Table of Contents
- 1 Best Air Compressors Reviews
- 2 That’s our pick, so the ULTIMATE BEST?
- 3 Air Compressor Buying Guide
- 4 The Bottom Line
Before discussing the different top notch compressors, let’s first talk about what an air compressor is.
An industrial-grade air compressor is a piece of equipment, device, or machine that converts energy or power from a diesel or gasoline engine as well as an electric mother into potential energy stored in compressed or pressurized air. The storage tank is then fed air by the air compressor using one of several methods, thus increasing the pressure inside it and the potential energy stored within it at the same time. This pressure is then released on various things, ranging from quick inflation of tires to approved road standards to powering pneumatic power tools such as jigsaws and drills.
There are indeed many applications when it comes to the air compressors. It can help you operate a nail gun or pump up your bicycle without having to manually do so with a bicycle pump (your bike tires can get as hard and filled as car tires using an air compressor).
It can also be used with spray painting, especially when you want to do car finishes that are even and smooth. Therefore, when buying an air compressor, it’s immensely important to know what you’re going to use it for. There are many types of air compressors out there to choose from, after all. Your choice depends on what you’re going to use it for.
You have gas engine or electric motor compressors for industrial applications or single-stage, piston-type ones for home use. The right tool should always match the level of difficulty of the job. Industrial-grade compressors are characterized or distinguished by their use of storage tanks.
|Picture||Model||Air Flow||Weight||Editor Ratings||Our Review|
|Senco PC1010||1 CFM||20 lbs|| (4.5 / 5) |
|California Air Tools CAT-6310||3.8 CFM||49 lbs|| (4.7 / 5) |
|Porter Cable C2002||3.5 CFM||34 lbs|| (4.2 / 5) |
|Makita MAC700 Big Bore||3.3 CFM||52 lbs|| (4.5 / 5) |
|Rolair JC10||2.35 CFM||44 lbs|| (4.6 / 5) |
Best Air Compressors Reviews
Senco PC1010 Air Compressor Review
The portable air compressor Senco PC1010 Compressor is a lightweight and portable compressor type that’s easy to carry from one place to another. When it’s running, it consistently delivers half a horsepower of power and can go up one horsepower at its peak.
What’s more, its tank has a one-gallon capacity. It’s best used for renovation and home improvement jobs, particularly when it comes to powering nail guns or paint sprayers. On the other hand, you can do arts and crafts or other artistic construction endeavors with this portable as well.
Every minute, the Senco PC1010 delivers 20 to 44 drives. The specific amount of drives you can get out of this device depends on the application and the tool you’re using it on.
The SencoPC1010 Air Compressor has a lube-free pump, which means you don’t have to be concerned about disposal issues or making a mess when working with oil as lubrication. Moreover, it comes with a one-year warranty. As for its aluminum cylinder, it offers superior durability and ruggedness all around.
Home improvement jobs and renovation typically only need a one-gallon capacity for the tank. Tougher work involving construction of homes or manufacturing of electronics and operating heavy equipment usually needs tanks that have more than 6 gallons of capacity. However, for residential and non-commercial applications, a gallon is enough.
The Senco PC1010 is also perfect for hobbyists who practice arts and crafts, since many pneumatic tools for woodworking and manufacturing use air compressors of this class. It’s also an extra efficient kind of pump thanks to its direct drive motor. It takes only 35 seconds for it to recover and 128 seconds to pump up. What more can you possibly ask for? See our detailed review of the Senco PC1010.
Makita MAC700 Big Bore 2.0 HP Air Compressor Review
In regards to the Makita MAC700 Big Bore, it delivers quite a lot, as its consistent power rating for its motor is at an impressive two horsepower.
The industrial-grade, “Big Bore” Makita MAC700 comes complete with oil lubrication of the pump to make run cooler (although this might come as a demerit instead of a merit for those who prefer oil-less pumps), low amp draw that mitigates incidences of breaker tripping or voltage drops that can destroy your air compressor motor, and substantially lower noise levels despite it sporting a pump that goes at a rate of 1,720 RPM.
The Big Bore Stationary Air Compressor by Makita indeed has a lot to offer consumers. It’s the device’s ability to deliver greater displacement at lower RPM that makes it stand out from many other pieces of compression and pneumatic equipment out there.
Moreover, Makita includeS a one-year manufacturer’s warranty with it. Finally, the commercial-grade Makita MAC700 Big Bore includes a cast-iron pump with big-bore cylinders and pistons.
Combined with greater stroke and bore, the Makita MAC700 delivers optimum performance every time. It’s never sloppy with its work and it provides a consistent 2 HP of motor operation every time. Thanks to its Big Bore Engineered Pump with cast-iron construction of its cylinder, you’ll get to enjoy better and faster air compression at reduced noise levels and with faster recovery times.
Even if you’re dealing with the toughest on-site conditions, the tough-as-nails construction of the cast-iron pump should be able to take all that abuse as well as wear-and-tear. This is arguably the most rugged air compressor in this list. Read our detailed review of the Makita MAC700.
PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK Oil-Free Pancake Compressor
In regards to the PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK Pancake Compressor, it’s (obviously) a pancake compressor, which is among the most common portable compressor subtypes around. It also has many competitive specs that allow it to stand up against the likes of California Air Tools and Senco Air Compressors.
For example, its tank pressure at maximum is 150 PSI, which is impressive because it allows for longer tool run times for your nail guns and sprayers. As for its SCFM rate, it’s at 2.5 SCFM at 90 PSI, which means that when you use it, you can recover the lost air and pressure almost immediately, plus it’s certified per ISO1217.
The C2002-WK also enables you to prevent leaks and save user effort through its air couple and plug that are factory-installed on the air hose itself. It means you won’t have to mistakenly install these devices onto your hose or pay an expert to do it for you. It already comes pre-installed for your convenience.
As for the pancake-style tank of the PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK, it has a six-gallon capacity, plus it includes rubber feet for better floor stability and a water drain valve for added drainage convenience. Meanwhile, the 120-volt motor has low amperage and starts easily in cold weather compared to gas-powered air compressors.
As for extensions, the piece of equipment comes equipped with its own extension cord to boot. Furthermore, the PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK also has an oil-free pump just like the California Air Tools CAT-6310, which ensures no maintenance, no mess, and a long operation life all-in-all.
The important internal and external components of the portable pancake air compressor are protected by the console cover handle, and shroud. Meanwhile, its compact design ensures that it’s easy to carry and move around as well. Read our detailed review of the Porter Cable C2002 here
California Air Tools CAT-10020 Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free
Like the CAT-6310, the CAT-10020 is every bit as “Ultra Quiet” and “Oil-Free” as its sibling counterpart from the same manufacturer. Meanwhile, it also shares many of the commercial-grade, industrial-level specs of the Makita MAC700, such as its 2 HP motor.
At 70 decibels, the CAT-10020 is a little less quiet than the 60 decibels of CAT-6310, but not by much. It’s still within a tolerable range and it most certainly not at a level that will cause hearing loss after prolonged exposure. The portable wheelbarrow air compressor also reduces maintenance efforts and costs with its oil-free pump (a pump type that the Makita MAC700 lacks). As for the storage capacity, it’s at a dizzying 10 gallons, which is more than enough for many home applications as well as several commercial uses.
The CAT-10020 comes complete with a no load start from its Easy Start Valve, plus it has a relatively low startup amp draw at 14 amps. This is comparable to the low amp draw of Makita MAC700.
As anyone who owns a refrigerator knows, power outages and tripping the breaker repeatedly can damage the motor of electronic equipment. You need low amp draw to safeguard against low voltage drops. Indeed, the amazing CAT-10020 is a behemoth of a compressor that has it all—the best of both worlds in terms of quiet operation and powerful air pressure action. Read our detailed review of the CAT 10020.
Rolair JC10 1 HP Oil-Less Compressor Review
The Rolair JC10 oil-less air compressor is one of the smallest pancake-style models on this list. It measures 17 x 16 x 15 inches and weighs only 42 pounds, so portability will never be an issue. But what makes this model different to any other compact air compressors is that the Rolair JC10 has overload protection and one of the quietest operations in its range.
Operating with a 1725 RPM motor at 2.35 CFM, the Rolair JC10 comes out of the box set at 90 psi, which can pretty much handle any pneumatic tools for light jobs. It is designed with a durable cast aluminum cylinder and a 2.5-gallon tank. The oil-less design not only reduces the recovery time, it also prevents unnecessary maintenance.Rolair JC10 1 HP Oil-Less reviews on Amazon often begin with how this unit exceeded users’ expectations. About 91% are positive ratings that describe how easy it is to work with trims and a single tool continuously.
Many of the negative ratings of Rolair JC10 are related to factory defects of the valve, which when replaced, has turned complaints into raves. Read our detailed review of the Rolair JC10 here.
California Air Tools CAT-6310 Review
In regards to the California Air Tools CAT-6310 Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free, its Amazon title sums up many of its key features. You don’t need to use messy oil to lubricate it, its tank is made of steel, and it runs in an “Ultra Quiet” fashion even though its motor is rated at a powerful 1 HP.
California Air Tools, meanwhile, is a is an air compressor specialist. This wheelbarrow-type portable air compressor works with noise that doesn’t go above 60 decibels. Furthermore, you’ll deal with less maintenance and cost concerns thanks to its oil-free pump.
As for its 6.3-gallon steel horizontal tank with wheels, you can transport the whole thing anywhere because of those very wheels! If you’re concerned about the weight of the California Air Tools CAT-6310, there’s no need to fret since it’s only 49 pounds.
As for its motor, it’s superior to the best-selling Senco PC1010 exactly because it can go consistently at one horsepower rather than dropping at ½ HP during certain circumstances. In fact, the peak motor performance of the California Air Tools CAT-6310 is at two horsepower, making it twice as powerful as the Senco PC1010!
To clarify, the California Air Tools CAT-6310 isn’t completely silent. However, compared to many compressors in this list and out of it, it’s one of the quietest compressors you’ll ever get your hands on. 60 decibels, for your information, is about the same loudness of a normal conversation.
As a frame of reference, a whisper is about 30 decibels and a snowmobile or motorcycle motor is at 100 decibels. Anything outside of 90-95 decibels can cause hearing loss if you were to get exposed to it for a prolonged period, but the 60 decibels of the California Air Tools CAT-6310 is well below that point. Read our detailed review of the CAT 6310 here
That’s our pick, so the ULTIMATE BEST?
Well, all of the 5 air compressors above are the very best on the market right now. It is hard to pick the ultimate must-buy one. After such careful consideration, here are the following 2 top of the top picks:
1) Best Value-for-money compressor
Porter-Cable C2002-WK Compressor – It is very compact, with a stellar Porter Cable brand reputation for superb durability and quality. Its output will fit most in-house tasks you require, and its design is extremely useful for carry around the house. Just follow closely to the manufacturers’ manual, and you’ll find no problem using this compressor. Combine with a very affordable price range, this Porter Cable C2002 is just the best value for money compressor for your choice.
2) Air Tool Guy’s choice compressor
It is the Makita MAC700 Big Bore 2.0 HP. Different from the Porter Cable choice above, this Makita MAC700 is a bit heavier, but the nice design handle bar greatly minimizes this problem. Its power output has a higher range than that of Porter Cable C2002, making it a good fit for both the handyman and small little workshop. The Big Bore unique design ensures great power and durability, while maintaining a relatively low noise for your easy working environment. That’s why Makita MAC700 is the Air Tool Guy’s choice air compressor.
Air Compressor Buying Guide
Here are the different air compressor types.
Stationary Air Compressor
Industrial-grade compressors are usually of the stationary type and of the two stage compressor type with twin pistons and greater pressure per square inch (PSI). They’re huge pieces of equipment designed for placement in garages or workshops. These heavy-duty models have high horsepower (HP) or cubic feet of air per minute (CFM) rates with humongous storage tanks that enable usage for long periods of time in an uninterrupted fashion. They’re typically designed vertically in order to save space since they’re so huge otherwise and a horizontal design would eat up more space than an old-timey computer mainframe.
Portable Air Compressors
As for portable air compressors, they’re made to be smaller than the stationary air compressor in order to make them more portable. They can also come with wheels, handles, and petite storage tanks for maximum mobility. They’re perfect for lighter applications such as nail gun powering and airbrushing. They’re also quite beneficial if you want space-saving compressors you can move around most anywhere without requiring too much effort or energy on your part. They come in several styles.
- Pancake Compressors: They’re the most stable in design of the portable compressor subtypes because they take up less space than other fellow portables. To be more specific, they come with round, flat storage tanks mounted beneath the units.
- Hotdog Compressors: As for hotdog compressors, they feature a cylindrical tank and a more horizontal design. Hotdog compressors are so small they can still save space while being horizontal.
- Twin-Stack Compressors: This portable compressor subtype features twin cylindrical, horizontal tanks that are stacked atop each other to save space yet still deliver an amazing amount of air capacity.
- Wheelbarrow Compressors:This subtype of air compressor also features two cylindrical tanks, but this time its mobility comes from its wheelbarrow design. It’s a wheelbarrow with air compressor tanks on it.
The smallest compressor type that’s even smaller than portable compressors. This is because this device lacks a storage tank. It works by running continuously to supply air rather than storing air and pressure inside a tank for later use. It’s used to inflate sports equipment, tires, and small floats.
Air Compressor Power Supply
Many users prefer using air pressure compressors for tire inflation or spray painting requirements or for heavy-duty work involving the operation of pneumatic machinery or manufacturing. However, you should pay attention to their power supply before picking a brand and sticking with it.
For example, the most common model you’ll come across is the electric compressor, which works through plugging it into an electric outlet with its cord. This type is the preferred choice because they’re quieter in operation than gasoline-powered models, they require minimal maintenance, and they’re powered by a ready electrical supply. This is in stark contrast to the gas air compressor, which requires expensive gasoline to run. If you need to work indoors, then electric compressors are the way to go.
Many portable compressors are of the electric, corded type. Home use compressors mostly operate on the 120-volt household current. For larger models, you’ll need bigger electrical requirements (such that regular usage of them might make your electrical bill go up as fast as the constant operation of your HVAC system).
Portable electric compressors don’t have batteries, though; they have cords and require extension cords if you wish to go further away from your electric socket power source. Naturally, this limits mobility. You should observe proper power cord safety tips as indicated by the user manual and manufacturer’s specifications as well. The power supply sources for inflators include the 12-volt vehicle accessory outlet or the 120-volt household outlet.
Air compressors that require gas to run are your best bet for outdoor operation. You can lug a can of gas everywhere and you don’t need to be limited by your electrical power supply location when going about your air compression work or projects. If you’re in an area where electricity is unavailable or limited, then gas air compressors are the way to go.
What’s more, because they run on gas, they tend to have loads of HP compared to electric models. Thusly, they generate more PSI. Sure, many heavy-duty air compressors are the stationary electric types, but there are portable gas-powered compressors that can give them a run for their money when it comes to HP, PSI, and CFM.
Air Compressor Specifications
The HP rating of a compressor serves as an indicator of the power output of the motor or engine. The resulting air pressure produced by powerful motors is meanwhile measured in PSI: The greater the HP of the motor, the greater the air pressure in PSI.
Having a higher PSI is a good thing because this allows you to release a greater amount of pressure. Your nail guns will fire up nails harder, your spray paint tool will apply paint in a smoother and more even fashion, and your tires will inflate much faster and harder. You can operate air tools longer and have better pneumatic results in general.
Besides CFM, there’s also standard cubic feet per minute (SCFM), which describes the volume of air that the device delivers every PSI level. As the PSI level drops, so does the CFM value and vice-versa. If your air compressor has a higher CFM rating, that means as the pressure rises, you cover more area, deliver more air, and you can do more heavy-duty work such as operating framing nail guns and air wrenches.
As for tank size, they’re rated in gallons. If your tank can carry 4 to 6 gallons, then it’s one of the smaller tanks around. It’s also sufficient for nail gun or brand nailers and airbrush applications. Larger tanks store more pressurized air at PSI higher than that of lower-gallon tanks
They’re perfect for tasks that involve sustained pressure and air flow, such as remodeling projects and automotive work, among other things. Your tank’s gallon size tells you how much pressurized air you have in reserve, thus you’re more careful in using them up. Compressors that run on diesel or gas are widely used in areas that are remote and provincial (i.e., places where electricity access is scarce).
While most stationary compressors use electric power, you can get stationary gas compressors as well for some truly industrial-grade work. Speaking of which, two-stage compressors can do commercial-level compression applications because it uses two pistons: One for initial air compression, the other for secondary air compression and tank delivery.
So the best air compressors are:
The Bottom Line
Selecting the right air compressor is less about personal preferences and more about intended use, since specific types of compressor—the stationary compressor, the portable compressor and its subtypes, and the inflator—have unambiguous levels in application and usage. The stationary compressor is for commercial use and heavy-duty industrial-grade work.
Most homeowners can have their pick of the litter when it comes to portables that can power up their paint spray guns and nail guns. Finally, all other miscellaneous uses for compressors that don’t require a tank (such as tire inflation, boat inflation, float inflation, and bed inflation) can be done with the inflator. Each of the top compressors described above has their respective pros and cons.
Some compressor features will prove beneficial throughout multiple projects but mostly worthless in others thanks to the specific categorization of compressors and their applications. The only real hard choices you’ll make are between brand versus brand or model versus model.
Which portable compressor in terms of manufacturers is the right one for you? How about when it comes to the commercial grade ones? The inflators? All the other types and subtypes of compressors not covered or featured in this review? You need to know exactly what you want the compressor for then check each individual specification of the product to get the right answers to those questions. Just remember the following while making your ultimate compressor pick.
Compressors with tanks tend to store the air in them for the sake of building consistent pressure full of potential energy that’s waiting to get released. Whenever the air is used, the device restarts to build the pressure back up inside the tanks. At any rate, your compressor choice should have an oil-free pump to reduce maintenance work, a belt-driven system to ensure quieter operation, thermal protection that stops the motor to prevent overload damage, adjustable exhaust to keep the heat and other byproducts from spreading in your work area, and so forth. Long story short, whenever you’re attempting to find the right air compressor for you, you should pay attention to its capabilities specifically and in general.
Read more on choosing different type of air compressor. If you have already found an air compressor for yourself, check our list of air compressor manuals.