5 Best Air Compressor

Are you looking for the 5 best air compressors that can serve as the jack of all trades in your garage? This article is the right one for you to read right now.

If you are the type that regularly makes use of pneumatic tools, you should already know how much an extra oomph of air pressure can help to make even the most difficult tasks easy. Moreover, air compressors are very useful for a wide range of purposes.

Depending on the type of air compressor you purchase, you may be able to use it to supply air to pool floaters, inflate automobile tires, or operate pneumatic machines such as paint sprayers and nail guns. In addition, you can also use some air compressors to power special types of pressure washers instead of using electric pressure washers. 

The main question here, however, is how do you choose the right air compressor? Read on to learn about the top air compressors I’ve gathered across a different range of categories.

I’ve also collated further information regarding air compressors so as to answer any further questions you may have.

PowerVersity.com will earn a tiny commission if you purchase a product from one of the links in this article. This enables us to keep the lights on, but it has no impact on the price you pay. Visit our Affiliate Disclosure page for more details.

How To Identify The 5 Best Air compressors ; Features To Consider

Air compressors are straightforward machines. They’re nothing more than large (or small) air compressors. That isn’t to say that choosing one is simple.

There are a notable amount of things to consider when you want to purchase an air compressor. Keep in mind that different models are not equal in features or performance capabilities – not in any way.

When it comes to the current air compressors on the market, there is a wide range of quality available for grabs. Some are of excellent quality and low cost, while others are of poor quality and cost far too much.

Take a few minutes to educate yourself on a few of the most important features to consider before purchasing a new air compressor. With the factors and features I’ve highlighted below, you will also be able to find out how your project or usage will determine the type of air compressor you should get.

Type

Air compressors are categorized into several categories. While they are mainly categorized into two categories in terms of how they work – positive displacement and dynamic displacement, there are many other subcategories based on size or power source.

Let’s first consider they vary based on size.

In terms of size, there are two categories namely, stationary and portable. Stationary air compressors are usually large. Hence, they are designed to stay in one place, such as a workshop.

They usually have a larger air pressure output and may have several nozzles which allow the air compressor to power multiple tools at once.

Meanwhile, portable air compressors are far more versatile and widespread for domestic applications because they can be transported quickly. These items are ideal for home painting jobs, decking, fencing, and even roofing because you can use the air compressor to power a nail gun instead of swinging a hammer all day.

In terms of their power source, they are categorized into gas and electric types.

Gas-powered air compressors are mostly always large and they usually have significantly higher cubic feet per minute(CFM). They also usually offer higher horsepower (HP), pounds per square inch (PSI).

Meanwhile, electric-powered air compressors can either be plugged into an electrical outlet or run on batteries. With a free electrical source, such as a generator, electric-powered compressors can be more mobile compared to gas-powered ones.

Electric air compressors are always smaller and far quieter than gas-powered air compressors, but they also have a lesser power output.

Horsepower; Features of Air compressor

Manufacturers always ensure to list the horsepower of their air compressors because it is very essential. Horsepower is important since it is the primary determinant of how powerful an air compressor is.

In general, you should desire greater horsepower.

Unfortunately, when purchasing an air compressor, you can’t always rely on the quoted horsepower. Many manufacturers tend to overestimate the horsepower of their machines.

The horsepower indicated is sometimes theoretical and not a quantity that the machine will be capable of offering in a real-world setting. Nonetheless, machines with a higher advertised horsepower tend to create more power, but they may not reach the precise horsepower listed in the product description.

CFM and PSI; Features of Air compressor

CFM and PSI are the most important performance metrics to look for when purchasing an air compressor.

The CFM (typically measured at 90 PSI) indicates how much air the device can hold. You can get a greater CFM from the tanks, but the pump won’t be able to refill it as quickly as you’re using it, so you’ll have to take breaks to allow the compressor to catch up.

Finish nailers, for example, require relatively little CFM to keep up with the job speed. Other tools, such as air sanders, require even greater CFM levels to stay operational because they require continuous airflow.

If your air sander compressor isn’t supplying enough air, consider adding a larger tank to account for some of the supply and demand gaps, or upgrading to a higher CFM compressor.

PSI, on the other hand, means pounds per square inch. It is the highest pressure the pump can put in the tank.

PSI is an excellent indicator of an air compressor’s output capacity. For instance, a small 2-gallon air compressor tank rated for 150 PSI, may contain the same amount of air as a 3-gallon tank rated for 100 PSI.

That being said, the higher a unit’s maximum PSI rating, the more air it can keep within the tank without expanding the tank’s size.

The most popular air compressors available for DIY usage have a maximum PSI range of 90 to 150. PSI maximums of more than 150 PSI are designed for automotive and industrial use.

When you use air compressors that do not have a maximum pressure of 90 PSI with pneumatic tools, they may struggle. Regardless they are ideal for inflating sports equipment and automobile tires.

Tank Size

The tank’s size is important because it’s where any extra compressed air will be stored for later use.

Small 4- to 6-gallon tanks can quickly run out of air. This will force you to start and stop as you work, making them unsuitable for some tasks like painting. 

On the bright side, they are appropriate for instruments that are used very periodically, such as nail guns.

An air compressor with a 4- to 6-gallon tank will suffice for most common DIY tasks. However, if you will be making use of a powerful tool for a long period of time – for example, painting the exterior of a building – you may need a larger tank.

Larger tanks are better for long-term DIY projects, such as painting a building or even powering multiple pneumatic tools at once. Overall, large-scale projects or commercial use are the most prevalent applications for air compressors with large tanks.

Oil-Lubricated vs Oil-Free Pump

Oil-lubricated – pumps that are greased with oil are no longer popular in air compressors used at home. Industrial air compressors, on the other hand, may continue to employ this form because the heavier components require frequent lubrication in order to function.

Generally, most oil-lubricated air compressors last longer than oil-free ones because they are also given routine maintenance.

Oil-free – Unlike what their name suggests, oil-free air compressors aren’t completely oil-free. This name refers to the fact that this compressor does not require the purchase or usage of oil.

The piston chambers always come pre-lubricated and sealed. This action allows the pump to operate without being exposed to air thereby reducing the viscosity of the lubricant.

These models, however, wear out faster than oil-lubricated compressors. For this reason, the oil-lubricated air compressor is the ideal option if you plan to use your compressor on a daily basis.

Regular DIY projects will not put too much demand on the compressor to make a substantial difference in its longevity.

Noise Level

Air compressors may make a lot of noise. When you add a tiny gas engine, the noise level rises to the point where you will need hearing protection. 

If you want to reduce the noise, the driving style is one approach. Naturally, belt drive compressors are quieter than direct drive compressors.

If you occasionally work in residential environments, populated locations, or near noise-sensitive campuses, you should look for a quiet compressor. Quiet compressors can operate at a decibel level below 60 (though most are higher) and at a level that allows you to hold a conversation.

However, since most quiet versions deliver less air, you’re unlikely to find a quiet air compressor that’s suitable for sanding or roofing.

Duty Cycle

The duty cycle of your compressor is a number that indicates the proportion of time it can run. A 50 percent duty capacity, for example, means it requires 30 minutes of downtime for every 30 minutes of operation.

Check the duty cycle rating if you’re seeking the optimum model for a high-use area. For high-demand operations, look for a compressor with a 100% duty cycle.

A 50 percent duty cycle is sufficient for work that does not require a compressor to run continuously.

Cost

The price of an air compressor varies. Some are around $50, while others cost more than $300. The size is usually one of the biggest contributing factors to the cost.

Larger models are almost always more expensive. However, this isn’t always the case, though.

Some air compressors could also be overpriced for no apparent reason. Occasionally, you’re only paying for the brand name.

Keep in mind that choosing the most affordable model isn’t always the greatest option. These low-cost devices may be of poor quality, and they may not be backed up by competent customer service personnel.

Just keep in mind how much the air compressor you’re thinking about buying is worth. If the compressor isn’t worth the extra money, don’t pay extra than you have to.

5 Best Air Compressors; Specs & Comparisons

Below is a comparison of the specifications of the 5 best air compressors in descending order.

Air CompressorMeasurementWeightPSI (pounds per square inch)CFM (cubic feet per minute)Noise Level
Makita MAC320Q Quiet Series19.09 x 20.08 x 15.08 inches‎52.5 pounds90 max PSI2 CFM60 dB
California Air Tools 8010 Steel Tank Air Compressor‎26 x 14 x 23 inches48 pounds120 max PSI2.2O CFM60 dBA
CRAFTSMAN Air Compressor16.5 x 16.5 x 17.88 inches32.5 Pounds150 max PSI2.6 CFM80 dBA
DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor16 x 16 x 17.5 inches‎30 pounds165 max PSI2.6 CFM78.5 dBA
BOSTITCH Air Compressor21.13 x 19.5 x 19.25 inches40.9 pounds150 max PSI2.6 CFM78.5 dBA

Top Picks Of The 5 Best Air Compressors

Compressors come in a variety of styles, and the best one for you will depend on your needs and budget. I’ve compiled a list of the greatest models for a variety of people.

These are our top recommendations in descending order – from the 5th best to the overall best.

5
BOSTITCH Air Compressor; 5 Best Air Compressors

BOSTITCH Air Compressor
Image from Amazon

Bostitch is a brand that’s famous for building rugged, contractor-grade compressors, and this model is no exception. This BOSTITCH Air Compressor Combo Kit is indeed a kit.

It comes with an air compressor, brad nailer, straight finish nailer, and heavy-duty crown stapler are all included. All of the tools are compressed air-powered and can be connected to an air compressor.

The air compressor is quite good. It has a capacity of 6 gallons of compressed air and operates at 150 PSI.

Overall, it is a good alternative if you require everything the package includes. Although its price reflects the fact that all of the tools are included, it is, however, still less expensive than most premium options.

This tiny compressor, which weighs less than 24 pounds, is ideal for use in home workshops or on-site. Other prominent features this air compressor comes with including a safe roll cage, an LED switch, air hose storage, power cord wrap, and a compact pocket for storing simple tools, fasteners, and fittings.

Pros

  1. It has a durable build
  2. This air compressor comes with three pneumatic tools for general DIY home projects
  3. It is very portable, lightweight and space efficient
  4. This processor offersa reliable performance

Cons

  1. It is not designed for heavy duty jobs
  2. This air conditioner can get very loud

4
DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor; 5 Best Air Compressors

DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor; 5 Best Air Compressors
Image from Amazon

Whether you’re a professional contractor or a regular DIYer, this DeWalt compressor has a lot to offer. First and foremost, it’s one of the most powerful compact units on the market, with a 6-gallon tank and an engine that delivers 2.6 CFM at 90 PSI and a maximum PSI of 165.

Thanks to the oil-free pump and strong design, you won’t have to worry too much about maintenance. In terms of transporting, its 10-inch foam tires make it easy to wheel the air compressor anywhere you need it.

Also, its vertical stand and its folding handle make this machine convenient to store. As a result, you will not need to set aside a permanent space to store this air compressor.

It fits under tables and in closets with ease.

Furthermore, it offers a low amount of noise. Although it’s not as quiet as my top pick, I still liked how quiet it was compared to most air compressors on the market.

Pros

  1. It is light for its size
  2. It is easy to store
  3. This air compressor can easily handle most DIY tasks

Cons

  1. It is expensive

3
CRAFTSMAN Air Compressor; 5 Best Air Compressors

California Air Tools 8010 Steel Tank Air Compressor
Image from Amazon

”CRAFTSMAN Air Compressor” occupies my 3rd position in my best on the 5 best air compressor

The CRAFTSMAN Air Compressor has a capacity of 6 gallons. Since it has a “pancake” shape, it is easy to store and transport.

Its form makes it round and small, which makes it simpler to store beneath tables and such. Also, since it is oil-free, it requires extremely minimal upkeep.

This feature also extends the pump’s lifespan.

Furthermore, this machine is nearly as powerful as many of the most powerful options on the market with thanks to its maximum pressure of 150 PSI. As a result, you can complete most jobs that require an air compressor with this air compressor.

In use, this air compressor can replenish its tank rapidly once it has been empty. This function is typical among higher-end machines

Pros

  1. Its price is quite affordable for its specs and features
  2. This gadget’s pancake design is space efficient than many other designs
  3. It has a large-capacity tank
  4. This air conditioner’s oil-free pump enhances durability and performance

Cons

  1. With a noise level of 78.5 dB, it’s as loud as many heavier-duty models

2
California Air Tools 8010 Steel Tank Air Compressor

California Air Tools 8010 Steel Tank Air Compressor
Image from Amazon

The California Air Tools 8010 Steel Tank Air Compressor is ideal for most applications. It’s quite big, but that only means it’s got a lot of power.

It has enough power to handle most tasks. Its 0.6-HP motor delivers up to 120-PSI of pressure at a rate of 1.2-CFM, making it easy to complete most DIY projects.

Also, this air compressor can go from empty to full in a matter of minutes and is oil-free. This feature reduces the amount of maintenance required compared to other models.

Furthermore, this air compressor is extremely quiet. Therefore, it is ideal if you have neighbors you don’t want to disturb or don’t want a really loud air compressor.

It also has wheels, making it simple to transport from one location to another.

Pros

  1. This air compressor offers an awesome combination of low noise and strong performance
  2. It is light and portable
  3. Its oil-free motor improves durability

Cons

  1. This air compressor is not designed to operate tools with high air-delivery demands

1
Makita MAC320Q Quiet Series; 5 Best Air Compressors

Makita MAC320Q Quiet Series; 5 Best Air Compressors
Image from Amazon

Coming 1st in my pick on the 5 best air compressor is the Makita MAC320Q

This air compressor has some unique attributes, which we will be discussing

Firstly, its quiet series design makes it very perfect for indoor use. Its 60db is great for operation and crew comfort.

Secondly, this compressor runs at a lower RPM (1,750). As a result, it leads to longer motor and pumps life.

Thirdly, its complete roll-cage construction ensures protection to resist different job-site, transporting, and storage environments. It is also has lightweight, which makes it very portable. Lastly, it has an oil-free dual-piston pump that ensures free maintenance operation

Pros

  1. It offers a good air delivery
  2. This air compressor is quiet
  3. It is also power efficient

Cons

  1. Some users tend to complain that its handle is too low

Conclusion; 5 Best Air Compressors

Conclusion; 5 Best Air Compressors

Out of all the compressors I reviewed, I preferred the Makita MAC320Q Quiet Series Air Compressor. This compressor is oil-free, quiet, and isn’t expensive.

Overall, it may not be the most powerful option on the market, but it has plenty of power for most users.

As an alternative, you can go for the California Air Tools 8010 Steel Tank Air Compressor. This air compressor is not too expensive too and it is portable.

Regardless of the option you choose, I hope this article gave you a clearer idea of the compressors available in the market and how you can get the one that suits your needs. If you also like my top choice, click the buy from Amazon button to get it.

I hope you found this PowerVersity pick helpful?

If you found it helpful, kindly share your thoughts with the “Leave a Reply” form found towards the end of this page.

Finally, you may want to read other articles like this. Visit our below pages:

5 Best Quiet Generator

What Is A Circuit Breaker

Victor Akin-Ojo
Victor Akin-Ojo is the founder and the Lead Editor of PowerVersity.com. Before he started PowerVersity.com, Victor worked in the IT industry for close to 15 years. He worked mainly as field Engineer on Installation of VSAT, Wimax Technologies, including but not limited to, Power Maintenance Sector for close to 10 years – Designing an electrical installation for Homes, Private and Government Offices and more.
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