There are many jobs that require the use of an air compressor and they are all the type that simply cannot be performed without one. Try as you may, there is no way to successfully inflate tires, perform painting or construction jobs, or deliver working power for a variety of pneumatic tools without a reliable compressor. Now, as you may already know, air compressors come in many shapes and sizes, which is where a bit of research can come in handy. To save you the trouble of scouting the market yourself, we put together a list of the ten best air compressors money can buy.
Best Air Compressors Of 2018
10Craftsman 3 Gallon Oil Lube 135psi Portable Air Compressor
As you would have guessed from the name, the Craftsman 135 PSI compressor enjoys a portable design, one that allows you to deploy it within seconds at any desired location with minimal effort on your part. Equipped with a 1.0 HP motor for a guaranteed quick recharge in any conditions, this compressor is without a doubt one of the stronger ones in this price range. It also benefits from an oil sight glass that eliminates the use of a dipstick to check on the oil.
9Campbell Hausfeld Quiet Air Compressor
This compact air compressor is built to perform at high standards without making any unnecessary noise. This is something quite rare among air compressors, especially among high-end compressors capable of 125 PSI or more. The device owes its quiet operation to a dual Piston pump system engineered to produce up to 25% more air without stressing the motor too much, along with a durable oil-free pump for an extended maintenance-free operation.
8California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S
Operating at a 56 dB sound level, the CAT-1p1060S is among the quietest in the industry. It also benefits from an oil-free pump that vastly reduces its maintenance costs while improving its general durability. While the motor operates at a 0.6 HP rate, the 56 dB noise levels it produces certainly make up for it. At the same time, we should point out that this compressor weighs no more than 29 lbs, a design that makes it truly portable by all standards.
7Campbell Hausfeld FP209000AV Air Compressor
With this air compressor from Campbell Hausfeld, you get not only a reliable compressing power but also a 25-foot recoil hose, needle, adapter, two inflator nozzles, and an air chuck. The compressor also operates a 2-gallon tank for inflating tires and balls of any kind, which also makes it perfect for powering nailers or similar devices. What’s interesting is that it comes with an integrated control panel that lets you choose the correct air power depending on your individual needs.
6DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor
This is one of the most powerful compressors out there, one that delivers no less than 165 max PSI through a 6-gallon tank and 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI pump. As you would expect from such a powerful device, this compressor features a high-efficiency motor that starts up in any weather, a motor that operates at a 75 dBA noise level. Furthermore, it features a high flow regulator and couplers to maximize its overall air tool performance.
5California Air Tools 5510SE
Equipped with a Sp Ultra Quiet Air Compressor Motor, this machine will provide an increased duty cycle and allow much longer operating times. It does so without producing more than 60 dB at any given time, even when running at a 120 PSI maximum pressure. At the same time, it also features an oil-free pump that makes it more efficient for tool operations while also reducing maintenance and running costs.
4Bostitch BTFP02012 150 PSI Oil-Free Compressor
With a 150 max PSI potency, this compressor from Bostitch stands out as one of the strongest out there. The secret behind its strength is the high-efficiency motor that not only operates within 78 dBA levels but also starts up in any type of weather conditions. We should also point out that it features a high-flow regulator and couplers to maximize its air tool performance along with an oil-free construction that adds a lot to its durability.
3Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor
As the name suggests, this is a compact, portable air compressor that you can operate in any weather or climate as soon as you take it out of its case. This makes it one of the most versatile compressors out there, one that can deliver a 120 PSI max working pressure. Powered via alligator clams that can be connected to virtually any 12-volt battery, this lightweight compressor is perfect for ATVs, trucks, SUVs, and sedans.
2PORTER-CABLE C2002 Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor
The Porter-Cable C2002 UMC stands out as one of the strongest out there, or at least one of the strongest in this price range. Ingeniously designed and easy to use, this pancake compressor delivers a 150 PSI maximum tank pressure that can store an impressive amount of air in the tank to ensure longer tool run times. Not only that but you will find this highly versatile compressor to work well with almost any type of car or pressure tool, which is always something to look for in an air compressor.
1EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor
EPAuto’s Portable Air Compressor Pump is one of the smallest such devices out there, yet one that delivers up to 100 PSI of pressure despite its compact size. Not only does its convenient design allow you to plug it directly into a cigarette lighter socket if needed but it can also connect to virtually any 12VDC source of your choosing. Easy to operate and equipped with a LED flashlight with bright torch functions, it is perhaps one of the most complex portable air compressors out there.
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What To Look For In An Air Compressor
When choosing an air compressor, one must factor specific characteristics in the decision-making process, no matter what the machine’s intended purpose is supposed to be. Like we said, a modern air compressor can be very versatile in terms of usage and adaptability, which is why the list of things to look for is quite long. So whether you need the compressor for long-term maintenance or more immediate practical reasons, here are the things to look for before making a purchase:
Tank Size – The first thing to consider is the tank size and how much air it can hold. This is very important going forward as different tasks may require an ample amount of air, especially when working with pneumatic tools. While smaller compressors are more portable and easier to deploy, they usually boast a much smaller tank than traditional models, which definitely affects the SCFM output.
Airflow – The next thing to consider is the PSI output it is guaranteed to produce at any given time. As you may already know, PSI refers to the pounds per square inch pressure and is an important metric for compressors of any kind. Even though HP should also be thoroughly considered when getting a compressor, SCFM and PSI capabilities are a much better representation of what an air compressor can truly do.
Oil or Oil-free – You will also find that not all air compressors share the same technical capabilities in regards to lubrication. In fact, this is precisely where major manufacturers differ from one another. Some, for instance, install oil-free mechanisms to keep the machine lubricated while others use oil in the traditional sense. We should point out that oil-free compressors are usually much lighter in weight.
Compression Stages – In regards to compression stages, one has a choice between single and two-stage compressors. Just as some of you would imagine, single stage air compressors operate one or two air tanks which produce a specific compressed pressure. Two-stage compressors, however, work by compressing the air into the tank before feeding the second tank for a second round of compression. This enables two-stage compressors to push out a much higher pressure.
Power Supply – In regards to their power requirements, let us point out that air compressors can either be powered via standard outlets, gas generators, or even car batteries in the case of portable compressors. At the same time, we should say that electric compressors are generally better for indoor use because they do not emit any fumes, whereas gas-powered air compressors release more pollutants; albeit by producing more raw power.
Safety Features – When using air compressors of any kind, safety really is paramount. For instance, you should definitely look for a compressor that offers a reasonable amount of thermal protection along with a reliable pressure gauge. Other than that, manufacturers can offer a wide variety of safety features, either in regards to the practical part of operating the machine or to ensure that nothing jiggles loose over time.
Types Of Air Compressors
Air compressors are quite versatile in their design and usage, which explains why different people have different requirements when it comes to how a compressor should look and perform like. While some are built for maximum portability, others are supposed to operate at high standards regardless of their construction. In this respect, you are advised to make an educated option when choosing one depending on your particular needs.
Pancake Compressors – These compressors have flat storage tanks mounted on the bottom, a design that makes them rather stable. It should be said, however, that they are also quite difficult to store because of this, in the sense that they take up a lot of storage space.
Hot Dog Compressors – As the name suggests, these compressors have a single cylindrical tank aligned horizontally. Although slightly easier to store than pancake compressors, these machines tend to deliver a slightly reduced performance overall, apart from the professional compressors of course.
Twin Stack Compressors – With these compressors, you get two horizontal tanks intended to increase the overall capacity while saving you a lot of space. This is also the reason why they take up less storage space without affecting the machine’s performance levels.
Wheelbarrow Compressors – Also equipped with two cylindrical tanks, these compressors are somewhat larger and harder to store. That said, we should point out that they are far more mobile than pretty much any other type of air compressors out there.