Here at Air Compressor Journal, we have reviewed the best air compressors on the market to help you find the best air compressor for the best possible price. There is a wide range of different air compressors on the market, and just about everyone has a different application for their air compressor. Whether you want to use the best air compressor for your garage, or an industrial application, or you just want to pump tires, we have something suitable for you.
The Best Air Compressor Reviews
for all applications
When most people go looking for the best air compressor, they go for the biggest motor, or the highest air pressure, or the largest air storage tank. But we take an alternative approach to finding the best air compressor, and some of these ideas might surprise you.
|Model||Max Pressure||FlowRate||Tank Size||Weight||Noise Level|
150 psi Max
@ 90 psi
135 psi Max
@ 90 PSI
100 psi Max
@ 90 PSI
165 psi Max
@ 90 PSI
150 psi Max
@ 90 PSI
120 psi Max
@ 90 PSI
125 psi Max
@ 90 PSI
125 psi Max
@ 90 PSI
114 psi Max
@ 90 PSI
Counter-Intuitive ideas about the best air compressor:
Size does not matter to be the best air compressor!
The size of an air compressor does not always provide any idea as to the overall capacity of the machine, or how high the air pressure it can deliver. In fact, there are very neat and compact air compressors on the market that are easy to lift and move around with wheels and handles. Other air compressors are not built for transport, and are better suited to stationary applications in a workshop for multiple users. But don’t be fooled by appearance, as the air pressure may be no different!
It is not all about the horsepower
Unlike most other power tools, the performance of the best air compressor is not all about the power of the motor. For many tools, the engine horsepower is the single most important factor, such as the best gas chainsaw. But the best air compressor comes with a storage tank to deliver the compressed air, rather than directly from the pump, so horsepower is no the most important factor to choose the best air compressor.
More than just a tire inflator
The best air compressor can do a whole lot more than just blow up tires, toys and sports goods. These days you can buy the best air compressor for your own shed or garage, which is suitable for a wide range of applications, and to power a wide range of air powered tools.
The best air compressor doesn’t have to be gas powered
You don’t have to buy a gas powered air compressor for more power. Unless you need to operate air tools from a remote location with no electricity supply, there is no need to buy a gas air compressor for more power.
Unless you need a high capacity air compressor to operate several tool sat the same time, there is no need for a large air tank. At the end of the day, it depends more on how long it takes to fill and recharge the tank, rather than how big it is. It is true that a smaller tank may require frequent pauses for recharging, but these pauses might be very short. If you have a large air tank, it will run for longer between pauses, but it will probably take longer to recharge the air pressure. At the end of the day, the tank size is no substitute for high flowrate.
Air tools are difficult to operate
This is not true, because air powered tools are actually smaller and lighter to work with. Because they use the compressed air for energy, they do not require a motor on board, and therefore air tools are easy to handle and more powerful than other power tools.
Air pressure is not the most important factor
Most of the best air compressors on the market are capable of delivering a decent range of air pressure, up to 100 psi and above. Whilst some specialist applications require air pressure up to 150 psi and 200 psi, these are generally only short term bursts of energy, and it can be difficult to supply high pressure air for a sustained length of time. You won’t need such high air pressure for common applications.
The best air compressor does not have to be noisy
There is a wide disparity between different types of air compressor and the noise level that they emit. Some air compressors are 3 to 4 times more noisy than the best air compressors, and we prefer to find machines that operate at a more discrete noise level that does not disturb the peace.
Flow Rate is the most important factor!
The flowrate is measure of how much compressed air can be delivered by the best air compressor. It is usually measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). But sometimes it is difficult to understand exactly how much each air compressor can deliver under pressure. This is because as the air pressure increases, the flow rate decreases. So it is a real trade off depending on whether you need a high flow rate at high air pressure.
Generally speaking, air compressors have a cfm rating at around 90 psi which is a benchmark for most pneumatic tools. Beware if you are looking at a machine with a high cfm, which is measured at a lower air pressure level. It may not be as good as it seems. Almost certainly, even the best air compressor will have a significantly lower cfm at 90 psi than at 50 psi. So make sure you compare apples with apples when you compare different machines.
How much flow rate do you need for pneumatic tools?
Most common air powered tools can be used with the best air compressors that we have reviewed in this article. Most of the air powered nail guns, impact wrenches, and drills can operate at 100 psi. When you need more power, such as for heavy duty framing nail guns, you may have to pause in between nails. But you can still use them. However, there are many high demand flow rate tools such as paint sprayers, sanders, and larger impact wrenches. These may require a larger capacity air compressor to operate effectively.
How much does the best air compressor cost?
These days there are some very affordable air compressors on the market. For most people, there is no need to spend more than say $100 or $200 for the best air compressor for their needs.
However, if you want to look at some of the specialist applications, such as a small air compressor with high performance, or an ultra quiet or near silent air compressor, or some other specialist application, then you might expect to spend a little more.
Best Air Compressor Reviews
So when we compiled a list of the best air compressor reviews, we know that everyone has different requirements for an air compressor. Each of the different aspects of performance need to be assessed separately. So strap in and let’s find the best air compressor for you!
Where to Buy the Best Air Compressor for the lowest price?
1. PORTER CABLE C2002 pancake compressor – low price
No matter which way you look at it, the Porter Cable C2002 pancake air compressor has been delivering high pressure air and high flowrate for a very low price. All of the factors that we discussed have been covered off with this one. It offers a decent output of 150 psi operating pressure and a 2.6 cfm flowrate at 90 psi. (Note that high flowrate is not achievable at the maximum operating pressure!) However, the Porter Cable C2002 pancake air compressor also comes with a very handy 6 gallon air tank. This is hardly big enough for industrial users, but is more than useful for when you want to work in the shed. It is also adequate to take it with you on a work site where you need compressed air. The Porter Cable air compressor is light enough to transport, has protective shrouds. It is tough enough to use on a work site, in the shed, or on the back of a truck.
What we like about the Porter Cable air compressor:
The most impressive thing about the Porter Cable C2002 air compressor is that it doesn’t cost too much. It comes in at less than $150. But it is not perfect – it is very noisy, at more than 80 dB. Which means you probably have to consider using hearing protection. And it won’t make the neighbors happy if you want to run it for long periods of time.
2. SENCO PC1010N Air Compressor – Best all round air compressor
The Senco PC1010N is an upgraded model based on the tried and trusted Senco PC1010. With a long and proud reputation for solid performance that lasts and lasts, the Senco air compressor has long been a favorite of professional tradesmen. The Senco PC1010N is lightweight, relatively quiet and delivers a steady performance under pressure. With 135 psi maximum operating pressure, it is no slouch. Despite the small 1 gallon tank, the recharge time is less than 30 seconds so long as you don’t overwork the system.
What we like about the Senco PC1010N air compressor:
The Senco PC1010N has long been a favorite among carpenters, renovators and builders because it is versatile, quick to get started, and easy to use. The gauges are shrouded, for protection against accidental damage. There is no reason why this air compressor won’t serve you faithfully for many years.
Best Air Compressor Under $100:
3. CENTRAL PNEUMATIC 95275 – Best air compressor under $100
For those who just need to have ready access to a cheap and affordable air compressor, then it is hard to go past the Central Pneumatic 95275. This would have to be one of the best air compressors on the market, with a price tag under $50. This air compressor is very lightweight and easy to transport. But beware it is one of the noisiest air compressors on our list.
What we like about the Central Pneumatic air compressor:
Central Pneumatic air compressors are a reliable and reputable brand. This is definitely a good opportunity to pick up a decent brand air compressor at a very reasonable price. It pumps out a very reasonable air pressure of 100 psi. This is adequate for most of the air tools you want to use. Such as staple guns, nail guns and other air tools. The only drawback is that it is very noisy to operate. But that can be minimized if you only need to run for short bursts.
Best portable air compressor:
4. PORTER CABLE C2004 – Best portable air compressor
Yet another Porter Cable air compressor on our list, and this is the Porter Cable C2004. It is easily recognizable with it bright red air tank, and distinctive Porter Cable branding. This one is on our best air compressor list because it is lighter and quieter than the C2202. Because it weighs in at less than 30 pounds, and is a very compact shape and configuration, we rate this one highly as the best portable air compressor. We recommend the Porter Cable C2004 for use around the home for all types of renovations and repairs. It can be easily transported from one site to another. The Porter Cable C2004 is also suitable for the Contractor who needs to have a reliable power source near to hand.
What we like about the Porter Cable air compressor:
The Porter Cable C2004 air compressor is portable and versatile. With a healthy delivery of compressed air up to 165 psi maximum operating pressure, and a handy double outlet manifold, this air compressor can be used to keep two tradesman working at the same time. For a price under $200, this is one of the best portable air compressors on the market.
Quick Look: $180 | 2.6 cfm | lightweight 29 pounds | 75.5 dB | 4 gallon air tank | 165 psi maximum operating pressure | 2 outlet manifold | Built in cord wrap | Ball valve drain – Click here for more details.
5. BOSTITCH Trim-Air CAP1512-OF: Portable air compressor
The Bostitch Trim Air CAP1512-OF is a portable air compressor which delivers high performance from a very small package. Bostitch air compressors are renowned for high performance and reliability. You can be assured that this is the best quality air compressor. It is packaged into a very neat and compact unit. This air compressor comes with fully integrated shrouds, roll cage, pressure gauges, outlet valves and control knobs. It offers a respectable operating pressure up to 150 psi, and a very healthy delivery flowrate of 2.8 cfm. So you can see that this is a high performance air compressor.
What we like about the Bostitch air compressor:
Overall, this is one of the best portable air compressors because it has been designed into such a neat and compact package. Don’t let the appearance fool you though, because it is a high performance air compressor. With high flowrate, good operating pressure despite its small size and weight. To make this the best portable air compressor, it comes designed with a fully integrated roll cage, shroud and carry handles, all under 24 pounds weight.
Best ultra quiet air compressor:
6. CALIFORNIA AIR TOOLS 5510SE – Ultra quiet air compressor
We couldn’t go any further in our review of the best air compressor without discussing the best air compressor on the market. Without a doubt, California Air Tools make the best ultra quiet air compressor that you can buy. Take the California Air Tools 5510SE as a good example of power and ultra quiet performance. The CAT 5510SE is a powerful and ultra quiet air compressor. There is no compromise on performance. With a healthy operating pressure of 120 psi, and a flowrate greater than 2 cfm, this is the best air compressor for renovating around the home, the garage, and even for use on remote construction sites.
Best Ultra Quiet Air Compressor
The impressive feature about this best quiet air compressor is that the noise level is maintained at around 60 dB. Which is claimed to be about the level of a normal conversation. What this means is that you can operate this air compressor in a shared work space without disrupting everyone else in the room. Better still, you can use this quiet air compressor in a residential area, with no impact on surrounding neighbors. The California Air Tools 5510SE is renowned as the best quiet air compressor because the air pump runs at half the speed that other air compressors run. But rather than out putting half the performance, it utilizes a dual piston pump which is more efficient than other systems, and hence provides excellent performance with much less noise.
What we like about California Air Tools air compressor:
Despite the fact it costs a little more than some of the other air compressors on our list, the California Air Tool 5510SE is one of the best ultra quiet air compressors. California Air Tools claim that this unit has a much longer life because the slower speed of the motor and pump means there is lower wear and tear. So there are multiple benefits to the user because of the technology offered by California Air Tools to reduce noise, reduce wear, and to reduce maintenance. At the same time, this best quiet air compressor is still capable of providing excellent performance to satisfy the most discerning tradesmen and home handymen.
7. HUSKY 4610A Air Compressor – Low noise air compressor
The Husky air compressor is more of a heavy duty air compressor which is favored by contractors and professionals who require a machine that can handle rough treatment on a work site. The Husky 4610A is a sturdy and heavy air compressor with 3 air storage tanks for a total of 4.6 gallons of compressed air. The air tanks are made from aluminum so this air compressor is corrosion resistant which makes it okay for dirty work, and a bit of dirt, dust or water won’t affect performance.
What we like about the husky Air Compressor:
The Husky 4610A air compressor is a heavy duty air compressor with great all round performance and a relatively low noise level of 65-68 dB. Whilst this is not as quiet as the California Air Tools air compressor, this one costs less at around $200.
California Air Tools 4610AC – ultra quiet air compressor
If the Husky air compressor is unavailable, there is another California Air Tools ultra quiet air compressor that is very similar – check out the CAT 4610AC. These models have similar ultra quiet performance, and are priced just under $200.
Best silent air compressor:
Even though we are impressed at just how little noise the best air compressor puts out, it can still be difficult to operate in a shared work space, or around quiet residential areas. Some air compressors are simply too noisy, so is there a silent air compressor on the market?
8. Silentaire Sil-Air Super Silent DR-150 Air Compressor
The incredibly quiet range of silent air compressors by Silentaire live up to their reputation. The best silent air compressor will impress everyone who likes to work in silence. The Silentaire DR-150 air compressor boasts a low noise level of just 30 dB, which means for my money, the Super Silent DR-150 Airbrush Compressor is a truly silent air compressor.
What we like about the Super Silent DR-150 Air Compressor:
The Super Silent DR-150 Airbrush Compressor has excellent performance, and produces a maximum operating pressure of 84-114 psi. The only limiting factor with this silent air compressor is the flowrate, which is limited to just 0.7 cfm, and the air storage tank which only has a capacity of 1 gallon.
9. Silentaire Super Silent 50-TC – silent air compressor
As difficult as it may be to believe, the Silentaire brand air compressors are almost totally silent! The Super Silent 50-TC is the best silent air compressor with a little extra performance. The Super Silent 50-TC air compressor generates up to 114 psi maximum operating pressure and delivers a flowrate of 2.1 cfm. The reason we can confidently label this machine as the best silent air compressor is that the noise level of this silent air compressor is a very quiet 40 dB.
What we like about the Super Silent TC-50 air compressor:
The most impressive feature of the Super Silent TC-50 air compressor is the noise level is a whisper quiet 40 dB, even at the operating air pressure of 114 psi. Sure this machine costs a little more, up around $850 – $870, but if you or your neighbors like the sound of silence while you work, this is the best opportunity to buy the best silent air compressor .
Best Air Compressor for the price:
10. DEWALT D55140 135 PSI Trim Compressor
We always recommend the neat and compact DeWalt D55140 air compressor for its portability and compact design. The DeWalt D155140 comes with a 1 gallon air tank, and it generates 135 PSI at maximum operating pressure. This is a very neat package which will satisfy most builders and renovators for interior renovating and construction work. In terms the of noise output, the Dewalt D55140 operates at a very low 69 dB. which makes it one of the best quiet air compressors, as well as the best interior air compressor.
We like this machine because it is well designed with an oil free air pump and heavy duty cast iron components. The DeWalt D155140 air compressor is built to last, no matter how hard you work this machine. It comes with a rugged and hardy protective shroud and roll cage. The control panel and pressure gauges are fully shrouded and protected, so you don’t have to worry about breaking this tool.
What we like about the DeWalt air compressor:
The DeWalt D155140 is a good choice for all interior finishing jobs, cabinet making, trims and woodworking projects. This is a top quality air compressor by DeWalt for a very reasonable price. This DeWalt air compressor will definitely find a home in your garage or shed.
Best 20 gallon Air Compressor:
11. Dewalt DXCMLA1682066 20 gallon air compressor
The best 20 gallon air compressor is also built by DeWalt, who are specialists in small to mid range air compressors. The Dewalt DXCMLA1682066 is designed as a 1.6 horsepower vertical tank air compressor. This configuration generates enough compressed air for the professional builder or contractor. But it is still portable enough to easily move around the work site.
The design of the Dewalt DXCMLA1682066 is packed full of features. Such as oil lubricated air pump, smooth ball bearings, stainless steel reed valves. This high quality construction means you get smooth and vibration free operations. DeWalt have even included a 12 inch flywheel to balance out the vibration. This flywheel is an awesome addition, and keeps the whole unit running smoothly and quietly.
What we like about the DeWalt air compressor:
The Dewalt DXCMLA1682066 20 gallon air compressor comes with all sorts of additional features. These include shroud protection around pressure gauges, belt safety guard, as well as wheels and handles for easy mobility. With a 20 gallon air tank and high pressure air, the DeWalt 20 gallon air compressor is a very attractive option.
Best 30 gallon Air Compressor:
12. Ingersoll-Rand 30 Gallon Air Compressor: SS3F2-GM
When you need a 30 gallon air compressor with high performance and durability, then look no further. The Ingersoll-Rand SS3F2–GM air compressor is a tough and sturdy work mate that everyone would love to have. If you have ever seen a heavy duty air compressor on a work site, or on the back of a truck. Then it was more than likely an Ingersoll-Rand air compressor. Ingersoll Rand make the best industrial air compressors and have a proud history going back many years.
What we like about the Ingersoll Rand air compressor:
Ingeroll-Rand are renowned for manufacturing some of the toughest power tools on the market. The Garage Mate 30 gallon air compressor is a machine that will keep pumping for many years.
Best 60 gallon Air Compressor:
13. Industrial Air ILA3606056 60 Gallon Air Compressor
The Industrial Air ILA3606056 is a powerful and affordable 60 gallon air compressor for the garage, or industrial workshop. The Industrial air compressor is powered by a 3.7 hp electric motor and generates 155 PSI of compressed air. In terms of dependability and maintenance free operations. The Industrial Air ILA3606056 is a solid contender for best 60 gallon air compressor. This machine provides all the reliability to make sure you get the maintenance free operation that you need. So you don’t have to waste time on repairs and maintenance.
What we like about the Industrial Air heavy duty air compressor:
The Industrial Air ILA3606056 air compressor is backed by a two year warranty. You can rely on this rugged and sturdy machine to provide maintenance free service for many years.
How to Choose the Best Air Compressor?
There is a bewildering number of figures that you find when you come to choose the best air compressor. For example, there is cfm, hp, gal, lbs, psi, and dB. It can be a little confusing as to what all this means for you.
So let’s take a moment to explain what it all means:
- Flowrate – measured in cubic feet per minute or cfm, or maybe even cfpm.
- Horsepower – the power of the air compressor motor, measured in hp.
- Storage tank – size of the compressed air tank, measured in gallons, or gal.
- Air compressor weight – all up weight of the unit measured in pounds, or lbs.
- Air pressure – measure of the operating air pressure in pound force per square inch, or psi.
- Noise level – measure of the noise level of the machine, in decibels, or dB.
Plus there are many other factors that may come into your decision how to choose the best air compressor. Such as does the unit have 2 outlet connectors? If so then you can hook up and use two air hoses at the same time. Does the best air compressor have wheels and a handle to make it easier to mover around? Does the best air compressor run off gas or electricity?
But don’t let each of these choices confuse you. Because for every application, there is an air compressor that is better suited to get the job done. We can help describe which features of the best air compressor are most important for your needs. And how to make the best choice for you!
Don’t forget that price is also important, and depends on how much you want to spend on an air compressor. Cost can determine which features are more important. Or maybe you are willing to pay a little extra to get the features you really need.
Click here to read more at the air compressor journal.