air-compressor-buying-guide

The Best Air Compressor Reviews and Buying Guide for 2017

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n air compressor is an extremely useful and sometimes essential tool for home and work. There are a multitude of practical uses for an air compressor ranging from inflating a tire in your garage to powering a variety of different tools.  Below you will find our top 10 air compressor reviews. We consider these to be the best compressors on the market today. There are a variety of portable units, pancake compressors, as well as different tank sizes and weights available. We tried to cover all aspects and price points to ensure you get the compressor that best suits your needs.

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As mentioned in our air compressor buying guide, the PSI, dBA and weight are all something that you should consider when choosing an air compressor to meet your current needs. Sometimes it is best to consider a larger air compressor for your big jobs, but then to purchase a smaller portable unit to use as a backup compressor when you need it.

Here’s our Top 5 Air Compressor Reviews:

These are the compressors we think are good choices ranging from the lower end to the higher end in price. If you’re looking to get the best deal on an air compressor then we highly recommend you invest in one of these five. Keep scrolling to read full reviews of all ten.

ImageNameTank SizeWarrantyCFM/PSI
California Air Tools 5510SE Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free5.5-GallonN/A3.10 CFM at 40 PSI & 2.20 CFM at 90 PSI
DEWALT DWFP55130 Heavy Duty 200 PSI Quiet2.5-Gallon1 year limited warranty 200 Max PSI
DEWALT DWFP551266-Gallon1 year limited warranty 165 max PSI
PORTER-CABLE PCFP020033.5-Gallon1 year limited warranty135 max PSI
PORTER-CABLE CMB15 Oil-Free1.5-Gallon1 Year Warranty150 max PSI

1. California Air Tools CAT- 6310

The California Air Tools CAT-6310  comes in at a mid to high price range. It is a quiet air compressor that is good for anyone that wants a long term solution for their home. The model weighs in at 49 pounds and is quiet at just 60 decibels.

The CAT-6310 is oil free, which helps lower the consumer cost over time. The motor is solid and rated at 1 HP and runs with a 2 HP peak. It has a 6.3-gallon horizontal tank made of steel. At 100 volts electric power, it is not underpowered and has many great features. It comes with a one-year limited warranty, which protects the consumer from failing or bad parts from being overused.

This air compressor works well when it is applied to smaller products such as nail guns, air dusters, or other light spraying appliances. For heavier items, there will be a bit of a struggle.

As a portable electric unit, this CAT 6310 does a good job of being one of the quietest air compressors available.

One issue that some people have with this unit is that it has a really bad smell when it is being used. This is not typical of electric units. In addition, the refill time is a bit long. It is not the most powerful unit on the list and was made to be portable.

Overall, this is a handy little portable unit to have on hand and will get most of your jobs done. Read our more thorough review: here.

2. Dewalt DWFP55130 Heavy Duty 200 PSI

The Dewalt DWFP55130 comes in the middle of the price range. This air compressor is made by Dewalt, which is one of the top brands of air compressors. The design does not use oil and has a motor that draws 12 amps. It has a lax free startup, which reduces breaker trips.

The air compressor is fairly quiet at just 71.5 decibels. It is optimized to provide maintenance free operation. It has a 90 PSI pump that delivers a 3.0 SCFM. The 2.5-gallon tank has a maximum 200 PSI.

The weight of the compressor is just 36 pounds and can easily be carried by hand. It is thin, measuring just 12.5 inches. This makes it easy to store in a small space. Even with this compact size, the recovery time is quick and there is a ball drain valve that can be used for quickly draining it.

There are some problems with this unit. As expected, with its small size the power is a bit underwhelming and it does not run at recommended specs consistently. This reduced power means that it will create some problems when using it for larger jobs. There have also been a few complaints about the unit overheating. Allowing a short cool down period will fix this issue.

Overall, this is a compact air compressor that will work well for smaller jobs. The portability and ability to store it almost anywhere make this a good unit to own.

3. Dewalt DWFP55126 6 Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor

As mentioned, Dewalt is one of the top brands when it comes to tools of all kinds. The company makes another showing on the list with its DWFP55126 165 PSI pancake compressor. This is a pancake compressor that comes with a low price. It weighs in at 30 pounds and comes with a few interesting features.

It is another electric compressor and is listed as being a compact unit. Despite being small, this 6 gallon unit packs a punch. It will start easily even in cold weather. The dBA has a top out of 75.5, but given the small size, there are some performance gains with this compressor.

The DWFP55126 is easy to maintain and offers about twice the amount of power as several units of the same size. It includes 2 universal couplers, which allows multiple people can use the unit at the same time.

This unit will fill up quickly and is simple to drain. It is considered a portable model, but it is a bit bulkier than most other portable models that are available.

4. Porter Cable PCFP02003 3.5 Gallon 135 PSI Pancake Compressor

The PCFP02003 from Porter Cable is one of the cheapest air compressors to make this list. Don’t le the price fool you this is one of the best air compressor deals you can currently get. This pancake compressor is also one of the lightest as it weighs only 26 pounds. The shape and size of this compressor makes it quite easy to carry around and it stores well.

The PSI is just 135, but the quick recovery time makes up for this. It has a low humming amp motor of 120v. This is an impressive small machine that puts out decent power and offers low maintenance.

Some of the premium features of this compressor include the quick connect coupler and two gauges.

This compressor is one of the noisier ones on the list. The 82 dBa level is not quiet. In addition, there are no accessories that come with the unit so if this is the first time purchasing an air compressor there will be extra costs involved.

Another problem with this machine to consider is that the low price comes with parts of the unit not being made from the highest quality materials. This means that parts tend to break sooner.

5. Porter Cable CMB15 150 PSI 1.5 Gallon Oil-Free Fully Shrouded Compressor

Another low-priced option from Porter Cable is the compact CMB15. This one is a bit more powerful. Recovery time is 2.0 SCFM for 90 PSI. It has a large 1.5-gallon tank that weighs about 20 pounds, making this one of the lightest air compressors on the list.

It has an easy to access drain valve and some nice additions such as rubber feet. The motor is 120v and it works well in cold weather. The noise level is 79 dBa, which is loud but tolerable depending on the setting.

This unit comes with an 8 piece accessory kit, which is good for new air compressor buyers. It also has a one-year warranty that covers the components of the compressor. While the parts used to build this compressor are not top quality, it is a unit that has been well-built.

Overall, this is a decent air compressor even if it lacks some functions that are found on higher priced units.

6. Senco PC1010 1 Horsepower Peak ½

The Senco PC1010 is a compressor for those who are seeking to do small jobs or hobbies. It is very portable and very quiet at just 73 dBa. At peak it is 1 hp and runs at ½ hp to complete jobs.

The electric design offers 125 PSI max pressure and can go from 0 to 120 in just 128 seconds, which makes it one of the fastest performing on this list. It comes with several accessories and some other features such as regulated output pressure and individual gauges on the tank.

The lack of power of the Senco PC1010 keeps it from being a top choice for many people, even though it has a fast fill up time. However, this is a very portable unit and is often a top choice for hobbyist or those that are doing small jobs. It also makes a great secondary compressor.

7. Makita MAC700 Big Bore 2.0 HP All In Compressor

This is a powerful air compressor from Makita that comes in the middle of the pack in terms of price. It has a cast iron pump, a bore cylinder, and pistons. This combination provides great performance that gains over periods of time.

This air compressor has a 2.6-gallon tank that is labeled for 130 PSI. The weight of this compressor is on the heavy side at 52 pounds. There is a standard quarter inch quick coupler included, which is easy to use.

Refill time is about 20 seconds and the power is quite unbelievable for the size of this unit. However, it is still not powerful enough to handle some tasks. It keeps up for the most part, but it is a compact air compressor. This is worthy for many types of jobs and should last a long while.

8. Bostitch BTFP72646 3 Tool Compressor Combo Kit

The BTFP 82646 3 tool compressor kit is one of the best options on the list. It has a 6-gallon tank and comes with a ball type drain that makes it easy to drain. It comes with a higher price tag, but is well worth the price.

Along with the compressor, you get a brad nailer, straight nailer, and a crown stapler. The unit quickly reloads and has an indicator to let users know when reloading is necessary. The dBa rating is 80, but it is well-built so that it is not much louder than some of the others on this list.

This compressor is very durable and features an impact resistant composite that protects it from damage. If you do not currently have the tools that come with it, you may not want to pay the price for this compressor. This is a good unit for beginners.

9. California Air Tools CAT – 10020 Ultra Quiet and Oil

This is one of the stronger air compressors on the list. It is large 10 gallons and comes with a 2 HP motor. This is a sturdy air compressor that is on wheels. While this is not as portable, it is one of the quieter options coming in at 70 dBA.

It has an easy start valve that has a low start-up draw. It only has 14 amps so it can be up and running in a short amount of time. The motor operates smoothly at just 1680 RPM. It takes about 130 seconds to fill the tank even when it is near empty.

This unit is powerful enough to use with your larger air tools, unlike some of the other compact units on this list. This air compressor weighs in at 91 pounds and is quite bulky.

10. Porter Cable C2002 WK Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor with 13 Piece Accessory Kit

This is a mid-priced pancake air compressor that has 150 max PSI and longer running times. It is a user-friendly model that offers an air coupler and a plug that is installed by the factory onto the air hose. This makes it easy for any level of consumer to use. There is a water drain valve on the 6-gallon tank. It operates using a 120-volt motor.

The oil-free pump is well crafted and helps create a unit that will last for many years. The vital components of this air pump are protected by design and are useful in tougher working conditions.

Overall, this is a good kit that comes with quality parts and accessories. The main unit weighs 34 pounds, which makes it easy to carry and it can be stored in a smaller space.

Air Compressor Buyers Guide

When purchasing an air compressor there are several terms that you will need to be familiar with. Air compressors are great tools to have around your home for small projects. They are also widely used by contractors for larger jobs. A medium sized air compressor is a great option for both indoor and outdoor jobs, while a smaller more portable compressor is perfect for storing in your car. Overall, choosing an air compressor will be solely based on your particular needs and the sizes of the jobs that you need to complete.

Quick Tips:
  1. Your first step when buying an air compressor should be to determine if you need a smaller more portable unit or a larger stationary compressor.
  2. Determine the amount of power needed for your compressor. These points are usually measured by CFM and PSI. A good rule of thumb is to pick an air compressor with a higher CFM and PSI than your most powerful tool.
  3. Determine the size of tank you need. The tank is where your air compressor will store the compressed air needed for it to function. A compressor with a larger tank will be able to run continuously, where a smaller tank will need to be used more intermittently.

CFM/ACFM/SCFM

Cubic feet per minute or “CFM” is something that must be considered when purchasing an air compressor. In layman’s terms, CFM is the measurement of the amount of air outputted by an air compressor. Because of the vast amount of tasks an air compressor can be used for, it is important to know the proper CFM for the task at hand. This is also a great way to determine if you can save money while searching for the air compressor for your needs. For example, if the compressor can output 18 CFM, but at a power cost of 5 HP, then it would not be as cost effective as a compressor that could output 20 CFM using only 4 HP. Be sure to keep this in mind while looking at specifications.

PSI

PSI stands for pounds per square inch and this is another important factorsthat you will need to consider. A higher PSI means the less time it takes for the tank to refill. An air compressor with a high PSI will be able to handle larger jobs faster and better.

When it comes to PSI this is really going to determine how well your air compressor will work for you. This is the pressure that it used to complete jobs and you want to make sure that you choose an air compressor that has a large enough PSI to complete the tasks that you have in mind. If you choose a compressor with too low of a PSI you are going to be disappointed when your tasks take twice as long as they should.

Tank Size

air compressor buyer guide

The tank size in combination with the PSI will determine what type of tasks that the air compressor is suited for. Tank sizes are shown in gallons. Obviously, the bigger the size of the tank, the more air that it will hold. A large tank combined with a high PSI is preferred. However, even when choosing a smaller unit it is important to have balance.

The tank size combined with the PSI determine whether the compressor will be suited for small tasks, medium tasks, or larger tasks such as remodeling projects.

dBA

The dBA of an air compressor is what determines how loud a unit is when it is in operation. In some cases, a larger unit is no louder than a smaller more compact unit. When searching for an air compressor pay attention to the dBA as well as how the unit is built. A unit that has a low dBA, but is not built well can be just as loud as a well-built unit that has 80 dBA.

Weight

air compressor buying guide

The weight of the air compressor can get a bit complex. After all, you do not want to have to drag a 90-pound air compressor upstairs. However, if the project requires quite a bit of power, typically you are going to need a larger air compressor to use. In addition, larger units often come with several features and are designed as powerhouses.

However, if the work requires you to travel a lot, the larger unit is not going to be the best choice. However, the lighter weight comes with pros and cons. A smaller air compressor is often designed for simple jobs around the home.

Overall, choose a weight that you are comfortable with. However, the weight of an air compressor typically should not be a top priority in most cases.

Types of Compressors

air-compressor-types

There are 4 main types of air compressors on the market today. The design does not determine the quality or functionality of the compressor, but one should familiarize themselves with the terminology to avoid confusion.

Pancake  – This type of compressor is usually round and can hold about 2-6 gallons of air.

Wheelbarrow – This is a more portable style compressor that has 2-4 wheels for added mobility.

Pontoon – These are one of the most commonly seen types of compressor. They usually have a long, rounded cylindrical tank and 2 wheels.

Two-stack or Twin-stack – These are very similar to the pontoon style but have 2 tanks for added air output and storage.

How to Buy an Air Compressor

For people who are looking for an air compressor to use in their home, the choice is a bit simpler. For a smaller or mid-sized home choose a unit with a low dBA. A smaller unit with a larger tank will allow you to handle a wide range of projects around the home.

For a larger home, you may want something more industrial based on the type of work that you are going to do. However, when using it around the home you will still want to consider the dBA. If you have a larger piece of land, you may want to consider a unit that has multi-user support.

Portable air compressors are known for being lightweight and easy to carry. However, there is a bit more to them than this. In the past, portable air compressors often had low PSI, but this is no longer the case. Now, portable air compressors allow you to get a decent amount of work done with a smaller unit.

The weight is something that needs to be considered when choosing your portable air compressor. These smaller units are easy to carry by hand without much issue. In addition, many of these units are so compact that they can be easily stored. It is rare for this type of unit to have multi-user support, but it is available in some models.

Conclusion

This list includes the best air compressors of the year and can provide you with a good guide when you are looking to purchase a new air compressor to use. All of the air compressors that are listed are of good quality and can get the job done for you.

Electric models are becoming more popular when it comes to air compressors, but they are not going to totally replace gas models because of power issues. However, many people find that they prefer how quiet the electric models are compared to the gas models.

The list above contains some top brands and each of them come with solid reviews on Amazon. Overall, when choosing an air compressor, think about your particular needs, your budget, and choose one that will work with the tools that you have in mind.
Make sure that you read reviews about each air compressor and compare each one closely. If you take your time to do this you will find an air compressor that will best work for the jobs that you have in mind and will fit into your budget.