Hi there, my name is Matt and I would like to offer you a “powerful” welcome to my website.
Since you are reading this page, I think it’s safe to hazard a guess that you are looking to buy an air compressor. If you are a complete novice, don’t worry because there is plenty of useful information here that will get you off to a proper start. If you are a pro, I have some material for you as well so stay tuned!
The main goal of my site is to shorten the amount of time you spend researching, and to narrow down the vast selection of air compressors available online.
In a Hurry?
Even though my goal is to keep the articles here relatively short and free of filler, the sheer number of air compressor reviews means you still have to set aside some time to read them all. Time is precious, so if you are looking for a specific air compressor and you are in a rush, you may find it helpful to jump to my best picks. Here’s the shortlist of those:
- Best Air Compressor Overall
- Best Value Air Compressor
- Most Quiet Air Compressor
- Best Heavy-Duty Compressor
- Best Budget Air Compressor
You may also be interested in this page from our friends of All The Stuff:
The 14 Best Air Compressors for Home Use
Inside the World of Air Compressors
Since air compressors are a bit more complex than your average household appliance, you can’t always jump straight into the reviews. That’s one reason why I’ve added a bunch of informational articles for you. In them you will learn various terminologies as well as the basic principles compressors work on. You can also acquaint yourself with the most important features such as size, power, compressed air delivery rate (CFM), discharge pressure (PSI), and plenty of others to boot.
How Air Compressors Actually Work
Ideally, this is your starting point. This page is a manual (of sorts) which explains all the crucial terms and features found on air compressors as well as explanations on how they work. Think of it as a crash course in air compressors. Once you have a good grasp on the basics, feel free to read some of my other informational articles (or all of them if that’s what floats your boat)!
Air Compressor Styles
Air compressors come in a variety of different styles based on the shape, size, design, and orientation of the air tanks so I wrote this article which explains the benefits of each one (pluses and negatives included). If you are unfamiliar with the terms pancake, wheelbarrow, hot dog, twin-stack, or pontoon in the context of compressors, don’t worry because once you’re done reading the article you will know everything about them.
Size, Power and CFM
If you want to determine the true power of a compressor, you have to look at three major factors: Size, power, and the discharge pressure (CFM). Often, the number of horsepower is not always indicative of true power. You also have to factor in the tank size as well as air flow rate and pressure. Read this article to find out how these three numbers correlate.
Gas-powered vs. Electric
Based on the type of fuel they use there are two different types of air compressor: Gas-powered and electric. To find out how each of these works as well as the pros and cons for each, take the time to read this article.
My Best Picks
There is more to be found on my website in the way of information, but for now it’s time for my top air compressor picks.
Best Air Compressor Overall
I decided to award the title of best air compressor to the Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP. In addition to Makita being one of the best power tool manufacturers, this unit has plenty of features that place it firmly at the very top. These include a big bore cylinder design, cast iron construction, heavy-duty oil lubricated pump, and some impressive performance figures. Personally, I cannot recommend this one enough!
Best Value Air Compressor
The PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor gives you the best money-to-value ratio by far. You get a fantastic 13-piece accessory kit along with it, but apart from that this compact pancake compressor has some serious performance figures which can be found on some of the more expensive and powerful models. In fact it has one of the best power outputs I have come across on an air compressor.
Best Gas-Powered Air Compressor
The Industrial Air Contractor CTA5090412 4-Gallon Grade Direct Drive Pontoon with Honda Engine didn’t face stiff competition since it is the only gas-powered compressor on my website. Mind you, there are plenty of gas-powered air compressors you can buy, but this one stands head and shoulders above its competitors. Thanks to that awesome Honda motor, it is able to carry out any kind of task.
Best Stationary Air Compressor
I don’t usually give out two awards for one compressor, but the Campbell Hausfeld HS5180 5-Horsepower Cast Iron Vertical Compressor is not only the best stationary compressor I have reviewed on my site, but it’s also the best two-stage unit you can buy for your money.
Equipped with a massive 80 gallon vertical tank for a lower footprint, it is able to provide a max of 200 PSI and can power multiple tools. In my opinion, this is the best choice for professionals.
Quietest Air Compressor
The California Air Tools CAT-5510SE is easily the quietest air compressor I reviewed, producing only 65dB. That said I could easily have named it Best Value Compressor at the same time. Apart from its excellent value and quiet operation, this unit is one of the best air compressors overall .
Best Budget Air Compressor
Although the term “budget” usually conjures up an image of a subpar power tool, it doesn’t hang around for long! PORTER-CABLE is known for their high-quality products and the PCFP02003 3.5-Gallon 135 PSI Pancake Compressor is no exception. It’s capable of delivering a max of 135 PSI, and weighs just 26lbs. This makes is powerful and highly portable at the same time.
Best Trim Compressor
The DEWALT DWFP55130 is the best trim/indoor compressor however, I could easily have categorized it as one of the quietest as well. It’s 2.5-gallon and has a max pressure of 200 PSI, exceeding the requirements of most finishing tasks. The unit is also compact and lightweight, so you’ll have no trouble transporting it from one location to another.
Most Portable Air Compressor
The PORTER-CABLE CMB15 150 PSI 1.5 Gallon Oil-Free Compressor is by far the most portable air compressor around. Weighing just 20lbs, it is fully shrouded which means you can safely put it in the trunk of your car and transport it without fear of vital components getting damaged.
Best Heavy-Duty Compressor
The Ingersoll-Rand SS3F2-GM is a true workhorse. This air compressor is designed to be used by the professionals, and is made out of cast iron for maximum durability. Plus, its 100% duty cycle indicates its commercial-grade performance. Equipped with a massive 30-gallon tank, this heavy-duty unit is reliable and powerful.
Best Vertical Air Compressor
The Campbell Hausfeld HU502000AV provides you with commercial-grade performance, no matter what task you throw at it.
With a max pressure of 150 PSI, massive 20-gallon tank, and a low-maintenance oil-free pump, this air compressor allows for a quick recovery time and smooth workflow even during extended work sessions.
Additional Reviews and Information
Yes, there is more! If you’re still reading (or even just skipped to this section), here are those additional articles I promised you a while back:
Basic Compressor Considerations
Apart from being able to tell the power of the compressor, once you read this you will also know a thing or two about compressor pumps and the way they are lubricated, types of drive they use, ways in which the pump generates air pressure and a lot more.
Options & Features
Some of the features which can be found on air compressors are not of essential value such as transport wheels, carrying handles, roll cages or air filters. However, they still come in very handy so take a moment to check out my article on them.
Here you will find some useful advice regarding safety, operation and maintenance every user should know. Learn how to extend the life of your compressor, and how to avoid injuries while working.
Power Tool Reviews
Are You Still Reading?
Great! But don’t worry, I’ll be brief. If you’re interested, I’ve also added a few articles and reviews about power tools most commonly attached to an air compressor.
Best Impact Wrenches
Impact wrenches are extremely powerful tools which take full advantage of the power a compressor provides them with. Here you can find out how they function, and which things to look out for when buying one, and here you can see my top picks and find out which impact wrench to buy.
Best Nail Guns
Nails guns are classified based on their application. Still, some features are the same on all types, and this article goes into great detail about each of those features.
Of course, there are plenty of nail guns to choose from as well, and you can find my best nail gun picks right here.
Tire inflators are essentially air compressors except they don’t have an air tank in which to store compressed air. Suitable for a wide range of inflation jobs, these practical little compressors are a must-have. You can take a look at my selection of the best tire inflators here.
A Final Word About the Reviews (I Promise)!
I created this website in order to help people find out more about air compressors and air tools in general, in a way that is concise and easy to digest. You see, recently I was doing some renovations around my home and I felt like the entire process was taking forever with no end in sight. I thought to myself: “There’s got to be a faster way to do this”. I had some vague knowledge about air compressors, but I definitely needed to learn more.
First, I had to figure out how they work. It was simple enough, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. One thing led to another, and before I knew it my research became a project in itself (those renovations just had to wait). Somehow, I managed to make sense of it all and since it did take a lot of time, I decided to share my new found knowledge so you don’t have to go through all the hard work I did.
The last stage of my research was sifting through hundreds of different air compressor models currently available for purchase, and cherry-picking those I think are worth buying. Armed with the information I gathered through extensive research, I decided to write my own review for each of the compressors I selected.
What’s important to know is that air compressors are no longer tools used just by professionals. They are slowly making their way into every home, and I want you to be prepared.
If you manage to take in all of the data I have presented here, choosing the right air compressor will be a walk in the park. I wish you all good luck.
Your “power tool” fan – Matt.