The 10 Best Air Compressors of 2018

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Best Portable Air Compressor
Best Air Compressor For Home Use
Best Air Compressor For Tires
Best Air Compressor For The Money
Best Pancake Air Compressor

Almost anyone these days is familiar with air compressors. These devices have so many practical uses and any handyman can benefit from having such a versatile tool in their kit. Air compressors can come in different flavors but the basic idea behind the way they work is to store as much air as possible under pressure. When you let that air out you can take advantage of the energy that comes with it. While air is free to use and available everywhere, air compressors can get quite expensive. It’s important to understand which type of air compressor is best used for your projects and how to choose a more cost-effective option. This article will show you the most relevant air compressor currently on the market. The best models for both home or professional use. Before we go over individual reviews for them, let’s start by figuring out the essential abilities of an air compressor to be more prepared when shopping for them. You might also be interested in our articles about the best pressure washer and the best portable air conditioners.

1. Type

There are two main types of air compressors to choose from. Portable types are the first and they are very popular as you can carry them wherever they’re needed. Stationary air compressors are the other type that’s usually geared towards professional users who require heavy-duty equipment. Whereas portable units are designed for light applications, stationary ones are reliable workhorses that handle more difficult jobs.

2. Power supply

In terms of power supply, air compressors are differentiated in electric and gas-powered units. Silent, cheap, and more convenient for indoor use, electric air compressors are usually the first option for many. If your requirements are different and wish to work outside, the best way is to go for an air compressor powered by gasoline. You can definitely rely on them if you want extra power, but you should be aware that it’s considerably noisier compared to electric units.

3. Performance

To figure out if a particular air compressor makes a good choice for your intended project, there are some specifications to analyze. A good indicator of a machine’s performance is the horsepower rating. SCFM and CFM values will tell you how much air volume can you expect from the compressor.

These are the most critical features to consider when hunting for a high-quality air compressor. To make your searches easier, the following list offers the best products in terms of value per cost. Only the most performant, well-constructed, and reliable air compressors have been selected. If you choose one of these, you can’t go wrong with your investment. Budget considerations are also factored in so in here there’s a wide enough variety to please anyone.

Best Portable Air Compressor

1. PORTER-CABLE C2002 Pancake Compressor

If you’re looking for a decently portable option, the Porter-Cable C2002 is a solid pancake-type air compressor. This unit comes with a decent 150 PSI pressure, low-amp motor, and a sturdy oil-free pump. A particularly easy-to-use compressor, this is the kind of product that packs a lot of features for its cost.

The portability is definitely one of the most interesting aspects of this air compressor. With a weight of only 30 pounds and a convenient handle, the unit can be easily carried from a job to the next. The pancake-style tank boasts a 6-gallon capacity and is equipped with rubber feet and a special water drain valve to ensure the best stability.

In terms of performance, this air compressor is capable of storing a lot of air to keep running for longer. It can deliver 2.6 SCFM at 90 psi and the 120V motor has been designed to be able to face the cold weather. The oil-free pump received some durability enhancements to prolong the lifespan of the machine and won’t require maintenance.

The body of the unit is built to last considering the strong steel used in its fabrication. Vital components of the air compressor are protected thanks to a console cover and another nice detail is the addition of a cord wrap.

A great thing about this model is that it can be used without problems by two users thanks to pre-installed regulated air couplers. Various inflation and cleaning tasks can be handled by this powerful air compressor. To help you in that regard, the manufacturer includes a set of accessories containing a total of 13 pieces.

With so many reliable abilities, it’s safe to say that the Porter-Cable C2002 can meet your expectations if you’re searching for a high-quality portable air compressor. It’s designed with user-friendliness in mind as evidenced by the oil-free pump and compact construction. There are hardly any compromises on performance and durability too, so this is a highly recommended tool.

Key Features:

  • 150 PSI maximum pressure
  • 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI
  • Six-gallon pancake-style tank
  • Low-amp 120-volt motor
  • Reliable oil-free pump

Best Air Compressor For Home Use

2. Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallon Oil-Free Compressor

A very appreciated maker of air compressors for home use is Bostitch. One great example of their user-friendly engineering is the BTFP02012 model. This is a highly efficient pancake-style compressor which boasts a maintenance-free pump and low operation noise levels. Some great performance is also packed in a lightweight design.

There are many tools these days that require a reliable air compressor. Performance-wise, this model promises a maximum of 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI. It can also operate at 150 PSI, and thanks to an ingenious motor design, it will be able to start without too many hassles even in colder weather.

Another great way to maximize the performance can be attributed to the high flow regulator. Thanks to the addition of two universal couplers, two people can take advantage of the great capabilities of this air compressor.

One aspect that makes this an ideal air compressor for the DIY user is the oil-free lubrication. You can say goodbye to oil stains on various surfaces or having to deal with regular daily maintenance. A quiet work environment can also be important for home users so this machine will only reach 80 dBA which could be easily considered a low level for an air compressor.

With a fairly low weight and a very reasonable tank diameter, transporting this model is a breeze. When not in use, it can be stored without occupying too much space. The capacity of the vertical pancake-style tank is 6 gallons.

Easy to use and simple to maintain, the Bostitch BTFP02012 should be at the top of your list if you’re a home user. While it only packs a 0.8 HP rating, it doesn’t disappoint in terms of performance. It gets to 150 PSI fairly quickly and if you consider all its other abilities, it can be safely concluded that this air compressor represents great value for the cost.

Key Features:

  • Maintenance-free pump
  • 150 max PSI
  • 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI
  • High flow regulator
  • 6-gallon tank
  • Efficient motor

Best Air Compressor For Tires

3. Makita MAC700 Air Compressor

Those looking to inflate their car’s tires efficiently and effortlessly should consider an air compressor like the Makita MAC700. Powered by a 2.0 HP motor, this model can pack a serious punch and it has been designed with versatility and durability in mind as we’ll see in the following review.

The cast iron pump on this air compressor makes use of the Big Bore cylinder and piston. This engineering choice takes the performance of the compressor to a new level. Oil lubrication is used for the pump and to increase the air intake, Makita installed a big automotive-style filter.

As opposed to its competitors, this model’s Big Bore pump boasts superior efficiency. This helps a lot with the durability because the unit runs at a lower RPM and maintains a cooler temperature which will result in an extended pump and motor life.

The 2.6-gallon tank is able to handle a 130 PSI pressure and at 3.3 CFM it delivers 90 PSI. Thanks to a low AMP draw, chances of premature motor failure are greatly reduced as this prevents occurrences such as voltage drops and tripped breakers.

In terms of construction quality of the exterior body, the manufacturer did a pretty solid job. Besides some extra protection, the included roll bar boosts the portability of the air compressor. Some additional abilities worth mentioning are the simple oil drain feature and the finned discharge tubing.

The durability, as well as the performance of this machine, makes it a suitable choice to deal with multiple types of applications. The high output coupled with the relatively low noise will help you reach the desired results in no time.

In conclusion, the Makita MAC700 with its innovative Big Bore pump and impressive reliability features, deserves an important spot on this list of air compressors. The cost makes this one a better match for slightly more advanced users. Although small, it can deliver quite a performant experience and feels rugged, obviously built to last a long time.

Key Features:

  • Cast iron pump
  • 2.0 HP
  • Versatile design
  • 1,720 RPM pump
  • Low amp draw
  • Oil lubricated

Best Air Compressor For The Money

4. California Air Tools 5510SE 5.5-Gallon Steel Tank

Anyone who values a quiet air compressor will probably like the California Air Tools 5510SE. This unit comes with a powerful 1.0 HP motor designed for durability and a silent operation. It brings a lot of value to the table considering its features so it made it to this list of best air compressors.

The pump system of this model relies on dual pistons and your maintenance time will be cut short thanks to an oil-free design. A wheel kit helps during transporting, though the 5.5-gallon tank isn’t exactly heavy. It’s quite lightweight for such a robust steel tank.

As many people require a quiet air compressor for working inside the house, making this unit as noiseless as possible seems to have been a top priority for the manufacturer. Rated at only 60 dB, the machine is fitting for those environments where a quieter operation makes a huge difference. The secret lies in the way the motor keeps running at only 1680 RPM.

Wear on the engine is also minimized with such an efficient operation. The generated heat is not as high and can be dissipated more easily. This unit comes with a thermal overload protector function so you should be safe in case of overheating.

To get the empty tank full it takes only about two minutes. It reaches a maximum pressure of 120 PSI. In terms of air volume, the air compressor is capable of delivering 2.2 CFM at 90 PSI and when it comes to recovery time, it needs just 40 seconds to get from 90 to 120 PSI.

Factoring in all the amazing features of the California Air Tools 5510SE, it can be said that this air compressor is a strong competitor for anyone who’s set on getting the most out of their investments. It runs quietly, and can deal with virtually any DIY application you throw at it. It’s not a huge compressor, but it does the job well, so it’s highly recommended.

Key Features:

  • Oil-Free Pump
  • 3.10 CFM at 40 PSI
  • Thermal Overload Protector
  • 60 dB noise levels
  • 120 PSI maximum pressure

5. Senco PC1010 1-Gallon Compressor

The Senco PC1010 is one of the most appreciated air compressors on the market taking into account its performant features and its ingenious design. Fitting for finish work or crafts and hobbies, this lightweight unit could be a satisfying purchase for a vast range of people.

The capacity of just one gallon is a bit low but this kind of small tank could be well suited for lots of home improvement jobs. A padded handle can also offer an excellent contribution to the overall portability. When you start up the unit you will be surprised to see that it’s much quieter than the average pancake compressor, a solid advantage for in-house projects.

As the pump doesn’t rely on oil lubrication this means you can benefit from some peace of mind. You won’t have to clean any unexpected mess that can happen with oil-based models. Reliability is ensured by a strong aluminum cylinder and to prevent hardwood floor scratching, the compressor comes equipped with rubber feet.

The peak power you can expect from this model is 1 HP and the running comes at half of that. The 4 amps motor can generate a maximum pressure of 120 PSI which should be satisfying for most jobs. The most important thing for many is the operation speed, and this air compressor won’t disappoint. With around two minutes required to pump up and just half a minute needed time to recover, this unit enables you to be way more productive.

All in all, the Senco PC1010 is a great tool for many types of jobs where you need some extra power. At this cost, the air compressor can be considered fully worth the money. It’s a pleasure to use because of its quietness and compact performance. It does run out of pressure after a relatively small amount of time, but if that shouldn’t be an issue for most users.

Key Features:

  • Lightweight and portable
  • 1 HP peak & 1/2 HP running
  • Oil-less motor
  • 1-gallon compressor
  • 120 psi max output
  • Great for professionals and DIYers alike

6. Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP

Another Makita unit that gains a spot on this list is the MAC2400 air compressor. It’s powered by an outstanding 2.5 HP engine and comes equipped with a cast iron pump engineered for maximum durability. At this cost, this may not be suitable for anyone, but it seems like a satisfying investment.

The air compressor is designed to run at 1720 RPM which is not as high as other models. This doesn’t really mean it sacrifices the performance as it’s optimized for helping the engine to last longer in time. Another advantage of this feature is the reduced noise of the compressor.

The tank used in this model is a 4.2-gallon twin-stacked type which is capable of delivering a maximum pressure of 130 PSI. As with other Makita air compressors, special precautions have been taken to make the unit more reliable against tripped breakers and voltage drops.

Even though the oil lubrication will require some extra maintenance, the air compressor’s Big Bore pump has lots of benefits. It’s capable of faster recovery and promises improved compression. The air compressor delivers the kind of industrial power required for demanding jobs. One solid aspect of the pump is the automotive-style filter which helps the air intake reach new heights of performance.

Some great convenience features are the oil sight glass that can be accessed without too much effort, as well as the roll bar handle which has been installed to provide some extra protection and to make the compressor more portable. The last ability worth mentioning is the valve drain system that eliminates the accumulated condensation and which can be easily controlled by a lever.

Makita has done it again with their Big Bore capable compressors line which has another reliable air compressor in their ranks. Overall, the MAC2400 represents a good combination of powerful features for an attractive price. It’s a bit on the heavier side, but it won’t disappoint in terms of performance and overall quality.

Key Features:

  • Big Bore engineering
  • Low AMP draw
  • 4.2-gallon twin-stacked tank
  • Roll-cage construction
  • 2.5 HP
  • 130 PSI operating pressure

Best Pancake Air Compressor

7. DeWalt DWFP55126 Pancake Compressor

Pancake air compressors have become very popular nowadays and many manufacturers try to come up with solid candidates. One that stands out, in particular, is the DeWalt DWFP55126 which delivers a lot for its cost. It can reach a maximum pressure of 165 PSI and requires basically no maintenance due to its oil-free pump.

This tool can run for a fairly long time without the need for a recovery period. It’s capable of 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI which makes it a great solution for many types of jobs. Considering also the reduced noise it makes (75.5 dBA), the compressor will be fitting for those who work in quieter environments.

The motor is compatible with both an extension cord and tougher work conditions. It’s efficient enough for starting up when it’s cold outside. One aspect that helps with the overall performance is the high flow regulator. There’s a lot of power here when you account for the reduced weight of just 30 lbs.

With a capacity of six gallons, the tank can keep a balanced amount of air inside. Draining is done using a convenient ball drain valve. Another feature that helps with the durability besides the solid overall construction is the console cover. This keeps the controls safe and can be taken out for easy maintenance.

As this comes with an oil-free pump you won’t need to deal with too many frustrating problems with this compressor. The outlet tube is rerouted and there are two couplers which allow for an extra user. Marring is prevented thanks to special rubber legs, and to make storing the unit easier there’s a cord wrap provided.

The DeWalt DWFP55126 is a capable air compressor that delivers the same level of quality you’d expect from other of their power tools. While it’s a bit more expensive for its class, the extra investment could be worth it as it’s so well constructed and equipped with many reliable abilities.

Key Features:

  • 165 PSI maximum pressure
  • 6-gallon tank
  • High-efficiency motor
  • 75.5 dBA noise level
  • 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI

8. BOSTITCH CAP1512-OF Trim Compressor

If your budget is tight and you still wish to get a decent air compressor, the BOSTITCH CAP1512-OF might the right solution. This high output compressor can run at 1.5 HP and even 2.0 during peak operation. The tank capacity is quite small, but the good news is that it gains a solid boost in portability.

As proof of its amazing portability, this air compressor has a very compact cube design weighing a meager 23.5 pounds. In the world of air compressors, that’s quite low. Still, there’s enough space left on-board to store some essential tools and accessories which permit quicker set-up.

The 1.5 HP motor has a 12 amp draw to reduce the chances of tripped circuit breakers during start-up. It can generate a decent 2.8 CFM at 90 PSI for smooth finish tool operation. The maximum it can reach is 150 PSI, a great pressure at this cost.

In terms of durability, the air compressor received a nice treatment. Its control panel comes with protection against job site damage thanks to the implemented roll-cage. The 1.2 gallon can be easily drained with the help of a ball type drain valve which translates to a longer lasting life overall.

Protecting countertops or hardwood floors is done through the rubber feet that come with the air compressor. Besides the low weight, there’s also a sturdy handle and the cord wrap comes integrated for your convenience. Speaking of convenience features, the pump relies on oil-free lubrication so that will also take care of some frustration when it comes to maintenance.

All things taken into account, the final conclusion regarding the BOSTITCH CAP1512-OF is a highly positive one. It’s hard to match the quality of this air compressor considering such a reasonable price. Anyone searching for a small and inexpensive air compressor would make themselves a great service by choosing this unit.

Key Features:

  • Oil-free pump
  • 150 PSI maximum pressure
  • 2 HP Peak & 1.5 HP Running
  • 1.2-gallon compact design
  • 2.8 CFM at 90 PSI

9. Makita MAC5200 Big Bore 3.0 HP

The last Makita air compressor to be featured on this list is the MAC5200. This is a more professional-level unit geared towards users who require some extra efficiency and the kind of durable construction to withstand difficult job site conditions. Let’s see what this powerful and versatile air compressor can do for your needs.

As with all air compressors on the market, performance represents one of the essential characteristics to analyze. This is a multi-purpose unit considering that it’s able to deliver 6.5 CFM at 90 PSI with the help of its powerful motor rated at 3.0 HP. The 5.2-gallon tank can be quickly refilled to the maximum pressure in just two minutes.

The Big Bore pump has received a lot of praise in the community of air compressor users and for good reason. Without generating as much heat, it will be more efficient as it can suck in more air. It needs oil for lubrication to make sure that air is compressed in the best way possible.

When it comes to noise, it seems that this unit is a bit louder compared to less performant models and that’s somewhat expected considering the superior output. The air compressor comes with a sturdy wheeled frame designed for portability and convenient maneuverability.

A built-in storage compartment can be useful for keeping all kinds of stuff better organized. There’s a cord wrap for the hose which can handle all the length on the handle in a vertical position. The wheels on this air compressor are decently made and the handle can also be folded down.

To say that the Makita MAC5200 was built to last would be an understatement. This is an air compressor to last a lifetime considering the amazing quality of its metal construction. As the performance is on par with the durability, this is definitely one of the best options if you’re in the market for a great air compressor.

Key Features:

  • Durable cast iron cylinder
  • Strong 3.0 HP motor
  • Low-profile design
  • Rugged wheels
  • Big Bore engineering
  • Oil-lubricated pump

10. California Air Tools 10020C Ultra Quiet

While not exactly an industrial air compressor, the California Air Tools 10020C is as close as you can get to that. It’s an excellent unit for those in need of a capable compressor for their shop. Some of its highlights are the large 10-gallon tank with wheels and low amp draw engine that boasts 2.0 HP.

This unit’s motor operates less noisily considering the 1680 RPM. It’s intended to work for longer with an increased duty cycle. The system used for its pump relies on dual pistons without oil lubrication. This translates to a better balance between durability and maintenance.

The pump should work well for more than 3000 hours which is an excellent value. Other air compressors in this class strive for just 500 hours and they can often start showing signs of wear even earlier on. Another great advantage of the pump in this compressor is how it can work even in less even terrains and it shouldn’t be plagued with start-up issues in cold temperatures.

One solid feature of this machine is the Easy Start Valve created to make use of fewer start amps. It gives off a little air amount which results in a no-load condition. That’s why the motor won’t need so many amps at the start, therefore, enabling it to spin freely.

A 10-gallon tank has been included which seems durable enough for most purposes. It’s made of solid steel, but it can be handled more easily thanks to its added set of wheels which help with the transporting process. The cylinder is made of cast aluminum. Expect a performance of 5.3 CFM at 90 PSI and a roughly 25 seconds time to get the pressure back to the maximum which is 125 PSI.

Overall, the California Air Tools 10020C is a solid air compressor even it does have some flaws. There are some small quality control issues on its two built-in connectors which leave of a cheap impression. Despite this minor issue, it can be said that it’s fully worth the price. Any shop will certainly be enriched to have such a powerful tool in its arsenal.

Key Features:

  • Cast Aluminum Cylinder
  • Oil-Free Pump
  • 2.0 HP performance
  • 5.3 CFM at 90 PSI
  • 10 gallon wheeled tank
  • 70 decibels