Best Air Compressors Reviewed – 2017 Buying Guide
Air compressors are crucial when it comes to just about everything you could imagine in a mechanic’s shop, or a hobbyist’s workshop. Whether you’re running an engine, cleaning various shop surfaces, inflating tires, or powering pneumatic tools, a great compressor is an extremely versatile tool, and a must have for any workshop, construction site, or industrial application.
However, they are not all built alike.
Some of these differences include
- Air power
- Power sources
- And many other factors
These will influence your decision making when it comes to finding the best air compressor for your needs.
Compressors can also be quite expensive – so you don’t want to be stuck with a huge, wasteful piece of equipment that you don’t need when a much smaller one would have done the job for you.
There’s a lot to learn about air pressure capacity, specifics about size, methods of power delivery, portability when it comes to the world of portable compressors – so you’d be a fool to not do some basic research about your needs.
Well, you’re no fool! That’s why you’re here! So to help you understand the world of air compressors and pick the product that’s best for your specific needs, we’ve taken a deep dive into the world of air compressors and looked at hundreds of different products from different manufacturers.
So whether you’re looking for a new tool to use when cleaning up your carpentry area, a pneumatic power supply for a nail gun, or even a compressor to use for airbrushing, we can help you find the perfect product for your particular needs.
During our research, we compiled a list of air compressor reviews that’s sure to help guide you through the process of selecting the perfect air compressor for your needs.
So read on. We’ll take a look at some quick picks for the best options, take a deep look into 8 different portable compressors and review them, and finish off with some helpful information about the functionality and differences.
- 0.1 Top Rated Portable Compressors - Quick Picks
- 1 Best Air Compressors Reviewed
- 1.1 Best Cheap Air Compressor – PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK Oil-Free
- 1.2 Best Air Compressor for Home Use – California Air Tools 5510SE Ultra Quiet
- 1.3 Best Small Air Compressor – Senco PC1010 1-Horsepower Peak 12V
- 1.4 Great Air Compressor for the Garage – Makita MAC700 Big Bore 2.0 HP
- 1.5 Best Portable Air Compressor – Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP
- 1.6 Great Large Capacity Air Compressor - California Air Tools 10020C, Ultra Quiet, Oil-Free
- 1.7 Best Portable Air Compressor For Car – Q Industries MV50 SuperFlow High-Volume 12-Volt
- 1.8 Best Air Compressor For the Money – DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor
- 1.9 What To Know About Buying Air Compressors
- 1.9.1 What Does An Air Compressor Actually Do?
- 1.9.2 Why Do Power Tools Use Air Compressors?
- 1.9.3 How Much Power Do I Really Need?
- 1.9.4 Oiled Vs. Oil-Free
- 1.9.5 Size Of Air Tank
- 1.9.6 Gas Vs. Electric
- 1.9.7 Portable Or Stationary
- 1.10 The Different Types - A Pros and Cons List
- 1.11 Conclusion – The Best Portable Air Compressor for your Home
Top Rated Portable Compressors - Quick Picks
If you don’t want to dig through our comprehensive air compressor reviews, but you’re still looking to find the air compressor that’s perfect for you, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s a quick summary about our top 3 air compressors.
DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor
If you need an all-around, workhorse unit that’s as comfortable clearing dirt, inflating tires, and removing debris as it is powering high-pressure pneumatic power tools, the Dewalt DWFP55126 pancake compressor is what you want. Plenty of airflow, lots of storage, and a surprisingly quiet operating volume make it a wonderful jack-of-all-trades unit, perfect for just about anyone.
Senco PC1010 1-Horsepower Peak
This compressor by Senco is built for portability and all-around utility. It’s quite, small, and lightweight, allowing it to be used many applications where a traditional, large, and loud air compressor would be inappropriate.
California Air Tools 10020C, Ultra Quiet, Oil-Free
If you need a Cadillac of air compressors, this is what you should buy. This gigantic capacity air compressor provides 10 gallons of storage, an incredible airflow rate, and plenty of pressure – for the most high-intensity air compressor uses, you won’t beat this product.
Best Air Compressors Reviewed
Best Cheap Air Compressor – PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK Oil-Free
Porter Cable is a very popular manufacturer of power tools and industrial equipment, and with products like the C2002-WK Oil-Free air compressor, it’s certainly not hard to understand why.
A 6 Gallon Compressor with 150 PSI
This air compressor is fully electric, and though it’s powerful at up to 150 PSI of pressure, it can run easily off of standard household circuits – you won’t have to call an electrician just to get this bad boy set up in your workshop. The low amperage, 120V motor works perfectly in all weather conditions, including cold weather, making this a great unit to use if your garage or workshop isn’t insulated very well.
The compressor itself is built with a 6-gallon tank, giving it plenty of capacity when you need it, and is capable of an air flow rate of 2.6 SCFM (Standard Cubic Feet Per Minute) to keep your airflow going, no matter how much work you need to get done.
It’s constructed “pancake” style – this offers it great stability, especially with the included durable rubber legs. This product also comes with plenty of bonus features and attachments – 13 total, including a long-distance, 25 footer nylon hose, a blow gun and related attachments, a quick coupler, Teflon tape, and plenty of other useful accessories for your portable air compressor.
Don't forget to bleed the tank when you are done!
- Plenty of air storage space
- Easy to run just about anywhere with electrical outlets
- Works in cold weather
- 150 PSI maximum capacity
- Stable and comes with multiple attachments
- Some consumers report quality control issues with accessories
- 2.6 SCFM may not be enough for heavy-duty tasks, like inflating RV tires
Best Air Compressor for Home Use – California Air Tools 5510SE Ultra Quiet
The primary draw of this compressor by California Air Tools is its ultra-quiet operation. This product is built to be incredibly quiet, and comes in at only 60 decibels during operation. For comparison, that’s about the noise level of maintaining a conversation with someone a few feet in front of you at a normal speaking volume – very quiet indeed!
The secret behind the noise level is the 1 horsepower engine operating at a very low 1680 RPM – this allows for less noise, and also decreases wear and tear on the unit, allowing for a longer overall lifespan.
But this portable air compressor isn’t just quiet – it’s efficient, powerful, and beautiful to look at. It’s available both with a stainless steel tank or an aluminum tank, so you can choose whether you’d prefer lighter weight or a less expensive unit.
The oil-free pump reduces operation costs, and the electric power supply pumps this unit up to 120 PSI of maximum pressure, enough for just about every task.
The flow rate of this unit is 3.10 SCFM at 40 PSI, and 2.20 SCFM at 90 PSI, so it can provide plenty of airflow to the 5.5-gallon tank.
If you’re working indoors or at a site where noise levels are a major issue due to neighbors, family, or even OSHA compliance, this portable air compressor is a fantastic choice for your needs.
Video Review and Test
Product Warranty, Owner's Manual and Product Specifications
- Extremely quiet operation
- Available in both steel and aluminum
- 5.5-gallon tank
- 120 PSI maximum pressure
- Wheeled for easy transport
- Airflow may be lacking for heavy-duty tasks
- Steel model is a bit heavy
Best Small Air Compressor – Senco PC1010 1-Horsepower Peak 12V
If you’re working indoors or at a site where noise levels are a major issue due to neighbors, family, or even OSHA compliance, this portable air compressor is a fantastic choice for your needs.
Total portability is the name of the game for this unit by Senco. This pint-sized powerhouse weighs in at less than 20 pounds, and has been designed to be easily carried between construction sites, workshops, and other places where you may need air.
A 12V Portable Unit That Packs a hard punch
This oil-less portable 12v compressor runs at a constant 0.5 HP, and can peak at over 1 HP to deliver maximum performance when you need it, and to keep the 1 gallon tank filled.
The 4 amp, 115V motor provides plenty of power, too – this bad boy can get cranked up to 120 PSI, giving it plenty of pressure when you need it, despite its small and portable design. The pump-up time is also impressive – from 0-120 PSI takes just 128 seconds, so you’ll be ready for the task at hand in a flash.
Customers report exceptional performance when using this device for nail guns and other high-pressure hardware, as well as for airbrushing applications.
The noise level of this unit is also impressive – while it’s not quite as silent as the California Air Tools 5510SE, it comes in at around 69 decibels a few feet away from the motor, which is still underneath OSHA guidelines for long-term hearing loss. If you stick it under your hobby table or workbench, you’ll barely hear it at all.
Naturally, given the small tank capacity, this product is not exactly appropriate for intense, long-term sessions – if you’re trying to frame an entire house, you’ll have to wait for it to cycle on again and restore the 1-gallon tank.
However, if you need a compressor for smaller projects and portability is a factor for you, you shouldn’t miss the Senco PC1010.
Video Review and Test
User Manual, Spec Sheet, Product Warranty, and Parts List
- 20lb, lightweight design
- 120PSI max pressure
- Low noise level
- Quick pump-up time
- 4 amp motor runs on just about any household circuit
- Peak power of 1 hp
- Motor takes a while to restore tank capacity – up to 36 seconds
- 0.5 hp running power may not be enough for larger tasks
- Small, 1-gallon tank capacity won’t cut it for big jobs
Where to buy:
Great Air Compressor for the Garage – Makita MAC700 Big Bore 2.0 HP
Now we’re talkin’. If you need a big ol’ air compressor that can handle just about any task you throw at it, the Makita MAC700 is a great place to start. This cast-iron titan has been built for power and durability, and despite its great performance, it’s very quiet, utilizing a slow-rotating, 1,720 RPM pump to deliver plenty of air – but a minimum of noise.
The engine itself is powered by a 2.0 HP engine and uses a Makita Big Bore cylinder to deliver plenty of air. The 2.6-gallon tank can deliver up to 130 PSI and can deliver 3.8 CFM at 40 PSI, as well as 3.3 CFM at 90 PSI – if you need a portable air compressor that can deliver at high pressure, this product by Makita won’t disappoint.
The 2.6-gallon tank can hold plenty of air, and the high CFM delivery of the Makita Big Bore ensures that you’ll never run out of compressed air when you need it most – even at high pressures.
And despite its high power, the low-amperage engine draws little power, reducing incidences of circuit breaker trips, and voltage drop that can contribute to premature engine failure.
The all cast-iron construction of this unit is something to behold, too – unlike lighter weight aluminum and even some stainless steel, cast-iron is incredibly durable, and this unit can stand up to anything short of a hurricane or an explosion – it’s that tough. The unit also has a handle that doubles as a roll bar, protecting the more delicate equipment of the pump from damage in case it’s knocked over during use.
The tank has an advanced, oil-lubricated cylinder design that helps it perform more efficiently, and has a large, automotive-style filter to help you easily and quickly change the oil when necessary.
Setting up the Mac700 (Video)
- Very durable cast-iron construction
- Powerful, yet quiet motor
- Won’t trip your circuit breakers
- 2.6-gallon capacity
- High CFM allows for constant flow of air
- 130 PSI max is plenty for almost every industrial need
- Cast iron construction tips the scales at nearly 60 lbs – not very portable
- Some may not like the oil-lubricated pump design, which requires more maintenance
- Some users have reported quality control and pressure issues
Best Portable Air Compressor – Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP
They just keep getting bigger! The Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP is the big brother of the Big Bore 2.0 HP seen above and features a bevy of useful features, and a tremendous storage capacity.
The primary draw of this compressor is the dual-tank design – Makita has taken two cast-iron tanks and stacked them on top of each other, providing a tremendous 4.2 gal storage capacity.
This unit has also been upgraded in the horsepower department – a 2.5 horsepower, 4-pole engine delivers great performance, producing over 4.2 CFM at 90 PSI. The low-power draw design of this unit also increases longevity – despite the 2.5 hp design, it runs cooler than most competitors, due to the low-RPM Big Bore compressor.
The engine uses the same low-amperage, low-RPM technology of the MAC700, running at about half the RPM of competitive units. This means that despite the massive capacity and performance of this unit, the noise level comes in at just under 79dB – under OSHA standards, and enough to use without ear protection – though we don’t recommend that!
The Big Bore piston and cylinder deliver great performance as well – the sustained 40PSI 4.8 CFM output is enough for two nailers, and the MAC2400 comes with two air hose attachment locations so that this unit can pull double duty.
And finally, this unit has been crafted out of the same durable cast-iron construction as the MAC700. The double-stacked design is rock-solid, and feels as if it can stand up to just about any abuse. The roll-bar on the top protects more delicate engine components in case of a slip or an accident, allowing this durable, rugged unit to stand up to the rigors of just about any job site – no matter how extreme.
Demonstration and Review Of the Mac2400 (Video)
- 4.2 gallon storage capacity
- Low-RPM design
- Low noise levels
- Very durable
- Big Bore design offers great airflow performance
- Low-amp electric motor won’t trip circuit breakers
- Cast iron isn’t light – this unit tips the scales at nearly 80 pounds
- May be excessive for non-industrial use
- Oil-based design requires regular services
Great Large Capacity Air Compressor - California Air Tools 10020C, Ultra Quiet, Oil-Free
Size doesn’t have to come at the expense of noise – and this product by California Air is proof of that. If what you need is ultimate performance, capacity, and power – without a massive, loud compressor – this portable air compressor is exactly what you’re looking for.
The storage capacity of the tank comes in at an absurd 10 gallons, enough to do just about anything short of inflating a dump truck tire.
The unit is powered by a low-RPM, 2 horsepower engine that only draws 14 amps, despite its powerful design – this means that you won’t need specialized wiring or circuit breakers to run this unit, so it can go just about anywhere with an electrical socket.
The engine, as with most of California Air Tools products, has been designed to be whisper-quiet. Despite producing 6.40 CFM at 40 PSI and over 5.30 CFM at 90 PSI, the decibel level of this product remains at a low 70 dB measured directly at the motor, making it one of the quietest, yet most powerful portable air compressors on our list.
And unlike the Makita compressors above, this unit has been built with an oil-free design that’s meant to minimize maintenance and maximize performance – making it a great choice if you don’t want to bother with maintaining your air compressor regularly, but still need a high-performance, high-capacity product.
The oil-free design also makes this unit easy to operate – unlike oiled designs, it has no difficulties starting in poor, cold weather conditions, or operating on uneven terrain that may cause oil to shift in a compressor that requires it to function.
Despite its massive capacity, this unit is surprisingly easy to move and operate. The wheeled design makes it easy to move around your workshop, or even load into a car or truck – and the rubber stoppers on the legs mean that once you set it down, it’s not going anywhere.
Unboxing and Setup of the 10020C (Video)
- Titanic, 10-gallon storage capacity
- Enormous airflow rate
- Tank fills up in less than 120 seconds
- Short recovery time – 95 PSI to 125 PSI in 25 seconds
- Quiet operation
- Easy to move, despite bulky design
- Steel design is very sturdy
- Control panel is intuitive and easy to read
- 10-gallon capacity is overkill for many home users
- Tank weighs in at 80 lbs – smaller people may have difficulty moving it
- Some users report quality control issues with recent units
Best Portable Air Compressor For Car – Q Industries MV50 SuperFlow High-Volume 12-Volt
When you need the best off road compressor for your tires, look no further
If you’re looking for a portable air compressor that you can keep in your car, look no further than the Q Industries MV50 SuperFlow High-Volume 12-Volt Air Compressor.
The pump itself uses a 1/3 HP, oil-less single-drive cylinder design to provide ample airflow for pumping up tires. The direct-drive motor hooks directly onto a car battery – either the one in your car, or a portable battery kept for just this occasion – and can pump a tire up in less than 2 minutes, making it ideal if you need to keep a pump in your car to inflate your tires.
This pump is especially popular with outdoorsy, off-road enthusiasts – often, you must deflate your tires to make it over rough terrain like sand and loose dirt, but need a way to pump your tires back up once you get to the road.
The ten-foot cord gives you plenty of room to work, and the 3,500 cubic inches of airflow provide all the flow you need to your tires.
This 12v air compressor also comes with several other attachments, so it’s not just useful for tires. Users have reported great success using it to pump up air mattresses, bike tires, and just about anything else that you could want to inflate in a hurry.
It’s important to note that this product is not suitable for applications like air guns and other heavy-duty tools – it has no storage tank, and it does not provide the large amount of pressure needed to power pneumatic devices.
However, if you need a jack-of-all-trades inflator for your car, you won’t do better than this product from Q Industries. Whether you’re a 4x4 enthusiast or worried that you might end up with an under-inflated spare tire, this is a great product for your needs.
Review and Demo of the MV50 (Videos)
Side by Side Comparison of the Superflow MV90 VS Superflow MV50
- Very lightweight
- Easy to use
- Powered from a car battery
- Attachments give it plenty of versatility
- Very noisy – best for outdoor use
- Compressor gauge has been reported as somewhat inaccurate
- No storage tank
Best Air Compressor For the Money – DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor
DeWalt has made a name for themselves in the power-tool industry, and is known for creating high-quality, durable, and reliable products. The DeWalt DFP55126 is a 165 PSI pancake compressor that lives up to the name of DeWalt admirably.
This portable air compressor can pump up to 165 PSI – the highest of any product on our list – and performs admirably in lower-pressure situations as well, pumping out 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI. This allows the 6-gallon tank to remain full almost all of the time – you’ll rarely have to take a break for this compressor to recharge itself.
Despite its high power design, the oil-less engine in this unit doesn’t draw too much power and can be used in any household without special wiring, circuit breakers, or other issues. It draws only 10 amps – some comparable designs require as much as 14 amps for proper operation.
Being oil-less, this air compressor can operate admirably in extremely cold conditions, and in other adverse conditions that may affect the performance of an oiled air compressor.
A pair of high-flow regulators allow this pancake-style compressor to be used with multiple tools at once, eliminating redundancy and increasing efficiency – and given the large storage capacity, you won’t have any trouble using two high-powered nail guns with this compressor.
Despite the power delivered by the .9hp engine, this portable air compressor remains rather quiet – peak decibel ratings hover around 75 dB.
So while you should still wear ear protection around this compressor, you won’t have to scream to be heard by your coworkers – making this a great choice if you need to collaborate with others during your work.
Finally, despite the 6.6-gallon storage capacity, this compressor comes in at a featherweight 30 lbs – easy enough for anyone to move by themselves – and has a robust, built-in carrying handle to aid in moving it around on a work site, or taking it home after a long day.
Short Demo of the DFP55126 (Video)
- Huge 165 PSI maximum capacity
- 6.6-gallon storage tank
- 75 dB operation
- Requires only 10 amps to operate
- Oil-less design
- 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI is plenty for most power tools
- Easy to transport at only 30 lb
- Some consumers have reported air leaks at the hose
- Pressure gauges can be inaccurate
Where to buy:
What To Know About Buying Air Compressors
Don’t know the difference between PSI, SCFM, and R&B?
Confused about what air compressors actually do?
Need to know the difference between storage tanks?
We’ve got you covered. In this section of our reviews, we’ll look at the basics about portable air compressors, and educate you about what you should be looking for in the best portable air compressor.
What Does An Air Compressor Actually Do?
It compresses air. Okay, sorry – we couldn’t resist. But seriously, that’s all an air compressor really does – it forcefully pushes air through a hose, and most air compressors offer a storage tank where pre-compressed air can be stored until you need to use it during the course of normal, everyday operation.
Air compressors can be used for dozens of household tasks. You can use them to blow away dirt or sawdust from a project, to inflate soccer balls, air mattresses, motorcycle, car, and bike tires, and even to use as a power source for airbrushing projects.
In addition, many power tools require the use of air compressors.
Why Do Power Tools Use Air Compressors?
A huge variety of power tools uses compressed air as a power source.
These are known as pneumatic power tools:
- Air Breakers and Drivers
- Auto Body Tools
- Caulking Guns
- Chipping Tools
- Concrete Tools
- Corrugated Fastening Tools
- Cutting Tools
- Grease Guns
- Grinding Tools
- Impact Wrenches
- Impact Drivers
- Riveting Tools
- Spraying Tools
- Staple Guns
- Texture Spray Guns
You may be wondering exactly why some power tools use compressed air to power their various functionalities – wouldn’t it be easier to cut out the middleman and use direct power?
Well, pneumatic power tools have a variety of benefits. First, they’re much cheaper – while a fully electric nail gun will run you near 300 bucks, a comparable pneumatic tool can be purchased for a mere third of that.
In addition, compressed air can deliver much more force than electrical power (they have a higher power to weight ratio), and a pneumatic compressor can generally run for a much longer time than a motor on a power tool, which may overheat and become damaged during a long project.
Pneumatic power tools can also be upgraded by upgrading your power source – if you buy a more powerful compressor, your tools will suddenly become more powerful!
Finally, pneumatic power tools have the advantage of being power-source independent – instead of operating with their own motor; they use the motor on your portable air compressor. This means that if your portable air compressor fails, you can just replace it – instead of buying new tools. That increases the lifespan of your tools, reduces failure rates, and saves you money.
So though it may seem that electric power tools are a good investment, pneumatic power tools can often be a much smarter purchase over the long run – saving you time and money. See this page for a good resource on calculating savings from switching.
How Much Power Do I Really Need?
The main metric for airflow used in air compressors is CFM – cubic feet per minute. This represents the total amount of air that the unit can compress and store in a minute – a higher number means more airflow and a tank that will fill more quickly once used.
Generally, this number decreases the higher air pressure goes, as more power is required to increase pressure and less is available to process air. Typically, CFM ratings are presented at 90 PSI, which is around the area that most pneumatic power tools will be operating in.
The best way to determine how much airflow you need is to look at your tools – you should choose a CFM rating that’s about 40% higher than your most air-hungry tool. For example, if your pneumatic nail gun requires 3.0 CFM of airflow, you should pick a compressor that offers at least 4.6 CFM of airflow – doing so will ensure that you never run out of power.
Generally, 6.0 CFM of airflow at 90 PSI will be more than enough for any home improvement project. When in doubt, you should always buy more CFM capacity than you need – it’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. (Thanks, Kafka!)
PSI can also be confusing to some – where does it fit in? Well, PSI simply indicates the pressure that the air within your compressor can be held at – higher PSI means that a compressor can deliver a higher pressure rating, which can be useful when filling up extremely high-pressure tires, and other niche applications.
Most heavy-duty, industrial air compressors can go to 150 PSI or higher – but for everyday tasks, 90 PSI is plenty – this can run nailers, drills, and other power tools easily. Average air compressors rate at around 110-120 PSI, so just about every portable air compressor on the market can be used for power tools – just ensure that the CFM is high enough for your needs.
Horsepower is sometimes used as a metric of power in air compressors, but you shouldn’t be misled by a high horsepower rating – these don’t necessarily translate into better performance. Ignore horsepower and focus on CFM and maximum air pressure – those are the important metrics. If you want to figure out the true CFM and horsepower of your compressor, see this guide on the calculations for it.
Oiled Vs. Oil-Free
Oil-free units are extremely convenient for occasional users – since you don’t have to keep up with maintaining oil, you can forget about regular servicing. If you are only an occasional user of air compressors, you should go with an oil-free design.
An additional benefit of oil-free designs is that they work better in adverse weather conditions – an oiled design may have difficulties starting in the cold, or on an inclined slope that affects the flow of oil.
However, oil-free designs do have drawbacks. Though there are exceptions, they’re generally louder and have a lower lifespan.
Oiled designs have a longer lifespan, run more quietly, and are generally more dependable, but they’re more finicky about the surfaces they can be used on, and require frequent maintenance and oil changes.
If you are choosing a portable air compressor to be used as part of your livelihood or business, you should choose an oiled model. An oiled compressor will last longer, and since you’re using it regularly, maintenance will be a snap.
However, if you only plan on occasionally using your compressor, you should buy an oil-free model. You’ll never have to worry about maintenance, and your compressor will work in all conditions.
What type of Oil Should be used?
DO NOT USE A DETERGENT OIL
Most compressor manufacturers will have a recommended oil to use.
See this video for more info choosing the right oil lubricant
Size Of Air Tank
The size of your tank can be important, especially if you’re running multiple tools from one compressor unit. Larger is usually better – but a large tank is no substitute for a high CFM rating.
Think of the tank like a glass of water, and as your CFM rate as the flow of water out of a tap. What good is a huge glass of water if your water flows out at a trickle? You’d be much better served with a smaller glass and a more freely-flowing tap.
The same principle applies to air compressors. If you find a unit with a high storage capacity but a low CFM rate, it will have trouble staying full, and maintaining pressure. So you may want to consider a unit with a slightly lower tank capacity and a higher CFM rate.
Gas Vs. Electric
Electric units are almost always better – they’re more efficient, quieter, and require less overall energy. Almost all portable air compressors can be powered by consumer electrical grids and wiring, as they draw low-amperage current.
The only time you should consider a gas-powered compressor is if you’re taking it somewhere without electricity – for all other projects, electric units are superior.
Portable Or Stationary
Unless you’re running a huge industrial workshop, a portable compressor will be better for your needs. “Portable” may not be the best description – even lightweight compressors are 40-70 lb – but the wheeled designs and easily grabbable handles of these products aids in transportation.
The Different Types - A Pros and Cons List
Rotary Screw Compressor
Click for more info
Rotary screw compressors use two helical metal screws placed inside a chamber, turning in sync to reduce air volume and produce air pressure.
- Few moving parts
- Simple installation
- Inexpensive to purchase and maintain
- Not very efficient
- Lifespan tends to be short
- Difficult to operate in dirty or otherwise extreme environments
Click for more info
These are the most common types of portable air compressors – they are driven by a piston, and basically work like internal combustion engines.
- Extremely simple design
- Easy operation
- Does not require oiling or lubrication
- Maintenance can be expensive
- Moving parts can be vulnerable and can be damaged
Click for more info
Centrifugal air compressors are uncommon for consumer use, as they use very high-speed impellers to create air pressure, similar to a jet engine.
- Incredibly powerful and can create extremely high air pressure
- Very fuel-efficient
- Absurdly expensive
- Generally non-portable, with some exceptions
- Difficult to operate and maintain
Rotary Sliding Vane Air Compressor
Click for more info
Rotary sliding vane air compressors use a combination of rotors, stators, and several blades to drive air through a small “vane” and increase the pressure on the air, thus compressing it.
- Lower rotational speed required for high pressure
- Work well in extreme, dirty environments
- Long lifespan
- Cannot operate without lubrication and maintenance
- Efficiency depends on the particulars of the design.
- Difficult to operate and maintain
Conclusion – The Best Portable Air Compressor for your Home
Air compressors can be difficult to choose – but hopefully, after reading through our reviews and our buying information, you have a good idea of what’s best for your needs.
In our opinion, the best all-around air compressor for everyday use is the DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor. This air compressor offers tremendous storage capacity, high PSI performance, and a good CFM rate adequate for most consumer power tools.
If, however, you are looking for a more robust, high-capacity solution that has a huge CFM rate and can power even heavy-duty, professional power tools, you should turn to the California Air Tools 10020C, Ultra Quiet, Oil-Free air compressor. This oil-less air compressor runs smoothly, quietly, and with a tremendous air flow rate that can power any tool. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth every penny.
Finally, if you need an extremely portable compressor, you should choose the California Air Tools 5510SE, Ultra Quiet, Oil-Free. Despite the small, 0.5hp engine and the low 1 gallon storage capacity, this unit delivers a powerful flow rate and a very quiet design that’s perfect for hobbyists who need a small, quiet, and portable air compressor.
Whatever your particular needs and budget, we’re sure there’s an air compressor on this list that’s right for you. So check out our air compressor reviews, take a look at our favorite products, and read over our basic information about buying air compressors.
You’ll be armed with every tool you need to pick the perfect tool for your needs – whether you’re a general contractor, a hobbyist, or just looking to pump up your truck tires without hauling yourself to the nearest gas station.
So until next time, happy learning – and happy shopping.
Last update on 2017-11-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Categorised in: Power Tools