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An air compressor is a versatile tool with many functions. It can inflate everything from pool floats to car tires and helps operate power tools like paint sprayers. Something so useful has a place in every home, but what does an air compressor actually do? Which brand and model should you buy? We’re here to answer these questions, so keep reading to discover the best air compressors for you!
What is an Air Compressor?
An air compressor is a pneumatic device that converts power through its motor into energy in the form of pressurized air. As air enters the compressor, the machine pressurizes it into potential energy and stores it in a large tank for later. You can then use this stored energy to inflate objects and keep power tools running for long periods.
The two essential metrics you should look for during your search are tank size and pounds per square inch (PSI). Compressors with large tanks and high PSI are more energy-efficient and can power a wider range of tools.
You also want to look for models between 60 and 80 decibels. Air compressors with 90+ decibels are annoyingly loud and could lead to hearing loss in the long run. Additionally, you want to look for compressors with portable features. They can get quite heavy – even the smaller models – and you won’t be able to carry them in your arms. All of the devices we chose have handles and wheels for easy moving and storage.
With the important background info out of the way, here are the ten best air compressors in order from least to most expensive.
1. Craftsman 0200341
We begin with the best air compressor for small jobs, the Craftsman 0200341. It has a horizontal design and weighs just 36 pounds – strong enough for most household jobs, but lightweight enough to move and store with ease. The three-gallon tank, 155 psi and oil-free pump are great features for such a small device.
The electric motor is also quiet enough to run inside the house, which is a significant advantage you want to look for in air compressors. You can expect this compressor to last for years with minimal maintenance.
2. Rolair AB5Plus
The Rolair AB5Plus is another fantastic small air compressor. Its one-gallon tank capacity and 90 psi leave room for improvement, but the lightweight design and quiet operation make it perhaps the best portable option on the market today. It’s the quietest compressor on the list at 59 decibels (for reference, air compressors average around 90 decibels).
The steel roll cage protects the machine from bumps and falls as a final touch. If you’re looking for a portable air compressor that can handle the wear and tear of everyday use, this compressor from Rolair has everything you need.
3. California Air Tools 8010
This compressor from California Air Tools is larger than the first two entries, with an 8-gallon tank and 54-pound frame. Still, it has a convenient handle and wheels that make portability easy. The tank size and 120 psi make it strong enough to operate most power tools, but that doesn’t make it any louder.
In fact, the electric motor is designed to run at low speeds for long periods of time, keeping the machine at an impressive 60 decibels. Though not as light or durable as the other entries, this compressor is a great all-around machine and sits at a fair price.
4. Husky 3320445
Now we’re starting to get into the more powerful air compressors. This model from Husky boasts a 4.5-gallon tank capacity and 175 psi – strong enough to power any tool you use around the house. Even with the impressive air output, the machine runs at just 65 decibels and won’t cause a nuisance.
The only “downside” to this compressor is the 70-pound frame, but Husky was smart enough to install two wheels and make portability easier.
5. Craftsman 0201041
This bulky compressor from Crafstman specializes in powering a variety of industrial and household tools, with a 10-gallon capacity and 175 maximum psi output. Even so, it operates at around 80 decibels, which is louder than the previous options but won’t negatively impact your work environment.
The quality steel tank, oil-free pump and two sturdy rubber wheels make this compressor practically indestructible. You can expect to use it for a long time.
6. Milwaukee M18 2840-20
This compressor is specially designed for home remodeling with a cordless setup and small frame, but it also works with everyday tasks. The 2-gallon tank is plenty big enough for a portable compressor and the 68 psi is quieter than most other models. The RedLithium batteries keep it running for hours longer than comparable compressors, making it an ideal choice for long workdays around the house.
$349 from Northern Tool and Equipment
7. Campbell Hausfeld DC080500
The DC080500 is perhaps the most well-rounded air compressor on this list. It has everything you’re looking for: size, power, little noise, durability and portability. The 8-gallon tank and 125 psi can handle any tool in quick time. It operates at under 70 decibels and runs up to four hours longer than competing brands.
Large wheels and a rubber grip make this compressor from Campbell Hausfeld a fantastic product from every perspective. Take advantage of its low price before the market catches on!
8. Dewalt D55146
This model from Dewalt is another durable compressor fit for everyday DIY tasks around the house, with a 4.5-gallon tank and an impressive 225 maximum psi. The large wheels and retractable handle make movement and storage a breeze, and the oil-free pump requires little maintenance.
Dewalt has a positive reputation for producing sturdy tools and equipment, and this air compressor is no exception. It’s a reliable and quiet choice for your home.
9. Industrial Air IL1682066.MN
A list of the best air compressors would not be complete without some heavy-duty equipment. This 159-pound unit with a cast-iron frame from Industrial Air can handle any task that gets in its way. It has a maximum 135 psi output, but the oil-lubricated pump makes the motor run quietly enough for indoor jobs.
You might have difficulty hauling this compressor up a flight of stairs, but it can move around flat surfaces without issue, thanks to sturdy handles and wheels. The current price is more than fair for this tank of a machine.
10. Industrial Air ILA3606056
If you’re looking for an industrial-grade air compressor at a reasonable price, this model is for you. The 60-gallon tank, 155 psi and two-cylinder air pump can handle any power tool and run all day with the same reliable performance. You have to change the oil periodically, but the tank and gauge are front and center for easy access.
This air compressor will help you with any home improvement project you set your mind to. Just make sure you clear out a space in the garage for it!
Order Your Air Compressor Today
Shopping for complex equipment like air compressors can be intimidating. With so much unfamiliar technology and so many options, you can easily get lost in your search. These ten options give you a condensed range of options, from portable to heavy-duty. Identify your needs and order the best air compressor for your home today!