Are you looking for the best air compressor?
I have used a number of different air compressors for my home and business and I’ve found that it is well worth the investment of picking the best air compressor available. I have reviewed the top models on today’s market, and after reading this article you will know my recommendations.
Check the quick list below for links to customer reviews and prices for my best air compressor picks, or read on for the full review:
- Makita Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor
- California Air Tools Twin Tank Electric Portable Air Compressor
- Hitachi Ultra Quiet Oil Free Portable 1 gallon Air Compressor
- WEN 20 Gallon Oil-Lubricated Portable Vertical Air Compressor
- DEWALT 6 Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor
It can be a little overwhelming to look for an air compressor due to the many options and styles, but the best air compressor on the market offers a number of benefits that you will enjoy. They can perform a lot of different jobs in your workshop or garage, which is why I think that every homeowner needs to have one on hand.
How to Choose the Best Air Compressor
The first thing that you will want to consider when looking for an air compressor is how you are going to use this piece of equipment. There are a few different types of air compressors on the market, and they are all suited to various jobs.
If you are going to use air tools just one at a time, then you will likely be happy with a portable air compressor. Larger ones like single-stage or two-stage air compressors are used in small businesses or industrial applications and will likely be more powerful than you need.
Additionally, think about the tank size. Obviously, larger tanks are going to be able to hold more air, which means that you can use them for longer periods of time before running out of pressure and waiting for the tank to refill.
I also think that you need to consider how loud the air compressor is that you are considering buying. It’s important to use ear protection when using an air compressor, but some are simply much louder than others, which means that your hearing may be damaged with prolonged use and exposure. Simply reducing the decibels a little can go a long way toward protecting your hearing.
Benefits of a Great Air Compressor
Having an air compressor on hand means that you can easily use a wide variety of different tools quickly. It’s simple to connect and disconnect them from an air compressor, which gives you a lot more versatility on the jobsite. I love using mine with a nail gun, my stapler, sanders, and even drills.
Additionally, with an air compressor, you can easily speed up your jobs. It’s incredible how much faster you can work when your equipment is powered by air.
What to Look For
One neat feature that some portable air compressors have is a handle. This makes it really easy to pick up the air compressor and move it around your worksite without any problems. If you don’t have a lot of upper body strength, then I strongly recommend that you consider buying an air compressor that has wheels. This will make it really easy for you to move the air compressor around, as long as you are on even ground.
Additionally, consider if the air compressor that you’re looking at has a ball valve drain. This makes it really easy to remove any water that may condense inside the tank so that it won’t cause pinhole leaks or rusting.
Some air compressors come with a cord wrap, which may seem like a small feature, but it actually is really useful and ideal for keeping your work zone safe. I love having my cord out of the way so that I don’t have to worry about accidentally tripping on it when I’m working.
How to Use an Air Compressor
Using an air compressor is fairly simple, as long as you remember to complete a few basic steps. The first thing that you need to do is place the air compressor in a safe place, plug it in, and check the oil, if necessary. Next, take time to fill the tank. You have to ensure that the drain valve is closed before doing this. Depending on what air compressor you buy, this could take a few minutes.
Adjust your air control valve to make sure that you are using the right amount of air, connect the air hose and your tool, and then you can use it. Make sure to always drain the air compressor after use to keep it in good condition.
Precautions to Consider
Just as with any tools on a jobsite, you must be sure that you are careful to be safe when using your air compressor. It’s important that you always have on ear protection as well as eye protection. You do not want to worry about being injured when using your air compressor.
Additionally, make sure that you perform regular maintenance on your air compressor, and never use it if you are concerned that it is not working correctly. Never use the air compressor on someone, as it can cause incredible damage to a person.
Finally, you must make sure that you always drain your air compressor so that you don’t need to worry about it being damaged by condensation. The problem with leaving any amount of condensation in the air compressor is that this can cause rust and small leaks, which will make the equipment unsafe to use in the future.
Top Rated Air Compressor
Whether this is your first air compressor or a replacement, I recommend investing in a quality product as it is well worth it in the long run. A top quality air compressor is going to provide you with superior performance for the long haul, requiring fewer replacements over it’s lifetime. I use my air compressors for many projects, everything from inflating tires to running my nail gun. Knowing the importance of having an air compressor that won’t let me down, I have reviewed the most popular models on the market for performance, durability, and quality of construction.
Makita Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor
This is a powerful air compressor that is designed to work just as well at an extreme jobsite as it is in the garage. Thanks to the lower RPM, it offers a lower noise output of just 79 dB and is much more durable than other options on the market. Designed to run cooler, there isn’t any concern over a user being burned or hurt when using this air compressor.
- Has an operating pressure of 130 PSI
- Roll-cage construction ensures safety when on extreme job sites
- Offers incredible air intake and efficiency
- Cast iron cylinder is designed to increase pump life
- Oil-lubricated pump ensures that it runs at a cooler temperature
- 4.2 gallon twin-stacked tank
- Can tend to leak a little oil
- Not always shipped with all necessary parts or components
California Air Tools Twin Tank Electric Portable Air Compressor
This is a highly portable option, which is great for any user who wants to be able to take their air compressor with them on the go to various job sites. It can run for an impressive 3000 hours before needing any repair, which is perfect for the regular user. Additionally, this air compressor has large dual pistons to provide plenty of power.
- Operates at 60 dB
- Doesn’t require oil, which lowers the cost and maintenance requirements
- 2.0 HP peak motor
- 4.6 gallon aluminum twin tank
- Engineered for a long runtime without wearing out or slowing down
- Great for use in a variety of temperatures and on uneven terrain
- Power draw can fail, causing the unit to stop working
- Tends to run much louder than advertised
Hitachi Ultra Quiet Oil Free Portable 1 gallon Air Compressor
The industrial regulator and the high-quality gauges on this air compressor make it really easy to adjust the PSI. Additionally, the steel roll cage protects the equipment from being damaged during transit or when in use, and the industrial quick coupler makes it easier than ever to change hoses with just one hand.
- Runs at just 50 dB
- Oil-free pump doesn’t require a lot of maintenance or expensive repair
- Discharge hose is made from braided stainless steel
- Integrated control panel is easy to use and makes monitoring simple
- Only weighs 25.2 lbs
- Comes with 1-year warranty
- Rubber grips prevent the air compressor from “walking” during use
- Can have a strange hissing sound through the pressure relief valve
- Tends to be difficult to release the hose
WEN 20 Gallon Oil-Lubricated Portable Vertical Air Compressor
Thanks to the vertical design of this air compressor, it’s perfect for keeping out of the way in a smaller shop. It can easily handle any small tool and is dependable enough for larger jobs, as well. Thanks to the rubber feet on the legs of this air compressor, it won’t easily move or rock during use.
- 20-gallon tank reaches 135 psi
- Comes with a 2-year warranty
- Wheels and handle make it easy to move the air compressor on the jobsite
- Quick drain valve is easy to reach and to use
- The two pressure gauges make monitoring the air compressor simple
- Provides air flow of 3.8 cfm and 5.0 cfm
- Motor tends to be really loud
- Takes a long time to fill up between uses
DEWALT 6 Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor
This air compressor offers a long run time as well as fast recovery, which is great for users who are working on a lot of back-to-back jobs and need a reliable air compressor. Thanks to the console cover, the controls are protected but can be easily accessed. At 30 pounds, it’s fairly easy to move this air compressor around the worksite.
- Offers 165 max psi
- Motor is easy to start in cold weather
- Works well with an extension cord
- Features convenient cord wrap
- Oil-free pump doesn’t require any maintenance
- Fast recovery time for continual use
- Included ball valve drain
- Higher noise level of 75.5 dB
- Compressor can vibrate loose from the air tank and may need to be tightened
For more tool guides and tips read these articles:
- Best Air Compressor for Home Garage
- Best Tile Saw
- Best Miter Saw Stand
- Best Miter Saw
- Best Chainsaw Chain
- Best Backpack Sprayer
- Hybrid Table Saws
- Table Saw Fences
- Pole Saws
- Reciprocating Saws
As you can see, a lot goes into choosing the right air compressor for your use. While all of these air compressors are great options, I recommend the DEWALT DWFP55126. This is a large and powerful air compressor that is loaded with great features like the ball drain valve, rubber legs, and high flow regulator. I additionally love that the console cover protects the air compressor controls but is easy to remove if you need to repair the air compressor at any time. Finally, it has two universal couples so that two people can use the air compressor at once, speeding up any job.
Fred is the Ready Zeal owner and editor. He has been passionately pursuing all things emergency preparation since working alongside his grandfather as a boy growing up in the Midwest. When not working on the family homestead he can be found brewing coffee and reading a good book or backpacking in the wilderness. Contact Fred at [email protected]