Best Air Compressor Review and Buying Guide in 2020
Wouldn’t it be great if someone just told you what the best air compressor was? Well, unfortunately, it’s not that easy because that question is virtually impossible to answer. Air compressors come in so many different styles, designs, and different performance levels.
The best small air compressor models might be perfect for small weekend jobs around the house but utterly pointless to bring it to a construction site.
At hometoolreviews.com we provide ratings and reviews on a variety of models from compact air compressors to large gas-powered models, and we show you where to get the best deals.
Air compressors power pneumatic (powered by air) tools that use pressurized air to run tools such as paint sprayers, impact wrenches, staplers, and nailers.
Technicians and contractors use pneumatic tools for bodywork, automotive finish work, repairs, framing, and roofing. Air Compressors come in handy during household projects and smaller jobs like blowing up tires or sports balls.
There is a large variety of air compressors available, each designed for specific type of job. Our online ratings and reviews should assist you in determining which air compressor will work best for you.
To make your search for your next air compressor easy we have only selected the highest rated air compressors for different uses. The chart below is a list of our “Top Picks” click the image or model number to see our review of that compressor.
Top 3 Best Air Compressors Reviews
Porter Cable C2002 WK Oil Free UMC Pancake Compressor with 13-Piece Accessory Kit Review
If you want a light and powerful compressor pump, then you might want to take a closer look at the C2002. This model is paired with a large 6-gallon pancake air tank and has a maximum pressure rating of 150 PSI. At only 34 pounds, this model is extremely portable, and this model includes a complete bonus with a 13 piece accessory kit including a 25-foot nylon hose, blow gun and attachments, tire chuck, tire gauge, quick coupler, plugs and Teflon tape.
- Very easy to carry around and work with
- Not leaking
- Builds up pressure quickly
- Works well when the temperatures are low
- Suitable for handymen
- Comes with accessory kit
- Good price-quality ratio
- Not so good for rough activities; it is designed to excellently suit basic everyday needs
Despite the fact that it is lightweight and stable, you will still have to handle it carefully and make sure it is kept in good conditions
Makita Mac700 Air Compressor Review
We all know Makita is known for making great tools that are built to stand the test of time. Well, this little guy is no exception. In fact, it’s a workhorse that outperforms every other air compressor in its class. With features like a durable cast iron pump with a big-bore cylinder, powerful 2.0 horsepower motor, 3.8CFM, a large automotive style air filter, built in protective roll cage, and lower rotations per minute resulting in a medium volume purr at 80dB. The Makita MAC700 would make a worthy addition to any garage or workshop.
Senco Pc 1010 1-HP 1-Gallon Air Compressor Review
You already know Senco for their quality pneumatic nailers, well it turns out they are equally a good at building air compressors too. This compact unit has earned its “mighty mouse” nickname. Weighing in at only 20 pounds, with a 1-gallon tank and 1 peak horsepower, she can knock out 20 to 44 drives per minute! The Senco PC101 is perfect for trim jobs pushing finishing nails.
Things To Consider When Buying
Size of Air Tank(s)
Depending on your usage, you might want a large tank so that you can use your air tool for long periods of time. These air compressor tanks are usually measured in gallons, and the larger models can power an impact wrench or a board sander for sustained periods of time better than a small tank air compressor.
Overall Size of Machine
Air compressors come in many sizes, they can be compact and weigh as little as 20lbs, or they can be very large and designed to be a fixture in places like an automotive shop. If you work in construction, you might want to have a portable unit with a gas powered Hitachi unit, however that compressor weighs almost 200lbs, but since it comes with a wheelbarrow style design, you will be able to load it into any trailer or truck bed that is equipped with a ramp. Whatever the case, consider the size of your unit before purchasing an air compressor.
Type of Materials Used
Two materials that are common among air compressor tanks are steel and aluminum. They both have their benefits. Aluminum is much lighter than steel, and you don’t have to worry about it rusting if the protective paint chips. On the other hand, steel is a stronger metal that will withstand more abuse if your compressor ever has the unfortunate fate of falling off of a truck bed or takes an accidental tumble down a flight of stairs.
Wheels or Handle
When choosing a portable air compressor ask yourself if you prefer a more compact unit with a built-in handle for easy carrying, or would you rather have a slightly larger unit with a bigger air tank and built-in wheels for easy pull-and-play transport.
Best Air Compressor
Does the air compressor you are considering have a solid brand with a solid reputation? We will help you choose the best air compressor for the money. Each air compressor was hand selected and tested based on high brand reputation and excellent customer satisfaction ratings.
Generally speaking, the air compressor industry has a standard 1-year warranty.
Number of outlets
Will you need multiple outlets to run multiple tools simultaneously? Some air compressors on our reviews page have dual outlets. This can come in handy to power two nail guns when working with a partner while doing trim jobs or it can help reduce the frustration when using two different sized nail guns, eliminating the need to detach and reattach nailers.
If you’re planning on using your new air compressor at a job site then, volume levels are usually not an issue. However, if you are planning to run your air compressor in a garage at night or early morning while other people are trying sleeping, then you might want to choose an ultra quiet model compressor.
So that you don’t risk hearing damage, It is recommended to wear hearing protection if you are considering an air compressor that will operate above 85dB.
The ultra quiet Senco PC1010 operates at only 69dB, that’s lower than the volume of a normal conversation.
Type Of Pneumatic Tool That Can Be Used
Below is a list of the kinds of tools that can be powered by air compressors:
- Disc grinders
- Brad Nailer
- Cut-Off Tool
- Reversible or Straight-Line
- Dual Sander, Framing Nailer
- Grease Gun, Hydraulic Riveter
- Mini Die Grinder
- Needle Scalar
- Orbital Sander
- Rotational Sander
- Speed Saw
Build Quality and Durability
Let’s face it. We all want quality. We want whatever we spend our hard earned dollars on to last years and years, without breaking down and costing us more money in repairs. When is comes to air compressors quality is just as important as design.
Horsepower / Cubic Feet per minute (CFM)
CFM numbers help determine if a compressor produces enough air to power the tool you want to use, but its also important to compare the tools pressure requirements.The actual number of horsepower that an air compressor produces is not important, but the number of CFM (cubic feet per minute) your air compressor can produce is.
Often air compressor manufacturers boast about the number of horsepowers a unit can produce; however, the CFM rating is not the best. You see, CFM is important because that is that is the amount of air that is being pumped into the compressor’s air tank every minute. Therefore, how much air you can use every minute without having to stop using your air tool, and wait for your the air compressor to catch up, (replace the air in the chamber) so that you can continue working.
Types Of Air Compressors
Single Stage or Dual Stage
You can usually find reciprocating (aka Piston) Compressors in two styles; Single Stage and Two Stage. A single stage compressor works by taking air in and compressing the air to its final pressure in one piston stroke.
Single stage air compressors can achieve max pressures of up to 150 PSI. Usually, a single stage air compressor can achieve higher CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) specifications than a two-stage air compressor, because every cylinder stroke is bringing in the air and compressing it with air with every rotation.
Dual stage air compressors function similarly. The main difference is they compress air in 2 separate stages.
- First stage: air entered a chamber and compressed to medium pressure.
- Second stage: the air that was compressed in the first stage is pumped through an intercooler where the air is cooled and compressed in the final or second stage. Dual stage air compressors are usually capable of pressures up to 200 psi. Dual-stage compressors are the most efficient at higher pressures because of the air cooling stage in between.
There are two kinds of air compressors, oil, and oil-free:
- Deciding whether or not you want to maintain your air compressor comes down to choosing between two types oil and oil free. The main difference between oil and oil-free motors are that an oil based compressor, just like a combustible engine, requires regular maintenance to make sure the oil is clean and at the appropriate levels to ensure proper lubrication, help keep the compressor cool, and prevent moving parts from seizing. Generally speaking, you will find oil based compressors in more powerful, commercial models.
- Oil-free compressors do still use oil, but they are designed with sealed bearings. In other words, you never have to deal with checking oil levels. Oiled pumps tend to run cooler and last longer than oil-free pumps.
- Check out our handy air compressor maintenance guide and air compressor troubleshooting guide
Will you have access to electricity? Many construction sites do not have power outlets. If not, you’re going to need a gas powered unit. Just make sure you have proper ventilation.
Okay, so now that we have reviewed the comparison chart, and read through the air compressor reviews it is time for you to choose which air compressor is best for you. If you are still on the fence and need more detailed information, then make sure you check out our air compressor detailed reviews and buying guides.
If you have any more questions or comments, please feel free to contact us using our contact us page. We look forward to hearing from you.
The Central Pneumatic Compressor Brand
There are two things a consumer is always looking for in any product, and that is quality and affordability. Look no further as the central pneumatic air compressor line along with all other pneumatic tools and accessories were created to address this specific situation. This line of compressors was created by Harbor Freight Tools in 1982 to address a growing demand for a quality yet an affordable product that can be used by anyone whether they be a do it you home improvement nut or someone with their shop with a need for the tools. The compressors are made of all different types. Harbor tools is a very widely known company known for a wide arrangement of tools and especially their central pneumatic line.
An air compressor is a basic tool that everyone should be a logical part of any home tool collection. An air compressor has many uses and extreme versatility. It can be used for the simple blowing up of kid’s toys, topping off your car’s tires, cleaning off saw dust from your workroom and so many other hundreds of other tasks. Owning an air compressor is a big help and a big money saver. When it comes to personal and single stage reciprocating air compressors, nothing beats the Central Pneumatic product line when it comes to price or durability.
Comparing Central Pneumatic Compressor Brands
Vs. Premium Brands
The Central Pneumatic compressor line from Harbor Freight can be compared to many other premium brands such as Ingersoll Rand, Porter Cable, Makita, and Dewalt. However, in looking into this further, you will notice the large price difference between the two. When you break it down regarding times the average how few times the average homeowner will use an air compressor, the Central Pneumatic line makes great strides in undercutting all other brands prices by 2 to 3 times in some cases. When comparing product specifications of this line versus other premium line brands, Central Pneumatic is almost identical regarding quality.
Vs. Economy Brands
In comparing the Central Pneumatic compressor line with other economy air compressors around the same price point from brands such as Kobalt and Husky, you’ll tend to find that the cost in repairs and new parts of these other compressors over their lifetime well exceed the Central Pneumatics. This can be indicated in searching for any customer reviews for any of these brands. All of the other brands all seem to indicate some repair issues down the road.
Central Pneumatic Air Compressor Parts
Central Pneumatic air compressor Parts are found at lower prices and offer a guarantee of reliability unlike any other. This is one of the reasons that this line is so popular amongst all types of consumers whether it be professional or amateur. Knowing that all Central Pneumatic parts are always available online at such reliable sites such as Amazon and the Harbor Freight Tools official website, you can easily get replacement parts if needed. Many parts of an air compressor will need to be replaced over the course of its life if you want to keep it in working order without having to buy a whole new replacement compressor.
These parts are such things as
- Pressure Switches
- Pressure Gauges
Since there are so many different types of air compressors on the on the Central Pneumatic line be sure you know which part is for which model. There are large upright compressors and portable compressors that have different sizing charts. Be wary and knowledgeable about the model you purchase, so you know where to go back to later for replacement parts.
Top Central Pneumatic Air Compressor Reviews
There are many fantastic Central Pneumatic models out there in this great line by Harbor Freight However some have been higher rated than others. I have discussed below my top two favorites from the Central Pneumatic line.
1) Central Pneumatic 21 Gal. 2.5 HP 125 PSi Air Compressor:[amazon_link asins=’B006ZBCDQW’ template=’withoudtnameProductAd’ store=’thewisy-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=”] Pros
- – Powerful 2.5 HP Motor
- – Larger 21 Gallon Capacity
- – Durable
- – Great Value
- – Tends to be a bit noisy
- – Heavy for its size
FEATURES AND SPECIFICATIONS
- Built-in Universal Coupler for any air hose connection
- Rubber foot stabilizers for reduced stabilization
- Oil level indicator window
- Portability with 6-inch wheel kit and handles for carrying
- Single capacitor motor with thermal overload protection
- Heavy duty 2.5 horsepower rated motor
- Long life oil lubricated compressor with precision machined cast iron sleeve
- 3400 Max Speed RPM
- Pump is oil-lubricated for cooler running temperatures and reduced wear
- 90 Day Manufacturer Warranty
1 of Top 2 Central Pneumatic Compressors
This is a top of the line vertical reciprocating compressor provides more than enough power to run your shop tools with features to spare. The compressor comes with a universal quick connect coupler that can hook up to a large variety of hoses. With portability and included stabilizers, this air compressor reduces a lot of vibration during use. We found this to be one of the top 2 on the single stage Central Pneumatic product line.
Designed for ease of use, the indicator windows and cast iron machine sleeve allow for a long running life and easy maintenance. Rubber feet allow for addition stabilization, so vibrations are kept at a minimum. The window needs to be checked every time you use it so you can maintain a running compressor.
This Central Pneumatic model boasts a powerful heavy duty 2.5 HP Motor. The majority of portable and personal compressors do not have the power to keep up with some air tools such as impact wrenches or air ratchets. However, this model does a great job of keeping up. The 21 Gallon capacity gives the compressor a life most personal compressors cannot boast about, and the durability factor will not allow this model to miss a beat.
Although still relatively on the small side and with available 6-inch wheels and carrying handles, this model does still tend to be on the heavier side weighing in at about 100 pounds with only a 23×18 size. If you want portable, this is about as big as you can go while still making it portable and workable to fit in a truck bed. Wheels and handles are installed separately but go on easy enough to fit what you’d like to do.
While trying to keep the noise to a minimum, this model does tend to be a bit louder than usual with the powerful 2.5 HP engine and a larger tank. If you are looking for a quieter model take a look at the Central Pneumatic 10 Gal Oil-Lube Air Compressor. Exhaust filter can be installed to allow for a quieter machine.
Sturdy and power Central Pneumatic compressor with a larger tank.
2) Central Pneumatic 10 Gal. 2.5 HP 125 PSI Oil Lube Air Compresso[amazon_link asins=’B006ZBASSW’ template=’withoudtnameProductAd’ store=’thewisy-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’c4f644b6-fb92-11e7-91c8-2bf7df35326f’]
A stable and easy to use Central Pneumatic device that provides maximum mobility.
- – Powerful 2.5 HP Motor
- – Lightweight
- – Portability
- – Small 10 Gallon Tank
- – Noisy
FEATURES AND SPECIFICATIONS
- 2.5 Horsepower Motor
- Easy to carry with handle and rolling wheels
- High Impact ABS shroud to ensure maximum protection
- Direct drive induction motor with thermal overload protection
- Clear view oil window makes for easy maintenance
- Easy to read tank and outlet gauges
- 5.3 CFM @ 90 PSI Air delivery
- 3400 Max Speed RPM
- 90 Day Manufacturer Warranty
1 of Top 2 Central Pneumatic Compressors
This reciprocating compressor is defined as powerful and portable. User friendliness is accompanied by an oil refill window and tank and outlet gauges that let you know when it’s time for maintenance. The easy to carry handle and rolling wheels option make this compressor transportable to anywhere it is needed. A top two favorite in single stage Central Pneumatic compressor line by Harbor Freight Tools.
If you’re looking for ease of use, the clear oil window provides an added advantage in knowing when it’s time to change the oil. Easy to read gauges are mounted beautifully, so there’s no need to worry about maintenance. Some have said that the wheels are a bit poorly designed as there is only one bolt holding them on, but easy enough to change if needed.
This Central Pneumatic model boasts a powerful heavy duty 2.5 HP Motor similar to our other top pick, the 21 Gal Central Pneumatic compressor. This model will get the job done and operate the majority of air tools without any problems.
With the small product size and added portability options of wheels and carrying handles, this compressor makes for one of the easiest to move around. The weight only comes in at 60 pounds and can add a convenience factor of not having to worry about lugging it around with difficulty.
With the 2.5 HP motor on such a small and compact product, the sound does tend to carry and be a bit noisy. This can be solved by buying an added silencer to assist.
What to Look For When Buying an Air Compressor
There are many different kinds of an air compressor on the market. Some are good for home users, while others are suitable for portable use or use in a machine shop. Before you buy an air compressor, you should think carefully about what you want to use it for and how heavily it will be used. This will help you to ensure that you are satisfied with your purchase for many years to come.
The first thing that you need to consider is the kind of power supply that you want for the air compressor. You can find air compressors powered by gas or electricity. Gas powered air compressors are very reliable, and have the added benefit of being relatively portable since you can power them via free-standing gas cylinders. A good gas compressor will last you for many years and offers a lot of power. However, gas compressors can be expensive, and they also have the added downside of requiring good ventilation. A gas compressor is not a good choice for a cramped workspace.
Electric compressors are available in several styles and are perfect for workshop use. There are smaller, portable compressors that can be used via a car’s cigarette lighter system, but these are low powered and only really for inflating tires and performing other minor jobs. Bigger electrical compressors are suitable for use in a static environment such as a garage or workshop, but it is important to note that if your household has older wiring, you may struggle to power a bigger 110V electrical compressor, and a 220V compressor may require you to have extensive electrical work carried out. Smaller compressors should not be a problem, but they are often lower quality and under-powered compared to the high-end workshop systems.
Oiled or Oil-Free?
One recent innovation in the world of electrical compressors is the oil-free compressor, which is also known as the maintenance-free compressor. These systems are designed for people who do not know a lot about power tools and do not want to invest time into learning how to maintain them. The benefit of oil-free compressors is that you do not have to be pro-active about maintaining them. You will get a much longer useful life out of an oil-free compressor than a neglected oiled compressor. However, an oiled model will run quieter, prove more reliable and last for a lot longer if it is properly maintained.
This advantage becomes even more pronounced if you use high-quality synthetic pump oil for your oiled compressor, because it will last for a long time between changes and support smooth and efficient running. One thing to remember is that no compressor, even an oil-free one, is completely maintenance free. Even oil-free compressors will need to be drained periodically. If you expect to put your compressor through heavy use, then you should purchase an oiled one.
How Powerful a Compressor Do You Need?
Another consideration is how much power you need. More horsepower is not necessarily better in the world of air compressors. The most important thing is the air flow and the efficiency of the device. If you are planning on buying a compressor for home use, then two horsepower should be fine. If you want one for a workshop, then get one that is slightly more powerful.
The Big Question – PSI
A low PSI pump is perfectly acceptable for inflating tires. However, if you want a compressor that can tackle some bigger or more demanding tasks then you should look for one that offers at least 125 PSI, or 150PSI is ideal.
The Importance of Air Flow
Air flow is the single most important feature of compressors. Think carefully about what you want to use your air compressor for. If you want to use an air ratchet or a small impact wrench, then you will need an air compressor that offers 6.0 SCFM at around 90 PSI. Some other tools, such as tools for spraying paint, will work at 40PSI, but most tools require 90PSI. If you want to use bigger tools, then you will need a more powerful compressor. Do not purchase a compressor that is a lower performance if you think that you will want to use tools with it. This is a false economy, and you will end up wanting to replace the compressor quite quickly.
What Size of Tank?
The size of tank that you need for your air compressor depends on the purpose of the compressor. If you plan on using the compressor exclusively to pump up tires, then a small pancake type tank will be fine. For that kind of use, the most important thing is that the compressor offers at least 125PSI. If you want to use air tools, however, then you will need a 20-gallon tank, or bigger. A 30-gallon tank is a good choice for a dedicated home mechanic or a small workshop. Bigger tanks and higher SCFM ratings are better for tool use.
Getting The Best Deal
Air compressors are typically promoted as being consumer, contractor or commercial grade. Consumer grade compressors are adequate for casual garage use, but many dedicated mechanics leap straight up to contractor grade compressors because they can cope with bigger air demands and run a wider variety of air tools.
Commercial grade air compressors are incredibly large and expensive, and are overkill for most people. They are designed for use in environments where the compressor will be running all day, every day. They are very powerful and reliable, but they are not necessary unless you know that you will be using them in extremely demanding situations.
Buying an air compressor is a big decision, and you should think carefully before you spend a lot of money on one. If you have any doubts, err on the side of slightly more power and features, so that the compressor will serve you well as your needs evolve.