Air compressors are very important tools, used widely for different jobs including painting, tire inflation, construction jobs, road maintenance, e.t.c. The compressor efficiently delivers working power for a variety of tools, making these tools and their operators, more efficient as well. This top 10 air compressors review for 2017 is aimed at providing you with all the information you need to make an informed compressor purchase decision.
There are different types of compressors based on the underlying technology employed in their design. They include:
- Pancake Compressors: These have round and flat storage tanks that are mounted on their bottom, making them stable.
- Hot Dog Compressors: These compressors have a single cylindrical tank that is horizontally aligned.
- Twin Stack Compressors: Stacked compressors have 2 horizontal tanks, to increase capacity while saving space.
- Wheelbarrow Compressors: These have 2 cylindrical tanks as well, but they are also wheeled for better mobility.
Air compressors are basically employed to produce pneumatic-force for air-tools, which are dependent on such a force. Such tools include nail and staple guns, ratchets, impact wrenches, paint sprayers, air hammers and chisels, rotary tools and even grinders.
The following steps explain how to use your air compressor to power any tool:
- Step 1. Make sure the compressor is switched off, attach your tool, then plug the compressor into your mains power supply. If it uses an internal combustion engine, then check fuel and oil gauge before starting.
- Step 2. Turn the power on, and check that it is set to automatic or ‘Auto ON’, which enables it to stop when the tank reaches a certain pressure, and to start again when the pressure falls.
- Step 3. Set your desired pressure level, based on the tool that you are using. Every air-tool should let you know how much pressure it needs. Be warned that exceeding this pressure on the compressor can destroy your tool.
Air compressors vary in size, power, and intended use. In order to purchase the right air compressor for your needs, you have to know the important aspects of the device. They are as follows:
- Power Supply: Air compressors can be powered by either electricity or a gas generator. Electric compressors are better for indoor use because they do not emit fumes, while gas-powered air compressors deliver more raw power and are better for outdoor use like in construction sites.
- Hp vs Scfm vs Psi: These 3 terms usually pop up when shopping for air compressors. Hp means Horsepower and is a measure of the gas engine’s or electric motor’s power. Scfm stands for Standard Cubic Feet Per Minute and refers to the amount of air that the compressor can deliver to your tool. Pounds Per Square Inch, or PSI, refers to the pressure of the air. Scfm and psi are more important than Hp in air compressors, and they are usually given together, for example 4 scfm @ 100 Psi.
- Tank Size: Air compressors with smaller tanks are more portable, while those with large tanks will provide you with a more consistent scfm. A 4 to 6-gallon tank is usually sufficient for most projects.
- Oil vs Oil-Free: Some air compressors need oil for lubrication, while others don’t. This oil-free type has the advantage of being lighter than the heavy oiled type, and of also being more maintenance free.
- Single vs 2-Stage Compressors: Single stage air compressors have either 1 or 2 air tanks, which produce compressed air at a given pressure. 2-stage compressors on the other hand, compressed air into the first tank(s), which then feeds the second tank for the second round of compression. Higher pressures up to 175 psi are usually achieved this way.
- Safety Features: Safety features like thermal protection and a reliable pressure gauge are also important considerations when choosing any particular machine.
- Check out the Top 10 Air Compressors in 2017
- 10. Campbell Hausfeld 4.6 Gallon Extra Quiet Air Compressor
- 9. Craftsman 3-Gallon 135-Psi Oiled Portable Air Compressor
- 8. California Air Tools Portable Air Compressor
- 7. Dewalt Dwfp55126 165-Psi 6-Gallon Pancake Compressor
- 6. Porter-Cable C2002 Pancake Air Compressor
- 5. Viair 88P Portable Air Compressor
- 4. California Air Tools 5.5-Gallon 1-Hp Air Compressor
- 3. EPAuto Portable 12-Volt Digital Compressor & Tire Pump
- 2. Bostitch Btfp02012 150-Psi 6 Gallon Oil-Free Air Compressor
- 1. Porter-Cable C2002-WK with 13-Piece Accessory Kit
Check out the Top 10 Air Compressors in 2017
10. Campbell Hausfeld 4.6 Gallon Extra Quiet Air Compressor
Made from lightweight aluminum, this Campbell Hausfeld compressor weighs just 38 lbs. with its twin stack tank. It is up to 50% lighter than comparable machines, delivering a maximum pressure of 125 psi. The engine will deliver 2.2 cfm @ 90 psi and 3.2 cfm @40 psi. The dual tank system with dual piston prolongs its life and even produces up to 25% more air than comparable 1-hp machines. To crown it all, this Campbell Hausfeld air compressor is only 68 dBa loud, which makes it one of the quietest air compressors on offer.
- Pros: 68 dBa low-noise compressor, weighs just 38 lbs., up to 125 PSI, 2.2. cfm @ 90 psi
- Cons: Air hose not included.
9. Craftsman 3-Gallon 135-Psi Oiled Portable Air Compressor
This Craftsman 3-gallon air compressor delivers enough pressure with just 1 hp to get things done really quickly. With a maximum of 135 psi coming from the oil lubricated compressor, its 15 Amp electric motor works tirelessly to keep the 3-gallon cylinder fully pumped.
You can use it to pump your tires and game-house, as well as with air tools like paint sprayers, nail guns, and others. Craftsman includes many accessories with this compressor, like a 25-ft. air hose, a small bottle of compressor oil, a seal tape, a ball tire chuck and a male plug.
- Pros: 1-hp compressor produces up to 135 psi, oil sight glass, includes accessories.
8. California Air Tools Portable Air Compressor
Weighing just 29.5 lbs., this air compressor from California Air Tools is a very portable machine. It comes with a 1-gallon tank and is powered by a 0.6 hp motor. Generating just 56 dBa during operation, this compressor also belongs to the quietest. The engines are an oil-free pump, thus requiring less maintenance and costs. Cat-1p1060S produces 1.2 cfm @ 90 psi, making it useful for air-brushes, air-guns, nail guns and lots more. It is a great machine, and perfect for the indoors, especially in situations where noise is a problem.
- Pros: 1.2 cfm @ 90 psi with just 0.6 hp, very portable, very quiet @ 56 dBa.
- Cons: Too small for large applications.
7. Dewalt Dwfp55126 165-Psi 6-Gallon Pancake Compressor
Designed in a pancake style, this Dewalt air compressor packs plenty of force. With a maximum Psi of 165 @ and 2.6 Scfm @ 90 Psi, what you get is a compact, but powerful machine.
Whether you use it for household chores or in the workshop, the experience and quality engineering of Dewalt will become apparent to you with time.
It is easy to carry and has a high-flow regulator for improved performance. A protective rubber on the leg prevents marring, and a ball drain valve enables a quick and thorough draining of the tank.
- Pros: 165 Psi maximum, 2.6 Scfm @ 90 Psi, 6-gallon tank, only 30 lbs. of weight.
- Cons: Could be quieter than 75 dBa.
6. Porter-Cable C2002 Pancake Air Compressor
Weighing just 34 pounds, Porter-Cable’s C2002 is a very portable and efficient machine. Styled as a pancake compressor, the stable unit can generate a maximum pressure of 150 Psi. At 90 Psi, it delivers 2.6 Scfm of compressed air, and 3.7 Scfm @ 40 Psi.
The oil-free design makes it a very durable machine that requires very little maintenance, and its 6-gallon tank capacity allows you to maintain a steady workflow. Two regulated couplers also allow 2 users to use the compressor at once.
- Pros: Oil-free compressor, 6-gallon tank, 150 Psi maximum, 2.6 Scfm @ 90 Psi.
5. Viair 88P Portable Air Compressor
The Viair 88P is a very portable air compressor, designed specifically to inflate car tires. The size of this compressor is perfect for inflating the tires of SUVs, trucks, ATVs, sedans and other types of vehicles.
It comes with a 10-ft. long power cable, including alligator clamps for attachment to a car battery. There is a LED power indicator, a 16-ft. long air hose, and a 3 piece inflation-tip kit.
This compressor is obviously not designed for nail guns and paint sprayers, but it is perfect for automobile tire inflation.
- Pros: 120 Psi pressure, 16-ft. air hose, inflation tip kit.
- Cons: Not for standard pneumatic tool work.
4. California Air Tools 5.5-Gallon 1-Hp Air Compressor
This California Air Tools compressor features a 5.5-gallon tank, dual pistons, Teflon cylinder rings and stainless steel reed valves. Drawing just 8.5 Amps of electric current, this compressor produces 2.2. Cfm @ 90 Psi and 3.1 Cfm and 40 Psi.
It also features 2 pressure control gauges and is only 60 dBa loud. Weighing 46 lbs., this compressor is also quite portable. It is perfect for indoor jobs where noise is an issue, but it will also work well outdoors.
- Pros: Oil-free compressor, 120 Psi maximum pressure, 2.2 Cfm @ 90 Psi, 3.1 Cfm @ 40.
- Cons: Not the cheapest of compressors.
3. EPAuto Portable 12-Volt Digital Compressor & Tire Pump
From EPAuto comes this very portable compressor, perfect for tires on bikes, sedans, SUVs, small buses, e.t.t.c. It does not support trucks and other heavier vehicles, neither does it support the use of pneumatic tools. For tire inflations though, it prevents over-inflation by automatically shutting off when a certain pressure has been reached. This tire inflating compressor has easy to read display and comes with a cigarette lighter plug for power.
- Pros: Convenient tire pump, inflates a variety of vehicle’s tires, includes a flashlight.
- Cons: Only meant for inflating tires.
2. Bostitch Btfp02012 150-Psi 6 Gallon Oil-Free Air Compressor
Bostitch Btfp02012 is a pancake air compressor that packs plenty of power for its size. There is a 6-gallon (22-liter) tank, which delivers up to 150 Psi of compressed air. The high-efficiency motor is oil-free and offers you many years of performance without maintenance issues.
It features a high flow regulator and couplers, which maximize the performance of air tools. This compressor delivers 2.6 Scfm @ 90 Psi, and is available in a 1-, 2- or 3-tool combo kit.
- Pros: Oil-free compressor, 150 Psi maximum pressure, 6-gallon tank, pancake design.
- Cons: Could be quieter than 80 dBa.
1. Porter-Cable C2002-WK with 13-Piece Accessory Kit
This package includes the Porter-Cable C2002-WK compressor, plus a 13-piece accessory kit. The C2002-WK is a pancake styled air compressor, with rubber feet, a water drain valve, and a maximum pressure of 150 Psi. It also delivers 2.6 Scfm @ 90 Psi, and its oil-free pump makes it a maintenance-free compressor. The included 13-piece accessory kit is made up of a 25-ft. long hose, a blow gun and its attachments, plugs, a tire chuck, gauge and quick coupler. All these items combine together to create one unique product that is quite practical and useful.
- Pros: Includes the 150 Psi, oil-free, 6-gallon compressor, includes 13-piece accessory kit.
We have come to the end of this 2017 top 10 air compressors review, and you should know what you need by now. From the small compressors for inflating tires, to the more efficient ones for powering air-tools, including the Porter Cable with a 13-piece accessory kit, the choice is yours to make.