you’ll find many options available to you for less than $50. Lightweight air compressors tend to be priced in the same range as portable air compressors, even if they might be considered a stationary unit.
ASME certification, larger tank sizes, or higher air flow will bring the price of an air compressor up. Top of the line commercial-grade stationary air compressors can often be priced above $2,000.
Most households will find an air compressor that effectively meets their needs for $300 or less in most circumstances. Commercial or industrial customers will discover that their price point may be $750-$1,000 to find the best air compressor possible.
What Do Our Reviews Have to Say?
Smaller air tools work well enough with this Porter Cable air compressor. We found that small nail guns [or trim guns] did well enough, letting us install interior trim without damaging the wood. Laminate flooring was also suitable for this compressor, but high density hardwood flooring could be a struggle from time to time. You’ll also be able to equip a blow gun to this model to quickly clean up your work site. It’s quieter than your standard leaf blower and if you have a 25 foot hose equipped to it, you won’t even need to carry around the tank to work.
This air compressor delivers a maximum 165 PSI with its oversized 6 gallon tank. You’ll receive 2.6 SCFM delivered at 90 PSI with the oil-less high efficiency motor that starts well even if the temperature dips below freezing. When measuring decibels at 3-6 feet, we found the 75.5 dB rating to be right on the mark. Our favorite use for this air compressor is for interior design work. Door trim goes up ridiculously fast when you’re using this air tool. The finishing nails get placed where you want them to be without the hammer damage or splintering you get from other tools. This allows you to fill that nail hole with a minimum amount of putty for a seamless look.
It might not be the lightest air compressor since it weighs just under 90 pounds, but it is mounted on a wheelbarrow roll cage design with a folding handle to give it a reasonable level of portability. It offers users 6.5 SCFM at 90 PSI, which means you’ve got enough power to run two framing nailers at once. The cast-iron cylinder gives this compressor consistent performance and maintenance chores are super easy thanks to the location of the oil drain.
We found that the best use for this particular air compressor was with finish carpentry. You could also easily do some upholstery work with this brand and model. At 20 pounds, you can drag it all over the house pretty easily. It delivers a max pressure of 125 PSI and takes about 2 minutes to completely fill. Recovery times range from just under 30 seconds to about 50 seconds depending on the tool you’re using with this compressor.
We’ll just admit it straight out: our preconceived notions were completely wrong. So ok – it isn’t going to be a multiple worker solution if you own a mechanic business or work as a general contractor. If you love to work on cars in your garage or build stuff at home, however, you’re going to quickly see the value that this compressor can provide. Unlike many air compressors, you can even run an extension cord with this DeWalt model thanks to its design. Now you’ll need a 12 gauge extension cord that’s 50 feet or less in length, but that’s still a remarkable amount of portability for an air compressor of this size.
Not every wheelbarrow design on an air compressor is helpful. At 49 pounds, this California Air Tools compressor seems like it would be difficult to move around. Although the handle and wheels design is very simple, it’s been structured in such a way that you get a lot of leverage. The kids love moving this compressor around as a way to help, so we’re confident just about anyone can take advantage of this design feature.
We’ve seen more than one compressor have a HFR (HFR?) that leaks like crazy. Some just don’t work at all. You’ll find that this compressor has one that will actually let you control your pressure so you have a wide range of use options available. It runs at 1.3 HP and has a max PSI rating of 125, which means the 8 gallon tank will let you work for some time without the need for recovery. You receive 3.6 SCFM at 90 PSI on a standard outlet.
At 1,725 RPM, this compressor operates right around the 70 dB mark in most locations. It can feel somewhat louder if it is being used in an enclosed environment. With a 2.5 gallon tank, heavier jobs require longer running times, so we still recommend hearing protection. You can still work most of the day without risking hearing damage, but after an hour or so of exposure, you might find your ears beginning to ring.
Industrial Air tells us that the goal of their patented two-piece cooling system is to extend the life of the pump. We’ll find out if that is true with continued use. What we can say is that you don’t have to worry as much about how long you’re using this compressor since it doesn’t overheat as quickly as most other models. This means you can power up to the 155 PSI max. rating with confidence that you can complete the task you’ve started. Since the maximum SCFM at 90 PSI of 5 and at 40 PSI, the SCFM is 6.9, you’re going to be able to use most of your air tools.
The oil-free pump allows users to have a low maintenance experience with this air compressor. Lower maintenance needs also translate into lower overall operational costs. It isn’t the most portable air compressor of this size on the market today, but this CAT model does weigh just 35 pounds. This makes it light enough to carry around, but sturdy enough to stay put when you’re working. Instead of being directly on the bottom of the tank, the drain valve is placed just above the floor when in its natural sitting position. This lets you quickly remove water from the aluminum tank to improve the quality of the air being offered. All in all, it’s a great value purchase.
The best air compressor reviews will help you navigate through each brand and model effectively so you can find the best product at a price your budget can afford. Don’t settle for anything less. You deserve to be satisfied with your purchase of an air compressor today. These reviews can help to make that outcome become a reality.