Best Air Compressor Reviews Guide

Wouldn’t it be great if someone just told you what the best air compressor was? Well unfortunately its not that easy because that question is virtually impossible to answer. Air compressors come in so many different styles, designs, and different performance levels.

The best small air compressor models might be perfect for small weekend jobs around the house but utterly pointless to bring it to a construction site.

At we provide ratings and reviews on a variety of models from compact air compressors to large gas powered models and we show you where to get the best deals.


Air compressors power pneumatic (powered by air) tools that use pressurized air to run tools such as paint sprayers, impact wrenches, staplers, and nailers.

Technicians and contractors use pneumatic tools for bodywork, automotive finish work, repairs, framing and roofing. Air Compressors come in handy during household projects and smaller jobs like blowing up tires or sports balls.

There is a large variety of air compressors available, each designed for specific type of job. Our online ratings and reviews should assist you in determining which air compressor will work best for you.

To make your search for your next air compressor easy we have only selected the highest rated air compressors for different uses. The chart below is a list of our “Top Picks” click the image or model number to see our review of that compressor. Click on the column headings to sort.

Top Rated Air Compressors - Spec Sheet

$ = up to $150 $$ = $150 to $300 $$$ = $300 to $500 $$$$ = $500 and up
Max Pressure
Tank size
Makita MAC2400 130 PSI4.2 Gallons79dB77 lbs$$$
PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK150 PSI6 Gallons82dB34 lbs$
California Air Tools 6310120 PSI6.3 Gallons60dB49 lbs$$
Senco PC1010 125 PSI1.0 Gallon69dB20 lbs$
Hitachi EC2510E 145 PSI8 Gallons76dB144 lbs$$$$


Size of  Air Tank(s)

  • Depending on your usage, you might want a large tank so that you can use you air tool for long periods of time. These air compressor tanks are usually measured in gallons and the larger models can power an impact wrench or a board sander for sustained periods of time better than a small tank air compressor.

Overall Size of Machine

  • Air compressors come in many sizes, they can be compact and weigh as little as 20lbs, or they can be very large and designed to be a fixture in a places like an automotive shop. If you work in construction you might want to have portable unit with a gas powered Hitachi unit, however that compressor weighs almost 200lbs, but since it comes with a wheelbarrow style design you will be able to load it into any trailer or truck bed that is equipped with a ramp. Whatever the case, consider the size of your unit before purchasing an air compressor.

Type of Materials Used

  • Two materials that are common among air compressor tanks are steel and aluminum. They both have their benefits. Aluminum is much lighter than steel and you don’t have to worry about it rusting if the protective paint chips. On the other hand steel is a stronger metal that will withstand more abuse if your compressor ever has the unfortunate fate of falling off of a truck bed or takes an accidental tumble down a flight of stairs.

Wheels or Handle

  • When choosing a portable air compressor ask yourself if you prefer a more compact unit with a built in handle for easy carrying, or would you rather have a slightly larger unit with a bigger air tank and built in wheels for easy pull-and-play transport.

Best Air Compressor

  • Does the air compressor you are considering have a solid brand with a solid reputation? We will help you choose the best air compressor for the money. Each air compressor was hand selected and tested based on high brand reputation and excellent customer satisfaction ratings.

Warranty period

  • Generally speaking, the air compressor industry has a standard 1 year warranty.

Number of outlets

  • Will you need multiple outlets to run multiple tools simultaneously? Some air compressors on our reviews page have dual outlets. This can come in handy to power two nail guns when working with a partner while doing trim jobs or it can help reduce the frustration when using two different sized nail guns, eliminating the need to detach and reattach nailers.


  • If you’re planning on using your new air compressor at a job site then, volume levels are usually not an issue; however if you are planning to run your air compressor in a garage at night or early morning while other people are trying sleeping then you might want to choose a ultra quiet model compressor.
  • So that you don’t risk hearing damage, It is recommended to wear hearing protection if you are considering an air compressor that will operate above 85dB.
  • The ultra quiet California air tools 6310 operates at only 60dB, thats lower than the volume of a normal conversation.

Air compressor Noise rating chart










Below is a list of the kinds of tools that can be powered by air compressors:

  • Disc grinders
  • Brad nailer
  • Chisel/Hammer
  • Cut-Off Tool
  • Drills
  • Reversible or Straight-Line
  • Dual Sander, Framing Nailer
  • Grease Gun, Hydraulic Riveter
  • Mini Die Grinder
  • Needle Scalar
  • Nibbler
  • Orbital Sander
  • Ratchet
  • Rotational Sander
  • Shears
  • Speed Saw

Build Quality and Durability

  • Lets face it. We all want quality. We want whatever we spend our hard earned dollars on to last years and years, without breaking down and costing us more money in repairs. When is comes to air compressors quality is just as important as design.

Horsepower / Cubic Feet per minute (CFM)

  • CFM numbers help determine if a compressor produces enough air to power the tool you want to use, but its also important to compare the tools pressure requirements.The actual number of horsepower that an air compressor produces is not important, but the number of CFM (cubic feet per minute) your air compressor can produce is.
  • Often times air compressor manufacturers boast about the number of horsepower a unit can produce; however the CFM rating is not the best. You see, CFM is important because that is that is the amount of air that is being pumped into the compressor’s air tank every minute. Therefore, how much air you can use every minute without having to stop using your air tool, and wait for your the air compressor to catch up, (replace the air in the chamber) so that you can continue working.


Single Stage or Dual Stage

You can usually find reciprocating (aka Piston) Compressors in two styles; Single Stage and Two Stage. A single stage compressor works by taking air in and compressing the air to its final pressure in one piston stroke.

Single stage air compressors can achieve max pressures of up to 150 PSI. Usually, a single stage air compressor can achieve higher CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) specifications than a two stage air compressor, because every cylinder stroke is bringing in air and compressing it with air with every rotation.

Dual stage air compressors function in a similar way. The main difference is they compress air in 2 separate stages.

  • First stage: air enters a chamber and compressed to a medium pressure.
  • Second stage: the air that was compressed in the first stage is pumped through an intercooler where the air is cooled and compressed in the final or second stage. Dual stage air compressors are usually capable of pressures up to 200 psi. Dual stage compressors are the most efficient at higher pressures because of the air cooling stage in between.


There are two kinds of air compressors, oil and oil-free:

  • Deciding whether or not you want to maintain you air compressor comes down to choosing between two types oil and oil free. The main difference between an oil and an oil free motors are that an oil based compressor, just like a combustible engine, requires regular maintenance to make sure the oil is clean and at the appropriate levels to ensure proper lubrication, help keep the compressor cool, and prevent moving parts from seizing. Generally speaking you will find oil based compressors in more powerful, commercial models.
  • Oil-free compressors do still use oil, but they are designed with sealed bearings. In other words, you never have to deal with checking oil levels. Oiled pumps tend to run cooler and last longer than oil-free pumps.
  • Check out our handy air compressor maintenance guide and air compressor troubleshooting guide

Power supply

  • Will you have access to electricity? Many construction sites do not have power outlets. If not, you’re going to need a gas powered unit. Just make sure you have proper ventilation.




The best air compressor


We all know Makita is known for making great tools that are built to stand the test of time. Well this little guy is no exception. In fact, its a workhorse that outperforms every other air compressor in its class. With features like a durable cast iron pump with a big-bore cylinder, powerful 2.5 horsepower motor, 4.2CFM, a large automotive style air filter, built in protective roll cage, and lower rotations per minute resulting in a medium volume purr at 79dB. The Makita MAC2400 would make a worthy addition to any garage or workshop. For more information check out the full review.


California Air Tools CAT-6310 Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free CALIFORNIA AIR TOOLS CAT-6310

Great performance and innovative design – If you are looking for a quieter alternative to the average air compressor than the CAT-6310 is a great option. Instead of a single loud cylinder head furiously banging away, you have a two large cylinders turning at half the speed giving you tons of air compression. This gives you a seriously quiet operating environment. The actual operating volume is a super silent 60dB which is the same noise level of a normal conversation from 3 feet away. Yes, this means you can literally have a conversation over this pump while its running! For more information on the California Air Tools 6310 click for the full review.




If you want a light and powerful compressor pump then you might want to take a closer look at the C2002. This model is paired with a large 6 gallon pancake air tank and has a maximum pressure rating of 150 PSI. At only 34 pounds, this model is extremely portable, and this model includes a complete bonus with a 13 piece accessory kit including a 25-foot nylon hose, blow gun and attachments, tire chuck, tire gauge, quick coupler, plugs and Teflon tape. For more information on the PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK click the link for the full review. 


Hitachi powered gas air compressor HITACHI EC2510E

Hitachi has a tough contender in the gas powered market. If your next project or construction job is missing an electrical outlet, no problem! Hitachi’s EC2510E brings new meaning to portable power with a legendary 5.5HP Honda GX160 overhead valve engine and a belt driven drive shaft. This compressor is not only designed extremely well but its also built like a tank. For more information on the HITACHI EC2510E click here for the full review. 

Senco PC1010 1-Horsepower Peak


You already know Senco for their quality pneumatic nailers, well it turns out they are equally a good at building air compressors too. This compact unit has earned its “mighty mouse” nickname. Weighing in at only 20 pounds, with a 1 gallon tank and 1 peak horsepower, she can knock out 20 to 44 drives per minute! The Senco PC101 is perfect for trim jobs pushing finishing nails. For more information on this Senco “hot dog” compressor check out the full review.


Okay, so now that we have reviewed the comparison chart, and read through the air compressor reviews it is time for you to choose which air compressor is best for you. If you are still on the fence and need more detailed information then make sure you check out our air compressor detailed reviews and buying guides.

If you have anymore questions or comments please feel free to contact us using our contact us page. We look forward to hearing from you.