If you are searching for air compressor reviews you have come to the right place as we have a list of all the best air compressors to help you find the right fit for you. Choosing a good air compressor is going to come down to what project you’re working on, and if the unit needs to be portable. If a portable unit can handle the job just fine, then you’ll notice more of a preference to that model rather than a bigger, bulky, and hard to handle model. Most of the units on our list of comparison list are small enough to be stored under a workbench, but powerful enough to be used on a multitude of projects. All of the units are also electric powered, so there are limitations to all, but a fair trade off in the long run. If looking for an all in one solution, the PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor with 13-Piece Accessory Kit seems to be a sound investment, and has just about every connection needed to get you started.
There is a science to picking the correct air compressor that is a good fit for your task, and hopefully this guide will push you in the right direction. As usual there is no wrong choice, but be sure to choose one based on not only your price range, but features. A loud air compressor won’t fare well in a home environment, compared to the ultra quiet ones available today, where the tenants are still present, as a smaller weaker air compressor won’t be suited for a large contract job. The strengths and weaknesses are many for all on the list, but there are so many great air compressors on the market that it becomes that much harder to choose a bad one. If well taken care of though, any of the air compressors on the list will last a very long time. Take your time with this list, and you will not be disappointed.
- 1 Top 10 Air Compressors
- 2 1. California Air Tools CAT- 6310
- 3 2. Dewalt DWFP55130 Heavy Duty 200 PSI
- 4 3. Dewalt DWFP55126 6 Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor
- 5 4. Porter Cable PCFP02003 3.5 Gallon 135 PSI Pancake Compressor
- 6 5. Porter Cable CMB15 150 PSI 1.5 Gallon Oil Free Fully Shrouded Compressor
- 7 6. Senco PC1010 1 Horsepower Peak ½
- 8 7. Makita MAC700 Big Bore 2.0 HP All In Compressor
- 9 8. Bostitch BTFP72646 3 Tool Compressor Combo Kit
- 10 9. California Air Tools CAT – 10020 Ultra Quiet and Oil
- 11 10. Porter Cable C2002 WK Oil Free UMC Pancake Compressor with 13 Piece Accessory Kit
- 12 Buying Air Compressors – A Guide
- 13 PSI
- 14 Tank Size
- 15 dBA
- 16 Weight
- 17 Accessories
- 18 What to Look For In Home Based Air Compressors?
- 19 What to Look For In Work Based Air Compressors?
- 20 What to Look For In Portable Air Compressors?
- 21 Summary
Top 10 Air Compressors
- California Air Tools
- Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 13.3 x 24 inches
- Power Source: electric-powered
- Batteries Required? No
- Warranty: Limited Warranty 1 Year
- DEWALT DWFP55130
- Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 17.4 x 13.8 inches
- Power Source: corded-electric
- Batteries Required? No
- Warranty: 1 year limited manufacturers warranty
- DEWALT DWFP55126
- Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 16.6 x 20.1 inches
- Power Source: corded-electric
- Batteries Required? No
- Warranty: Not Specified
- PORTER-CABLE PCFP02003
- Product Dimensions: 18.1 x 17.2 x 18.5 inches
- Power Source: electric-powered
- Batteries Required? No
- Warranty: 1yr limited warranty on compressor components
1. California Air Tools CAT- 6310
Starting at around the mid to high price range, this is a good quiet air compressor for anyone looking for a long-term solution for the home. This model is a very quiet 60 decibels and only weighs 49 pounds, in a very easy to transport package. The oil free design is made to cost the consumer less in the long run, and is innovative enough to where it is catching on in the industry. The motor is pretty solid and rated at 1 HP running with a 2 HP peak in its 6.3 gallon steel horizontal tank. There is a lot of room and HP all wrapped into its wheeled frame, and all at a comfortable price. If used as a portable air compressor there is a good chance it will impress other buyers that are in the market for one. As a 110 volt electric powered model it’s not too underpowered and has a lot of great features. The limited 1 year warranty does a decent job of protecting the consumer from bad parts or failing parts from overuse.
Works well when applied to smaller products like air dusters, nail guns, and light spraying appliances. For something of the heavier variety, there is definitely going to be some struggle. But as a portable electronic unit the California Air Tools does an impeccable job of being one of the quietest on the list and still getting some pretty good work done under the current amps. On the bad end is a surprisingly bad smell when in use, which one wouldn’t expect from an electric unit. The aroma is pretty heavy, and although there is no cause for concern, if it’s used indoors it can be a pain if nearby. Refill time is also a bit high, but then again it is not the most powerful unit on the list and made for portability. This is still a handle little portable air compressor to have, and hopefully more will be made in the same line.
2. Dewalt DWFP55130 Heavy Duty 200 PSI
At around the middle of the price rack is this air compressor from the famed and trusted DeWalt brand. This is an oil free design with a motor that draws on 12 amps and has a very lax free startup to reduce tripping the breaker. It’s pretty quiet at only 71.5 decibels and is optimized for maintenance free operation. The 90 PSI pump delivers 3.0 SCFM with a 2.5 gallon tank with a maximum of 200 PSI. All of these features are combined into a small 36 pound compressor that can be carried by hand, and is thin enough at 12.5 inches to store in many small places. The design is the standard DeWalt colors of yellow and black, so for a fan of the brand this would go well perfectly with their other DeWalt tools and accessories. Even at the current compact size the recovery time is impressive, and they even included a ball drain valve for quick draining.
As expected with a unit of this size, it is a bit underpowered and can’t be expected to even run at recommended specs consistently. With the reduction in power, users can expect certain applications to be more problematic, if not completely disastrous if it is used for a bigger job. This is a compact, efficient when not overused air compressor made for small to middling jobs. There have also been complaints of overheating with the unit, although a slight cool down period fixes the issue. One of the rare missteps for the company is not included a hose with the unit, which first time buyers may find frustrating. This is still an awesome unit to have, especially due to its portability.
3. Dewalt DWFP55126 6 Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor
DeWalt makes another impressive showing on the list with the DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor, a low priced 30 pound unit with a couple of interesting features. As the third electric compressor on the list, it is listed as another compact unit but packs quite the punch despite its size. It has the ability to start up easy in cold weather or use an extension cord application if needed. dBA tops out at 75.5, but given its size there are a lot of performance gains in this model. This is a very easy to maintain unit that offers just about twice the power of many units the same size. With the inclusion of two universal couplers, multiple users can work with the unit at the same time. In the event where the unit needs to be repaired, the console cover is easily removable.
There may be some confusion with how to break in the unit, as this newer model doesn’t require the similar break in ritual that the same older models do. This really is a slight oversight and nothing major, as using the same older break in ritual will not damage the unit and actually help it. This air compressor fills up very quickly and is easy to drain. It’s considered portable and is, but is slightly more bulky than what would be considered a portable model. Drainage is not a pain like in others, and is one of the better aspects of the device. Considering the PSI of the unit, it will fare well in a variety of applications without being a big burden on the user. DeWalt has proven their ability to stand by the quality of this device, and in the event something goes wrong it will be one of the easier exchanges a buyer has with a big company.
4. Porter Cable PCFP02003 3.5 Gallon 135 PSI Pancake Compressor
As one of the lowest priced air compressors on the list, the PORTER-CABLE PCFP02003 3.5-Gallon 135 PSI Pancake Compressor is also one of the lightest, weighing only 26 pounds. The size and shape conforms very well and makes it easy to both carry and store. Even though it is only 135 PSI, the quick recovery time more than makes up for that. With a humming low amp 120v motor it’s quite an impressive little machine that requires low maintenance and puts out good power. Like all the other air compressors listed, it is an oil-free pump that will guarantee a longer life and less troubles. Even in cold weather the startup won’t be a problem in the worst of conditions. The two gauges and quick-connect coupler are some of the more premium features of this small but capable unit.
It’s also one of the nosiest on the list, with an 82 dBA level that is far from quiet. There are no accessories included with the unit, so for first time air compressor buyers there will be some extra costs. The lower cost is based on the parts of the unit, being that they are not of very high quality and are prone to breakage sooner, particularly the plastic in the manifold that helps to hold the pressure. Unfortunately the warranty is not iron clad, and there will be some back and forth when trying to take advantage of it. That part especially, if it breaks, can’t be replaced. There are some DIY fixes online for users savvy enough to follow that should circumvent this problem, and is highly recommended that all buyers check out this information before purchase. This is still a great product for anyone looking for an air compressor, especially if well taken care of.
- PORTER-CABLE CMB15
- Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 13.2 x 20.5 inches
- Power Source: gas-powered
- Batteries Required? No
- Warranty: 1 Year Warranty
- Senco PC1010
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 13 x 10 inches
- Power Source: electric-powered
- Batteries Required? Not specified
- Warranty: 1 year
- Makita MAC700
- Product Dimensions: 18 x 22 x 10 inches
- Power Source: electric-powered
- Batteries Required? Not specified
- Warranty: 1 Year Parts & Labor
5. Porter Cable CMB15 150 PSI 1.5 Gallon Oil Free Fully Shrouded Compressor
This second offering from Porter-Cable is another low priced and compact model, that’s a bit more powerful than their first. Recovery time is kept to a minimum with a rated 2.0 SCFM at 90 PSI, with longer runtimes guaranteed with the max 150 PSI. The large 1.5 gallon tank only weighs the unit down a good 20 pounds, making this one of the lightest on the list. The water drain valve is easy to access, with nice additions like the rubber feet helping with the overall appearance. The unit has a similar 120v motor like the previously mentioned air compressor, and it works just as good in cold weather conditions. The noise level at 79 dBA is tolerable, but could be a bit distracting depending on the environment.
Thankfully for buyers new to air compressors, the included accessory list includes a 25 ft. coil hose and 8 piece accessory kit. This will definitely save on some cost and user frustration. A pretty good one year warranty will cover compressor components, and even though the parts are not of the highest quality, this is still a pretty well-built unit. The accessories however, suffer from being low grade. In the near future a purchase of higher quality accessories may be necessary to maintain full functionality. And as silly as it sounds, the cord wrap is very intuitive and actually works like it is supposed to. A minor feature that usually works against some of the air compressors on this air compressor reviews list, is actually done very well in this case. This is surprisingly one of the better compressors on the list, even if it is lacking on some functions of the higher priced ones.
6. Senco PC1010 1 Horsepower Peak ½
With all of the low priced portable compressors on the list, this 20 pound Senco doesn’t oversell itself as being anything than it really is. Meant for small jobs and hobbies, it’s not only portable but extremely quiet at 73 dBA. It’s 1 full horsepower at its peak and while running ½ horsepower to get the job done. The oil-less motor with the electric design promises 125 PSI max pressure, with the ability to go from 0-120 in only 128 seconds. That’s one of the faster performing on the list, all capable through the 4 amps running at 115 volts. The accessories included are a ¼ quick disconnect coupler, with other features being individual gauges for the tank and regulated output pressure. A 1 year warranty should give most buyers a warm feeling of assurance, as it seems well backed.
Once again, this is a lot quieter than the other air compressors on the list, especially the pancake models. This could possibly be due to it having a lower air volume, as it can’t keep up with anything too demanding. The lack of power in this model keeps it from being a go to compressor for most people, even with a fast fill up time. There will be a lot of times where the lack of power outweighs the fact that it is an ultra-portable unit. As a secondary compressor for certain jobs this Senco does wonders, and there are few complaints about its durability or problems with hoses. Long term use may degrade the foam around the handle that is used to carry it, but due to the weight it really isn’t a major issue. The craftsmanship on this unit is impeccable, and it will do the job if used correctly.
7. Makita MAC700 Big Bore 2.0 HP All In Compressor
This powerful mid-priced air compressor has a cast iron pump with big bore cylinder and pistons, a combination that when in motion gives great performance gains over longer periods of time. Despite that it more than doubles the power of the Senco, the large 1,720 RPM pump is still just as quiet and enables max performance even at lower RPM. Premature motor failure won’t be big concern due to the low amp draw reducing tripped breakers and voltage drops. The one year included warranty will most likely not be taken advantage of, as the design of the unit is made with a cooler running pump that takes care of the unit over the years. The 2.6 gallon tank is labeled for 130 PSI with a pretty hefty unit weight of 52 pounds. The standard ¼ inch universal quick coupler is included, and easy to use.
The manual that comes included with the unit is not for beginners, and is missing a lot of important steps. First time air compressor owners will have trouble setting up the unit for the first time, and in frustration may miss some very vital steps in getting it to perform correctly. This is listed as compact, but it actually is more in the mid-range at over 50 pounds. Refill time is extremely quick at about 20 seconds, so it does have its strengths still. The power is really unbelievable in the size that it comes in, still, and there are only a few on the list that are this efficient. That said, it still isn’t powerful enough to handle certain tasks. It will keep up for the most part, but it still very much is a compact air compressor with the makeup of a larger air compressor. A very worthy buy for certain jobs, and it should last a very long time.
- BOSTITCH BTFP72646
- Product Dimensions: 22 x 16 x 23 inches
- Power Source: electric-powered
- Batteries Required? No
- Warranty: 1 year limited warranty
- California Air Tools
- Product Dimensions: 17 x 16 x 33 inches
- Power Source: electric-powered
- Batteries Required? No
- Warranty: Limited Warranty 1 Year
- PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK
- Product Dimensions: 18.3 x 18 x 19 inches
- Power Source: electric-powered
- Batteries Required? No
- Warranty: 1 Year Limited Warranty on Compressor Components
8. Bostitch BTFP72646 3 Tool Compressor Combo Kit
This is one of the top 3 on the list, with a 6 gallon tank with easy drainage due to a ball type drain valve. It is high priced, but well worth it, and it comes with a straight nailer, brad nailer, and crown stapler all in one package. A maintenance free oil-free pump is used very well for efficiency reasons with this model, and the unit allows quick reloading with a bottom loading feature and an indicator to let users know when it needs to be reloaded. This heavy duty compressor has a dBA rating of 80, but is so well built that it isn’t that much louder than some of the compacts on the list. The durability is tested and ready, featuring an impact-resistant composite shroud to protect from the worst of damage.
The included tools are not limited to using Bostitch brand nails or staplers, which is a big plus for anyone with a supply of their own from a different brand. For buyers who already have these tools, this unit is overpriced as it isn’t any more power than some of the other air compressors on the list, and lacks some of the more advanced functions. The way this is packaged is definitely meant for a beginner, and doesn’t really offer any benefit to other buyers other than uniformity. And as great as the air compressor unit is, the included tools don’t share the same quality. There will be power and durability issues associated with the tools, and in some cases it may be hit or miss. For the rare all in one unit, this is still a killer product for the beginner that wants to get started. There aren’t many air compressor units on the market that come in a set like this one.
9. California Air Tools CAT – 10020 Ultra Quiet and Oil
At a huge 10 gallons with a strong 2 HP motor, this is one of the highest priced compressors on the list and also sturdy and on wheels. It amazingly remains as one of the more quiet models, even though it is nowhere near as portable it maintains 70 dBA. The easy start valve gives the unit a no load start with a low start up amp draw. With only 14 amps, it can be up and running in no time, not causing a strain to the electric. The motor smoothly operates quietly at 1680 RPM, making sure the unit lasts for years. Even at empty, the entire 10 gallon tank fills in less than 130 seconds, a feat unmatched on this list at the current size. Two ¼ quick release connectors allow simultaneous use of tools, and the unit is power enough to use larger air tools, unlike some of the smaller units on the list.
For such a big beast, the warranty is a 1 year limited that will not cover more of the important parts. This can be a bit frustrating, as this unit is made for heavy duty work and will be used a lot more than smaller compact compressors. The unit is huge at 91 pounds, and very bulky. There may be some storage issues or even transport issues, even with the wheels. It is about 31 inches tall, so depending on where users want to store it the height can definitely be a problem. The wheels can possibly be a problem depending on use, and frequent tightening and loosening will be needed in order to reach job satisfaction. Whether this will be a quality buy depends solely on if power is more required than portability.
10. Porter Cable C2002 WK Oil Free UMC Pancake Compressor with 13 Piece Accessory Kit
As the last pancake air compressor on the list, this is a mid-priced unit with a 150 max PSI for longer running times. This user friendly model has an air coupler and plug that’s factory installed on the air hose, allowing for ease of use for any level of buyer. A water drain valve is included on the 6 gallon tank, and it operates with a low 120 volt motor that works smoothly even in adverse conditions.
Great care went into crafting the oil-free pump, creating a unit that will last for years. Vital components are protected through the current design, and will prove useful in hard working conditions. Although the induction motor gives good power and extended life, it is still compact enough to run off of normal household outlets. The replaceable brushes in the motor are an overlooked feature that extends life of the unit longer, and is a great feature for those looking for a one and done solution.
Of the 13 accessories include, there is a 25 ft. nylon hose, a blow gun and configurable attachments, tire chuck, tire gauge, quick coupler, plugs and Teflon tape. It is a very good kit that is in no way gimmicky, with quality parts and accessories. The main unit is only 34 pounds, and is easy to carry and store in the garage or any small space. There are several reports about breaking in the device before use, as mileage may vary. Actual instructions on this aren’t in the manual, and as such it is up to the buyer to decide if they want to break in the unit. This is a powerful and fantastic compact air compressor that is ideal for anyone looking for a long lasting solution.
Buying Air Compressors – A Guide
PSI, or Pounds per square inch is one of the most important factors to consider when purchasing an air compressor. The higher the PSI, the less time you have to wait for the tank to refill. Higher PSI air compressors also handle bigger jobs better and faster. A good example would be using an air compressor to fill up the tires on a trailer. An air compressor that meets or exceeds the total PSI for all four tires would be more desirable than one that needed to refill, especially if away from an outlet. But PSI isn’t the end all be all when it comes to air compressors. This is because of the later mentioned tank size.
A small tank size and a high PSI won’t really matter much if the recharge time is quick but the tank it is filling up is so small that it runs out only to recharge fast again. It is a waste of energy, and puts unnecessary wear and tear on the actual unit. The emphasis on PSI becomes bigger when it is used professionally or for big jobs. This is due to the amount of people that may be using it. For smaller units that are not multi-user capable, a low PSI is a passable option. But for bigger units that are multiuser compatible, a lot PSI can lead to more work stoppages than required.
That’s why professionals opt to use units with high PSI and large tanks as opposed to smaller and easier to carry units. And people that higher contractors should also be wary of companies that use low PSI units, which will automatically lead to longer project times and more money out of your pocket. A low PSI unit with a small tank can be considered an under performer for the larger jobs, and should automatically disqualify whatever contractor you had in mind. A high PSI unit is good for both the contractor and the client to ensure the job gets done fast, efficient and on time. There should be no delays with the machine recharging an unnecessary amount of times just to jack the bill up high. In the professional world, when it comes to PSI they either come big or go home.
Smaller units with a respectably high PSI tend to work better when they’re compact and able to be carried. These are home and away units, great for small jobs. So even though the tank is smaller, their high PSI will allow you to wait less time while it recharges. These portable units excel when using them with power tools that drain a lot of energy. It’s inconvenient to break out the bigger air compressor, so these small units with high PSI pack just enough punch to get smaller jobs done without lugging around a hundred pound unit.
Some of the improvements made to modern units even extend what is considered normal PSI, or rather relegates the power more efficiently. And if you look hard enough for the right unit, there are smaller units that have the capability to handle medium sized jobs with no problem. It is all about finding the complete package when looking at high PSI units. Buyers will want to do their homework from the ground up when it comes to PSI, since this is a non-upgradeable feature where you either have the power you want or you don’t. And the last thing you want to do is spend your money on a unit that is underpowered for your needs.
Also, since all of the models on this list are electric, the larger the PSI when away from an outlet then the more efficient life will be. There are a lot of smaller air compressors that offer an outstanding PSI with some additional features that make them desirable away from the outlet, so those are the ones to look out for. But even with a lower PSI, there are benefits to the way the unit is built that should make a buyer look closer at the original purchase. So think of a high PSI as a package deal in the list of features that are must haves. Although PSI is extremely important, it is not the only feature that a buyer should be looking at.
This along with PSI decides whether the air compressor is suited for smaller tasks around the house, medium tasks in house and out, or bigger tasks like automotive work and remodeling projects. Tanks are shown in gallons, with obviously the higher being the better one as it holds more compressed air at higher pressures. A high PSI and a large tank is desirable, but as many shift to smaller portable units a balance between the two is still necessary. For larger projects the big tank size will always be a winner, and units with large tanks usually have dual outlets for multiple users at once.
It’s these large tanks with dual outlets that are considered the work horses. Some have even gone above dual outlets and offer multiple outlets to have an entire team working on it at once. But with the big tanks comes an even bigger warning, and it requires users to do their due diligence. There are still some air compressors being sold that have a larger than average tank but low PSI. This is a marketing ploy for those that didn’t do their homework before shopping. This cost cutting move that offers a larger tank at the sacrifice of PSI is paramount to a scam, and will leave you with a severely under performing unit. When an air compressor runs out of juice it has to recharge, so a higher PSI makes this process go by fast. PSI and tank size go together, and you always want the PSI to be high and the tank to be large- and here’s why.
A unit with a high PSI and a small tank will continually be recharging while you’re trying to work. With such a small tank it will fill up pretty fast and be ready to use, but that same small tank will prevent it from doing even the simplest of task without needing to recharge. This can be both frustrating and a waste of time depending on the project. A unit with a low PSI and a large tank will be the worst of them all, as it will give you the longest operating time but also require you to wait a century just for a recharge. So you’ll get halfway done with a project and have to wait for it to fill back up before using it again, with some units actually taking longer than normal if the PSI is so undervalued. There is a reason they both go together, so think of them as a duo that can’t be separated. Always prioritize PSI and tank size when you get a chance so that your money is well spent.
When working on something big, multiple outlets are a great feature, and it usually won’t be found in units with a smaller tank. Some of the bigger tanks also have the option of replacing the brush in the motor, prolonging its usefulness. When deciding on whether to get a big tank or a smaller tank, always remember that you can never go backwards. This is the same mentality you should have when looking at the PSI of a machine, and deciding whether it is a worthy buy or not. No one wants to wait around while they work, and it completely destroys the flow of the job. And when it comes to multiple users, missing out on a game changing feature when you need it can lead to some real buying regrets.
Just make sure that the multiuser tank you buy can handle all of the heavy load you plan to put on it. Everything from top to bottom should be quality, or even the best feature is nothing more than pretty ink on the box. Sticking to a reputable brand will usually keep you away from bad performing tanks, but that doesn’t mean you should stick to only brand named items. There are more than a few gems out there from non-brand names that are worth looking at. The original purchase is going to make a big difference on whether you’re doing small jobs efficiently, or waiting around for the refill while handling bigger jobs.
The loudness of the unit is a big deal to not only hobbyist, but to professional workers as well. dBA represents just how loud the unit is when in operation, and in many cases the bigger units are no more louder than the smaller compact units. Pay close attention to not just the dBA of a unit, but how it is built. Units with low dBA that are poorly built are just as loud as an 80 dBA unit that is built well. In situations where a construction worker is doing a project for a family that is still in the home, a low dBA unit can really go a long way in customer satisfaction.
In fact it is home projects where a quiet unit can really make a difference. Even if the family isn’t in the home while the project is taking place, there is still a lot of factors to consider. Neighbors may not be too happy to live next to a loud project, especially if they have babies. Just the general disturbance of construction work in a neighborhood can invite unwanted attention, so if you layer that on top of having a loud unit, then things can get bad real quick. For construction work in a neighborhood having a quiet unit is not only a good thing, but it is a respectable thing for everyone around the work. Of course there is no such thing as a completely noiseless unit, but having one that is no louder than a lawnmower going for 8 hours a day will endear you to a lot of people.
With a quieter unit, it’s possible to even use it in a room with a person in the next room not even hearing it. A good unit is also so quiet that a buyer can listen to the radio or talk on the phone with minimal interruption. These types of units are good for the home user that wants to work on projects within a home. A unit that is smaller isn’t automatically quiet, but it goes without saying that a lighter, portable and small job compatible unit is going to be a lot quieter than the bigger ones. It’s still a good idea to check the box and make sure, since there are still some smaller units that tend to make a lot of noise regardless of their power consumption. But the unit that is quiet enough to let you do other things while in the home is one that all users should have on hand. You never know when you’ll need to use an air compressor for a small job around the house, and the last thing you want to do is lug around something that will disturb everyone else in the house.
So is there a good way to tell how dBA works? There are two foolproof ways, one starting with looking at the box and aiming for the lowest dBA possible, and the next is by looking up videos and listening to it go. A unit with low dBA may have an irritating grinding noise that is worse than the actual noise it is muffling. Then by comparison another unit will have no noise at all but with impacted performance. At one point there was even a switch on some units that allowed you to switch between a high performance mode at the cost of loudness or a low performance mode at the cost of power. They’ve since found a sweet spot between the two, and the older units with this switch have been retired. The units of today tend to do a good job of prioritizing power while minimizing the noise, but once again it’s important to watch a video or two to see if the low dBA claims hold true. And if anyone is telling you there is a noiseless air compressor, make sure to run in the opposite direction as they don’t exist. There’s never going to be an ultra-quiet unit in our lifetime to where you hear nothing, but you can always take the steps necessary to make sure it is as quiet as possible for your particular needs.
No one wants to drag around a 90 pound air compressor up a couple of flight of stairs, even if it has wheels. This is where it can get a bit complex, and depends completely on what the user is going to use the unit most with. If the project is one that requires a lot of power, then normally a comparable unit would need to be used of the larger variety. Larger units tend to have a lot more features, and you can bank on them having a larger tank and high PSI numbers. They are built to be powerhouses, and it is almost standard for the larger units to have a multiuser interface.
They also have a sturdy cage to protect the tank and control panel, but important for keeping the important parts of the unit safe. When dealing with a unit like this, it is mostly used by professionals and contractors. They provide the exact kind of power needed to handle a job of this magnitude, and the least important feature with them is dBA. The heavier ones will always have a bit of a loudness to them, and you can definitely expect a vibration or two. These heavy air compressors are meant to work hard and fast and provide all of the necessary tools to get the job done right. If by chanced you break the wheels on the unit, they are easy to replace and inexpensive.
But if the work site requires a lot of traveling, especially up a flight of stairs, then the larger unit is not the best option. This is where smaller units come in, and of course the lesser weight comes with its own pros and cons. Smaller air compressors are used mostly in the homes where personal projects take place. They are a lot less noisy than their larger counterparts, but on the downside the tanks are almost twice as small. On the plus side the PSI is usually high, so when looking at a unit that is small and lightweight, make sure to get one with high PSI and a decent sized tank. They are not made to handle a huge amount of work at once, and if you get lucky, you can nail a smaller unit that has a multiuser interface. They are hard to find, but worth every penny when you do! But home use is not the only time these units are bought, as a lot of small and large companies put them to good use. If there are multiple places in a project where the air compressor needs to be, then having only a few large air compressors would cause a small hitch in the project.
Smaller, portable, and decently powered units would work better in this case. Granted a smaller air compressor won’t have a lot of the power needed for sustained activity, leading to more refill time, it is still a better solution in this case because it can be carried anywhere on site by hand. The smaller 30 pound or lighter unit is also easy to store, and in some cases has some of the same features a larger unit has like the simultaneous users or quick release valve. They are also handy for when larger companies are working in a busy office environment and don’t want to disturb the work day too much while doing their project. A good company always has a mix of heavy and light air compressors on hand, as they are prepared for any situation which will come their way.
Weight can be a deciding factor for some, but shouldn’t get top priority. Factor in who will be using it, and factor in what locations it will be used most at. Most people will be fine with one or the other. And if you have to make a decision between the two, strangely enough smaller would work out the best- just make sure you get a top of the line unit with low weight so that you still maintain a lot of the harder to find features of the larger unit. Just making the proper decision in the beginning can go a long way to avoiding frustration down the road.
Some of the air compressors on the list come with standard accessories and manuals. And there is one on the list that literally comes with the unit and the manual, and nothing more. There is another that comes with a set of three tools to get anyone started with using the unit, and lastly there is one on the list that contains a complete hose and connection set, eliminating the need to get extra pieces. The last two have their place, but the thing to remember is that avoiding extra purchases after the initial purchase is desirable.
From that list of accessories you notice that there is no standard list for air compressors. Other than the main unit itself, there is very little in ways of accessories that come with it. Now don’t look at this as a bad thing. Pumping a product with a lot of accessories is a way to inflate the price of it, and currently there is very little inflation when it comes to air compressors. With a what you see is what you get methodology, the way they are sold gives the customer everything they could ever want right out of the box without any fluff. About the only thing you should expect is the instruction manual and warranty information.
Now for those air compressor units that do come with accessories, the question remains- are they worth considering over a comparable model? That depends on many factors, starting with price. If the unit you want with accessories is over a hundred dollars more than a similar unit without, the easiest thing to do is to ask yourself if the accessories by themselves are worth that extra hundred. Most of the time you can buy what you want separately for the same price or less. So unless there is some type of hardcore convenience factor, there is very little reason to go out of your way to purchase an air compressor mainly for the accessories included. Of course there will be those customers that want everything in one box, and there will also be workers that have an emergency job to finish and need to meet a deadline. Without factoring either one of those in, then it just isn’t worth making a priority.
On the plus side, if you purchase a unit that functions as a ‘starter’ kit then the included accessories will be covered under the same warranty as the air compressor they came with. That’s a huge plus if you have a good warranty to start out with, and puts you far ahead of the game if something breaks. Once again, it speaks to the convenience factor for people that just can’t be bothered with buying things separate. Having an all-inclusive warranty is a nice pickup, but be wary of coverage with the included accessories. Some brands include completely different coverage for the accessories than they do for the main unit, and it can come as a nasty surprise at the last minute if something breaks.
Air compressor warranties will always be longer than the accessories they’re bundled with, so look at the fine print as the accessories will either be equal to or shorter than the main warranty. If you want to get extra special coverage with your materials, try buying all of one brand and they may give you a five finger discount. This is of course at the customer service representative’s discretion, but companies do love loyal customers that buy up a lot of product. Show a preference for a brand and it will pay off when you really need it.
No one wants to buy an air compressor and a couple of add on gadgets if they don’t have to. The units that come with the extra accessories are usually worth the extra cost, as they go a long way in avoiding the frustration of extra purchases in the future. For units that contain actual tools, however, this may need to be avoided for users that already have them in their set. Having an extra staple or nail gun is not worth an extra fifty to a hundred dollars on top of the original asking price. And a barebones unit with just the manual is more suited for a user that is replacing a broken unit.
What to Look For In Home Based Air Compressors?
For customers that are looking to purchase an air compressor primarily for home use, then the choice becomes pretty easy compared to the others.
For small to mid-size homes, getting a unit with low dBA is essential in keeping the family happy. This means the big powerhouse units will be out of reach for people in this category, but it also means you can look into getting small units with a large tank since portability won’t be an issue. Small units with large tanks will let you handle a good range of projects anywhere in the house without disturbing the inhabitants. And if you opt for a small unit with a small tank, storage becomes a non-issue as it can be stored anywhere in the house that you want. As long as the ultimate priority goes into making sure the noise level is low, then your purchase will always be put to good use.
For large homes things can get a little more industrial, depending on what type of work you want to do. This means that dBA is no longer an issue, and you can use the same type of equipment that professionals use. Large land owners with a lot of acres lean towards units with lots of multiuser support and big tanks. But at this point it is purely preference, as an elderly couple with a big house and lots of stairs will probably want a portable unit that can be carried by hand. All sized units are great for large homes, and it will come down to the individual user and the type of projects they plan on doing. In some cases it may even be smart to purchase two small units rather than one big unit.
When dealing with any home based unit that is electrical, always factor in how long the included cord is and where the outlet will be. A foot or two could make the difference between frustration and success. Cord length is one of those things that’s not talked about in-depth since it pales to the other important things to consider when getting an air compressor. But there is value in knowing the limits of the machine you’re bringing into your home, and it may curb your decision in buying one brand over another. And if all else fails, there is the trusty extension cord from the nearest hardware store that can bridge the gap a bit.
Home air compressors should be pretty easy once you figure out your area. But when it goes beyond that, you have to get a little more creative in your choices. Yes, you can use home air compressors outside of the house, but you’d also be inviting another element into your purchasing decision. At that point it’s time to move on to the next section, compare notes and see where your buying decision stands afterwards. You’ll be surprised with how much it changes (or not) when a few extra details are thrown in.
What to Look For In Work Based Air Compressors?
Now this is where things start to get a little complicated. Air compressors for contractors, professionals and companies all have their little quirks. And depending on the specific job, requirements can change on the fly. Getting the correct air compressor in the hands of a professional individual will come down to how many they plan on buying!
For a lone contractor that does professional work, a portable air compressor with a large tank is suitable, or a big air compressor depending on the job. When doing roofing work a portable unit would be more beneficial, while doing flooring work would lean the contractor more towards a large unit that can sustain power. This is where the question comes in about whether it is wise to own two units in this case, and the answer is yes. A small portable unit for quick jobs that don’t require a lot of power, and a large beastly unit for projects that will take hours in a day.
Professional contractors with a small team will look more for units that have multiuser features on them. This will knock out the amount of time it takes to finish a specific project and will also make it easier to coordinate tasks between people. Since it is a small team, the portable unit won’t be an option unless in an emergency, or when purchasing multiple portable units for each team member to use. A small or large air compressor is suitable for professional contractors, with a lot of preference going to brand names just for reliability.
Professional companies that do large scale work will either buy up multiple small units to complement their larger units or work exclusively with large units. High PSI, large tanks, wheels, a complex control panel and a multiuser interface are all requirements when dealing with professional companies. There is a lot of work to get done in these instances, and the small units just won’t do the trick, nor will the portable ones. You can always count on these companies sticking to big brands and using units that are fresh off of the assembly line. Because large companies like this only use the best, many customers look at what they use in order to influence their own buying decision. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially if you can get a good word about the small backup units a company uses. Whatever brand or model they use with air compressors they will swear by, and some even have a contract with the company that licenses them to use the product.
Work based air compressors are a completely different animal than the ones used at home, and for good reason. That doesn’t mean you should base all of your home buying decisions on what the big boys are using. However, if you’re in doubt about a specific brand, there is no better way to get insight by looking at what the professionals use.
What to Look For In Portable Air Compressors?
There is more to portable air compressors than being light and easy to carry. Out of all the air compressor types, the portable models are the ones that innovate the fastest. Because of this there is high demand for everyone to have a portable air compressor in their arsenal, even if it is just for emergency purposes. Companies have taken notice, and are pushing out some of the best models of portable air compressors in years.
PSI is no longer an issue when dealing with portable air compressors. In the past the PSI used to be pitiful, and the small tanks would even be worse. Now portable tanks and PSI power are better than average, and you can get a good amount of work done with a smaller unit. Another way to look at is in terms of efficiency. The mechanics of the portable unit are set up so that they give you the most out of a work session before needing to recharge, and all without the added weight. They strike a perfect balance between working and recharging.
And then there is weight, which was mentioned before. These little units are so light that they can be carried by hand up and down the stairs without a problem. There are even units so small they can fit inside a glove box! Little innovations like this make them perfect for storing in unconventional places for when you really need them.
Multiuser support is rare, and only available in a few models. Be careful even with the brand names, since in practice it is still a new feature for units this small. Even when using simple hand tools, a multiuser portable unit can run out pretty fast. So even though it is a nice feature to have on board, it’s definitely not a game changer in any sense of the word.
Then of course there are the tankless air compressors that are filling in the market in the portable section. Now this is part of the innovation that was talked about before, with the tankless design being the biggest in years. Tankless models are the reason that some portable air compressors can fit in the glove box. With their pros strongly in weight, size and convenience, there are strong cons to their power and features. When looking for a tankless unit, consider it an option only if you are looking for extreme portability as a priority over anything else. These air compressors without tanks are awesome, yet they were not meant for even low level everyday use. They are also self-contained for the most part, so are incredibly handy in an emergency.
Everyone should have a portable air compressor in their possession along with their regular compressor. Even if it is something small like a tankless design, they are still a handy and inexpensive option when you need something done in a hurry. And if this new no-tank design starts to pump out the same power as even the lowest of the small units, then the entire market will be turned on its head for the better!
Make an education decision based on this list of the best air compressors available in 2016, and stick to it. There isn’t a single bad item on this air compressor reviews list that we have assembled for your convenience. That says a lot about the quality of the market, one that continues to grow in favor of the electronic model. Although because of power issues it will never completely replace the gas models, electronic air compressors are here to stay, and are very much the future. The quieter portable models are definitely on the tops of many lists online, with videos showcasing just how quiet they are compared to their gas counterparts. With fast refill times, the lack of power is sometimes tolerable enough to withstand buying a smaller, less powerful unit. There are some trusted brand names on the list, but even the lesser known names have made an outstanding product that is made to run for years.