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FIND THE PERFECT ONE FOR YOUR HOUSE IN MINUTES
We have reviewed our top 20 choices below and also done in-depth reviews by brands, but if you are in a rush:
Here’s our top choice for traditional:
Our value choice:
Though some people think an air compressor has few purposes beyond filling flat tires, one of these simple appliances can be your best friend during home improvement projects and renovations. The air provided can power tools like paint sprayers and air guns to help you do all those projects in less time than you ever expected. To help you more easily find the best one for your own home, we divided our list into more traditional models as well as portable models.
Portable type models are so lightweight that you can carry many models with just one hand. If you love doing work at home, or you work in the construction industry, you may prefer a more standard or traditional model that gives you more power.
Our top choice for traditional models is the Ingersoll-Rand SS3J5.5GH-WB 5.5 Horsepower 8 Gallon Oiled Gas Twin Pontoon, which has a 90 pressure per square inch (PSI), oil-lubricated interior parts and a two-year warranty. When it comes to portable models, we like the heavy-duty 2.5-horsepower motor and cast-iron parts found in the Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP.
Top Models on the Market
Top Portable Models on the Market
The 15 Top Rated Choices
1. Ingersoll-Rand SS3J5.5GH-WB
After all the models that we looked at, the Ingersoll-Rand SS3J5.5GH-WB managed to stand out from the pack. This model comes with a 5.5-horsepower motor and an 11.8 CFM rating that helps you fill up an inflatable canoe or a tire in just a few minutes or even seconds. This model is also perfect for all your home improvement projects too because it can work with all your appliances.
The powerful and dependable Honda motor that comes inside ensures that this equipment will last for years to come and still give you all the power that you need. Made from cast iron, this device also has two twin tanks on the base that can accommodate up to eight full gallons. With its continuous dual cycle function, you’ll find that it can provide you with enough pressure for any project.
Customers give this one strong reviews because you can use it as either a stationary or portable model. While it does weigh 175 pounds, it comes with metal handles that let you pick the compressor up, and some of those handles have rubber grips too that reduce discomfort in your hands and wrists.
2. Makita MAC5501G 5.5 HP Gas
The MAC5501G 5.5 HP Gas from Makita has a high CFM rating at 12.5 cubic feet per minute and a PSI of 100, which is higher than many of the other stationary compressors that we saw. More practical for professional use than home use, this one still has some good features that can help you with home improvement work like two twin tanks that hold up to 10 gallons. Those tanks come with all the fittings necessary for connecting the tanks to other appliances and tools.
A cast-iron pump works with the pistol and cylinder inside to cut back on recovery time before uses and to ensure that you always have the right amount of air to power your appliances. Starting this model is easier than you might think too because it comes with an ergonomic handle that reduces discomfort in your hands and a rope that bounces back into place quickly.
Makita added a 4-stroke Honda motor for additional performance and stability too. That engine can last much longer than you expected over the life of the compressor as well as when using it on a single project. All couplers and fixtures that you need to come built-in also.
3. Ingersoll-Rand SS3J2-WB
Ingersoll-Rand is back on our list with the SS3J2-WB, which has a dual voltage design that lets you use it with 115 or 230 volts, and you can also adjust the amps between 14.7 and 15 amps. Designed for use in tough situations, this product comes with an eight-gallon twin tank on each side that can work together during a longer project to provide you with continuous pressure until you reach the end of that project. It has a PSI of 90 and a 5.7 CFM.
Though the cast-iron construction may make you think that you can only use this model at home or in your shop, you really can move it as needed because of simple handles. Those handles let you move it by yourself or with the help of another person without that individual getting in your way, and its wheelbarrow design reduces the weight that each one of you carry. Ergonomic handles reduce discomfort and help you turn the compressor on quickly.
When you use the right type of start up kit with this model, Ingersoll-Rand will increase your warranty to two full years, and that warranty covers larger parts like the pump and all smaller components too.
4. Hitachi EC2510E 8 Gallon Gas Powered Wheeled
Despite having a stationary design for use in just one place, this Hitachi EC2510E can go anywhere you go via the small wheels on the very bottom. Those wheels not only support the weight of the entire equipment when filled, but those wheels also glide smoothly to help you push or pull it over different surfaces. The tank, which can hold a maximum of eight gallons, gives you more than enough power for most professional and household applications.
The integrated controls located on the base plate help you turn the machine on and adjust the settings without worrying about damaging the pump and other parts, and this plate does a good job of preventing damage caused by other users and even the environment. To ensure that you never run out of oil, Hitachi added a small glass piece that lets you see the amount of oil inside to determine when to add more. The manufacturer also gives you synthetic oil that you can pour inside.
As a wheelbarrow typed, the EC2510E comes with a curved handle on one end and two ergonomic handles on the opposite. It also features sturdy legs that keep the air pressurized equipment level on the ground.
5. Ingersoll-Rand SS3F2-GM Garage Mate
The wheelbarrow design of this SS3F2-GM Garage Mate from Ingersoll-Rand makes this one of the easiest model to use in your garage. That design combines elements of hot dog and wheelbarrow typed to make one that anyone can move. You’ll love the sturdy legs that keep the device flat and the large wheel that helps it glide smoothly across the floor or ground.
An ergonomic handle on one end makes transporting this model a cinch too. This handle has a curved design that closely mimics the shape of your own hands and allows you to lift the end of the equipment to take some of the pressure off your back as you move it. With a horizontal tank that can hold 30 gallons, this device may provide you with all the power you need for a full day’s work.
Capable of filling 5.7 cubic feet in a single minute, this model can tackle even the toughest and longest of jobs. Though it has a 90 PSI, it runs smoothly and quietly to help you focus more on the task at hand without the noise distracting you.
6. Industrial Air Contractor CTA5090412 with Honda Engine
Even if you work outside of the construction or automotive industry, you’ll still find plenty of ways to use this Individual Air Contractor CTA5090412 with Honda Engine. That Honda Engine comes from one of the top manufacturers in the world today and provides you with lots of blowing power, and it uses a direct drive, you’ll never run out of pressure in a single job again. Despite being a larger model, it uses an oil-free design that requires less maintenance and less upfront costs.
The five-horsepower engine is one of the largest available for home use, and it has a maximum PSI of 155 to provide all your appliances and power tools with more pressure. That higher PSI can help you nail boards to a deck or paint an entire room without needing to turn the machine off and let it rest. It comes with a two-year limited warranty and two small tanks that can hold four gallons.
Industrial Air Contractor added shrouding in the form of a large metal bar that comes up from the bottom and wraps around the side to protect some of the most important components. That shrouding also acts like a handle for convenient carrying.
7. Industrial Air ILA1883054 30-Gallon Belt Driven
From Industrial Air comes this ILA1683054 30-Gallon Belt Driven that uses a belt drive inside to keep it running properly and to cut down on the amount of maintenance that it needs. A dual voltage motor inside lets you use it with a standard 120-volt outlet, but Industrial Air also lets you change and adjust the wiring for using this device with a 240-volt outlet like those found in many garages. The vertical tank, which can hold 30 gallons, looks similar to the propane tank you use with a barbecue grill, which ensures that you use every drop.
A simple power switch located right next to the tank makes turning it on and off easy, and you’ll also find two gauges that help you regulate the pressure and the tank itself. With its quick-set regulator, you can set up that regulator and turn the equipment on to use it even faster than before. Though the PSI changes based on the settings that you use, Industrial Air guarantees that this model will have a maximum PSI of 155.
8. Campbell Hausfeld
A solid option for most homes and businesses, this Campbell Hausfield has a single-stage design and a 30-gallon tank, but because it’s so lightweight when compared to other models, the manufacturer considers this an almost portable typed compressor. Two small legs underneath the tank support the tank and all working parts but also do a good job of keeping the device from leaving permanent marks behind on your floor. You’ll also find a long metal handle that extends from one end and two larger wheels that let you move the equipment in the same way you would a lawnmower or wheelbarrow.
Its 3.7-horsepower motor is much more powerful than the engines found on portable models, and that motor lets you use this product in any 240-volt outlet. Designed for extended use, the manufacturer guarantees that this model can last for up to 5,000 hours and that it has a maximum PSI of 135. You might like that Campbell Hausfield makes so many different accessories and products that you can use with this too, including longer air hoses and inflation guns.
9. DEWALT DXCMTA5090412 Subaru Powered Oil-Free Direct Drive
With durable metal shrouding that wraps around the ends, this DEWALT DXCMLA1682066 Subaru Powered Oil-Free Direct Drive ensures that you get the most out of this model and protects all the internal parts from debris and environmental conditions. The premium motor used inside, which automotive manufacturer Subaru designed, comes with a resin overhead cam that lasts for years. DEWALT designed this model for use on job sites and added features like a quiet operating system to ensure that your work doesn’t disrupt or get in the way of the work that others need to do.
Each of the two bottom tanks can hold two gallons for a total of four gallons, and DEWALT guarantees that this product will use less fuel to run, which will help you save money on operating costs. Its pontoon design places each of those tanks an equal distance apart to better distribute the weight and make it easier to carry. Both the PSI and CFM can vary, but its maximum settings can reach a PSI of 90 and a 6.9 CFM.
10. Industrial Air ILA1683066 30-Gallon Cast Iron Oil Lube
A heavy-duty induction engine is just one thing you might love about this Industrial Air ILA1683066 30-Gallon Cast Iron Lube, which uses an oil-lubricated design to extend the life of this product and to give you more power than before. That motor lets you reach a maximum of 155 PSI, which is absolutely perfect for most hand tools like power paint sprayers and glue guns, but you can plug this into any 120-volt outlet. With its 30-gallon tanks, this model is great for larger and longer jobs like steam removing wallpaper, painting a room or putting down new flooring.
Industrial Air designed the wiring for this one to work with standard outlets, but you can also convert that wiring with a separate kit for using in with 240-volt outlets. A working pressure gauge and a tank gauge on the front of the tank let you know the pressure used and the amount of pressure left behind, and a simple power switch makes turning the tank on and off easy. Large wheels make this heavy-duty equipment a little more portable.
11. Ingersoll-Rand Garage Mate
The Ingersoll-Rand Garage Mate is one of the more basic compressors that we found, but it’s worthy of a spot on our list because it’s so easy to operate that almost anyone can use it. It functions like a cylinder or a hot dog air compressor and comes with a cylindrical tank that sits in the center and two large wheels on the bottom for moving it. Though you can push or roll it around by a handle on the top, you can also grab the handle on the bottom and carry the device.
Some of its best features include a six-foot power cord that let you use the equipment further away from an outlet, a pressure gauge that shows you its PSI and a pressure switch for increasing or decreasing the pressure. It comes with both a regulator for better regulating the pressure and a safety valve that keeps it from overheating. This quiet feature of this model has a decibel rating of just 80 or less, and and as it meets all OSHA standards, you can use it on any job site.
12. DEWALT DXCMLA1682066
Though we recommend air compressors from a number of different manufacturers, the DXCMLA1682066 from DEWALT is a great option for anyone who trusts this household brand. Though it looks like a propane tank at first glance, it comes with lots of good features like an oil-lubricated design that can last for years and a cylindrical tank that ensures nothing ever goes to waste. DEWALT designed that tank with thermal properties that keep it from overheating and ensure that you stay safe.
DEWALT calls this a portable model, but we think that it’s more of a standard type because it features a 1.6-horsepower motor that is more heavy-duty than those used on portable models. It comes fully wired for use with either 120-volt or 240-volt outlets, which means you can use it on all types of work sites. The rugged wheels on the bottom help you easily move the equipment, which weighs nearly 90 pounds, too.
13. California Air Tools 10020C Ultra Quiet Oil-Free and Powerful
Many people know California Air Tools for its portable, but its 10020C Ultra Quiet Oil-Free and Powerful is better suited for those who want something powerful and more dependable. It comes with shrouding on each side that keeps air and debris like dust and bugs out of the motor, and that shrouding also creates places where you can rest your hands. As an oil-free equipment, this model requires much less maintenance and has a design that lets you leave it in storage for weeks and find it still running perfectly when you need it.
We like just how quietly this one runs and that it produces just 70 decibels, which makes it a good choice for those who work in residential neighborhoods. It comes with an air tank that stores up to 10 gallons of air and both wheels and handles for convenient moving of the product.
14. NorthStar Belt Drive Single-Stage
Whether you need to inflate your tires or work around your house, you’ll appreciate the portable nature of this NorthStar Belt Drive Single-Stage that can go anywhere you go. Rugged wheels on the base can move across dirt, grass, tile and even hardwood with ease, and a large handle on the top helps you keep your hands on the air compressor as you move it. A second handle near the wheels lets you grab it from the bottom or move it with the help of another person.
The six-foot long included cord lets you plug this equipment into a standard 120-volt outlet and work without standing directly next to that outlet, and electricians can rewire the compressor to work in a 240-volt outlet. This model has a 5.0 CFM rating at 90 PSI and a 6.0 CFM rating at 40 PSI, and gauges help you keep track of both ratings.
15. Eagle EA-6000 Silent Series 6000
If you want a standard or traditional type that functions like a portable model, you might prefer this Eagle EA-6000 Silent Series 6000 to all the other models we highlighted. The shrouding on this model is some of the best around and does a good job of wrapping around the entire equipment to protect all its working parts without adding a lot of extra weight. It also comes in a bright blue finish and features a six-gallon air tank.
Though the air compressor sits low to the ground, it comes with a long handle that extends up from the shrouding, and the handle features an ergonomic grip that reduces discomfort and fatigue. Built-in wheels also add to its ease of movement. While its low amp increases its life by up to four times, it still has a maximum 125 PSI.
Though Ingersoll-Rand makes our list a few times, none of its air compressors can match this SS3J5.5GH-WB 5.5 Horsepower 8 Gallon Oiled Gas Twin Pontoon. Its 5.5-horsepower motor handles all your jobs faster than you expected, and it has a CFM rating of 11.8, which lets you know that it can fill more cubic feet per minute than almost any other brands. You’ll love the dependable motor that uses technology designed by Honda too.
The twin tanks located on this model can hold up to eight gallons, which cuts down on the fill time between uses. Another top feature is that this model comes with a continuous dual cycle setting that ensures you never run out of air, which makes this suitable for jobs like stripping wallpaper or gluing jobs. You also get a two-year warranty, though the manufacturer does require that you follow a proper maintenance plan.
The 5 Top Rated Portable
1. Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP
Thanks to its compact design, this Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP is great for taking with on camping trips and even road trips. As it works with any outlet, you can plug it into an outlet in your hotel room or one at the gas station to inflate your tires, but you can also use it with the outlets in your own home. While it does weigh more than other portable compressors, you’ll like just how quickly you can inflate things with this one.
Designed to work quickly without producing too much noise, this model runs so quietly that it won’t bother your neighbors or even your family. As it requires less amps than other models, this one can run for hours without tripping your circuit breaker or blowing a fuse. It also uses cast iron, which increases its overall life.
The single tank that comes with this model holds more than four gallons, and it has a maximum pressure output of 130 PSI. It also has a maximum CFM of 4.8, which is one of the highest cubic feet per minute ratings found on portable models. Makita gives you a one year warranty on the compressor and all associated parts.
2. DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake
The DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake from DEWALT has a pancake design that takes up less space than comparable air compressor but still provides more power than other portable models. At just under 33 pounds, this model is lightweight enough that you can use it on your own and even carry it from your garage to your car for use away from home. As with other DEWALT tools, it comes with the classic orange and black colors associated with that company.
DEWALT gives you a long cord with a standard plug on one end, and this cord has a convenient design that lets you wrap it right around the equipment for easy storage. The efficient motor inside helps you use this in all types of conditions, and it comes on just as quickly in warm weather as it does in below freezing climates. Rubber covers wrap around each leg too to keep the legs from leaving behind marks on your floors.
This air compressor is great for shared homes too because it comes with two separate couplers that let two people use it at the same time. It features an oil-free design and has a lower decibel level to reduce the discomfort of those around you.
3. PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK with 13-Piece Accessory Kit
Though the PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK Oil-Free UMC Pancake has a pancake design similar to the DEWALT model, it has a slightly smaller tank that holds just six gallons. Whether filling your tires or using a nail gun, this compressor can help. With a dBA rating of just 78..5, this device runs so quietly that others may not even hear it.
At less than 30 pounds, this is one of the easiest portable air compressors to carry. It even comes with an ergonomic plastic handle on the top that mimics the size and shape of the human hand, and when you wrap your hand around that handle, you’ll notice that it feels more comfortable and that you can carry it longer. Gauges on the front let you keep an eye on the pressure settings to prevent over inflating.
Capable of use with nail guns and sprayers, this little model can give you enough pressure to paint a door or a small wall before you need to take a break. PORTER-CABLE also gives you an accessory kit that comes with 13 new tools and accessories that you can use with this equipment as you work on simple jobs around the house.
4. California Air Tools 5510SE Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free
This California Air Tools Steel Tank is the best option for those who want a more professional or traditional model but can’t afford the high prices of those machines. Though it’s portable in nature, it comes with some top features that you can use in your shop. It has a 2.2 CFM rating at 90 PSI and a 3.1 CFM rating at 45 PSI, but it has a decibel level of just 60, which makes it one of the quietest model around.
Thanks to its wheelbarrow design, you’ll have no problem moving this equipment around your shop or around your home. It features larger plastic wheels on one end that can run across almost any ground or floor type and two standard legs at the other end that have rubber protectors to keep those legs from marking your floor. When you lift the handle on one end, you can use the wheels to easily move this equipment.
Though it features an oil-free design, you may like that option because oil-free compressors require less maintenance than oil-lubricated models. Dual pistons inside the device deliver more air faster and help you get through all your projects quicker too.
5. PORTER-CABLE CMB15 Oil-Free Fully Shrouded
Also from PORTER-CABLE is the CMB15 Oil-Free Fully Shrouded that comes with a plastic shroud that completely covers the compressor to protect all internal components. At just 20 pounds, this is the perfect model to carry in the trunk or backseat of your car. It uses gas instead of electricity, and as long as you have enough gas in its 1.5 gallon tank, you can take care of deflated tires an other problems while on the road.
The air supply comes through the attached coiled tube, and those coils keep the cord from tangling and prevent the risk of air bubbles forming. It features an oil-free design that works in all climates, including on incredibly hot days and on days with freezing temperatures outside. You also get an extension cord that you can use to power the device when gas isn’t available.
With a 2.0 CFM rating and a 90 PSI rating, this air compressor provides lots of power, and it has a tank with a maximum PSI of 150 that stores more air in the tank for longer jobs. As it takes less time to recover between uses that other comparable models, the CMB15 is suitable for all types of applications.
Our Portable Winner
A portable air compressor should be lightweight and easy to carry, but this Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP has other features that make it the best in this category. With a 2.5-horsepower motor that is significantly more powerful than those on other portable models, this is suitable for filling tires and other inflatable items as well as powering some of the appliances you need for home improvement projects. The oil-lubricated design improves performance and increases the life of this compressor.
At 77 pounds, this is a little heavier to carry than other portable models, but it comes with rugged little feet that support the compressor and a cord that you can plug into any outlet. Makita is so sure that you’ll like this model that it even gives you a warranty that lasts for a full year after you make your purchase.
How to Choose the Perfect One
While having an air compressor in your home can help you in a number of ways, all these products are not exactly the same. Before buying one of the top rated models that made our list, you should find out which features are the best.
One common type is one called a piston, which actually stores compressed air inside an internal tank. The motor helps build up that pressure when turned on. Piston models are usually more expensive but provide a greater amount of pressure.
Portable models are much smaller in size and weigh less, but these models are also easier to carry and are great for use with appliances like glue guns and spray guns. You can even take one with you on vacation to inflate air beds and inflatable boats as well as for filling tires.
Cubic Feet Per Minute
Cubic feet per minute, which you’ll see abbreviated as CFM, is one of the top features to look at when comparing models. This tells you exactly how many cubic feet the machine can fill in a single minute. The maximum rating found is 2.8 CFM, but some have a rating of less than 1.0 CFM.
Take a look at the size of the tank too, especially when shopping for a pistol model. Larger models come with a tank that holds six gallons or more, which gives you more hours of use. With smaller models, you may get a tank that can only hold one gallon.
Though you may not think that decibel strength matters, the noise the machine produces will play a key role in how often you can use it. Those with a higher decibel level, which are those used in professional auto shops, may irritate your neighbors and those inside your house. A model that runs quietly will keep everyone happy.
Shape and Size
The shape and size lets you know how easily you can carry it. Those with an odd shape that feature tubes and other parts hanging over the side can be a pain to carry. If you need to carry it around with you, look for one with a more compact shape and smaller size.
Consider looking for one with shrouding features like a roll bar or cage that wraps around the equipment to prevent damage. Though this cage may get in your way, most come with a cage that leaves the knobs and buttons exposed to make using it easier.
You should also look at models that come with built-in thermal protection. This feature will keep an eye on the internal temperature and force it to shut down when it reaches a temperature that might cause overheating.
Oil vs. Oil-Free
Also pay special attention to an oil-lubricated vs. an oil-free device. Oil-lubricated models have oil inside that lubricates the internal parts that prevent common problems. Oil-free models may not last as long, but these models weigh significantly less.