When you want to make work simpler and easier, then you will have to work with pneumatic tools. All pneumatic tools require an air compressor to work effectively. In the past, you would only come across air compressors in industrial settings, but times are changing. Nowadays, almost every tool we use requires an air compressor, including garden, domestic, and garage tools. It explains why you need to know how to choose the best air compressor for air tools.
If you have been thinking of buying one for your air tools, then you have come to the right place. This is an in-depth review of the top ten air compressors and an extensive buyer’s guide to help you in decision making. Let’s get straight to it, ensure that you look through the entire Buyer’s guide and FAQs.
Best Air Compressor for pneumatic Tools - Comparison Table
California Air Tools 8010
Senco PC1010 1-Horsepower Peak
Top 10 Best Air Compressor for Air Tools - Reviewed
1. California Air Tools 8010 Ultra Quiet & Oil-Free 1.0 hp Steel Tank Air Compressor
When you want a low maintenance, ultra-quiet air compressor with superior performance, then the California Air Tools 8010 is a great choice. At just 60 dBA, this air compressor is among the quietest in the market right now. The California Air Tools 8010 has a powerful 1.0 horsepower motor, which runs at 1680 RPM. This ensures that the air compressor gets you 30% less noise than other air compressors. With reduced noise, you can become more productive when working on your project.
The downside of this air compressor is that it is not ideal for heavy-duty work. If you are planning to work on a large project, then this air compressor might not be efficient. However, it is quite efficient for DIY projects, both outdoors and indoors.
This air compressor has an oil-free dual-piston pump system, which makes it low-maintenance. The air delivery is also fast and continuous due to this feature. While other air compressors have life cycles of about 500 hours, the California Air Tools 8010 has a life cycle of 3000 plus hours.
The California Air Tools 8010 is an ideal buy for the regular DIYers who want durable, superior performance. This user-friendly air compressor comes with an 8.0-gallon tank that fills in 130 seconds, which makes it practical for all sorts of projects.
- Pocket-friendly price
- Ultra-quiet at 60 Db
- Powerful 1.0 HP motor
- Fast and continuous air refill
- Thermal overload protector
- Easy to maneuver
- Not suitable for demanding projects
2. Senco PC1010 1-Horsepower Peak, 1/2 hp running 1-Gallon Compressor
With the right amount of airpower, the Senco PC1010 is excellent for small to medium projects. It is a versatile and affordable model that packs a lot of power when you consider its small size. The five horsepower (running) and one horsepower (peak) motor can deliver 20-44 drives per minute. It features a one-gallon aluminum cylinder that fills up in about 128 seconds and just 35 seconds to recover.
This makes it a versatile tool for all the projects that you might have at home or the workshop. The Senco PC1010 is incredibly lightweight at about 20lbs, which makes movement simple and easy. When using this air compressor, you will notice that it takes too long to build up the air pressure. This can be a considerable disadvantage when working on a time-sensitive project. However, you can always set-up other equipment during the wait time.
You can use this air compressor for indoor projects since it features a quiet operation at 73 dBA. Clean up is quite simple, thanks to the lube-free oil-free pump. An easy to clean model will give you long-lasting quality work.
The Senco PC1010 is a great buy when you want to work on small projects, both indoor and outdoor. It is a powerful tool that was created for the DIYers who love working on several projects around the home and workshop.
- Affordable price
- High-quality, durable construction
- Efficient direct-drive motor
- Fast recovery time
- Lube-free pump
- Extra safety features
- 6-ft power cord
- Lightweight construction
- Not powerful for demanding projects
- Takes long for air pressure build-up
3. BOSTITCH Pancake(BTFP02012) Air Compressor
Although designed for the professionals, the BOSTITCH Pancake (BTFP02012) is excellent for all indoor home projects. It features a quick recovery 6-gallon tank with an oil-free pump that delivers 90 PSI and 2.6 SCFM. This ensures that the user gets maximum performance when working on different types of projects.
This air compressor weight 29 lbs. making it easy to handle and move around the workshop. It also features a rubber-grip foot and sturdy handle construction to ensure that you can secure it properly when working on a project.
However, you will find this air compressor a little loud due to the 80 dBA noise rating. Using it in a small workshop can be rather tricky, especially when you are in a region with noise restrictions. However, the noise is not a problem when you want a powerful tool at an affordable price.
It has 1-year limited warranty that comes in handy when purchasing any equipment. The warranty ensures that you are getting top-quality that will serve you for an extended period.
The BOSTITCH Pancake (BTFP02012) is excellent for both professionals and DIYers. It is an affordable model that works effectively for all the different projects that you might have. It has a rugged design that ensures you get long-lasting service.
- Very affordable price
- Large 6-gallon tank
- Supports two users
- Easy access gauges
- Sturdy handle construction
- Lightweight design
- 1-year limited warranty
- A bit heavy
- Relatively noisy for small spaces
4. PORTER-CABLE C2002 Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor
With a sturdy cast iron construction and 0.8 HP motor, the PORTER-CABLE C2002 will deliver enough power to complete any project that you might have in mind. It is ideal for medium to heavy-duty tasks on construction sites or around the home.
This pancake-style air compressor features an oil-free pump, 6-gallon tank, and high flow regulators that provide 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI. This means that you get a quick recovery time, longer run times, and maximum air pressure.
However, I found the PORTER-CABLE C2002 to be very loud. This is a huge disadvantage when you need to work on small indoor projects. The noise level in a small space makes it quite challenging to concentrate on the task in hand. You will require safety earplugs whenever using this air compressor because it ranks at 82 dBA, which is extremely loud.
It features a lightweight 30 lbs. Design with an integrated cord-wrap and carry hand to ensure than movement and storage is easy. On purchase, you get an extensive 13-piece accessory kit, which comes in handy every time you are working.
The PORTER-CABLE C2002 is an excellent buy for heavy-duty projects, making it ideal for both DIYers and professionals. The great news is that it can run from household electrical outlets making it more versatile. It is a durable design that gives you value for your money.
- Customer-friendly price
- Smooth performing motor
- Quick recovery time
- Maintenance-free and oil-free pump
- Cord and handle wrap
- Extensive 13-piece accessory kit
- Compact lightweight design
- Extremely loud model
- Not ideal for extended running
5. Campbell Hausfeld 8 Gallon Portable Quiet Air Compressor (DC080500)
Campbell Hausfeld has been in the air compressor business for a long time producing high-quality equipment, and the DC080500 is no exception. It features a powerful 1.0 horsepower motor and low 68 dBA rating that makes it 50% quieter than most air compressors in the market. The reliable oil-free motor makes it a great tool that lets you complete both medium and heavy-duty projects easily. The dual maintenance-free pumps last 4x longer than most air compressors with 2.4 CFM at 90 PSI. With a maximum PSI of 125, the Campbell Hausfeld (DC080500) ensures you get top-quality work done.
The downside of the Campbell Hausfeld (DC080500) is that you can’t use it outdoors during winter. This can be a great inconvenience, especially when you have an emergency. The good news is that most people don’t work that much during winter.
This air compressor features an 8-gallon horizontal tank and large wheels that make it easy to move around. The durable steel rubber-grip handle equally makes portability easy when working on a large project. You also get a 1-year warranty when you purchase the Campbell Hausfeld (DC080500).
The Campbell Hausfeld (DC080500) is a durable air compressor that gives the users long-lasting service. It is ideal for regular DIYers who love working on different projects at home.
- Excellent working performance
- Strong induction motor
- Reliable and fast air delivery
- Oil and maintenance-free
- Large 8-gallon tank
- Easy to move around
- Large, durable wheels
- 1-year limited warranty
- Not ideal for use during winter
6. BOSTITCH Air Compressor Combo Kit, 3-Tool (BTFP3KIT)
If you are looking to build cabinets and future, then the BOSTITCH (BTFP3KIT) is a great choice. You don’t have to worry about buying a crown stapler, compressor, brad nail gun, and finish nail gun, because this air compressor comes with everything.
This is a highly portable air compressor due to its lightweight construction. This means that you can always get to work on those projects that take you out of your workshop. The lightweight design makes it possible to haul this air compressor onto the roof and start installing your shingles.
The BOSTITCH (BTFP3KIT), however, is rather expensive when compared to similar products. The advantage is that it comes with several attachments, but the price can be rather too steep for some regular DIYers.
The BOSTITCH (BTFP3KIT) is an air compressor with nail guns, which means that it is a convenient buy. You get to save on a lot of time and money since you don’t need to research on nail guns to buy. It also features a powerful and highly efficient motor with a 6-gallon tank, 2.6 SCFM, and 150 PSI.
The BOSTITCH (BTFP3KIT) is an ideal buyer for the regular DIYers because it comes with all the nail guns you would need for any project. It was also designed for home hobbyists, which means it has all the features that you would need.
- Included nail guns
- Portable and lightweight
- Designed for regular DIYers
- High-efficiency motor
- 6-gallon sturdy tank
- 2.6 SCFM at 150 PSI
- Expensive to most users
7. Makita MAC700 Big Bore 2.0 HP Air Compressor
With loads of industrial power and durable cast iron construction, the Makita MAC700 is considered a beast. It is an excellent choice if you want a powerful tool for use on medium and heavy-duty projects. It features a strong 2 HP motor and a 2.6-gallon tank.
The conveniently located tank drive valve, oil sight glass, and oil drain make it an easy to clean air compressor. If you also need to work in hot weather, the discharge tube will help to ensure that the heat is dissipated more efficiently.
However, the Makita MAC700 has a hard to understand user manual. If you are a beginner, then using this air compressor will be rather tricky. The user manual is not well-formatted, and you won’t know where to begin the entire setup.
With a noise level of 80 dBA, the Makita MAC700 is convenient for use in small spaces. The sturdy roll bar handle makes it easy to move this air compressor around when working. It is a 52-pound air compressor, which means that it is rather heavy for most users. You also get a one-year warranty and ¼ inch universal coupler during purchase.
This is an easy and quick maintenance air compressor that is suitable for regular DIYers. It includes all the much-needed features at an affordable price. It is a versatile air compressor that can be used for different projects.
- High-performance model
- Cast iron cylinder
- Quick recovery and re-fill time
- Good noise level
- Easy to maintain
- Consistent air pressure
- Cool running motor
- Sturdy roll bar handle
- Hard to understand manual
- Rather heavy construction
8. CRAFTSMAN (CMEC6150K) Air Compressor
Craftsman is, undoubtedly, the gold standard when it comes to performance, tool quality, and durability. The CRAFTSMAN (CMEC6150K) is no exception and comes with a lifetime warranty to prove the point.
It is a 6-gallon pancake design air compressor that ensures that the user gets maximum portability. The oil-free pump is low maintenance, and you can get long-life service. A low-maintenance air compressor makes everything fast and straightforward, which is ideal when working on large projects.
The downside of this air compressor is that it gives an average performance that doesn’t justify the high price. The price of this air compressor is rather steep, especially when you consider the functionality and performance level.
With a maximum PSI of 150, the CRAFTSMAN (CMEC6150K) is ideal for all sorts of projects. The 13-piece accessory kit included makes it a perfect buy for most DIYers. You also get a one-year warranty, which is excellent if you ask me.
The CRAFTSMAN (CMEC6150K) is an excellent buy for both professional and DIY lovers due to its extensive accessory kit. It can be used in small, medium, and heavy-duty projects, making it a versatile air compressor.
- Lots of included accessories
- Maximum PSI of 150
- 6-gallon tank
- Lightweight pancake design
- Durable construction material
- I year limited warranty
- Is rather expensive
- Average loud performance
9. Excell Sac22Hpe Excell SAC22HPE 2 Gallon Ultra Quiet Air Compressor
When you need an air compressor for powering a spray gun to paint your car, then the Excell SAC22HPE is an excellent choice. This air compressor allows maintenance-free operation because it doesn’t have any pulleys or belts that need adjustment. The control panel is conveniently located to ensure that you get better control over the regulator, gauges, and quick connect. It features a compact roll cage design that ensures s storage and transportation is comfortable and convenient.
However, it is not suitable for projects that require a lot of consistent air due to its small tank size. This had me wondering why it was so heavy, yet the tank capacity is small. Equally, the cord is also awkward and doesn’t give you much mobility.
Its reduces your cost and increases tool operation thanks to the oil-free dual pump design. The noise level is pretty low at 61 dBA, making it convenient for small spaces. You can use this air compressor for all the home projects.
The Excell SAC22HPE is an excellent buy for regular DIYers who want to work on projects such as car painting. It is a versatile air compressor that can be used for several projects, such as home painting.
- Quiet operation compressor
- Affordable price range
- Oil-free dual pump
- Conveniently located control panel
- Heavy design limits mobility
- Low capacity tank
10. Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV
When you want a cheap air compressor that doesn’t compromise on functionality and performance, the Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV is a good choice. It features a 3-gallon tank with 0.36 CFM at 90 PSI, which makes it ideal for all sorts of projects. The maintenance-free oil-free pump ensures that you get long-lasting service. It also features a reliable and robust motor that doesn’t overheat when working on projects. It also operates on a 120-volt house outlet, which makes it convenient.
The downside of this Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV air compressor is it's slow to fill the tank. It takes a long time, which is frustrating when you need to work on a time-sensitive project. This also means that you will take a longer time to complete a project that would take less time using a different tank.
It is ideal for ball and tire inflation, upholstery projects, air/brad nailers, and powering airbrushes. Included in the purchase is a 10-piece accessory kit with fittings, inflation needles, coiled hose, and blowgun.
The Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV is an affordable air compressor that has all the features required for medium and small projects. Regular DIYers get great performance at an affordable price, which is excellent when you are on a budget. However, understand that it is a bit loud, and you will require protective earbuds when working in a small space.
- Pocket-friendly price
- 10-piece accessory kit
- 3-gallon horizontal tank
- Oil-less pump
- Conveniently placed gauges
- Reliable motor output
- Slow to fill
- Awkward hose included
How To Choose the best air compressor for automotive air tools
Buying the right air compressor for air tools is not as simple as it looks. Several models in the market can leave you confused. Yes, having options is great, but only if you know how to pick the best one that suits your needs. Luckily, we have years of experience when it comes to buying air compressors for air tools. Below are the things you need to consider when buying the best air compressor for automotive air tools.
Before you think about purchasing an air compressor, start by asking yourself why you need an air compressor. If you want to work on fundamental projects at home, then you don’t have to take a loan to purchase the expensive industrial-size air compressor.
Most home projects need an average air compressor that is usually quite affordable. You can get to work on various projects with ease without having to break the bank during purchase. The expensive models are used in industrial applications and require some level of expertise to operate effectively.
A professional-grade workshop will need an air compressor that can be hooked to several tools at once. The air compressor equally needs a powerful motor and more control over the amount of pressure. Such air compressors are quite expensive because of their use.
You must think of the different operations you plan on using your air compressor to accomplish. If you are a regular DIYer, then there are a lot of affordable options in the market that you could always choose from.
One stage or two
An air compressor will either be a one-stage or two-stage model depending on the number of stages they have during operation.
A single-stage air compressor does a straightforward function compress and pushes air. Such air compressors are ideal for light uses such as inflating tires, paint sprayers, and short use of tools. This means that they can be used for small and medium projects only. You cannot use these air compressors for heavy-duty work.
When you need to work on a demanding project such as using an impact wrench to remove truck tires, you will need a two-stage air compressor. A two-stage compressor has air already compressed allowed to cool, which makes it expand a little bit. This air is squeezed a second time before it is used, making it much more efficient. The power by such air compressors makes them ideal for all the heavy-duty projects in workshops and industries.
Horsepower and cubes
You will have to familiarize yourself with two basic units of measurement when looking to buy an air compressor, cubes feet per minute, and horsepower. Understand that horsepower is the amount of power that an engine produces. At the same time, cubic feet per minute is the compressed air amount created.
You need an air compressor with a high horsepower rating because it guarantees the amount of power that you will be getting. Certain projects require a lot of power when generating compressed air for better results. When buying an air compressor for home projects, a 1.0 horsepower rating will be just sufficient.
Your air tool will have an essential requirement when it comes to the amount of air that it will need. Ensure that you consider the tools that you plan on using with the air compressor. The good news is that you can always adjust to lower pressure. However, your air compressor has to meet the minimum requirement of the amount of air pressure required by your air tools.
Gas or electric
When it comes to air compressors, you get two choices on the type of power, electric or gas. This will come down to convenience and your personal preference. Understand that a gas compressor is just a tad bit more powerful because the output gets generated by an engine. It is also fair to say that gas tends to give out more power than the electrical wall current.
When you need a portable air compressor, then the gas-powered models make much more sense. This is because the gas-powered air compressors give you more mobility and don’t limit you to the power outlet. However, understand that gas-powered air compressors are noisier when compared to the electric-powered models.
Now, electric models are great for home projects because they are easier to use and clean. Equally, they produce far less noise, making them ideal for use in small spaces such as the garage. Electrical air compressors are similarly affordable, especially when on a budget.
You can either choose an electrical or gas powered air compressor depending on the use and your situation. If you don’t have reliable electricity in your location, then a gas-powered air compressor would be more suitable.
One important consideration that most buyers tend to overlook is the tank size of the air compressor. Understand that the larger the tank, the longer you can use your air tools. This means that a large tank will be much more effective when working on large projects.
The average tank size for light industrial use ranges from 5.5 -8 gallons, and for residential use ranges from 1-4 gallons. Now, when working on home projects, according to our experience, you need a tank size of about 3-gallons to get the work done effectively.
Yes, the air compressor recovers, and you keep on working after a short while, but this can be hectic when working on a large project, and you have a small tank. Ensure that you carefully consider the tank size before making a purchase.
If you have used an air compressor before, then you know that they can be rather noisy. This means that you have to consider the noise level, especially when you plan to work in an area where noise pollution will cause problems, inside your home, or in the yard.
You need to carefully consider the setting before you decide to purchase an air compressor. A loud air compressor is not practical for use in the house, and you could always damage your ears. Check the noise levels and look at customer reviews to get the full picture.
Some models have a lower noise level rating in the description, but in reality, they are too loud. Ensure that you look at different reviews to know what other customers think about the noise level. Look through different reviews to ensure that you make an informed decision.
What Tools Are Powered By Air Compressor?
Air compressors power different tools ranging from the following; air hammer, air drill, air ratchet wrench, air impact wrench, air sanders, and air staples, caulking guns, coil nailers, drills, fastening tools, grease guns, and paint sprayer. Most of the air tools will need a single-stage compressor, while others will need a two-stage compressor.
The good news is that most of these air tools are designed to use about 100 PSI, which makes it easier when it comes to making a purchase. However, you have to ensure that you get the right air compressor for your air tool.
What Size Air Compressor Do I Need for Air Tools?
The size of the air compressor you need will depend on the tool that your planning to use. Understand that the air tools have different ratings when it comes to the amount of pressure they need. The first step that you need to do before purchasing an air compressor is to look at the air pressure specifications & how much pressure you need for the tools or you intended to use.
Just look at the description of the air compressor once you figure out the amount of pressure that you need. Yes, certain large air compressors can accommodate almost all the tools. Still, they are rather expensive and only used in the industrial setting.
Our pick has to be the California Air Tools 8010, considering all the great features that you get at an affordable price. It offers you ultra-quiet operations with lightweight construction and 1.0 horsepower rating. It comes with a large 8-gallon tank that makes it ideal for most projects. It is a great choice when you want to work both outdoors and indoors.
Choosing the best air compressor for air tools is made much easier with our in-depth review and buyer’s guide. We have reviewed the top ten choices in the current market, and you can use the buyer’s guide to pick one that best suits your needs.
What size air compressor is suitable for an impact wrench?
A ½ inch impact wrench will need an air compressor with a rating of about 4 CFM at 90 PSI. Other than this, you will almost need a 20-gallon capacity air compressor to ensure that you don’t run into delays while completing your project.
What CFM is adequate for air tools?
Most air tools that use the portable air compressors will require a CFM rating of between 1-5 at a PSI of 70-90. However, larger tools will need more than 10 CFM at 120 PSI to work effectively. It is, therefore, vital that you consider your air tools requirement. The good news is that most air tools have the required CFM rating indicated on the description. You need to get an air compressor that can meet your air tools requirement to increase efficiency.
What can my 6-gallon air compressor accomplish?
A 6-gallon air compressor is excellent for small projects such as roofing and framing because you can’t maintain an extended operation. It is also suitable for a garage finish nailer, and auto tire inflation since it can accomplish these tasks with ease. Using a small capacity air compressor for a large project is not ideal because you can get extended operation, and you will have to stop from time to time.
Which is ideal between an electric and air impact wrench?
Understand that air is much more powerful than electricity. An air impact wrench is known to crank off frozen lug nuts with ease. Also, understand that an air impact wrench will last longer because it uses an external power source.
Should I leave my compressor with air?
No, it is recommended to leave your compressor with air still inside it, which means you need to drain it after each use. Moisture in the tank will weaken and deteriorate your air compressor over time. Proper equipment maintenance is essential if you want your air compressor to last longer.