Hey there, Gavyn here! I know that when it comes to buying an air compressor there are so many choices out there on the market that it can be quite a daunting task to select the best one for your needs. The makes, the models, the sizes, shapes and horsepower, it’s enough to make your head spin just thinking about it. It’s not all bad news though, I’m here to make the process as easy for you as possible. I’ve performed extensive research on all of the top models and have put together several air compressor reviews, covering a wide range of categories, to make it extremely convenient for you to choose the exact air compressor you need.
Categories for My Air Compressor Reviews
If you don’t want to read any further and just want to check out the reviews, you can click on any one of the categories below to be taken there immediately.
- Best Value Air Compressor
- Most Quiet Air Compressor
- Best Heavy-Duty Compressor
- Best Budget Air Compressor
- Best Air Compressor Overall
If you decide to stay and keep reading, I’ll provide some basic information about air compressors and also a summary of my top choices from my various air compressor reviews.
Types of Air Compressors
Let’s start with the various different shapes you might see in an air compressor.
- Pancake Air Compressor – These are the smallest and lightest models you can find. It’s called pancake because, well, that’s what it looks like, a fat pancake. Usually coming equipped with a handle in top, these are great for regular household use and are very portable. Check my air compressor reviews to see how they ranked.
- Twin Tank Air Compressor – These models are mostly still quite portable but have noticeably more weight than the pancake varieties. The two tanks are usually stacked on top of the other or side-by-side and they normally include either a handle on top to carry it or a handle and wheels for easy movement on the ground. Many are also equipped with two outputs so you can have more tools connected at once and they have a bit more power than the pancake. This design shows up in top spot more than once in our air compressor reviews.
- Horizontal/Vertical Air Compressor – These are single tank compressors that are larger than the others we’ve mentioned already. They have a cylindrical tank, either lying sideways or standing up straight. This type is best for professionals who use their air tools constantly throughout the day and also in industrial settings to run powerful machinery. Some models include wheels to move them around and others are meant to be stationary. These are far less portable and more powerful than the others.
Apart from just the shapes and sizes, air compressors have other differences that you might want to consider. For example, some models use oil for lubrication of moving internal parts. They are designed so the oil will not escape but it isn’t 100% foolproof. These types are fine for most tools but if you plan on using an air powered paint gun to paint a car it might not be the best choice as there could be some contamination. For jobs like this it’s recommended you go with an oil-less model.
The technologies that make air compressors work can also vary from model to model. The most basic is the piston-type. These can have either one or two pistons forcing air into the tank until it reaches maximum pressure. When the pressure lowers they start up again to keep the pressure high. This type has more vibration than the others. The other most common type is the rotary screw compressor. These have a screw that is constantly turning, forcing air into the tank and pressurizing it at the same time.
Vane air compressors have what looks like a long fan placed sideways on the inside. It sucks in air from the back as it spins and forces it into the tank on the other side. The last type is what they call negative displacement. I won’t get into the complicated technical details but it uses something called an impeller. As it spins it forces the air particles against the inside wall of the tank, creating pressure.
Top 5 Picks from All My Air Compressor Reviews
Best Value Air Compressor – When I think of value I think of a good mix between. price and performance. My choice for this category is the Rolair FC2002 2 HP Twin Stack Compressor with Overload Protection and Manual Reset. It comes equipped with a respectable 4.3-gallon tank, a little smaller than some of the others I looked at but still big enough for most tasks. What really set it over the edge was the 4.1 CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) which means it deliver more air to your connected device in a shorter time. It does all of this at 90 PSI. I was pleasantly surprised with this model and just had to give it top spot in one of my air compressor reviews.
Most Quiet Air Compressor – There was one clear winner when it came to quiet compressors, and that was the California Air Tools CAT-6310 Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free 1.0 Hp 6.3-Gallon Steel Tank Air Compressor. Made to be quiet by design, this machine is even more quiet that 2 people having a conversation which on average is about 65 decibels, this compressor runs at 60. If silence is important to you then you don’t need to look any further, it doesn’t get better than this.
Best Heavy-Duty Compressor – When it comes to air compressor reviews you can’t leave out the beasts. The ROLAIR 5.5 HP Honda, 9.3 CF is just that, a beast. Equipped with a 5.5 horsepower Honda motor, this compressor pumps out a massive 9.1 cubic feet per minute. That’s enough to do just about anything you want an air compressor to do. The construction is also top quality and built to last.
Best Budget Air Compressor – When deciding which to choose for the budget section of my air compressor reviews I didn’t want to just pick the cheapest, I also wanted it to be of good quality. I finally decided on the PORTER-CABLE PCFP02003 3.5-Gallon 135 PSI Pancake Compressor. This model is small and super light but don’t let that make you think it has nothing under the hood. With an impressive max PSI of 130 and delivering a constant 2 CFM at 90 PSI, this machine is a steal for about 100 bucks. There were a few cheaper models but none of them compared to this one.
Best Air Compressor Overall – Well here it is, the one you’ve been waiting for. To be chosen for this spot the compressor had to have a little bit of everything we covered in our other air compressor reviews and more. Only one can claim this spot and the winner is… Drum roll please… Makita MAC700 Big Bore 2.0 HP Air Compressor. Powerful, quiet, affordable and tough. Reviews everywhere online, included mine, are going crazy over this machine. If you’re serious about purchasing and air compressor and plan to use it for serious work, don’t bother searching for something better because you simply will not find it.
That about sums up all of the top picks for my air compressor reviews. To learn more about each model just click the links to go straight to a full written review, packed with all of the information you need to know to make an informed decision.