7 Best Air Compressors – Reviews & Buying Guide
The air compressor is a useful tool to have in the workshop. Whether you are an amateur woodworker or a professional one, sooner or later, you will have good use of an air compressor. Essentially, this tool is used to power your power tools that make use of an air compressor. However, it is a versatile tool that can be used for other applications like powering an external vacuum system.
If you are fresh on the market for an air compressor, then we showcase some of the best air compressors for the money. It can be difficult to find a good model, especially taking into account a large number of models and air compressor brands that compete in this market segment. Hopefully, at the and of this air compressor review, you will have a good idea of which model fits your needs. Without any further ado, let us get started with this review.
You can also read other product reviews such as portable air compressor, 12V portable air compressor, small air compressor, pancake air compressor, quiet air compressor, PCMB15 air compressor, DWFP55130 Air Compressor, PCFP02003 air compressor.
Table of Contents
- 7 Best Air Compressors - Reviews
- #1. Porter-Cable C2002-WK Pancake Compressor with 13-Piece Accessory Kit
- #2. Senco PC1010 1-Horsepower Peak, 1/2 HP Running 1-Gallon Compressor
- #3. DeWalt DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor
- #4. Porter-Cable CMB15 150 PSI 1.5 Gallons Oil-Free Fully Shrouded Compressor
- #5. Bostitch CAP1512-OF Oil-Free High-Output Trim Compressor
- #6. Makita MAC5200 Big Bore 3.0 HP Air Compressor
- #7. Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallons 150 PSI Oil-Free Compressor
- Air Compressor Brands
- Best Air Compressors's Buying Guide
- What is an Air Compressor Used For?
7 Best Air Compressors - Reviews
#1. Porter-Cable C2002-WK Pancake Compressor with 13-Piece Accessory Kit
Editor's Rating: (4.4 / 5)
The Porter-Cable C2002-WK is a popular and reasonably priced air compressor with a massive 6-gallon tank size. This big tank size means that you do not have to wait for recharges and the 150 PSI pressure compensates the tank size quite well. It measures 18.3 x 18 x 19 inches in dimension, so it is a medium-sized air compressor which will make an excellent addition to any home or professional workshop without taking too much space. Additionally, it is a pancake shaped air compressor to help further limit its space consumption. To top it off, this model only weighs 34 lbs which is fairly lightweight for an air compressor. Therefore, we can recommend this model as one of the best portable air compressor available on the market.
This air compressor has been optimized to run for an extended period, so it is a heavy duty air compressor that ranks highly on some of the best air compressor reviews online. What we like about this air compressor is that you get 13 accessories included with this purchase. You will get all the fittings and hoses required to connect this air compressor to your power tool.
- Portable and small dimension does not consume a lot of space in the workshop
- Large 6-gallon tank with decent 150 PSI pressure. Low recharge time
- Delivered with 30 accessories to get you started right away
- Motor brushes can quickly and easily be replaced
- Very noisy. Louder than other models at 82 dBA. Will require ear protection to use.
Who Should Buy?
If you are looking for a high-performance air compressor for your power tools, or dust extraction system than the Porter-Cable C2002-WK has a large 6-gallon tank with decent 150 PSI pressure. It will not stall even under heavy duty applications.
#2. Senco PC1010 1-Horsepower Peak, 1/2 HP Running 1-Gallon Compressor
Editor's Rating: (4.4 / 5)
The Senco PC1010 is a popular model that is ranked among some of the best portable air compressors. It is a fairly small unit at an attractive price. This model is a mini air compressor that is not the most powerful with a rating of only 0.7 scfm at 90 PSI with a maximum pressure force of 125 PSI. The motor inside this model is also smaller and rated at 1/2 HP. This is not the highest power, or SCFM per PSI we have seen in an air compressor, but even still, many good things are going for the PC1010 especially considering that it is meant mostly for lightweight applications.
Further, it is extremely light at only 20 lbs which mean that it can easily be lifted and carried to the job site. It is also a compact and small air compressor that makes it an even better deal. The tank size of 1 gallon clearly shows that this is an air compressor for lightweight use and can only supply a power tool that is not too demanding. To sweeten the deal, Senco provides a solid one year warranty with this air compressor.
But what we like the most about this model is its noise level. At only 68 dBA, it is the most silent model in this air compressor review. If noise is a big issue for you, you will enjoy this air compressor very much. It is not totally silent, but close to it.
- Quiet air compressor with a noise level of only 68 dBA
- Lightweight and portable. Can easily be lifted and carried to the job site
- Underperforming motor and only recommended for lightweight applications. Will not power heavy-duty power tools at all
Who Should Buy?
If you are looking for an air compressor for lightweight applications, being used once in a while and for casual purposes, this model from Senco is the best portable air compressor for the money. It is not the most powerful, but it gets the job done especially for light use. We think that it will make an excellent air compressor for nail gun or sander.
#3. DeWalt DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor
Editor's Rating: (4.6 / 5)
The DeWalt DWFP55126 sits right in the middle of performance and value. It sports a big tank size of 6 gallons and a decent motor of 0.9 HP that allows for continuous use before recharges. Additionally, the maximum pressure of 165 PSI compensates the large 6 gallons tank and limits the time this air compressor needs to recharge.
It is still a compact and small air compressor that is very portable. The “donut” shape tank is proven to be an efficient tank design, that is excellent for efficiency and capacity. We’re glad DeWalt went to this design.
Further, most parts in this portable air compressor are removable and replaceable. As with most air compressors, it will require a break-in time, but unlike others, it will not get damaged by doing so. A break-in time is usually not required in more modern air compressors, but it a minor issue for those who regularly work with an air compressor. One of the best features of this unit is by far the drainage. This can be done quickly and easily, and you will not require special tools to drain this unit.
The power regulator makes it easy to adjust the air delivery and is located right in front of the unit. Despite being such a powerful air compressor, it is still relatively portable, and DeWalt provides a carry handle right at the top making it more convenient to carry this unit around.
- Decent performance. Can be used for heavy-duty applications
- Pressure gauge allows you to monitor the compression status quickly
- Portable with a carry handle at the top
- Noisier than other models at 75.5 dBA
Who Should Buy?
If you are looking for a quality and heavy-duty air compressor, it is hard to beat this model from DeWalt. It has the right balance between performance and reliability. Additionally, it can be used on demanding power tools for heavy-duty purposes.
#4. Porter-Cable CMB15 150 PSI 1.5 Gallons Oil-Free Fully Shrouded Compressor
Editor's Rating: (4.5 / 5)
The Porter-Cable CMB15 is a little less known than the Porter-Cable C2002-WK reviewed above. It has a much smaller tank size of 1.5 gallons and rated at a maximum pressure of 150 PSI. Despite accommodating a smaller tank, it does a good job keeping up with its bigger brother the C2002-WK regarding performance. This model can comfortably deliver 3.0 scfm at 40 PSI and 2.0 scfm at 90 PSI. This is more than enough to supply a pneumatic power tool and deliver all the power it needs for an extended period.
Further, the CMB15 is also a very lightweight model at only 20 lbs. It can easily be carried around, and it even has a top carry handle for this effect. What we like about this unit is the rich accessory set you get from this purchase. The 25 feet coiled hose is long enough to reach distant areas, and the coil shape allows it to save space when not in use. You also get a few fittings and attachments with it. The only issue we take with this air compressor is the fairly high noise level at 79 dBA. In fact, this model is the noisiest we have reviewed so far. However, if noise is a non-issue for you, this model is highly ranked in most portable air compressor reviews and rightfully so!
- Very affordable unit. Value for money
- Decent performance level. Can easily be used on heavy-duty power tools
- Portable and compact form factor. Very lightweight at 20 lbs.
- Noisy unit at 79 dBA. Will require ear protection to work with.
Who Should Buy?
Despite a few problems here and there, this model from Porter-Cable is a powerful air compressor that has excellent performance and versatility. If you can tolerate its high noise level, it is a good purchase. It is best small air compressor concerning price. In fact, no other models in the air compressor review can compete with it regarding price.
#5. Bostitch CAP1512-OF Oil-Free High-Output Trim Compressor
Editor's Rating: (4.3 / 5)
The Bostitch CAP1512-OF is another popular air compressor. One of the best positive points of this air compressor is not its performance but rather it is the price to performance ratio. It is not the most powerful model, but Bostitch made a few arrangements here and there to make this model compete with superior and more expensive air compressors.
It remains a small and compact air compressor weighing a mere 23.5 lbs so it is a great jobsite air compressor as well. The motor is a remarkably powerful 1.5 HP inductive engine, but with a smaller tank size of 1.2 gallons. This model can comfortably do 2.8 scfm at 90 PSI with a maximum pressure of 120 PSI. The performance level is still decent in this particular air compressor can still be used as an air compressor for nail gun or a compressor for a sander. Additionally, it will have no problem powering your dust collection system as well since this is a high output compressor unit that almost guarantees you always get a decent flow of compressed air.
All in all, it is not a bad unit and especially considering the price that it is offered, we think that it is value for money.
- Small and compact. Can easily be carried around and does not consume a lot of space in the workshop
- Decent performance with powerful 1.5 HP motor and can be used reliably on your power tools
- Attractive price point. Value for money
- Lower maximum pressure of only 120 PSI. Not suited for heavy-duty use on demanding pneumatic machines
Who Should Buy?
We recommend this air compressor for lightweight applications despite its powerful motor of 1.5 HP. It can comfortably be used with a nail gun or a sander with no issues. Its small tank is not big enough to keep with demanding pneumatic power tools, especially for heavy duty use.
#6. Makita MAC5200 Big Bore 3.0 HP Air Compressor
Editor's Rating: (4.2 / 5)
The Makita MAC5200 is by far the most performing and powerful heavy-duty air compressor we have in this air compressor review. This model is consistently rated as one of the best air compressors on the market by many air compressor reviews online. We can understand why! That is because this air compressor from Makita simply works.
Under the hood is a powerful motor of 2.1 HP with a decent 5.2 gallons tank size. The performance level of this air compressor is over the roof with an amazing 6.9 scfm at 40 PSI and 6.5 scfm at 90 PSI rating. It can perform a maximum of 140 PSI which should be sufficient for any type of applications that requires an air compressor. Additionally, the pump has an automatic lubrication system that automatically oils it during heavy use. This guarantees that this model will last longer and perform more efficiently under load.
Despite being so powerful, this model is also fairly portable and comes with a stand along with two rear wheels making it very easy to move around. The stand itself is foldable which will allow you to save time and space when traveling with this air compressor.
All in all, this is a seriously powerful air compressor intended for heavy-duty applications. What we like is that Makita made sure that this model is not only performing on the job, but also reliable and dependable over the long-term. It is heavily constructed with durability in mind, and this model should last a long time even if used daily for heavy duty purposes. This is a true professional grade air compressor that will not disappoint. It is the best air compressor in this review in terms of performance and dependability.
- Very powerful motor and reliable air compressor intended for heavy duty applications
- High-quality built construction. Durable and long-lasting
- Very easy to adjust pressure levels
- Presence of rear wheels make it easy to move around. Delivered with a cast-iron stand
- Quite heavy at 88lbs. However, the wheels make it very easy to move it around the workshop
- Quite expensive
Who Should Buy?
If you are looking for heavy duty and high-performance air compressor, we do not know any model better than the MAC5200 from Makita. It is by far the best small air compressor we knew of. If you can afford it, get it!
#7. Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallons 150 PSI Oil-Free Compressor
Editor's Rating: (4.6 / 5)
Lastly, we have the Bostitch BTFP02012. This is a medium range air compressor that can also be used for professional use. It sports a cast-iron build construction for the tank which makes it durable and long-lasting. The tank size of 6 gallons and the maximum pressure of 150 PSI makes this air compressor very versatile and guarantees it to work with most applications that require an air compressor to work. Despite all this, it is not the most powerful with a performance rating of 2.6 scfm at 90 PSI. Still, plenty for most power tools out there.
This model remains fairly portable at 29 lbs and it is also quite compact. The only problem we have with this unit is that it is quite noisy at 78.5 dBA. You will definitely require ear protection to operate this air compressor. Other than this, it is a very decent and portable air compressor that will not disappoint in terms of performance for most applications.
- Competitively priced. Value for money
- Compact and small form factor. Can easily be carried around
- Decent performance and can be used to work with most commercial power tools for heavy-duty use
- Very noisy at 78.5 dBA. Will require ear protection to operate
Who Should Buy?
If you like this model, get it! Just bear in mind that it is noisier than most units in this air compressor review and it is certainly not as powerful as the Makita MAC5200. However, it will still over-deliver when working with commercially available power tools.
Air Compressor Brands
To get the most for your money, it is always a good idea to go with a good and reputable air compressor brand. There are so many out there making a choice rather confusing. Here are a few of the best air compressor brands that we use and recommend to anyone.
For anyone who works with power tools, Porter-Cable is no stranger. They make high-quality power tools, including some of the best air compressors on the market. With this brand, you get the guarantee of having a quality product that will last you a long time. Indeed, they have been in this industry for a long time and many of the air compressors like the Porter-Cable C2002-WK and Porter-Cable CMB15 our quality products that are used by many professionals worldwide.
Senco is one of the greatest world leaders in power tools. If you are looking for an air compressor, you cannot go wrong with models like the Senco PC1010. This brand is specialized in making a quality product at an affordable price. Best, in regards to their air compressors, their models are fairly silent and long-lasting. This particular brand does not specialize in making heavy duty air compressors, but for general purpose and casual use, this is a brand you can turn to.
Who does not know about DeWalt? DeWalt is one of the top three power tool manufacturers in the world and they have a strong know-how in making high quality and durable tools. Their air compressors are no different and are regarded by professionals as being some of the best in the industry. Models like the DeWalt DWFP55126 have many positive ratings on many air compressor review websites. This brand also make some of the best portable air compressors money can buy. We definitely recommend their products.
We use many products made by Makita. Many people do not know this, but Makita also makes some of the best small air compressors out there. When we think about Makita, we think about their ultra-powerful heavy-duty air compressors - like the Makita MAC5200 which is a reference air compressor used by many professionals.
Bostitch is another excellent air compressor brand that we can safely recommend. This company is a subsidiary of Stanley Black and Decker and produces high-quality power tools. The Bostitch BTFP02012 air compressor is regarded as one of the best air compressors on the market with a massive 6-gallon tank. if you are looking for performance and reliability, this is a very good brand to consider.
Best Air Compressors's Buying Guide
Before going ahead and purchasing an air compressor, there are certain key points to keep in mind that will allow you to get the best air compressor for your need. Not all air compressors are created equal, nor are the offered at the same price point.
PSI is the unit of power used to measure the refill capacity of an air compressor. Obviously, the larger the PSI value of the air compressor, the more powerful the unit will be. Sometimes, you might be tempted to get the highest PSI value in an air compressor, but it can be overkill and beyond your need. Also bear in mind that the higher the PSI, the more expensive the air compressor tend to be.
Therefore, it is important to get an air compressor that has a nice balance between your need and power. Additionally, the tank size that we will discuss below is crucial in determining your future air compressor. A tank size that is too small for a high PSI value is a negative return on investment and will not make for a good air compressor. What you need is both a high tank size with a high PSI. However, a small tank size with a high PSI value will mean less recharge time required by the air compressor.
This also means that you will get it diminished performance with a smaller tank size and high PSI value. This is generally how professionals who use our tools that require an air compressor day in and day out choose their models. Again, you do not necessarily need the biggest PSI and biggest tank size to fulfill your need. You will need to decide based on your need rather than specs of the air compressor.
As we have mentioned before, the tank size needs to match the PSI value as far as possible. However, a small tank size is not necessarily a bad thing. If you do not require a heavy duty air compressor but rather a portable model, then a small tank size makes sense. In general, the tank size dictates the usage of the air compressor.
For home use, you do not need a very big tank size. What the tank size do in most cases is increase or decrease the recharge time of the air compressor.But models that come with a big tan size are also usually more expensive. Again you will need to choose a balance between power (PSI) and tank size. If you can get both in one unit at the reasonable price, all the better.
An air compressor outputs a lot of noise. In fact, the air compressor is one of the nauseous power tools you can have in the workshop. Many people compare the air compressor to a TV that is turned on its maximum volume. That is very loud! Of course, the quieter the unit the better you will be. But do not sacrifice performance for a quieter model if you are planning to use an air compressor for heavy-duty applications.
The air compressor is also quite heavy. If you are required to carry your air compressor to the job, need a fairly portable unit. If your preferred model is not lightweight, it can still be mobile with the presence of wheels that makes it easy to move around. Additionally, if portability is important to you, then it makes sense to choose a model that is more compact. If none of those issues matter and you are planning to use your air compressor in a workshop, in a fixed location, then you can choose any size to your heart's content.
Some air compressors come with accessories and fittings that allow you to connect to other power tools, while others do not. If you have never owned an air compressor before, then look for models that come with additional accessories for better value.
What is an Air Compressor Used For?
There are many applications you can use an air compressor for. in fact, there are 101 ways that you can use this tool, from the home to agriculture. However, we will focus mostly on the workshop use of an air compressor.
There are many power tools you can find in the workshop that is powered by an air compressor. Sometimes, you even see air compressors sold as air compressors for nail guns or air compressors for sanders. Air compressors are not tool-specific but can be used with a wider range our power tools. It is just a marketing trick that many air compressor manufacturers have found to market their products more efficiently. In general, anything that is labeled “pneumatic”, which means gas-powered can use an air compressor, either directly or by using adapters and fittings. Those power tools normally come with the adapters out of the box, but even if they do not, those fittings are in general not difficult to find in any hardware stores.
Many pneumatic blowers push out a lot of compressed air and requires an air compressor to work. This way, you can use an air compressor to clean out dust. This is especially helpful to clean your workshop.
Dust Collection System
Some power tools can generate a lot of dust and wood particles in the workshop. Air compressors power many dust collection systems on the market. In general, they create a vacuum that sucks in particles that are then filtered out. That is why is those dust collection systems are also known as dust vacuums.
We have come to an end of this air compressor review. We hope that you were able to find the best air compressor for the money. As we have seen, there is a model for everyone out there, whether you are DIY enthusiasts, hobbyist, or woodworking professional. That is why those air compressors are offered in different sizes, power and price ranges. Choose a good air compressor brand that best fit your needs, and it will serve you well for years to come. In case you have still not found the best air compressor for your need, we recommend that you go through this review one more time.
Last Updated on September 6, 2020 by Tom Bradly