To buy the best shop air compressor, you will need to do some research. But before we start talking about the pros and cons of air compressor brands, we need to talk about what an air compressor does. An air pressure device of any kind is used to concentrate gasses (in most cases air) to accomplish certain tasks, but mainly to evenly apply paint.
Air compressors have a variety of uses though, as they can be equipped and used as sandblasters to smooth surfaces, remove rust, and power other air tools like nailers that work for many home and professional projects.
Comparison Table of shop air compressor
Top 10 Best Shop Air Compressor Reviews
01. Dewalt 6-Gallon Pancake Compressor
The Dewalt DWFP55126 6-Gallon Pancake Compressor comes with different features to help a homeowner and also a professional repair person accomplish many different tasks. This is a “lightweight air compressor” and only weighs about 30 pounds, which makes it easily portable during the workday.
It is also convenient to store away because of features like its own cord wrap. And like other air compressors, the Dewalt DWFP55126 is electrically powered. However, this air compressor is designed to operate with the same force – whether you are using a 14-gauge extension cord of ten feet or one that is fifty feet in length.
There are many air compressors that do not operate this well when you have a longer extension cord. And you will find the longer extension cord will be necessary when you are completing many power-washing, sanding, or painting projects around the home. But there is more to the Dewalt DWFP55126 to make it more effective.
This is because the Dewalt DWFP55126 has two universal couplers that point in different directions so that two people can use it at the same time to make the work go faster like power washing a deck or painting a house. The motor is also easy to start in cold weather and offers a quiet noise level of 75.5 dBa.
The rubber leg covers also contribute to this compressor’s functionality because it will not scratch the floors of any home where you work. Another important aspect of this compressor is that it offers a low-maintenance oil-free pump and a console cover. The console cover shields the controls so that whatever materials you are working with, they are protected.
It removes for easy cleaning and replacement. An efficient ball drain valve on this model makes for faster and complete tank draining, although the drain valve has to be completely fastened before you use it.
- 6 SCFM delivered at 90 PSI Pump
- 165 max PSI 6.0 Gallon Tank
- Quick drain, longer running time
02. PORTER-CABLE PCFP02003 3.5-Gallon 135 PSI Pancake Compressor
The Porter-Cable PCFP02003 3.5-Gallon 135 PSI Pancake Compressor is a “smaller air compressor” that still delivers a punch. If you are working on less taxing jobs, there is a value in using an air compressor that only weighs 26 pounds and is easily portable.
It only has one standard factory-installed coupler, but that isn’t a setback if you work on your own. The main plus about this air compressor is that it is light to carry, provides instant access to a controlled air source when you need it, and is easy to maneuver if you work by yourself.
There is also no maintenance as this machine has an oil-free pump for a long life as you use it for your occasional home projects. The noise level, however, on this machine is a little louder at 82 dBa, which makes it louder than other air compressors.
It also mainly works with smaller air tools like nailers that can put up trim with finishing brads, but it can also accomplish something like minor roofing jobs where you would need to nail down roofing shingles if you have heavy winds that loosen them.
This is an air compressor that runs at a low amp of 120 volts, so it is definitely not an air compressor for heavy jobs. This lower volt needed to run this air compressor is feature that helps out if you are using a longer extension cord to power it.
The right extension cord is probably something you will need to purchase as well when you use power air tools of any kind, so you will probably need to talk to a home advisor when you purchase an extension cord for your “home air compressor.” This is to make sure that it works with the air compressor you have purchased and the job you are trying to finish.
The Porter-Cable PCFP02003 also has a quick recovery time (which is another thing you have to think about), and the 135 max PSI makes it runs longer to finish repair jobs around the house that require SCFM air tools – but in this case, only ones that are smaller that don’t require the kind of air pressure you would get from a more powerful machine.
- 0 SCFM delivered at 90 PSI Pump
- Oil-Free Pump For Durability
- 120 Volt Low-Amp Motor
03. Big Bore Makita MAC2400 Air Compressor
This pneumatic tool from Makita with a cast iron pump offers features that make it better suited for job sites than home improvement projects. This is because it has a faster recovery time than other oil-free models that don’t offer as much power on fewer amps.
The pump is oil-lubricated, which reduces wear on the machine and provides for running temperatures that are cooler for longer use. However, having an oil-lubricated air compressor also means higher maintenance.
This is why the Bore Makita is more for professional use than home improvement projects. That being said, the cast iron pump is engineered with a cylinder and piston assembly that provides improved performance and a recovery time that is faster for construction work or car repair.
As well, the Big Bore from Makita does not require a lot of amp draw to start up. This is important for construction work, when you may trip breakers that aren’t yet wired correctly and cut out on you if you require too much power from your electrical equipment during start-up.
With a 4.2-gallon tank that is twin-stacked, this air compressor supplies 40 PSI and also 90 PSI, and has enough power for the two couples, so two people can use the machine at the same time. The motor is also protected with a thermal overload detector, which is built in to protect the motor from overheating during long days on the job.
The roll-cage construction of this model also provides protection for this air compressor on projects where the job site environments may be more hazardous. It also has an industrial-style filter for air intake. This filter increases air intake, which makes it more efficient.
- 5 HP 4-pole motor produces 4.2 SCFM at 90 PSI
- Oil-lubricated Pump For Longer Jobs
- Lower noise of 79dBa
04. Hand Carry Porter-Cable Compressor Kit
The CMB15 hand-carry air compressor from Porter-Cable only weighs twenty pounds – so it is probably the easiest to carry for small household jobs like painting a deck or nailing up some inside cornices or trim. This is not an air compressor for major jobs though, just one that you can use for your minor home-improvement projects.
The good thing about this compressor, designed for home use, is that it is fully shrouded. What this means is that while it doesn’t have as much power as other air compressors, it is a fully contained unit that anyone can use and carry around their property.
It comes with a 25-inch hose, which also makes it flexible for the do-it-yourselfer who wants to tackle the projects around the home that require pneumatic tools to get the job done. This is not a tool for professional contractors, though. While it has rubber feet to protect floors and other surfaces, along with a water drain valve, it is not meant for commercial use.
And while this air compressor passes ISO standards, it is really made for the home improvement enthusiast who will only use it occasionally for projects that will improve where they live. The CMB15 has a 1.5-gallon capacity and has an oil-free pump which makes it ideal for smaller jobs because the maintenance on this pneumatic device is almost non-existent.
- 120V low amp motor starts easily
- Recovery time – 2.0 SCFM at 90 psi
- Longer run times for tools
05. The Ultra Quiet From California Air Tools
This aluminum tank model, 210A from California Air Tools, operates at a noise level of only 60 decibels, which is fairly quieter than many other air compressors. And another positive feature about a tank made of aluminum is that it is a fairly rust-free compressor.
This makes it more low maintenance than other pneumatic tools if you just want to complete a home project every once in a while, and then store the air compressor away in your garage or utility room.
And even though it is lighter in weight, this air compressor has a two-gallon capacity, which means that it will power your air tools for a longer time than some of the other smaller air compressors.
The Ultra Quiet also has a 1.0 horsepower motor with the capability to manage most small home repairs like painting a deck or nailing down the trim on a door frame. This air compressor also has an oil-free pump that doesn’t need the maintenance that the more professional models require.
Which makes it suitable for home projects, but not for professional use on a long-term basis. That being said, this air compressor is perfect for home jobs that you might want to complete in an afternoon where you don’t want to disturb anyone and rely on an air compressor that won’t be difficult to handle for lighter projects.
The Ultra Quiet does only have one unit of horsepower though, so you may not want to depend on it for a larger home improvement project – and it is not suitable for extended commercial use. Although like many air compressors, it has two intensities, 2.20 SCFM at 90 psi, or 3.10 SCFM at 40 psi.
- Aluminum housing for no rust
- Oil-free pump
- 2 Gallon tank
- Quiet for interior projects
06. One Horsepower JC10 Plus From Rolair
One of the most common complaints from homeowners about air-powered devices is the noise level. This is because most people do their home repairs on the weekend, so the loud sounds of a pneumatic device are always a concern.
Especially if you use it indoors. The other concern for do-it-yourself is also the weight of lugging around one of these machines. However, the Rolair JC10 Plus solves both of these problems.
While this machine is not for commercial use or heavy-duty construction projects, it can perform smaller home-improvement tasks like finishing off trim work by using an air powered nail gun (sold separately) or refurbishing wooden deck chairs with attachments that will sand and paint them.
This air compressor is really only for weekend home-finishing enthusiasts because it only has 1.0 horsepower, but it has a quiet sound (60 dBa) that won’t irritate your neighbors on a Saturday morning or disturb anyone who is sleeping in on a Sunday
But with a 2.35 SCFM at 90 psi, it is powerful enough to complete most lightweight home improvement jobs with the least amount of disruption possible. This model is also perfect for repainting a room the same color as well, you just shouldn’t try to tackle the bigger projects like repainting the outside of your home or using it to reroof your house.
All in all, this quiet pneumatic air tool works well if you like to listen to music while you work and comes with a roll cage so that you won’t damage the internal parts if you are working on a hill or a ladder and accidentally knock it over.
- Aluminum housing for no rust
- Oil-free pump for low maintenance
- 2 Gallon tank
- Quiet for interior projects
- 1725 RPM motor
07. Model 074026-00 Briggs & Stratton Air Compressor
Air compressors from Briggs & Stratton can be considered to be quite heavy-duty for commercial purposes, like working in an auto-shop. And an auto shop is a place where you expect to hear loud noises from an air compressor that might be sanding off the rust from an older car.
But what many people don’t know is that Briggs & Stratton also make air compressors for lighter-use home improvement projects. This kind of power air tool couples easily with accessories like “painters and nailers” to complete home projects in a way that you wouldn’t associate with a more heavy-duty air compressor from a company like Briggs & Stratton.
The 074026-00 from Briggs & Stratton isn’t for commercial use, but it does work for small projects that you might have around the house. The four-pole induction motor operates with the use of two pumps and distributes a more even air-flow – so it works more effectively on home-improvement jobs with a quieter sound than some other air compressors.
In fact, if you have used a compressor that sounds like a lawn mower, you will appreciate the difference in the reduced noise and vibration level. These are just a few benefits of Quiet Power Technology, sometimes referred to as QPT by this company and others.
The other benefits are that these air quiet air compressors can last up to three times longer than the heavier-duty traditional air compressors that have much more vibrations which eventually breaks down the machine.
- Oil-free pump for easy maintenance
- 75 induction motor
- Oversized regulator knob
- 8 SCFM at 90 PSI
- Wrap design for the power cord
- Much quieter than other models
- Three times longer life
08. One Gallon Ultra Quiet Oil-free Hitachi EC28M
Model number EC28M from Hitachi is a one-gallon air compressor which is portable and has an oil-free pump for easy maintenance. This is probably the air compressor that checks out as the lowest noise polluter as it registers at a 59-dBa level.
If you haven’t had the time to research, many other air-powered tools get the job done, but they are much louder and irritating – unless you absolutely confirm that you have scheduled your pressurized air work with your family, your neighbors, or your commercial job site.
Although, while the noise reduction is a plus, this air compressor only comes with one factory installed quick coupler, so only one person can use it at a time. And while Hitachi claims that you can carry on a normal conversation while you paint or finish up trim with a pneumatic nail gun, this probably isn’t the case entirely.
However, this is one of the simpler air compressors to operate if you are a novice and only use it for small weekend home improvement projects. And if you are the one person using this type of power air tool, it comes with a rubber grip handle that makes it easily portable as it also only weighs about 25 pounds.
As well, the stainless-steel cage construction makes it durable in most work conditions and the integrated control panel makes for easy operation of this air compressor while protecting the gauges. The discharge hose, which is made of stainless steel braiding, remains flexible while resisting the corrosion that other hoses may suffer.
- Oil-free pump for easy maintenance
- 25 lbs for easy lifting
- Much quieter than other models
09. Belt-Driven Air Compressor From Industrial Air
The ILA1883054 from Industrial Air is a heavy-duty cast-iron air compressor made for mechanics, service trucks, and other commercial operations like livestock operations. This is a heavy-duty air compressor and made to meet the needs of anyone who has a commercial home improvement project or runs a larger operation like a farm.
This air compressor has a 30-gallon vertical tank, and comes with a supply of synthetic oil, as it works on an oil-lubricated pump. It also features pneumatic tires which are pre-attached. So, while the ILA1883054 is completely portable, it is not for small home projects or the novice do-it-yourselfer.
It has a twin cylinder with a maximum of 155 PSI pressure. The dual voltage induction motor will endure most heavy-duty jobs, which ensures optimum tool performance on a regular basis without tripping breakers. This is because while the dual voltage motor is wired for a standard 120 volts, it can also be converted to work with 240 volts as necessary. Finally, it is also CSA and UL certified for professional use.
- Quick set regulator
- Easy to monitor pressure gauges
- Tires to make it easier to transport
- Dual voltage motor
- Aluminum head and valve plate
10. Silent Series Eagle EA-3000 Air Compressor
This is a “hot dog style compressor” that is part of the silent series from Eagle. This air compressor is mainly manufactured for professionals and claims to be so quiet that you can talk about other projects while you are operating it. This is a one-gallon compressor with a maximum of 125 psi.
What’s interesting about this machine is that it operates at a noise level of 46 decibels, which makes it the quietest professional grade air compressor on the market. This is accomplished with a slow RPM motor, which reduces heat, friction, and noise. It works as well indoors as out and claims not to disturb anyone who is within earshot.
It only draws 6.5 amps, so it won’t trip any breakers and has an integrated control panel. This panel is also slanted at sixty-five degrees so the dials are easy to read in any light. A dual air intake reduces wear on the machine and helps it last longer. This compressor does not require oil so it is low maintenance in that respect.
It only comes in blue, so that will have to be the color you like, although the color is appealing. Other features include a push-to-lock coupler (making it easier to use), a lever-type drain valve, and pressure gauges that are situated in a steel face to protect them.
This is the sort of compressor that meets several needs. It is sturdy enough for professionals to use, but also quiet enough to use at home if you have the need to use pneumatic tools for larger home repair jobs like roofing or car repair.
- 125 psi maximum pressure
- Adjustable pressure regulator
- Stainless steel braided discharge tubing
What To Look For When You Buy An Air Compressor
First and foremost, what you have to decide before you buy an air compressor is the scope of the projects you are trying to finish. But there is much more to it than that. You also have to decide how often you are going to use it and then if you are going to use it as a professional or a do-it-yourselfer.
Professionals who use this kind of pneumatic device on a daily basis will have to invest in a heavy-duty model. This is because the less expensive home models are only designed to paint a room faster or fasten on lightweight trim with a nail gun.
At the same time, if you are tackling larger projects like renovating your home, the cheaper air compressors will not be able to help you complete the job.
So let’s look at it this way
If you are only going to use an air compressor with a pneumatic device to do some light painting every once in a while, or tack up some new cheap decorative cornices, it fine to buy the least expensive and lowly-rated brand of air compressor.
But don’t expect to use it that much and don’t expect it to tackle any heavy jobs. This is a waste of time and money. At the same time though, the advantage of the cheaper air compressor models is that they are easier to carry and take up less room in storage than the professional models.
If you are a weekend home repair enthusiast, you will have to have one of the machines with more psi, more staying power, and quicker recovery time. So, if you read a review about a “professional power washer” you may think it is only for people who use them for a living, but this isn’t necessarily true.
Professional grade only means that these air compressors are more durable. This is exactly what you may need to complete a major home repair project, or bodywork on a car if the task is an extensive one.
Certainly, if you own a home contracting business or have a body shop, you will not get away with purchasing one of the cheaper models. The cheaper home-use models will not work for someone who owns a business and needs to use their air compressor repeatedly during every workday or may need two people to use it at once for more efficiency.
The power that an air compressor uses is a concern as well. Many heavy-duty air compressors can trip breakers, resulting in an interruption in power that will continually bring any project to a halt. As well, you will have to read a review about the vibration level of the air compressor, as a high vibration level is not only irritating but also reduces the life of the machine.
Lastly, the noise level is important as you may get complaints if the noise your machine creates is disturbing to neighbors or businesses.
The next thing you have to look at is buying the accessories that go with your air compressor. The downside to buying an air compressor is that none of them come with the nail guns or the paint sprayers that you will need to complete any home or car repair project.
The same goes with extension cords and even the right length of air hose. So sometimes the first place to start is to look at the power air tools you will be using and then backtrack to the right air compressor that will be compatible and power the pneumatic devices that you will be using.
What most people use air compressors for is to paint rooms, power wash a home, paint cars, and fill tires or mattresses with air – or power nail guns and other pneumatic devices. So you will have to think about what you are going to use it for, check out the accessories and read some reviews that will make your project easier for you – or if you have a business, complete the work your clients need you to do.
Here are some accessory words to look up before you purchase an air compressor:
- “Air Nozzles”
- “Air chucks”
- “Inflator Needle”
- “Air Hoses”
- “Impact Wrenches”
As you can see, there are many power air tools that you can use with an air compressor to make your work easier, whether you are a professional or a do-it-yourselfer.
Other Concerns About Air Compressors
There are also other considerations for using air compressors effectively: the extension cord you will use and the air hose. And while your air compressor will be electrically powered, this presents a limitation. Because no air compressor will work for any home or business project if you don’t have the right extension cord for two reasons:
First, the extension cord will have to be able to power your air compressor with the right amount of wattage and amps it can handle. If the extension cord doesn’t have the ability to power your machine, it will not work to its full capacity and may even trip your breakers, shutting it down continually.
Second, the extension cord will have to be long enough for you to maneuver around your project. If it isn’t long enough, your extension cord won’t allow your air compressor or the tools you are using enough leeway to complete a job. Like for example, if you are power-washing a garage floor or a deck, you will need the power air tool to be able to reach all of the areas without putting any strain on the equipment, the air hose, or the power cord.
And “air hoses” are a completely different matter. They may also not come with the air compressor and come in several different lengths and diameters. They are also made of different materials. So there are several different things to think about. The first thing is that the longer hose, the less pressure it delivers for your power air tools and the more it weighs.
It is also harder to store when you have to wind it up again. A 25- foot air hose is fine for small projects around the home, but you will need a longer hose if you are a professional who works on larger projects. You will also have to maneuver the longer extension cords, have the strength to carry them, and then be able to wrap them back up again for storage.
The air hoses are usually made of materials like rubber, polyurethane, and PVC. It’s your choice of what material you want your air hose to be made of – based on the weight, durability, and flexibility of the hose, but you will first have to match the capacity of the air hose with the psi output with your air compressor so it will function properly.
For example, if you have an air compressor that puts out 125 psi, you will need an air hose that will accommodate it. So just as you need an air compressor that will handle the job, you will also have to have a hose of the right length and diameter to deliver the air pressure you need, along with the stability that will handle this level of air pressure to make your power tools work properly.
Otherwise, you cannot take full advantage of the power that an air compressor affords you to speed up your work. In fact, if you don’t buy the right air hose for your attachments, an air compressor will not do you much good at all. Just remember the longer the hose, the less air pressure you will have for your power air tools and the less effective they will be in accomplishing your tasks.
Frequently Asked Questions About Air Compressors
If I am new to purchasing an air compressor, can I buy a package with a hose and tools?
Yes, usually if you make an air compressor purchase online, you will get suggestions about what grade hose to use and what power air tools that go with it. The same applies if you go to your local home improvement center or hardware store.
This way, you can get the most use out of your new machine. It is best to take the manufacturer’s recommendation online or go to an “online air compressor reviewer’s website” or talk to a local retailer.
What is a roll cage and why do I need it?
The roll cage on an air compressor protects the dials and the external switches on the device. Along with rubber feet coverings, it also protects that surfaces you are working on. This is important for two different reasons.
First, the roll cage protects the machine from damage if you are working on a surface like concrete, where the gauges and the other features can be damaged if you pull on the machine as you are working and turn it over on its side. This will probably happen eventually, but the roll cage is there to stabilize the air compressor and make it last longer.
A roll cage is also important to protect a surface like a wooden floor if you are working inside. This is because if you are painting your walls, you won’t want to damage your floors by a paint machine that falls over and scuffs your floors.
What diameter air hose do I need to buy and what length should it be?
The most common air hose diameters that are purchased are three-eighths inches in diameter and twenty-five feet in length. This will work for most jobs and power air tools that are used for home improvement projects. If you are a professional contractor, however, it becomes a little more complicated as air hoses come in lengths of up to 50 feet
What is a SCFM measurement and how does it apply to air compressors?
SCFM stands for standard cubic feet per minute – which will tell you the volume of air that will be delivered from the air compressor to the power air tool you are using. SCFM will have a direct effect on how your pneumatics devices will work.
This is actually the most important aspect of choosing an air compressor because if the SCFM doesn’t measure up to the power you need to get the job done, you shouldn’t waste the money on the air compressor and its accessories. In order to get the right pneumatic device, you will have to understand a little math.
Here are two examples to help you sort it out
A small air nailer can run on 2 to 5 SCFM with a psi (pounds per square inch) of 70 to 90.
Air sanders or other heavy-duty equipment need to be run on a SCFM of at least 10 and a psi of 100 to 120.
In conclusion, you will really have to think, do some math, and do your homework before you buy the air compressor that is right for you. And even when you make the purchase, there are still many considerations when you go to purchase the accessories.
There is a lot of “information on air compressors” out there and you need to read it so that you can find the right pneumatic device for your home projects or business ventures.
Sometimes there aren’t any right or wrong answers. You may have to experiment with different machines and accessories that work right for you to find the best shop air compressor.
To reiterate, here are some things to consider
- You will have to decide what air powered tools you will want to use based on if you need them for light home projects, major home projects, or commercial use.
- You will have to decide what kind of psi and SCFM you need to power the tools you will be using.
- You will also have to decide on how often you are going to use the air compressor and what wear and tear you will put on it.
- Lastly, you will need the right length extension cord and air hose to make your projects as powerful and easy to complete as possible.