Choose the Best Air Compressor Review: Ultimate Guide 2018

best air compressor for home garage

The best air compressors are machines that effectively convert power into kinetic (dynamic/moving) energy. This is usually achieved with an electric motor, a diesel engine, or a gasoline engine by compressing and pressurizing air that is released in quick surges.

They are simple machines and can be driven by powerful electric motors or gas driven engines. When the compressed air is released, the pressure produces a powerful force of air capable of powering pneumatic tools. Electric motors are inexpensive and quiet for stationary compressors. Small motors appropriate for domestic electrical supplies use single phase alternating current. Larger motors can only be used where an industrial electrical three-phase alternating current supply is available.

Consumer-grade compressors are made for smaller needs around the house. If you need to inflate sporting goods, toys and tires and not much more, this is the right grade for you. They can also power tools such as staple guns and nail guns used by carpenters and others. Different forms known as inflators are available for keeping your tires at the correct pressure. They are portable, so can be stored in the trunk. The downfall is that they can take about 15 minutes to use, which is much better than trying to find “air” at your service station or at food mart.

For larger needs, you’ll need a larger compressor in terms of power.

Air Compressor Comparison

Picture Air Compressor Horsepower (HP) Tank Size (gallons) Air Flow Capacity Noise Level (dBA) Weight (lb) Rating out of 5
California Air Tools CAT-6310 2.0 6.3 3.80 CFM @ 40 PSI 60 49 4.7
BOSTITCH BTFP12237 0.8 6 2.6 SCFM @ 90 PSI 80 33 4.6
Makita MAC700 2.0 2.6 3.8 CFM @ 40 PSI 80 59.6 4.5
PORTER-CABLE CMB15 0.8 1.5 2.0 SCFM @ 90 PSI 79 20 4.5
Senco PC1010 1.0 1 0.7 SCFM @ 90 PSI 69 20 4.5
BOSTITCH CAP1512-OF 2.0 1.2 2.8 CFM @ 90 PSI 89 23.5 4.4
PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK 0.8 6 2.6 SCFM @ 90 PSI 82 34.3 4.0
DEWALT D55168 1.6 15 5.0 SCFM @ 90 PSI 78 92 3.6
Campbell Hausfeld HU502000AV 1.3 20 4.8 CFM @ 40 PSI 85 100.5 3.6


Why Do We Need to Get the Best Air Compressor?

The best air compressors are available for contractors and are manufactured to endure the demands at a job site. They have been designed for building professionals and can be portable, able to be carried by hand, rolled on a cart, and/or attached to the back of a vehicle. This grade compressor can be used for many purposes but are primarily used to power nail guns. If you are operating a variety of tools at the same time having large air demands, commercial-grade compressors are for you. Many best air compressors are also available for roofing installers.

Construction and the constructions trades or craft rely on compressed air. Building framers to trim carpenters will need to use the finest air compressors. Construction crews cannot afford to have down time with compressors that are powered too low. When you do construction for a living, time represents money, thus having the best air compressor is a necessity. Having the right equipment for the job is vital. There are several types of contractor-grade models to save you time.

If your job warrants a steady supply of compressed air on a continual basis day after day, the best air compressors will be what you need. These heavy-duty types have the most advanced technology and offer superior performance.

Commercial compressors are used in auto body shops, manufacturing plants and for machinery on oil rigs.

Prices for commercial-grade models reveal the high quality of manufacturing, and extraordinary performance abilities for the most demanding job site needs.

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How to Choose the Best Air Compressor for Your Specific Requirements

Twin-stack Compressors

• The two stacked compressor will not run as often as the single. An added benefit is that you can store more air. This is a wise choice for a carpenter. These compressors have enough power to run nail guns for beefier work as well as the smaller brad nails used by trim carpenters. These are considered portable and some units can weigh up to 80 pounds.

• Twin-stack compressors are available in consumer-grade and contractor-grade models. These are not the same even though they appear to be. When building houses, you will want the one manufactured for heavy-duty requirements. These models are perfect for the rigors of job sites, being both portable and powerful.

• Twin stack compressors are available as electric or gas-powered. Gas-powered ones are convenient on sites which have no electricity.

• An advantage to electric twin-stacks is that they are lighter in weight. They can be plugged into a 120 volt outlet. You cannot use a gasoline powered compressor inside closed quarters. The carbon monoxide emitted can kill.

Portable Single-Stage Compressors

• These single-stage compressors are considered the best air compressors by carpenters. They are portable for those who need a compressor to run their tools frequently, such as nail guns and staple guns. Having more powerful engines and improved compressor pumps, single-stage units are more expensive than other portable units.

• You will want a compressor with large, inflatable tires that enables the compressor to be transported over uneven terrain. The tires absorb vibration, reducing rattles and act as shock absorbers for quieter compressor operation.

• The single-stage portable models are ideal for building decks, siding houses, and house framing.

Wheelbarrow Compressors

• Designed and built for construction or demobilization job sites, the wheelbarrow compressors are a good consideration. These are typically built with powerful engines, having larger storage tanks. The materials used in their construction are more heavy duty. They can handle difficult conditions having a single wheel and sturdy handles, making them easy to pull over tough terrain. With its many features, they can weigh up to 300 pounds, therefore wheeled portability is beneficial. If you need to use this in an area that will not accommodate wheels, you might want to consider a lighter model.

Truck-Mount Compressors

• Being the heftiest, the truck-mounted compressors are the most powerful, best air compressors obtainable which are portable. Weighing several hundred pounds, you will not have to be concerned, since your truck will be doing the work.

• This unit has very large storage tanks, dependable pumps and extraordinary CFM (cubic feet per minute) abilities. With a truck mount compressor, you can effortlessly run large air tools all day long.

• These compressors can only be used where you can drive your truck.

DC Compressors

• These units are common with RV owners, race teams, and show cars. Because they are hard-wired to the vehicle’s DC voltage system, they deliver a great quantity of air and do not require much room.

• The continuous duty units can inflate tires 37-inches and larger, something the smaller inflators cannot manage.

• Several units are available in kit form that include everything (hoses, gauges, cables and controls) you need to install the unit in your vehicle.

Commercial Compressors

• If you need a steady supply of compressed air day-in and day-out, commercial-grade compressors are perfect for you. These heavy-duty models feature the most advanced technology and have superior performance.

• Commercial compressors are found in auto-body shops, manufacturing facilities and for extreme applications such as machinery on oil rigs.

• The price tags on the commercial-grade types reflect the high-quality and performance necessitated by the most demanding needs.

Hot Dog Air Compressors

• Being popular and also considered to be the best air compressor for crafts and hobby people, hot dog compressors are great for having enough power to run staplers, air brushes and other small tools.

• Having slightly bigger storage tanks than pancake compressors, they are heavier. These models have handles for ease in transporting.

• Being oil-less and having no belts, they are loud yet need very little or no maintenance.

Two-stage Air Compressors

• If you need a unit that meets all your requirements when purchasing a large industrial compressor this is the one. These are offered as two-stage compressors and rotary screw compressors from which to choose.

• Two-stage compressors are generally found in garages and manufacturing shops. They are powerfully loud and are used to power tools, such as nail guns, air hammers, die grinders, and impact wrenches. Because of their power, they are capable of powering several tools simultaneously.

• Powered by either electricity or gas—and most are electric—two stage units use two pistons and compress the air twice. They provide more power than the smaller versions.

• Two-stage compressors have a high energy cost that you need to be aware of for your consideration when purchasing and can generate up to about 90 CFM.

To pick the perfect two-stage compressor you will need to consider the following:

HP (Horsepower)

• One horsepower (hp) is the force needed to lift 550 pounds one foot (foot-pounds) per second. One hp equals 746 watts; 550 foot-pounds per second is approximately 745.7 watts.

• Horsepower is not the yardstick when buying one of the best air compressors. What is most important is the CFM it can can produce. Normally, the more horsepower, the more power and higher CFMs the compressor can produce. Shop for CFM needs rather than hp.

• Many garages will power multiple tools using one air compressor. Regardless of how many tools you are running simultaneously, you will need to estimate how much CFM you will need to power many tools running at any given time.

• Total up the CFM of the tools in use being sure the compressor can manage the workload.

• Tools requiring constant power, for instance sanders and grinders, will need more CFM than nail guns using intermittent power.

Phase Voltage

• Differences in voltage of single-phase as opposed to three-phase is dependent upon where you plan to use the compressor.

• Single phase will be used in a residential setting. Be sure you know the wiring type before purchasing a compressor for suiting your needs. Three-phase electricity is found mostly in industrial settings. Three-phase power is more efficient resulting in less deterioration on the compressor motor.

• Before purchasing the best air compressor suited for you, consult with your county’s building department and electrician for determining the local codes for voltage and phase. These can differ by location.

Tank Size in Gallons

• Two-stage compressor’s tank size is calculated in gallons and can be from 60 to 200 gallons. The size of tank you need is predicated on how often the compressor is in use.

• Start-stop compressors run until the tank is full of compressed air and as you use tools, the PSI (pounds per square inch) from the tank becomes exhausted. The compressor turns back on and refills once this setting is reached.

• You can run the risk of overheating the compressor that can damage its pump if the compressor starts and stops too often.

• Constant-run compressors run 100 percent of the time and will adjust the air output as need be.

Compressor Styles

Two-stage compressors are available in the horizontal or vertical style.

• If you don’t have a wide area in which to run the compressor, purchase the vertical model; if you have height constraints choose a horizontal model.

• There is no difference in performance of horizontal and vertical compressors of equal power. They are identical models built in different styles.

Rotary Screw Air Compressors

• If you have a greater need than a 60 percent duty-cycle, choose the most powerful and biggest rotary compressor in the marketplace.

• These, which many people consider to be the best air compressors, are found in most professional garages and factories where non-stop air is required often used in precision jobs such as sand coating or powder coating.

• Rotary screw compressors are quiet and efficient and being the most advanced technologically, the energy consumption is low in spite of their power.


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