dailyusedtools logo

Getting The Job Done Right

The Best Air Compressor (2019)

By: Darion Robinson

Whether you are a heavy duty mechanic, contractor, automotive professional or just a DIY enthusiast, you need a dependable compressor that is up to the task. These best air compressors are relatively dynamic tools that are simple to use. Usually, they comprise of an air tank, and compressor pump. More so, these machines typically have a motor that directs air to the tank. Once the tank achieves maximum pressure, it then shuts off. The pressurized air can then be used to operate various types of tools including tire floors, paint sprayers, pneumatic tools and more.

When the air in the tank is depleted, the motor shuts automatically and works to pump in some more. Thus, its crucial to evaluate the size of the tank in relation to the machine itself. If you need more reserve air, such as when working away from a source of power, then a large tank will be beneficial. That said, a large tank is less portable, and might not be easy to move around. The conventional tank shapes that you might come across include vertical, horizontal and pancake.

Best Air Compressor Comparison Table

Product

Image

Sound Level in dBA

Power Source

Amazon Product Rating

dewalt pancake air compressor

Sound Level in dBA

75.5

Power Source

Corded-Electric

Amazon Product Rating

4.2/5
california air tools 8010

Sound Level in dBA

60

Power Source

Corded-Electric

Amazon Product Rating

4.5/5
senco pc1010 1-horsepower peak

Sound Level in dBA

n/a

Power Source

Electric Powered

Amazon Product Rating

4.3/5
campbell hausfeld air compressor

Sound Level in dBA

68

Power Source

Electric

Amazon Product Rating

4/5
bostitch btfp02012 compressor

Sound Level in dBA

78

Power Source

Corded – Electric

Amazon Product Rating

4.4/5
porter-cable c2002 compressor

Sound Level in dBA

70

Power Source

Electric Powered

Amazon Product Rating

4.5/5

Best Air Compressor Buyers Guide

Similar to purchasing any type of mechanical tool, making good decisions is highly important. Making savvy choices means that you not only invest in a tool for the best performance, but one that also offers the optimal value for money. Consider the following factors when you want to buy the best air compressor:

Horsepower

The horsepower rating is an excellent way of determining the size of the compressor you require. Usually, the brand company indicates the power rating on the given power supply machine. That said, some brands are known for exaggerating horsepower ratings to achieve more sales. Most industry made compressors are precisely rated. Thus, an industrial 10HP compressor is likely to three times larger and costly than a normal and “overhyped” 10 HP air compressor.

An excellent way to determine if you are dealing with an overrated compressor is to evaluate the amount of power required to run the machine. A genuine 5HP motor will pull out 25Amps on a 240-volt circuit, while an overrated compressor will operate on a conventional 20-amp 120-volt circuit.

Air Pressure (PSI)

Air pressure is often classified in terms of pounds per square inch, otherwise referred to as PSI. The conventional air tools will require an average of 90 PSI to work correctly. However, to maintain a level of 90PSI, you need a compressor that has a large shut of pressure. Most industrial compressors classify in the two-stage rank. Thus, these machines are likely to accumulate significant shut off pressure in the first stages. In the single stage machines, pressure can accumulate to as much as 90 PSI, while the second stage can average at 180PSI. Most DIY and small commercial pressure compressors round off at the 130 PSI mark. This might sound like an immense pressure, but they usually kick in at 100 PSI level. 

Cubic Feet Per Minute (CFM)

Air tools require a specific amount of air to maintain machine operation. The volume of air that a compressor can produce is classified as cubic feet per minute (CFM). You might come across different ratings of pressure on a compressor. In some cases, you might come across a high displacement rating, which you can determine in relation to the speed and size of the pump. The most critical CFM rating on compact compressors averages at 90 PSI. This is the amount of pressure suitable for operating most tools.

Air Compressor Tank Size

Is size important for air compressors? The answer is not that much. A compressor tank does not produce any air. The role of the tank is only storage. Thus, while having a large tank is convenient, it is much better to have a larger motor or pump. That said, there are some situations where you will save cash by investing in a smaller compressor with large tanks. This is particularly true for people who use air compressors intermittently. For instance, if you own a compressor that produces 10 CFM continuously, then you can draw out 20 CFM from the tank most of the time. If you need to operate a 2” impact wrench (about 30 CFM) intermittently, and you own a small compressor with a big tank – you might have adequate air in the tank for the process. 

Therefore, the compressor can develop sufficient pressure you need to repeat the process. 0n the contrary, if you want to operate a tool steadily, for instance, a sander, then ensure the machine produces adequate air. In this case, a small tank is portable, and accumulates the pressure fast, whereas a compressor with a large tank is not as efficient. A large tank does not necessarily mean that the compressor will operate less. On the contrary, it starts and stops less often, and the running time is similar as to when the machine would have a small tank.

Single-Stage and Two-Stage Air Compressors

The single stable compressors usually have one or more cylinders. The cylinders will direct air to the tank. The two stage compressors feature at least two cylinders, and the air moves from one tank to another, then finally to the tank. More so, the conventional two stage two-cylinder pump directs air through a cooling tube, and a small second stage cylinder. Usually, the pressure at this level averages at 90PSI, and at 175 when finally directed to the tank. The main benefit of a two-stage compressor is that it provides high pressure. That said, not many applications require that much power. 

A common misconception among air compressor users is that a two-stage compressor offers enhanced performance than its counterparts. That said, such a statement is not true. Most 5 HP and large compressors are standard in industries and often fall under the two-stage category.

Duty Cycle

Keeping track of the duty cycle is crucial when purchasing an air compressor. The duty cycle is classified in percent, and it refers to the amount of time the compressor can run in a 10-minute span. For instance, a lower end and small compressors usually have a 50% duty cycle. Thus, the machine should operate for more than 5 minutes. If the machine surpasses its duty cycle, then the pump might heat up excessively. Most compressors often have a 75% duty cycle, and some can even average at 100%. The ones that average at 100% can run continuously. 

There are various reasons as to why a good duty cycle is ideal for your needs. For instance, you and a friend have to paint a barn using a 10 CFM rated compressor. Let’s say you have a 65% duty cycle, and your friends’ rates at 50%, then you would get a much larger surface painted in a day. Assuming that you both use spray guns with a 10 CFM rating, then your friend would have to paint for 5 minutes, then give the machine rest. On the contrary, you could paint for 6.5 minutes, and wait for 3.5 minutes before processing.

Noise Level and Ease of Tank Draining

An air compressor is a mechanical machine, and it is likely to produce noise during operation. Thus, being able to determine the noise level of your chosen air compressor is crucial. Usually, the average noise level ranges from 50 to 75 DBA. The brand of the air compressor is likely to indicate the noise level rating on the product specifications. As far as tank draining goes, being able to complete the process is essential. This is because as compressed air causes moisture in the tank to condense, this can lead to corrosion issues. Thus, draining the tank from moisture free locations will improve the longevity of your tank.

california air tools 8010

Taking good care of your car has never been this easy. The California Air Tools 8010 Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free air tank compressor is the ultimate solution for your needs. It comes with a powerful 1 HP motor that can operate at an average speed of 1690 RPM, thus producing less noise and wear.

More so, the oil-free dual-piston pump system is also developed to provide high performance and durability. Featuring an oil-free dual-piston pump designed to provide an exceptional 3000 hours of performance. 

The tank is also amply-sized and fills up fast to take your overall work performance to the next level. It also comes with a large 8-gallon steel air tank that is lightweight, and the wheel kit makes it simple to transport.

The Ups

  • Operates ultra-quiet operation – can operate at 60 decibels thus producing minimal producing noise in operation
  • Oil-free pump included – the oil-free pump provides convenient maintenance, and the kit also comes with an air filter
  • Powerful 1.0 HP motor – the motor is not only powerful, but it also produces minimal noise during operation
  • Large air tank – the air compressor also features a sizeable 8-gallon air tank offers reliable gas 

The Downs

  • Heavy for some users – some users of this unit find it rather heavy to carry around and could use portability wheels
  • Produces some noise in operation – during operation, the motor might provide a significant amount of sound
dewalt pancake air compressor

Change how you fill-up the tires in your car with the DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor DWFP55126 Compressor. It comes with a high-efficiency motor for easy start-up in cold weather or extension cord application. 

The compressor offers an exceptional 165 max PSI 6-gallon tank that delivers outstanding longevity benefits. With a high flow regulator and couplers, you can be sure of optimal tool performance. It has a convenient cord wrap to provide easy storage and its 30 lbs. weight makes it simple to carry. 

The inclusion of protective rubber legs helps to prevent issues such as marring. The brand has also done well to include a console cover, that helps to protect the controls and is removable for easy repair.

The Ups

  • High-efficiency motor – the powerful motor starts up easy even in cold weather through the use of an extension cord
  • 75.5 Dba noise level – the motor on this unit is relatively silent thus making it ideal for use in different environments
  • High flow regulators and couplers – the inclusion of these components makes it easy to regulate the tool performance
  • Long-life pump – the durable pump offers maintenance-free operation and is also convenient to use 

The Downs

  • Attaching compressor to the tank is not easy – this process involves a lot of components and screws which is difficult for some users
  • Lacks a pressure gauge – some users would appreciate an air compressor with a gauge for convenience
senco pc1010 1-horsepower peak

This list of the best air compressors would not have been complete without the Senco PC1010 1-gallon compressor. This unit can provide an exceptional one horsepower peak electric level to make it ideal for various types of projects. 

More so, this unit also allows for convenient hand carry, thanks to its ergonomic design and compact structure. The inclusion of a direct drive induction motor offers efficient operation at a level of 1 HP. Thanks to the 1-gallon air capacity, you can be sure of several hours of reliable air pressure supply benefits. 

The Senco brand has also done well to ensure that the tank is made using aluminium for optimal durability. The air compressor also features a quick disconnect coupler and individual gauges for added user convenience.

The Ups

  • Light and portable – this best air compressor is easy to carry from site to site as you work on different projects
  • One horsepower peak power – capable of delivering well over one horsepower at peak levels, this unit is perfect for your air supply needs
  • Ideal for various projects – the dynamic features of this unit make it ideal for home improvements, renovation and hobbies
  • Oil-less motor – the oil-less motor is convenient and also efficient when it comes to power consumption

The Downs

  • Tank fills up slowly – the tank should replenish faster, especially if you have ongoing projects
  • Could use ergonomic carry handles – the carry handles should be ergonomic to provide enhanced portability
campbell hausfeld air compressor

Half the noise, and all of the power! The Campbell Hausfeld 8 Gallon Air Compressor is designed to one of the most silent compressors in the world. Capable of producing just 68db of sound, this air compressor will provide a quiet environment for the best performance.

Long life, oil-free and minimal maintenance are all fundamental values of using this best portable air compressor. Furthermore, the components on this unit can also last for several years. The inclusion of the dual piston pump system will offer high performance and durability. 

With an exceptional PSI level of 125, this air compressor is suitable for various types of projects. These include different projects such a hobby painting, fastening, stapling and more. The Campbell brand has also done well to ensure that this unit has a heavy-duty design for optimal user longevity.

The Ups

  • Produces minimal noise in operation – this air compressor is 50% quieter than comparable compressors and averages at 68 DBA
  • Durable compressor design – the critical components on this compressor can last up to four times longer to its oil-free design
  • Versatile compressor – the compressor is ideal for hobby painting, stapling, fastening and nailing
  • Suitable for different projects – the air compressor works well for fastening, stapling, hobby painting and more

The Downs

  • Starts up slowly – the machine could provide improved start-up times, especially in cold weather
  • Heats up with time – the motor temperature might increase with time
bostitch btfp02012 compressor

With the Bostitch BTFP02012, 6-gallon air compressor is an excellent addition to your outdoor regimen. It comes with an oil-free and maintenance-free pump that can deliver 90PSI and maximum tank storage of PSI.

Equipped with a powerful BOSTITCH high-efficiency motor, you can be sure of an easy start-up even in cold weather. The inclusion of a high flow regulator and couplers will help you maximize the air tool performance. Taking things to the next level, this unit comes with universal couplers that can easily support two users. 

It also weights an exceptional 29lbs, which makes it simple to store and carry. The BTFP02012 also has a 78.5 DBA rating, that makes it perfect for a quiet work environment. Featuring a 150 max PSI 6-gallon tank, you can be sure of more than sufficient pressure for various types of outdoor projects. The inclusion of high flow regulators and couplers air tool performance.

The Ups

  • High-efficiency motor included – the powerful motor starts fast, and is suitable even for use in cold environments
  • Long life and oil-free design – the air compressor is durable, and the oil-free design allows for ease of user maintenance
  • 78.5 DBA operation level – this unit will produce minimal noise during operation to make it ideal for work environments
  • High flow regulator and couplers – these are two unique components that help to enhance the performance of the tool

The Downs

  • 6-gallon tank is large – some users find the 6-gallon tank somewhat large for small projects
  • Lacks a pressure gauge – this air compressor could use a digital pressure gauge to provide enhanced user convenience
porter-cable c2002 compressor

Highly portable and exceptionally easy to use, the Porter-Cable C2002 150-PSI, six-gallon pancake compressor packs a big punch in a small package. Perfect for everything from filling tires to firing nailers, this compressor features an induction motor that provides long life and optimum performance.

For convenience, this efficient unit runs off of typical household circuits and offers mess-free operation. Weighing in at just 34 pounds, the C2002 is portable and lightweight to suit different applications. This means that this air compressor is suitable for everything, including installing trim to inflating air mattresses. 

Also, this unit is powerful and efficient, all thanks to the low amp 120-volt motor. The motor starts easily in cold weather, comes with an extension cord and replaceable brushes. You will also appreciate the inbuilt automatic thermal overload protection. Perhaps the most essential feature of this unit is the oil-free pump, which ensures you won’t worry about oil spills. The compressor also comes with an upgraded shroud, console cover and handle, which offers optimum protection.

The Ups

  • 150 PSI max tank pressure – the large tank pressure provides more air tank for longer tool run times
  • Six-gallon pancake-style – the unique pancake-style provides optimal stability, and it comes with a water drain valve
  • Low amp 120-volt motor – the powerful motor starts easily even without the need for priming or extension cords
  • Durable oil-free pump – the oil-free pump provides long life and ease of maintenance each time

The Downs

  • The Oil pump is not easy to locate – you may have to consult more than just your toolbox when maintaining this unit
  • The motor tends to heat up with time – some users with large projects find that the motor on this unit heats up over time

Final Verdict

Owning proper mechanical tools can save you a lot of hassle, especially if you are a DIY enthusiast, or you have a professional shop to run. In this case, the best air compressor is a dynamic tool that you can use for various purposes. Being able to choose the ideal air compressor involves evaluating aspects such as the tank, air pressure, noise level, ease of use, and more.

We have compiled some of the best brands for you to consider for your unique needs. Equipped with a powerful air compressor, and you can be sure of adequate power for your projects.