10 Best Air Compressors
Air compressors are one of the most popular power sources for tools today. Whether it’s in an industrial manufacturing setting, or just in your home garage, an air compressor is the perfect tool for powering many of the devices you will find yourself using as a do-it-yourself or handyman type.
There are many benefits to using air compressors, the first being the extremely low maintenance costs of an air compressor. While you might need to buy oil for the air compressor occasionally, you don’t need gasoline – and electricity costs are generally much lower than petrol is.
Air compressors also have a very low weight to power ratio, and you can get over one horsepower out of an air compressor fairly easily. Finally, air compressors can run for a long time without overheating, unlike other gas power or electric tools, so you can keep at a project for a longer time without having to let your tools rest for safety reasons.
An air compressor really is one of the fundamental tools that you should have in your workspace if you want to reduce time spent idling for tools, and generally give yourself more power for a longer period of time.
In this article, we will look at the top ten air compressors available today, as well as go through a brief buying guide, safety considerations, and possible applications for an air compressor in your workspace. Let’s get started.
Table Of Contents
- Top 10 Air Compressors
- 1. Craftsman Air Compressor, Pancake
- 2. DeWalt Air Compressor, Pancake
- 3. Bostitch Air Compressor, Pancake
- 4. California Air Tools 8010 Air Compressor
- 5. Makita MAC2400 Air Compressor
- 6. Makita MAC5200 Air Compressor
- 7. Senco PC1010 Air Compressor
- 8. Ingersoll Rand Air Compressor
- 9. Sun Joe IONAIR-CT 40V 4.0-Ah Cordless 1.6-Gallon Air Compressor
- 10. STEALTH Air Compressor
- Air Compressor Buyer’s Guide
Top 10 Air Compressors
1. Craftsman Air Compressor, Pancake
If you’re new to air compressors and want to dip your feet into the type, without going overboard on an extremely high-powered machine, this Craftsman pancake air compressor may be just the thing for you.
It comes with all of the parts you will need to get started, like a tire gauge, blow gun and plug, and inflator adaptors. The air hose is 25’ meaning you won’t have to worry about lugging the air compressor around with you across your workspace.
It’s an oil free air compressor, meaning you don’t have to worry about buying oil or maintaining it other than keeping it clean. The maximum air pressure of 150 PSI, and the 2.6 SCFM means that you’ve got enough power to handle most simple jobs that you’ll run into when first using an air compressor.
While this air compressor may have trouble sanding down an entire car, it’s perfect for smaller jobs and is a great introductory air compressor for people who aren’t familiar with the tool – as it comes with everything you will need for basic jobs.
- Oil free air compressor means low maintenance
- 13-piece accessory kit including everything you need to get started
- 1 – year limited warranty
- 150 PSI, 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI
- 6 Gallon volume
2. DeWalt Air Compressor, Pancake
While similar to the previous Craftsman air compressor, this DeWalt offers some unique features that also make it a great first purchase. Whether you need to inflate the kids pool, your tires, or even do light sanding jobs with pneumatic tools, this pancake air compressor has you covered.
The DeWalt takes special care to reduce noise. At only 75 decibels, it’s significantly quieter than other similar compressors. This may be due to the rubber feet it has which reduce vibration, as well as other internal design considerations to reduce volume.
While it doesn’t come with a multitude of added accessories like the Craftsman, this has a benefit in itself. If you’re a bit more experienced or are buying an air compressor for a specific job – you can buy the specific attachments, you need rather than being weighed down by a ton of unnecessary bits and pieces. Plus, the DeWalt comes with potentially the most important part – a very long extension cord – meaning if you lift this compressor (it has a handle) you won’t accidentally unplug it walking across the workspace.
This is a great mid-range air compressor for people who know what they need the tool for and don’t want to be overburdened by a bunch of useless tools and accessories.
- 165 PSI, 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI
- Easy cold weather start-up
- 5 dBA is great for quiet or cramped settings
- Handle allows for easy and safe carrying
- Ball drain valve makes draining easy
3. Bostitch Air Compressor, Pancake
The variability of purchasing options is what makes this Bostitch Air Compressor set so great. It comes with all the basic features you would expect from a low maintenance, oil free air compressor, great for beginners or experts who know just what they need for the job they’re doing. With a 150 PSI, 6-gallon tank, and 2.6 SCFM rating at 90 PSI, this workhorse is perfect for small and medium jobs around your workspace.
There are many buying options available, like a 3 or 2 tool compressor combo kit, as well as a Smart Point Brad Nailer Kit, so you can get the specific combo pack that meets your needs, and have everything you need the day your compressor arrives. At 78.5 dBA, it’s slightly louder than other choices but not unbearable, and it has great tertiary features like rubber shoes and a convenient carrying handle.
This air compressor is great for craftsmen who are looking for an extremely high-quality air compressor – one that checks all the boxes of an industrial type compressor, but just isn’t that large.
- High flow regulator maximizes air tool performance
- Maximum 80 dBA makes for quiet work environment
- At 31 pounds, it’s easy to carry around the workspace
- 6-Gallon volume great for most jobs
- No loss of pressure over time
4. California Air Tools 8010 Air Compressor
Pancake air compressors are excellent tools, but they often aren’t built for mobility – the thinking being they are light enough to just be picked up and carried from one area to the next. But for craftsmen with back problems, or younger power tool users, this can be a major inconvenience.
This California air tools ultra-quiet air compressor is both mobile, and as close to silent as air compressors can get. At 60 dBA, it is extremely quiet compared to other air compressors of the same class, and it draws a respectable 1-horsepower.
The compressor offers 3 SCFM at 40 PSI, and 2.2 SCFM at 90 PSI, with a maximum PSI of 120. So while this is probably not the right choice for someone who is trying to use pneumatic devices to make structural changes to cars, it will get all of your simple jobs done around your workspace, and in doors it’s quiet and mobile design is a perfect match.
This is an excellent choice in air compressor for craftsman who want a bit of extra mobility and longevity when doing a job – it’s large volume will add 30% more capacity compared with many pancake models.
- Wheeled frame makes it highly mobile
- Stunning 60 dBA when operating
- 8 – Gallon steel tank is larger than other comparable compressors
- 54 pounds makes for easy rolling
- Takes under 3 minutes to fill tank
5. Makita MAC2400 Air Compressor
This air compressor is not an introductory choice – the power it offers is much more appropriate for a craftsman who knows they will have to use multiple tools (like two nail guns) or high-power draw tools in their next project.
It has a twin tank set up, each with 4.2-gallons, which helps it provide a consistent air flow, a sustained operating pressure of 130 PSI, and delivers 4.2 SCFM at 90 PSI. This makes it much stronger than our previously showcased choices.
The machine is oil lubricated which gives it a longer lifespan and can also help reduce the noise created when in use. It also features a roll cage so that damage to the machinery is much less likely in intense work environments. Cast iron parts mean this machine is built to last.
For those who know they are going to need a consistent power supply for jobs that have heavy duty tools, this is a great choice. It’s not an unwieldy design, and still can fit in most garages or work sheds and has a reasonable decibel level for its power output.
- Runs on a 2.5 HP motor
- 115 VAC voltage
- Overall height 18” which means it still fits in most workspaces
- 81 pounds means it is unlikely to tip over
- Includes air compressor oil, and 2 ¼” Universal Quick Couplers (Male)
6. Makita MAC5200 Air Compressor
There are a lot of circumstances where you need both power and mobility, which is where the Makita MAC5200 shines. Its entire structure is designed to give high power output while not over heating or being unbearably loud, all while being highly mobile.
The 3.0 HP gives this machine a very respectable output for an at home air compressor, producing 6.5 SCFM at 90 PSI, which means you’re unlikely to have to sit down and rest while waiting for this machine to refill – the 5.2 gallon volume also helps with that.
This machine comes in at 88 pounds, but that won’t be a problem considering it has two separate handles for easy maneuverability, one of them is foldable and provides great leverage when extended. The machine also rests on two rubber wheels making it ready for any job site.
This machine is entering into the realm of advanced air compressor needs, given its mobility and ease of use rolling from the garage out to the front yard, and high power output, it should cover all of your every day needs from an air compressor.
- 3.0 HP motor, 6.5 SCFM at 90 PSI
- Wheels and extendable handle make this a highly mobile machine
- 120 voltage power input fits in most plugs
- 1-year parts and labor warranty
- Comes with a ¼” universal quick coupler (Male)
7. Senco PC1010 Air Compressor
If you’re doing fine detail work, extra power can actually be a problem. Fine woodwork or detail work on a car can require a machine that is not going to grind away too much material in one pump. That’s where a machine like the Senco PC1010 is a great choice – or for youngsters who you want to introduce air compressors to.
The machine has a 1-horsepower peak, but ½ horsepower continuous running rate, and 1-gallon storage capacity. That means if you’re looking to sand or paint your whole deck, this is probably the wrong choice – but if you need a device that you can easily pick up (yes, this machine has a carrying handle) you can certainly do it with this one – coming in at only 20 pounds.
The machine is also extremely quiet, a great feature for craftsman working in the family basement.
This device is perfect for lower power high mobility operations, like using an upholstery stapler or nail gun. If you don’t need much power in your jobs, this is the perfect tool for you.
- ½ horsepower running rate
- 1-gallon volume
- Extremely quiet running volume
- Easy to move around your workspace
- 1 Year warranty
8. Ingersoll Rand Air Compressor
Ingersoll Rand is a well-known and long-lasting brand in the air compressor space because they make reliable and durable machines. This 20-gallon air compressor is no exception, with a SCFM of 5.2 at 90 PSI, and a maximum PSI of 135 certainly provides a great amount of power for all the jobs you can do at home.
The 20-gallon volume means this is the air compressor you will want if you’re doing large jobs like sanding and painting decks or cars. The large volume gives you a continuous flow of air which means no down time when working on your jobs.
This air compressor is a bit heavier than the others we have reviewed, coming in at 200 pounds – but it has an ergonomic handle and two rubber wheels which make it fairly easy to move around your workspace wherever it may be
If your main concern when choosing a high-end air compressor is run time, the Ingersoll Rand 20 Gallon Single Stage air compressor is a great choice.
- 20 Gallon volume makes for extended work time
- 2 SCFM is a great level of power for all at home jobs
- 80 dBA is a stunningly quiet run volume for a machine of this size
- 2 Horsepower motor
- Made in Taiwan (Republic of China)
9. Sun Joe IONAIR-CT 40V 4.0-Ah Cordless 1.6-Gallon Air Compressor
The Sun Joe iONMAX is an extremely unique air compressor because it runs on battery power. Yes, you read that right: this air compressor is fully mobile and cordless. While you have to buy the battery and quick charger separately, the whole kit is also sold together for your convenience.
The battery max run time is 65 minutes, which is plenty of time for most jobs, and the charge time is 3-hours. This means that you’ll be able to charge up a few batteries and get even large jobs done if they require mobility.
The machine offers 115 PSI, and 0.7 SCFM at 90 PSI, which is quite stunning for a battery powered machine – and the 1.6-gallon volume means you won’t have much down time at all. The 25” coil air hose is perfect for jobs like brand nailing and stapling jobs.
This is a truly unique and useful machine, that is worth considering even if you already have a higher power, corded air compressor.
- Completely battery powered
- 6 pounds make this the lightest air compressor out there
- 115 PSI, 0.7 SCFM at 90 PSI great for low power jobs
- Comes with multiple accessories to get started the day you get it
- Maintenance free oil free pump
10. STEALTH Air Compressor
This air compressor gives you industrial level size and power, with quiet at home use decibel levels. At 121.7 pounds, the machine is not as heavy as other 20-gallon volume compressors, and it comes with 8” rubber wheels, and a handle for pushing the compressor from point A to point B.
The 1.8 horsepower motor gives you industrial level strength, 150 PSI and SCFM of 5 at 90 PSI. All of this power at 70 dBA is exceptional. The machine also comes with limited lifetime warranty, so you can be sure you’ll get years of durable use out of it.
Sometimes you need the best of both worlds in your workspace – great mobility, great power, and also a quiet operating volume. If this sounds like your situation, the STEALTH air compressor is a perfect choice.
- 70 dBA working volume
- 121 pounds, 8” rubber wheels for easy transportation
- 20-Gallon volume gives you continuous working time
- Two rubber feet give this STEALTH air compressor great stability in the workspace
- Limited Lifetime Warranty
Air Compressor Buyer’s Guide
When deciding on what kind of air compressor to buy, first and foremost, you need to be honest with yourself about your needs and situation.
As we stated previously, even a small air compressor can create a lot of noise – if you’re going to be working at night or in the early morning, you need to find a space that can handle the loud noise of an air compressor without waking up the neighbors.
Also, recognize that you might not need a 3-horsepower system for your needs. Sure, if you’re operating pneumatic tools, that might be necessary. But if your air compressor is mainly for cleaning off surfaces or inflating tires, a high-power compressor is more than you really need – and will be louder too.
That being said, you should get the largest possible air compressor you can accommodate. Why? Well, with smaller air compressors you run the risk of having to wait while the compressor refills, rather than being able to work continuously on whatever job you’re doing.
When buying an air compressor there are two key numbers to pay attention to: PSI and SCFM.
The PSI is the pounds per square inch of pressure – and this is an important consideration, you generally want to go for a higher PSI to get more kick out of your compressor. But it’s not the most important number.
For that, you need to look at SCFM. CFM stands for Cubic Feet per Minute and is a measure of the volume of air that your compressor can handle. This measurement is more of a concern for whether or not you will be able to continuously use your compressor and is therefore the most important.
Also, keep in mind that for larger air compressors you may need a 230- or 240-volt outlet, the kind that large appliances like your fridge or washing machine plug into. This may limit where you can place your air compressor. That being said, having an electrician install a new outlet is relatively affordable and easy.
What can I Use an Air Compressor for?
Air compressors are diverse power sources for many types of tools. You can use them with pneumatic tools, spray painters, and pressure washers. They’re also great for filling up tires, toys, and inflatable pools.
Just remember that if you want to be able to seamlessly work on projects that may take some time, getting a higher volume air compressor is a must!
Air Compressor Safety Considerations
When working with any power tool, but especially with air compressors, you need to remember that safety is your number one consideration. Air compressors are dangerous tools that need to be handled with respect and care.
The first steps to handling your air compressor safely are reading the manufacturers safety instructions – every air compressor is unique and may have slightly different operating specifications. Familiarize yourself with safety features like the system relief valve (which is designed to open if pressure in the compressor becomes to high) so that you can make sure that they are in proper working order before turning your compressor on.
Wearing safety goggles and ear protection is an absolute must when it comes to air compressors! Air compressors can make up to 100 decibels of sound, which will damage your ears, especially in a closed space like a garage. Do not take ear protection lightly and eye protection lightly.
Air compressors can cause heat burns, so it’s a good idea to wear gloves when using one – or at the very least be extremely mindful of where the air compressor is and what the potential is for burning yourself.
Compressed air in itself is dangerous – compressed air can damage your skin, and at the very worst, cause damage to your internal organs if the air is pointed directly at your body. You need to be careful about how you handle tools that run on compressed air.
Other than this, you should just be mindful and use your common sense – every tool that you operate with a compressed air machine is operating under pressure – so you must be sure that all valves are tight and secure to prevent blow outs.
If all the safety considerations have been accounted for, it’s time to get started using your air compressor.
Our Take on Air Compressors
Air compressors are one of the most versatile, useful and safest power sources out there when used properly. If you treat your air compressor with the respect it deserves, and maintain it properly, there’s no doubt that it will give you years of service and power through any job you give it.
It can be intimidating to use an air compressor for the first time – remember, it’s designed to help you, not be a nuisance. If you do your research and educate yourself on proper air compressor use ahead of time, you should find that the air compressor makes all of your projects much easier and more enjoyable.