Today we are talking about air compressors, those wonderful devices that convert power into energy stored as pressurized air, which can be used for a variety of different things.
From powering nail guns to aiding auto-repairs and inflating bounce houses, to spray-painting your house and even creating artificial snow, air compressors can be used in a variety of tasks.
With so many available to choose from though, and with each promising to be the best, it can be a little difficult to decipher which one is the right one for you. But don’t worry - we’ve done the hard work for you!
To help in your search for an air compressor we have put together this list of some of the best air compressors on the market. We have even included a buying guide with an FAQ section to help you understand how we have evaluated the product options available, and why they could be the right choice for you.
So, get comfortable, kick your feet up, and join us as we take you through everything you need to know about air compressors.
Are you in a hurry? Let’s make this even easier by showing you our top pick.
Top 5 Best Air Compressors
OUR TOP PICK
Our favorite air compressor on the market is the Craftsman CMEC6160K.
Designed and made in the USA, this air compressor offers a variety of perks. The lightweight build makes the device easily portable, and its high-performance motor allows the device to be operated in a variety of weather. It can even be confidently used in cold weather without affecting any of its power.
Built with a durable oil-free pump, the CMEC6160K Air Compressor removes the worry of maintenance costs and ensures a long product life.
Its 6-gallon tank offers long run times and quick recovery from cut-ins too, as well as its double couplers that give you the opportunity to allow two people to use the machine simultaneously.
With no notable drawbacks, the Craftsman CMEC6160K is the perfect air compressor on the market for both personal and professional use.
- Durable and easy to use
- The oil-free pump requires no maintenance and offers a long product life
- The high-performance motor makes it easy to start it up in cold weather
- Reduced performance noise
- The 6 Gallon tank offers a long run time and quick recovery
- Features handles that help make the device easily portable
- Equipped with double couplers allowing two people to use it simultaneously
- Although it operates with a reduced noise, some people that purchased this air compressor noted it was still quite loud when used in a confined space
Another popular air compressor is the Porter-Cable C2002 model.
This device is even lighter than the Craftsman, and its design uses the shroud, handle, and console to protect vital components of the compressor while also making it easier to transport from place to place.
The C2002 Air Compressor is an extremely versatile air compressor that is great for jobs around the house, jobs in the workshop, and jobs on-site. Whether it be firing nails, installing trim, or inflating air mattresses, this model is perfect for almost anything.
It also has a durable pump that helps to extend its life and requires very little maintenance. This air compressor has a user-friendly design too and, despite occasionally being described as louder than expected, it is an all-round great air compressor for all your needs.
This device might be small but do not underestimate its power!
- Large tank capacity
- An oil-free pump means no maintenance and a long life
- Pancake style tank, water drain valve, and rubber feet offer the product stability
- Lightweight and easily portable
- Vital components protected from damage by a built-in console cover
- Stores more air in the tank for longer tool run times
- Easily supports two users
- Perfect for home use
- Made from strong materials
- Can be louder than expected so you’ll need to wear ear protectors when operating
The MAC700 Big Bore from Makita is also an excellent air compressor within its own right.
Its cast-iron pump and big bore cylinder design deliver maximum performance, and it is engineered for low noise so operates with a substantially reduced noise level than its competitors.
Built to last, the oil-lubricated pump allows the machine to run cooler and minimizes wear to the pump itself, all while delivering industrial power and results with improved durability.
Hailed for its reliability, durability, and long lifetime, the MAC700 Air Compressor can be used for tasks around the house or jobs on a building site in equal measure, whilst its low sound design means you don’t have to worry about upsetting the neighbors.
However, the use of sturdy materials in the MAC700 means it is a lot heavier than some of its competitors, so if you are looking for an easily portable device this may not be the one for you.
- Immensely powerful
- Quiet when in operation
- The tank fills up quickly – it can go from 0 to 130 PSI within 60 seconds
- Easy to use for new users and experienced users
- High quality of build
- The rubber feet provide minimal vibrations
- The oiled pump ensures a long lifetime
- The machine is very heavy and not easily portable
The Bostitch BTFP02012-WPK is another air compressor whose weight, size, and design makes it easy to carry and easy to store.
The BTFPO2012-WPK is an oil-free machine which requires no daily maintenance and means you’ll never have to worry about any accidental oil stains on your work surfaces.
This air compressor is designed to maximize performance when using air tools through its high flow regulator and dual couplers which allow for simultaneous use by two users.
It has a large tank capacity of six gallons and offers a premium performance while remaining easy to start and convenient to use, whether the task at hand is increasing low tire pressure or blowing out air filters.
It is also designed to operate at a low noise level of 80 dBA which makes it perfect for use in a quiet work environment, or for any tasks that you want to complete around the house without disturbing your neighbors.
- Large tank capacity
- Low weight so easily portable
- Easy to operate
- Gives a premium performance
- Easy to start and convenient to use
- Perfect for home use and light work
- Dual couplers allow for two simultaneous users
- The average pressure of 90 PSI which can increase to 150 PSI
- Does not need to be oiled to remain functional
- High-efficiency motor for easy start-up in cold weather or when attached to an extension cord
- Some people that purchased this air compressor were put off by the plastic construction at first, however, still noted that this does not affect the durability
Finally, we come to the California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S air compressor.
This differs from its competitors listed above as it has a much smaller capacity, however, it has a number of other features that make it a good contender.
To begin with, its one-gallon tank and lightweight design make the device easily portable which is perfect as the compressor is designed for use in both warm and cold temperatures as well as on uneven terrains.
Engineered for high performance and durability, the CAT1P1060S has an oil-free pump for clean air, less maintenance work, and lower costs, as well as being ultra-quiet with an operating sound of just 56dBA.
Its low sound design makes it ideal for anyone working in an environment where noise is a major issue, and the device is built with a lifecycle (before wear) of 3000+ hours, making it extremely long-lasting compared to the average 250-hour lifecycle of its competitors.
This makes it an excellent value-for-money choice too.
- Quick refill speed
- Quiet motor when in use so ideal for workplaces that require a reduced level of sound
- Low power consumption – the 1P1060S only consumes 4.5amps of power when in use so it will not negatively impact your energy bills
- Can be used for multiple tasks including powering nail guns, staplers, and inflation
- Produces less heat than other air compressors
- The oil-free pump makes it an extremely low-maintenance model
- The low tank capacity means it can be used for shorter amounts of time than its competitors
Best Air Compressors Buying Guide
Air compressors are becoming an increasingly popular tool to keep in the house, mostly because of just how diverse they are.
Whether you’re inflating your child’s swimming pool in the heat of summer or increasing the air pressure in your tire on a cold winter night, air compressors can help with a variety of tasks.
With such a variety of air compressors on the market, however, it can be difficult to know which one is the best for you. The air compressors that we have listed above are some of the best on the market, but the best one for your own needs will ultimately depend on what you plan to use it for.
Below, we’ve put together some points that you need to bear in mind when you’re shopping for an air compressor. Giving a little thought to each of these will help guide you towards the perfect choice the first time around.
The tank size, or capacity, of the air compressor you buy, is especially important depending on the task you want to complete. The general rule of thumb is the larger the tank, the better the compressor and the longer it will run for.
This does not mean that compressors with a smaller tank are bad, it just means that they are better suited for smaller tasks as they operate in shorter bursts than a compressor with a large tank.
So, for example, if you plan on using an air compressor to inflate a single balloon a small tank will do the job, but if you wanted to inflate a large bounce house you would be better off selecting a larger tank as this will complete the task quicker.
Another decision to make when selecting an air compressor is whether to select an oil-free compressor. In recent years, oil-free air compressors have become more popular for a variety of reasons such as requiring less maintenance, being more cost-effective, creating less mess, and having a better impact on the environment.
However, there are some benefits to an oil-lubricated compressor. These include reduced noise levels and generally lasting a lot longer than an oil-free compressor. The general rule is that oil-lubricated compressors are better if you want to complete a lot of heavy DIY jobs, whereas an oil-free compressor may be better for a home setting.
The horsepower of an air compressor is also an important thing to consider before making a purchase. The horsepower is used to determine how powerful the air compressor is, and so it is vital that you purchase a machine that has a horsepower that can complete the tasks you want it for.
But be careful as horsepower is something that manufacturers tend to over-exaggerate, so it is best to check the power usage of the device too. You can then calculate the horsepower from that.
When purchasing an air compressor you should think about the setting in which you want to use it, as they are generally noisy machines and so if you plan on using it in a quiet setting this is something you should consider.
There are a variety of quieter air compressors on the market, including the majority of the ones listed above, so if you want to use the machine without upsetting your neighbors, whether it be those living next to you or the residents living near a building site you’re working on, this is definitely something to consider.
In recent years, air compressors have started to become increasingly easier to transport, and this is something that should be considered when making a purchase.
The tasks you wish to use your air compressor for will impact how important a factor this is, but generally, if you wish to complete multiple different jobs in different areas (even if it is just around the house) a portable air compressor may be a better choice for you.
Portable air compressors tend to be a lot lighter and smaller which may mean they have a smaller tank capacity, so you should definitely take into consideration all the things you want to use the air compressor for before making the purchase.
Price & Warranty
Air compressors can be an expensive investment and the price can vary quite dramatically from brand to brand. Therefore, we recommend setting yourself a budget before you start shopping around and trying to stick to it as closely as possible.
It’s worth taking a look at what sort of warranty your potential new air compressor comes with as well. The longer the warranty, the longer you’re covered for repair or replacement in the event of something going wrong. This also gives you a lot more value for money.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an air compressor?
An air compressor is a tool that generates and moves pressurized air.
When air is put under pressure it provides a lot of force which can then be used to power a variety of different tools.
How do I use an air compressor?
After buying an air compressor, the first thing you should do is set the machine up. This may include checking the oil, if the device you have bought isn’t oil-free, and attaching the hose to the power valve.
From there you can usually attach your power tool to the hose, and plug the air compressor into the grid. Then all that is left to do is to adjust the regulator knob to the pressure required for the tool you wish to use, and wait for the air compressor to pressurize. After that, you’re good to go!
How do I choose the right size?
When considering the size of the air compressor, you first need to think about what you want the device for. Different tools will require a different amount of pressure from the compressor and so the only way to ensure you buy the right size is by researching the CFM/FAD figure.
The best way to ensure you purchase the right size air compressor is by measuring the CFM/FAD that your most powerful tool needs to operate and then choosing a compressor that has a minimum rating of that amount. It is always better to choose a compressor that does more than you need than being left with one that is not enough.
What maintenance is required?
The level of maintenance required will depend on the air compressor that you buy. For example, an oil-lubricated air compressor will need to have its oil changed and filters cleaned regularly, whereas an oil-free air compressor will not require this maintenance.
However, oil-free air compressors will require maintenance such as checking the valves, filters, and draining the tank.
What can I use an air compressor for?
Air compressors have a variety of uses in both industrial settings and in home settings.
On-site they can be used to power a variety of industrial tools such as a breaker, jackhammer, or air wrench.
In a domestic setting, they can be used for tasks around the house, for example to power nailers and staplers, as well as to blow up balloons, inflate bounce houses, and adding pressure to tires on bikes and other motor vehicles.
The uses of an air compressor are endless.