Many of the tools used in carrying out daily activities are powered with compressed air from air compressors. Since air compressors are quite important, you might think about owning one. However, if you do not know the type of air compressor you need, you might find it hard to choose one from the market. Additionally, there are several models on the market right now. The information overload can make it hard to find the best air compressor. We realize this, and that is why we have made this post. In this article, we will review the best air compressors of 2020.
We have compiled this list of the 12 best options on the market right now in the hopes that reading the review will help you choose wisely. The reviews will contain a discussion of the main features of each product, pros, and cons. We have also provided a buying guide to further assist you. Read on to find out our best picks.
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PORTER-CABLE C2002 Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor
The C2002 from Porter-Cable is an affordable but highly functional air compressor that comes with several nice features. It is relatively cheap, offers dependable performance and is lightweight.
It is a 150 PSI Pancake compressor with a 6-gallon capacity. This capacity is larger than those found in several other units in this price category. Therefore, you can do more activities with the air compressor. It is made of good materials that can last for a relatively long time. It comes with a steel construction and a cover to protect the internal parts from damage.
The motor is oil-free. Thus, it is almost maintenance free as you will never have to oil it.
It weighs 31.3 pounds. While this isn’t the lightest on this roundup, it surely makes this unit one of the best portable air compressors on the market.
Pancake air compressors are not many people’s favorite type of compressor; however, after thoroughly testing and researching this model, we believe it is one of the best models you can find right now. It has a 0.8HP motor which delivers impressive performance.
One of the best features of this unit is recovery time.
In spite of all the above features, it comes at a fantastic price. Therefore, if you are a homeowner on a budget, you will likely love this unit. It represents excellent value for price and offers reliable, user-friendly performance.
- times the capacity of previous models
- Oil-free motor
- Quick recovery time
- Low voltage requirement
- Brand: Porter-Cable
- Product Dimension: 19 x 19 x18 inches
- Product weight: 32.3 pounds
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Best Value: Hitachi KNT50AB Brad Nailer and Compressor Combo Kit
Just as the first product on this review, the Hitachi KNT50AB is a 6-gallon air compressor. It is well constructed and does all that is required of an air compressor.
During our testing, we did not observe any operational flaws as the unit satisfied our needs.
It comes with a maximum pressure of 150 PSI. It is arguably the best combo air compressor on the market today. As it delivers 2.8 SCFM at 90 PSI, it is an excellent compressor that powers your pneumatic tools and can double as a finishing gun nail.
It doesn’t come alone, rather, it arrives in a combo kit. Some of the other things you’ll find in the kit include an 18-gauge brad nailer. In some kits, the extra tools are often made poorly. However, that is not the case here. The brad nailer is well-made. It is easy to use as it comes with an ergonomic design and lightweight. Additionally, it is can be used with different nail sizes.
As with the first unit reviewed, it is a pancake compressor that has an oil-free pump. Thus, you do not need to worry about constant maintenance. The air compressor itself weighs just 36.5 pounds. Therefore, it is quite easy to carry around on your projects.
Apart from the brad nailer, it comes with a hybrid air hose. The hose is very easy to use. It can also be used inside the house and outside. It is made from high quality materials that improve durability. It can also be used in inclement weather.
Overall, it is a reliable, easy-to-use unit that delivers excellent performance.
- Oil-free pump
- Quiet operation
- Easy to carry
- -gallon tan size
- Brand: Hitachi
- Model Number: KNT50AB
- Product Weight: 36.5 pounds
Best Pick: DEWALT 225-PSI Max Air Compressor
Air compressors make jobs like painting easier, and the Dewalt 225-PSI air compressor is one of the best on the market. It comes with several useful features that make it better than many other units on the market.
First of all, it has powerful performance. It comes with a powerful motor that can reach up to 200 PSI. Others reviewed so far have a maximum PSI of 150. Additionally, at 5.2 SCFM it can reach 90 PSI. Performance-wise, it is one of the best on this roundup.
It is constructed of high quality materials that can take a beating. Therefore you can use it for a long time without any damage. Efficient High Pressure technology also serves to improve the overall durability of this air compressor.
Another interesting feature that makes this unit popular is the relatively low noise levels. While it is not the quietest on the market, the 78 decibels of sound is much better than what is obtainable in many other air compressors.
It features an oil-free pump. Therefore, maintenance is rather minimal. The unit has a tank capacity of 4 gallons. While this should be sufficient for your basic needs, it is not up to the 6 gallon capacity of the options reviewed earlier.
The unit weighs 80 pounds, which is quite heavy. However, it makes up for this by coming with sturdy wheels. Therefore you don’t have to lift it during transportation. Furthermore, despite the weight, it is quite compact and has a nice form factor.
Overall, it offers user-friendly, powerful operation and can despite the weight, can be moved around with some ease.
- 00 Max PSI
- 8 HP motor
- EHP Technology
- 8 dB noise levels
- Brand: Dewalt
- Product Dimensions: 33.5 x 23 x 15′
- Product Weight: 80 pounds
Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor
The Makita MAC2400 is an excellent air compressor that comes with a 2.5 HP motor. It is powerful and will vastly improve your productivity. It comes with several unique features that make it one of the best air compressors to buy in 2020.
Several features contribute to the impressive durability of this unit. First, it comes with a copper finned discharge tubing. The advantage of this feature is that heat easily disperses in the compressor. Therefore, despite prolonged use, it doesn’t grow too hot to handle. Furthermore, water resistant tubing prevents water from entering the tank. It is an oiled pump; therefore you’ll have to do some more maintenance than usual. Nevertheless, maintenance isn’t stressful.
Aside from the copper finned tubing, this unit also comes with cast iron cylinders. The material of these cylinders comes in super useful. They vastly improve the durability of the unit, eliminating rust and similar problems that are common in other units.
The motor offers 1720 RPM, which is easy on the air compressor and makes it to last longer. The low AMP means you have few instances of tripped breakers.
The 2.5 HP motor is adequate for the medium-duty application. Despite the relatively powerful motor, it is surprisingly quiet.
77 pounds of weight makes it a relatively heavy unit. Nonetheless, it can be moved around by most users easily.
- Big bore pump
- 30 PSI Max Pressure
- .5 HP motor
- Twin stacked tank
- Brand: Makita
- Model: MAC2400
- Product Weight: 77 pounds
Porter Cable PXCMF220VW 20-Gallon Portable Air Compressor
The Porter Cable brand is one of the most popular brands in the power tool industry. For several years that company has made high quality tools and it is no surprise to find that it has another model on this list of the best air compressors. The PXCMF220VW is a portable and powerful air compressor that offers nice features.
Although the 97 pounds of weight is the heaviest we have reviewed so far, the unit makes up for this by coming with wheels. These wheels at the base are durable and easy to use. Thus, you can maneuver the unit into different spaces without plenty of stress. It can stand upright thanks to the pair of rubber feet.
Performance wise, it is quite decent. The 1.5 HP motor pales in comparison to some on this roundup, but as it requires just 15A of power, it is great for domestic use. It has an oil-free pump. Therefore, you do not have to change or refill oil before you can get the job done. Furthermore, you do not have to worry about oil spillage on the worksite.
One of the best features of this unit is the size of the tank. It is a 20-gallon tank; more than twice the capacity of the units reviewed so far.
It can power various tools as it delivers up to 150 PSI of pressure.
Overall, it offers decent performance. The large capacity, ease of use and low maintenance makes it a good option for many interested users.
- 50 PSI Max Pressure
- 0 gallon tank capacity
- Oil-free pump
- 4 dB noise level
- Brand: Porter Cable
- Model: PXCMF220VW
- Product Weight: 97 pounds
Makita MAC700 Big Bore 2.0 HP Air Compressor
The Makita MAC400 is another interesting option from Makita. If you are looking for an air compressor with a big bore, then you will like this unit. Earlier in this post, we reviewed one of the best air compressors from Makita. While the 2.5HP of the MAC2400 is more powerful than that of this unit, the MAC700 still delivers quite powerful performance.
First of all, the big bore of this unit means that it is more efficient than rivals in this price range. The big bore ensures that it pumps air using fewer strokes. Additionally, this means that it has lower RPM than others. The 1720 RPM of this unit ensures that minimal wear and tear occurs. Additionally, this reduces the noise level. At 80 dB, it is lower than many in this price range.
As it also comes with a cast iron cylinder, it stands as one of the most durable units that we tested.
Many folks do not like that the pump requires oil. Since it isn’t oil-free, it needs more maintenance than oil-free pumps.
During testing, we observed that the air compressor doesn’t cause any damage to your tools. If used for spray painting, you will certainly enjoy the dust free spraying.
The 2.6-gallon tank is rather low in terms of capacity, however, as it comes with a lever for draining it is one of the easiest to refill.
With a 52-weight, it is one of the lightest on this roundup. Therefore, you can move it around with ease. It also means that the unit can work for longer periods without any issues.
Buying a product from Makita has proven to be a wise choice over time and the MAC700 is certainly no exception. It is durable, lightweight, easy to use and delivers overall great performance.
- HP Motor
- .6-gallon tank
- 30 PSI Max Pressure
- Brand: Makita
- Model: MAC700
- Product Weight: 59.6 pounds
Campbell Hausfeld 8 Gallon Portable Quiet Air Compressor
When purchasing an air compressor, you should balance size and power. If you need plenty of power, chances are that you’d need a large unit. On the other hand, if you seek convenience, it would be much smarter to choose a lightweight option. Well, the Campbell Hausfeld 8 Gallon Portable Quiet Air Compressor is a portable, lightweight option that might not deliver so much power but makes up for it inconvenience.
It comes in a compact form factor, although it is somewhat longer than what you might usually use. It weighs 67 pounds which is great for portability. Even better, it comes with wheels all around. Therefore, you can easily move it around on the site.
The body is made of steel; hence, it is resistant to damage.
One other advantage of this unit is that it features an 8-gallon capacity. Only a couple of options on this roundup have larger capacities. Most of the options in this price category have 6 gallons.
On the other hand, the 125 Max PSI is lower than that found on other units on the market. Nevertheless, considering the price and size, this is a manageable trade-off.
The unit has an oil-free motor. This is great since you don’t have to worry about oil spillage. You also will not carry out plenty of maintenance as with motors that use oil.
Another reason we like this air compressor is that the 68 dB of noise is quite low. Therefore, you can use it in environments where noise is agitating.
Overall, it is a nice unit that will serve anyone that values capacity and convenience over sheer power.
- 25 PSI Max Pressure
- Oil-free motor
- -gallon capacity
- Brand: Campbell Hausfeld
- Product Dimensions: 11 x 23 x 26 inches
- Product Weight: 67 pounds
California Air Tools 8010 1.0 hp Steel Tank Air Compressor
If you are looking for a quiet air compressor that you can use almost anywhere there is electricity, then you’ll likely enjoy using this unit.
The CAT-8010 is an efficient machine that will not eat too much into your energy bills. Let’s consider some of the best features of this excellent unit.
First, it comes with an oil-free motor. As with several of the best air compressors on this roundup, this feature means that you don’t have to spend plenty of time or resources on maintenance. Additionally, this design allows it to work in different types of weather and on different terrains.
It draws just 8.5A of power, which is very impressive. However, the trade-off is that it isn’t very powerful. The 1 HP motor reaches a PSI of 120, which is decent but not sufficient for heavy duty or medium-duty applications.
If you are looking for a unit for simple jobs though, then you’ll enjoy using this unit. It weighs just 54 pounds. Therefore it is a great choice for mobile projects. To aid in transportation, it even comes with a pair of wheels.
Overall, it is excellent for DIY enthusiasts and anyone looking to quietly do some light-duty projects indoors or outdoors.
- HP Motor
- 0 dB noise level
- 20 PSI Max Pressure
- Brand: California Air Tools
- Product Dimensions: 26 x 14 x 23 inches
- Product Weight: 54 pounds
DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor
Dewalt is known across the power tool industry as one of the most reliable companies around. The company has created some truly impressive units and has already had a contender on this roundup. The unit under consideration here is the DWFP55126.
This unit is proof that portability and performance can co-exist in an air compressor. It is one of the most compact and lightweight units on this list. It weights just 32 pounds. This means one person can carry it around on a project without much hassle. Since it is compact, you can use it in tight spaces as well.
It is especially targeted at DIY enthusiasts and professionals looking for a portable, yet powerful unit. It is compatible with several pneumatic tools like nailers and pinners.
It features a 6-gallon tank capacity. This should be sufficient for your needs. It also delivers 165 PSI Max pressure; which is higher than even heavier and larger air compressors on the market.
This unit runs from any 120V power source. It is efficient too as it draws about 1100 W during operation.
Rated at 2.6 CFM at 90 PSI, you will be hard pressed to find a portable, lightweight option that still delivers a decent amount of power.
- 65 PSI Max Pressure
- 5.5 dB noise level
- -gallon tank capacity
- Brand: Dewalt
- Product Dimensions: 17.20 x 16.60 x 20.10 inches
- Product Weight: 32 Pounds
Senco PC1010 1-Horsepower Peak Air Compressor
This unit is one of the most popular products from Senco. It is affordable and will meet your needs; as long as you know what these are.
This lightweight compressor is mainly geared towards homeowners or professionals looking for a very portable unit for their light duty projects.
The dimensions are really small, at least when compared with several others on this roundup. It is therefore very compact and can be used in enclosed spaces. It also has a small capacity. The 1-gallon capacity is the smallest reviewed so far.
In terms of power, it comes with a 1 HP motor that delivers 0.7 CFM at 90 PSI. Its highest pressure value is 125 PSI. Then, it is not meant for heavy duty applications.
Although the 73 dB noise level is not the quietest on the roundup, it won’t make a racket during operation.
On the plus side, it is an oil-free pump that requires little maintenance. It also uses very little power during use.
You can use it for simple tasks like inflating tires, airbrushing, nailing, cleaning, and other small tasks.
- 3 dB noise level
- 25 PSI Max Pressure
- .0HP Peak power level
- Oil-free motor
- Brand: Senco
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 13 x10 inches
- Product Weight: 20 pounds
PORTER-CABLE CMB15 Air Compressor
The penultimate product is one of the most popular ‘small’ air compressors on the market right now: and for good reason!
This unit is designed for anyone looking for a unit that they can take with them on projects. It is lightweight, portable, and very durable.
It weighs just 20 pounds and has a small form factor. Keeping with the small size, it comes with a 1.5-gallon tank capacity. Nevertheless, this capacity should be adequate to get you through your task without refilling.
The enclosed exterior design serves to protect the internal parts from damage due to drops or impact. It also has rubber feet that improve stability while using the unit.
It generates 150 PSI, which is impressive considering the size. With this pressure, it can power up to 3 tools at the same time. The 0.8 HP motor is not the most powerful on the market. However, when you compare it with similar sized units, it is one of the most robust options.
Overall, it is an excellent unit that can be used for light tasks even in cold weather.
- .5-gallon tank capacity
- 50 PSI Max Pressure
- Oil-free motor
- 20V motor
- Brand: Porter-Cable
- Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 13.2 x 20.5 inches
- Product Weight: 20 pounds
BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor
The last, but not the least product on this roundup is this unit from popular manufacturer Bostitch.
The Bostitch BTFP02012 comes in a compact, lightweight form that makes it easy to lug around. It weighs 32 pounds.
It has a maximum pressure rating of 150 PSI, which is adequate for light tasks. The 0.9 HP motor draws about 15A and can be used with 120V power sources.
The motor is oil-free. Therefore, aside from being maintenance free, it also means that you can start it up in a jiffy.
This pancake sized unit has a 6-gallon capacity that is definitely enough to satisfy your projects. It is a versatile unit as well since it can work with different pneumatic equipment. It comes with a pair of couplers as well that means two people can use it simultaneously.
Overall, while it might not give you industrial-grade power, it is good enough to power your light duty tasks.
- -gallon tank capacity
- 50 PSI Max Pressure
- 8 dB noise level
- Oil-free pump
- Brand: Bostitch
- Product Dimensions: 17 x 17 x19.25 inches
- Product Weight: 31 pounds
Best Air Compressor Buying Guide
Buying the best air compressor can be a challenge. There are just so many features on the market right now, with each one claiming to give you the best performance. However, you must choose the best one for you. Doing this involves knowing the right features to look out for. One feature that you must consider, for example, is power because air compressors come with different capabilities. Another factor to consider is the purpose of the air compressor.
In this section, we will consider these and more factors that should affect your buying choice.
Features to Consider
1. Oil-free Or Oil-lubricated
In the reviews considered above, you would notice that many come with oil-free motors. On the other hand, some come with oil-lubricated motors.
Choosing between these two types of pumps depends on the purpose of the air compressor. It also depends on the frequency of using it. Let’s see how this is vital.
First, if you have an oil-free motor or pump, you will enjoy certain advantages. For one, you do not have to buy oil. This will cut down on costs. You also do not have to go through the hassle of cleaning up oil. You don’t have to refill the pump too.
Additionally, an oil-free unit can be placed on uneven ground without fear of the oil running out. Lastly, it is more friendly to the environment.
Oil-lubricated motors have their advantages as well. For example, since oil helps to smoothen movement, your unit is better lubricated. This reduces wear and tear. Since there is less friction, the unit will also be quieter.
Overall, choosing between an oil-free or oil-lubricated unit is a matter of choice. It doesn’t affect overall performance much.
2. Tank Capacity
While you might assume that tank capacity is the most important factor to consider, it isn’t a deal breaker. Why?
Well, the air is constantly being used and created. Unlike petrol or water that has a fixed supply, the air is virtually limitless. The tank simply serves as a storage point for the air.
However, this doesn’t mean that the tank capacity is utterly useless. The benefit of having a compressor with a tank is that you can work for longer periods. A bigger tank will not cut you off from aim as quickly as a smaller tank. It will ensure that you have a steady supply of air for the task at hand.
Furthermore, smaller tanks are usually less efficient and generate plenty of heat. Therefore you might need to stop using them more frequently than a bigger tank.
PSI is one of the most important factors to consider. Each of the products reviewed above has a PSI value.
PSI refers to the volume of air released. Therefore, the larger the PSI value, the more air that is released. And the larger the volume of air released, the more powerful the air compressor is.
Before making a buying decision, it is important to consider the PSI value. If you have a task that requires plenty of power, you will certainly need an air compressor with a high PSI value.
4. Noise level
As with the other factors discussed above, the product we have reviewed come with their decibel rating. This refers to the amount of noise generated by using the air compressor.
The higher the decibels, the louder the unit is. If you are working in an enclosed area or you are planning to use the compressor in a residential area, you might want to strongly consider buying a unit with a low decibel rating.
A loud air compressor will prevent you from hearing over your work or even having a conversation with other people in the workshop.
Types of Air Compressors
In choosing an air compressor, it is important to consider the type of air compressor you need. There are different pump types in air compressors. Knowing the pump types and their features can assist you in making the correct buying choice.
Compressor Pump Types
- Single-stage compressors: As the name implies, this type of pump has one cylinder producing the compressed air.
- Two-stage compressor: A two-stage compressor comes with two or more cylinders. Each of these cylinders serves an important function. The first-stage cylinder feeds the air into the compressor. The second-stage cylinder then compresses the air. In most of these units, the PSI value is usually relatively high. As it is more powerful, it is especially suited for medium to heavy-duty applications.
- Oil-lubricated compressors: As the name implies, these use oil in operating. As earlier discussed, the oil helps to lubricate the moving parts of the compressor. This results in lesser wear and tear, noise, and overall durability. The downside of this type of compressor is that you need to change the oil frequently.
- Oil-free compressors: Instead of oil, this type of compressor uses special piston rings for lubrication. They are compact and result in portable units that can be carried around.
Some other auxiliary features might be important when choosing an air compressor.
- AC System: Since an air compressor can end up getting hot, it might be important to have a means of cooling it. The best air compressors on the market usually have an in-built air-cooling system.
- Thermal Protection: Heat is one factor that can affect the performance of the unit. Therefore, thermal protection is vital in the best air compressors. This feature helps by automatically shutting down the machine when it reaches a certain heat threshold.
- Certification: Certifications indicate that the air compressor has been tested for safety and performance and meets the minimum requirements. One of the most highly rated certifications is ASME certification.
- Cage: Since the worksite can be hazardous, it is important to take steps to protect your investment. One way that manufacturers help to protect the unit is by providing a roll cage. The roll cage encloses the machine and protects it from impacts and falling objects.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are air compressors dangerous?A: Well, every tool used in the workshop is a potential hazard, including air compressors. When used properly, they would not constitute a danger. However, when used wrongly, you could harm yourself or others.
For example, if the connections are wrongly done, it can result in sparks or electrocution. Furthermore, the pressurized air blows debris and dust. Therefore, you should wear personal protective equipment. This can include equipment like eye goggles, gloves and ear muffs.
Q: What is the right PSI for my project?A: Well, it depends on the nature of the work. Most of the pneumatic tools used need from 0-5 cfm @ 70-90 PSI. However, larger units might need up to or even more than 10 CFM @ 100-120 PSI. Thus, you should consider the task at hand and the type of tool you want to use.
Q: What is the best air compressor for filling car tyres?A: Car tyres need plenty of pressure; however, you do not need a very powerful air compressor to fill a tyre. Most car tyres can be filled using a 32 PSI compressor. If you have an air compressor that offers up to 90 PSI, you should easily fill up most tyres.
Q: What capacity do I need to paint a car?A: Well, it depends on the number of coats and the size of the car in question. A 60-gallon tank with a 6HP motor should easily get the job done. The important thing is to consider the type of spray gun you’ll be using and its capability.
Q: How long should an air compressor last?A: When used properly, an air compressor should last for up to 10 years. To make it last, you must regularly maintain it.
Q: Do compressor tanks expire?A: Well, air compressors don’t come with an expiration date. However, if not regularly drained, it can develop faults that will affect its performance.
Q: How often should I drain the compressor?A: It might be somewhat of a hassle, but we recommend draining it after every session. If you let the water sit in the tank for long, it might corrode the tank and make it weaker.
Therefore, after using it, you should release the trapped air and open the drain valve. If you can, blow out any moisture in the tanks.
Q: How do I remove air from a compressor?A: Air compressors come with valves. Open the valve gently to allow the air and any trapped condensation out of the tank.
Q: How important is CFM?A: Well, the lower the PSI, the higher the CFM. If your compressor has a high CFM rating, it would be great for heavy-duty applications.
Q: What is the best compressor for spray painting?A: If you are painting as a hobby, you don’t need a heavy-duty unit. An air compressor with 2 HP is sufficient. For more serious applications, you can choose a unit that gives at least 8 CFM @ 40 PSI.
Q: Is compressed air dangerous?A: Since it is compressed air, inhaling it can lead to death. This isn’t a result of the constituents of the air. Rather, it is due to the pressure at which it might enter your lungs.
Q: Is compressed air different from regular air?A: In terms of composition, it is more or less the same. The only difference is that one type of air has been compressed.
Q: Do electric air compressors produce toxic fumes?A: Well, if your compressor uses an internal combustion engine, the oil can be burned and produce dangerous fumes like carbon monoxide.
In this post, we have considered 12 of the best air compressors you can buy right now. We spent hours researching and testing these products to produce this list. We believe that it would be very helpful. Since there are so many models from several brands on the market today, it can be hard choosing the right air compressor for you. These 12 units come with features that we are sure you’ll find appealing. We hope that the reviews, buying guide, and FAQ section above will help you to choose wisely.