Choosing the best air compressor depends on the nature of the project you are working on. You can use air compressor to power nail guns, drills, spray guns, sanders, or inflate pool toys. Most homeowners settle for the compact, portable and easy to operate air compressor model, and certainly for a good reason. Many average homeowners do not own heavy duty tools that would require high operating power.
- What to look for when buying an air compressor
- PORTER-CABLE PCFP02003 3.5-Gallon 135 PSI Pancake Compressor
- DEWALT DWFP55126- Best 6 gallon air compressor
- NorthStar Portable Gas-Best gas air compressor
- NorthStar Portable Gas-Powered Air Compressor – Honda GX390
- Best 12v air compressor: Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor
- PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor
- Makita MAC700 – Best piston ring air compressor
- Senco PC1010 1-Best small air compressor for home use
- PORTER-CABLE CMB15 150 PSI 1.5 Gallon Oil-Free Fully Shrouded Compressor
- California Air Tools CAT-6310 Ultra Quiet and Oil
- Key Considerations
- Final Thoughts
What to look for when buying an air compressor
However, different air compressors come with different specifications, hence their strengths and weaknesses differ from each other. As such, other than looking at performance alone you need to consider other important factors, such as reliability, build quality, costs, life span, and design among others.
A typical air compressor should have basic features such as shrouding for protecting the internal delicate parts of an air compressor, ball valve drain for getting rid of excess water that can collect inside, a cord wrap, multiple outlets, and a thermal overload switch to prevent overheating.
An air compressor can either be operated with an electric power or fuel. Both fuel and electric operated air compressors have their own pros and cons and you need to make an informed choice before settling for your preferred choice.
You can choose a unit that produces low, medium, or high pressure output based on the task you want to perform. A low pressure output air compressor discharges pressure that ranges between 125 to 150 psi and is suitable for inflating bike tires, balloons, and cleaning electronic equipment.
Medium pressure output air compressor discharges pressure that ranges between 150 to 1000 psi and is suitable for sand blasting, inflating car tires, and spray painting, while a high pressure output air compressor produces pressure above 1000psi and is used for industrial purposes.
When it comes choosing an air compressor, be sure not to base your choice entirely on the price that won’t burn a hole in your pocket but on its other features as well. For example, air compressors that are loud won’t be appropriate in a residential area compared to the seamlessly quiet models available today.
As there are many factors to put into consideration before getting an air compressor, we put together this list, to help you make up your mind and get the best compressor to answer your needs.
PORTER-CABLE PCFP02003 3.5-Gallon 135 PSI Pancake Compressor
PORTER-CABLE PCFP02003 3.5-Gallon 135 PSI Pancake Compressor is one of the best air compressors that won’t cost you too much, while still delivering great work. And the best part? It is the lightest air compressor, weighing only 26 pounds. It’s one of the most portable air compressors you can find on the market today. Equally, its size and shape does not disappoint as it’s small, making it easy to store or carry it around.
DEWALT DWFP55126- Best 6 gallon air compressor
This is yet another outstanding air compressor from DeWalt that has some great features. DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor comes with a pocket friendly price. It is also relatively light weight with 30 pounds, and even though it is small in size it has a reputation of a unit that jets an impressive punch.
NorthStar Portable Gas-Best gas air compressor
The NorthStar 20-gallon horizontal gas-powered portable air compressor is an impressive heavy duty compressor built with durability in mind. It has a single-stage pump made from full cast iron that is belt-driven. It has outstanding features that include a V-type cylinder specifically designed to provide superior cooling, floating steel valves to enhance its durability, as well as low vibration technology for exceptionally smooth and seamless operation.
NorthStar Portable Gas-Powered Air Compressor – Honda GX390
This air compressor unit is belt-driven and has a two stage pump made from cast iron. Whenever you need to preform a considerable job, this would be a highly recommended heavy duty air compressor. The unit has a 30 gallon air compressor that is positioned on a horizontal level to enhance its capacity.
Best 12v air compressor: Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor
If you find it cumbersome to use the pay-per-use pressure pump at your local gas station, you may consider getting your own air pump. Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor might be a good option for you, as it provides an excellent balance between cost, power output, as well as size. Not only does it fit in the trunk of your car, but it also connects to your car battery through the lighter socket, for easy use.
PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor
This user friendly air compressor is a mid-price transportable unit that has a 150 max PSI. you can rest assure that this machine, complemented with a 13-Piece accessory kit will provide a long run time.
Makita MAC700 – Best piston ring air compressor
This 2.6 gallon tank air compressor unit can excellently provide required air pressure without the fear of it breaking down. It has a toughened big bore cylinder with equally big and highly effective piston for outstanding performance. Makita MAC700 Big Bore 2.0 HP Air Compressor’s pump of 1729 RPM provides unmatched preformance even when the unit is running on lower RPM.
Senco PC1010 1-Best small air compressor for home use
This unit is ultra-light, comes with a really low price tag and is built to handle small tasks. One outstanding feature of Senco PC1010 1-Horsepower Peak is that it is extremely quiet with a stunning 73 dBA. The unit is designed to run at an appropriate horsepower in order to accomplish tasks effectively. Its upper limit though is 1 horsepower.
PORTER-CABLE CMB15 150 PSI 1.5 Gallon Oil-Free Fully Shrouded Compressor
This product has a fully shrouded 1.5 gallon tank that can be moved around easily at your work station. It has an excellent compressor recovery time as it runs a 2.0 SCFM that operates at 90 psi. You will not struggle with drainage, as it comes with rubber feet and an efficient water drainage valve. The best part about this product is that it is pocket friendly as it is rated as one of the lower cost compressor units.
California Air Tools CAT-6310 Ultra Quiet and Oil
This compressor has an ultra-quiet working unit that can be transported easily around your work station as it only weighs 49 pounds. This model is highly recommended for home use as you can hardly notice the 60 decibels air compressor unit. The oil free pump is effectively driven by the 1 horsepower running and 2 horsepower peak 110V motor. The 6.3 gallon tank, which is horizontally positioned with wheels helps sustain an internal air pressure that can last for a considerably longer runtime.
After reviewing some of the best air compressors out on the market nowadays, there are some general rules of thumb that you should keep in mind when considering which product to buy.
PSI- A compressor with a higher Pounds per Square Inch (PSI) would be ideal as it takes less time to refill the tank. When a compressor with a bigger tank to refill has a low PSI it causes unnecessary stoppages, and can result in longer work times.
As a result, professionals who operate big industrial machines and need the compressors for heavy duty jobs, always opt for higher PSI, so as to be able to work continuously.
Tank size- It’s quite obvious that a smaller tank has a smaller tool runtime, while a larger one has a longer tool runtime. Therefore, air compressor units with small tanks would be better suited for home jobs, while larger ones are suitable for re-modelling projects, or other more heavy duty work. Just make sure that the tank capacity that you settle for will suit your needs, so that you can work continuously.
Decibels- A unit with a lower decibel level (preferably the ultra-silent models) are suitable especially for working within a home set up. Pay attention to how a unit is built. Poorly build units produces a lot of noise despite their size. Small but poorly built units can be a lot louder than larger, higher quality units. Always opt for the quieter models.
Weight- The lighter a compressor is the better it is to carry around. Units that have sufficient power output for your needs and are light and portable are highly recommended. When looking for a portable unit, opt for the one that have wheels.
Accessories- A machine that comes with many accessories does not necessarily imply that it is better than its competing products, which come with fewer accessories.
What you should look out for is the quality of the accessories as well as the accompanying price tag. Remember that poorly built accessories can cause leakage and make the job much harder than it really is.
As always, there is no one BEST product. What will determine the quality of any tool you use, is that it suits your needs, and gets the job done with the least possible hassle. So shop wisely, check the products technical specifications carefully and you will surely find a unit that is good for you.