The 10 Best Air Compressors For Powering Pneumatic Tools

10 best air compressors

Last updated on August 21st, 2021 at 05:42 am

Air compressor machines have come a long way in ensuring that most of our present day living and technology are even possible in the first place.

Most of the tools used for making and creating our everyday necessities (e.g making of cars, trucks, farm machinery etc.) are powered using compressed air.

The automobile industry for instance, rely heavily on air compressor machines for powering pneumatic tools like impact wrenches, ratchets, sandblasters, paints sprayers and so on.

Pneumatic tools are usually favored by craftsmen because they have a high power to weight ratio. They produce more power compared to their electric counterparts, and they’re usually smaller and lighter in comparison.

Here in this article, we’ve reviewed and listed the 10 best air compressors, and we have a buyer’s guide to help you pick the right one for your projects.

Whether you’re looking for a small portable air compressor for inflating mattresses and tires at home, a large one for powering your paint sprayer or other air tools like framing nailers, or even something larger for your metal fabrication projects, we’re certain that you’ll find one here that’ll meets your needs.

If you want to see our top picks, here they are below. On the other hand, if you want to read a buyer’s guide so you can make your own choice, then keep reading below.

Our Top Picks

California Air 8010

8 Gallon

california air tools 8010 1
  • 1.0 HP
  • 2.2 CFM at 90 PSI
  • 120 Max Pressure

Powermate Vx

80 Gallon

powermate vx 80 gallon air compressor
  • 4.6 HP
  • 14 CFM at 90 PSI
  • 155 Max Pressure

Industrial Air

20 Gallon

industrial air IL1682066.MN 20 gallon air compressor
  • 1.6 HP
  • 5.3 CFM at 90 PSI
  • 135 Max Pressure

How To Choose The Right Air Compressor For Your Projects

Choosing a suitable air compressor unit is not very simple. There are many types and sizes out there with different specifications and from different brands.

They’re even named with the names of food like the hotdog and pancake air compressor. You hear that for the first time, and you might be a little bit confused.

Also, there are a lot of terms associated with them you need to take note of before buying, like CFM, SCFM, PSI and some others which I don’t need to mention.

You also have to deal with the choice of an oil free compressor vs an oiled compressor. However, you need not worry because we’ll be taking you through everything you need to know before making your choice.

So here’s what you need to consider, and the questions you need to answer before getting one.

What are you using it for?

To choose the best air compressor that will fit your needs, you have to be honest with yourself and answer the question. What am I going to use the air compressor for and how often will I be using it?

Answering this question correctly and honestly will help you avoid speculation, and aid you to know exactly what you need.

There are two type of air compressor users. Those that need it to just fill up tires, football and some other stuff around the home and will only be using it occasionally, and those that will be using it frequently to power air tools or pneumatic tools in their garage or in the jobsite.

If you’re in the first group, then you don’t need a large compressor. What you need is a small pancake or a small hotdog unit.

On the other hand, if you need an air compressor to power pneumatic tools like impact wrenches, die grinders or even a sandblaster, then you need a larger unit with a bigger tank that has the ability to store more air and produce more CFM continuously. CFM stands for Cubic Feet Per Minute. In literal terms, it stands for the volume of air a compressor can produce per minute.

Air tools or pneumatic tools consume a lot of air, so you need a bigger unit with a bigger pump, a bigger motor and a bigger tank to store the compressed air. How large you go depends on the particular tools you’ll be running and the CFM requirements of the tools.

So, the rule of thumb is check the CFM of all the tools you’ll be running with the air compressor. Add them all up, and add 30 percent to the number you get. That will tell you the CFM of the air compressor you need to buy.

If you have a car shop or a garage for working on cars, one thing I know for sure is that there’s no limit to the size of compressor you’ll need. Go for as large as your money can buy.

Good tools normally pay for themselves quickly as time goes by.

Power Source

Once you know the size of compressor you need, the second issue you need to be concerned about is the power or electricity requirements.

Air compressors don’t work themselves. Some make use of gas, but most make use of electricity. You need to plug your compressor to a power outlet for it to work.

The standard voltage in the power outlets in your home or garage will most likely be 120 Volts. That is the kind of voltage that powers single stage units with 30 gallon or less storage tank.

If you will be using your air compressor frequently, you may want to call a certified electrician to create a dedicated 120 volts power outlet for it in your workshop.

It is not advisable to run it with the same electric circuit as the one you are using in your home.

Most units larger than 30 gallons can only be powered with 240V electricity. So when shopping for a compressor, make sure to check the power ratings so you know what you’re getting and be prepared on how to power it.


Air compressors make lots of noise, especially oil-free single stage units. Hence if you going to get one, you need to also consider how to muffle the noise so that you don’t disturb your neighbors with it.

You might also consider shopping for an oiled unit instead of an oil-free one. Oiled compressors makes less noise when compared to an oil-free units.

Try to also consider the space in your garage where you’ll store it. Larger compressors make more noise, so make sure you have enough space in your garage so that the noise can be muffled a bit.


Depending on the kind of application or the kind of project you want to undertake, you might a very portable unit.

Your project might demand that you move it from one place to the other. Example includes when you are using it on a job site for framing a building, or installing trim moldings in different rooms in a building.

You don’t need a very big unit for these kind of applications, you need a portable air compressor. Generally, it’s portable if it got wheels on it.

A 20 or 30 gallon unit that got wheels on it like the Industrial Air IL1682066.MN and the DeWalt DXCMPA1982054 are very portable options you can go for. They have wheels and pneumatic tires on them. Hence, they are ideal for jobsite use, because you can easily move them from one part of the jobsite to the other.

The larger an air compressor is, the less portable it becomes. So, if you are going for a very large unit like a 60 or 80 gallon unit, then you have to give up on portability. Those are usually bolted to the ground and are best for workshop use.

Smaller ones like 3, 6, or 10 gallon compressors are very portable, because they’ve got handles on them that will allow you to take them wherever you want.

With that out of the way, here are the best air compressors we reviewed in 2021.

1. Industrial Air IL1682066.MN 20 Gallon Air Compressor Review

Industrial air portable 20 gallon air compressor
  • It delivers 6.2 CFM at a pressure of 40 PSI and 5.3 CFM at a maximum pressure of 90 PSI
  • Features a 1.6 Horsepower induction motor which comes wired for standard 120V outlet, but it can be converted to work at 240V.
  • For a more efficient compression, the pump that comes with it is a V-twin cylinder, single stage oil-lubricated pump.
  • Due to it being oil lubricated, it’ll require maintenance from time to time, but it also works very quietly.
  • It features a 20 gallon ASME rated tank
  • It also features large pneumatic tires for easy transportation

This type of compressor is ideal for you if you will be using tools that consume air a lot. Because the V-twin pump produces more compressed air compared to a single cylinder pump, it can keep up with the demand of an air hungry tool like a die grinder or sand blaster. Note though, that you have to be using one tool at a time.

To sum it up, I would say the Industrial Air IL1682066.MN is the ideal air compressor you need if you intend to carry out simple auto maintenance projects in your garage, you got air hungry tools, and you’ll be operating one at a time.

The portability also makes it ideal for jobsite use.

Related: How To Choose An Air Compressor For Spray Painting

What we like about it

  • V-twin cylinder produces air on demand
  • It shuts down automatically once the tank is full
  • Very quiet when compared with the competition
  • Large pnuematic tires makes it very portable
  • Can be operated at bolt 120V and 240V

Where it can be improved

  • A bit pricey for a 20 gallon air compressor

2. Makita MAC700 2.6 Gallon Portable Air Compressor Review

makita mac700 air compressor
  • The Makita MAC700 delivers 3.3 CFM of air pressure of 90 PSI.
  • It comes equipped with a 2.0 HP motor which runs the pump lower speed of 1730 RPM to reduce noise, friction and increase durability of the pump.
  • The pump is made with a single cast iron housing with a big bore cylinder and piston designed and engineered so that the tank fills up fast and recovers quick.
  • The pump is oil-lubricated so it runs cooler and more durable.
  • You get a 2.6 gallon hotdog cylinder to store the compressed air.
  • Maximum pressure produced is 130 PSI
  • Net weight is 52 lbs. Can be carried easily by one person.

Although the Makita MAC700 is one of the smallest air compressors you can get your hands on in terms of tank size, it certainly has its pecks.

You’re going to find it very useful as long as you’re not going to be powering air-hungry tools like impact drills, sandblasters and so on. It fills up fast, recovers quickly and will do just fine with low air-demand tools like nailers and staplers.

Related: The Best Pneumatic Brad Nailers For Your Woodworking Project

What I like about it

  • Recovers quickly when tanks runs low of air
  • Very quiet
  • Small and portable
  • Tank fills up in less than 2 minutes
  • Strong build

Where it can be improved

  • A bit heavy, with no tires attached for movement.

Related: 7 Best Air Needle Scalers For Metal Surface Preparation

3. Craftsman CMEC6150K 6 Gallon Pancake Air Compressor

Craftsman CMEC6150K
  • This comes with a 6 gallon pancake tank with the capacity to produce 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI
  • It features a highly durable oil-free pump you can power with normal 15A 120V outlets.
  • Produces a maximum pressure of 150 PSI
  • The unit comes with a 25 inch x 1/4 inch pvc air hose, a coupler and plug already assembled, a tire gauge, a blow gun with plug and an OSHA safety nozzle, three inflator adaptors and a rubber tip.
  • It weighs only 30 lbs. making it very easy to carry.

If you need an air compressor to power tools that don’t consume much air to handle DIY projects at home or even to carry out small handyman services, one with a 6 gallon tank will be ideal.

One of the best ones you’re going to find is this Craftsman CMEC6150K. It’s an oil-free machine, that means it does’nt need much maintenance, although it’s kind of pricey compared to other 6 gallon sized units.

These are ideal for inflating car tires, mattresses, and powering low air-demand tools like nailers.

Related: 15 Must-Have Tools And Items For Homeowners

What we like about it

  • Very portable
  • Pretty quiet for a 6 gallon oil-free air compressor
  • Budget friendly
  • Requires little to no maintenance as it’s oil-free
  • Ideal for home use

Where it can be improved

  • It leaks air through the hose fittings. You have to replace the hose fittings.

4. Bostitch BTFP02012

Bostitch BTFP02012 6 gallon air compressor
  • With this Bostitch, you have a durable 6 gallon tank to hold the compressed air.
  • It comes with an oil-free pump.
  • It’s capable of producing a maximum pressure of 150 PSI so you can use it for different applications.
  • Produces air volume of 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI
  • It weighs just 29 lbs. for easy carry.
  • Produces up to 78.5 dB of noise, which is quite high, but tolerable.

The Bostitch BTFP02012 and the Craftsman CMEC6150K look so much alike. The major difference between the two is the different brand names.

Two couplers in the unit gives you the opportunity to connect two tools at the same time. That means you don’t have to be connecting and disconnecting different tools.

Like I mentioned earlier, small pancake air compressors like this don’t produce a lot of CFM, thus, they’re not ideal for powering air-hungry tools. They’re best for powering low air demand tools like nailers, and for inflation projects.

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What I like about it

  • It’s very portable
  • Budget friendly
  • Requires little to no maintenance
  • Connect 2 tools at the same time.

Where it can be improved

  • It’s quite noisy

5. DeWalt DXCMPA1982054 20 Gallon Hotdog Cylinder Air Compressor

DeWalt DXCMPA1982054 20 gallon air compressor
  • The Dewalt DXCMPA1982054 produces up to 5.7 CFM of air at 90 PSI
  • It has a maximum pressure of 155 PSI
  • It’s equipped with a 20 gallon ASME rated tank.
  • Dual voltage motor ensures you can use it at bolt 120V and 240V.
  • A quick set high flow regulator and pressure gauges makes it very easy to operate.
  • Features a twin cylinder cast iron pump with aluminium head and valve plate for quick dissipation of heat.

If you really want a unit that you can use to tackle more demanding projects in the job site, like framing a whole building, or maybe you want one that can do more that the small 6 gallon ones, a 20 gallon air compressor like this DeWalt DXCMPA1982054 will definitely step up your game.

If you’re running trim nailers, you get to run them for longer periods of time, before you need to pressurize the tank again.

You can get it up and running using normal 120 volts power outlets in your garage. However, I’d recommend that you create a dedicated 15 amp circuit for it alone, so it does not trip your circuit breakers. Its own dedicated circuit will allow you to run it uninterrupted and with peace of mind.

What we like about it

  • Low noise
  • Run any air tool without issue
  • Onboard air controls and pressure gauges.
  • Pneumatic tires makes it very easy to transport
  • It’s wired for 120V but can be converted to 240V
  • Quality steel construction

Where it can be improved

  • Oil level site glass is quite difficult to see through.

6. Makita MAC2400 4.2 Gallon Dual-Cylinder Air Compressor

Makita MAC2400 4.2 gallon air compressor
  • It comes equipped with a 4.2 gallon twin tank.
  • Provides a maximum pressure of 130 PSI
  • It’s capable of producing 4.2 CFM at 90 PSI
  • The unit weighs 77 lbs. which is a bit heavy but has a suitable carrying handle.
  • Features a large automotive air filter for maximum air intake.
  • It comes equipped with a 2.5 HP Big bore pump for maximum power and efficiency.
  • The pump is an oil-lubricated pump and runs at a lower speed of 1730 RPM to reduce noise and wear.

Like the MAC700, the Makita MAC2400 is another Makita air compressor that comes equipped with a big bore pump, practically meant to make the recovery process quick when the tank losses pressure.

The Makita MAC2400 is oil lubricated and also runs at a lower RPM compared to similar sized units. The lower RPM coupled with the fact that it is oil lubricated and it’s made of durable cast iron reduces the wear and tear in the pump, ensuring that you get many years of service from the machine.

What I like about it

  • The tank fills up in less than 2 minutes
  • Relatively quiet when compared with the competition
  • Very compact and portable
  • Build quality is top-notch

Where it can be improved

  • It’s quite heavy for a small 4.2 gallon unit.

7. California Air Tools 8010

California Air Tools 8010
  • It comes equipped with an 8 gallon steel hotdog tank.
  • The pump produces 3.1 CFM at 40 PSI and 2.2 CFM at 90 PSI of pressure
  • To reduce noise and reduce wear in the pump, it comes equipped with a 1 HP motor producing speed of only 1680 RPM.
  • The pump that comes with the unit is an oil-free dual piston pump, that will provide not less than 3000 hrs of runtime.
  • Tanks fills up in less than 3 minutes and recovers in 1.
  • The unit weighs only 48 lbs. and comes with tires making it very easy to move around.
  • Thermal overload protection ensures the unit does not overheat during use.

If you want to buy a really quiet air compressor, the California Air Tools 8010 is one of the first unit we’d recommend.

It’s an oil-free model, but it’s quieter than even some of the oil lubricated ones.

If you want to work in an area where noise is a huge issue, then you seriously consider getting this unit. The tank fills up quickly in less than 3 minutes and recovers quickly in less than 30 seconds when the pressure falls down during use.

What we like about it

  • The most quiet oil-free compressor you’re going to find
  • Requires little to no maintenance
  • Comes equipped with wheels making it very portable
  • The 8 gallon fills up in no time

Where it can be improved

  • It could use better tires.

8. California Air Tools 2010A

California Air Tools 2010A 2 gallon air compressor
  • Features a 1 HP motor that runs the pump at a speed of 1680 RPM
  • It’s capable of producing 4.2 CFM at 90 PSI
  • The pump is an oil-free dual-piston pump.
  • Size of tank is 2 gallons.
  • It produces 2.20 CFM at 90 PSI and 3.1 CFM at 40 PSI

Sometimes, a 2 gallon air compressor is just what you need especially if you don’t use it all the time, or you need something portable for your handyman services or to carry out little DIY projects around the home. If that’s the case, then the California Air Tools 2010A will certainly fit your needs.

The small tank capacity means it’s also lightweight and easy to take with you on the job.

What we like about it

  • Uses aluminium tank making it very lightweight
  • It takes only seconds to fill up tank
  • Quick recovery
  • Uses induction motor, making it very quiet – creates only 60 decibels of noise
  • Very inexpensive and requires little maintenance because it’s oil-free

Where it can be improved

  • Vibrates a little and walks around the floor when switched on.

9. Powermate Vx PLA4708065 80 Gallon Air Compressor

Powermate Vx PLA4708065 80 Gallons
  • Features a cast iron 3 cylinder oil-lubricated pump.
  • It produces 14 CFM at 90 PSI
  • Comes equipped with 4.7 HP 240V induction motor for maximum performance of the pump.
  • It provides a maximum air pressure of 155 PSI
  • Tanks Size is 80 gallons.
  • It produces 2.20 CFM at 90 PSI and 3.1 CFM at 40 PSI
  • The unit weighs 354 lbs. Bolt it to the ground before use, for stability.

If you have an auto workshop and you use high air demand tools like sand blasters, air hammers and ratchets, you’re going to need a big air compressor that has a large air storage tank and produces a high CFM so that it can keep up with the tools you’re running.

One unit that fits that description pretty well is this Powermate Vx PLA4708065. It’s an 80 gallon single stage air compressor equipped with a 3 piston pump powered by a 4.7 HP motor that runs operates at a speed of 3450 RPM.

The 3 piston pump helps spread the work of compressing the air across the 3 cylinders and reduce the workload of the pump. 3 cylinder pumps are more efficient because the air get’s compressed in 3 cylinders instead of 1, hence more air is produced at a given time compared to a unit with a single cylinder.

This is not some toy. It’s something you need to bolt to the ground in your workshop to prevent it from falling or traveling along the ground due to vibrations during use. It’s a 350+ lbs beast, so you certainly need something like a shop crane when setting it up.

What I like about it

  • Capable of supplying air-hungry tools like spray guns and ratchets
  • 80 gallon produces continuous supply of air
  • 3 piston pumps works more efficiently
  • Built with highly durable materials

Where it can be improved

  • Requires a little bit of maintenance to keep it running smoothly

10. Ingersoll Rand SS5 60 Gallon Single Stage Air Compressor

ingersoll rand ss5 60 gallon air compressor
  • Produces 18.1 cfm at 90 PSI
  • Can be operated up to a maximum pressure of 135 PSI
  • Tank size is 60 gallons
  • Manual thermal overload protection ensures extended machine life
  • Features a 5 horsepower single stage motor for maximum power
  • Constructed with durable cast iron
  • It’s electric, hence it’s safe for indoor use
  • Motor operates at a standard 30A, 230V power outlet

This is the Ingersoll Rand SS5. You need to bolt this on the ground because it’s a heavy duty 60 gallon single stage air compressor. It’s very heavy and can be quite unstable (travels) when switched on. So, get it bolted to the ground.

It’s a single stage air compressor, which means air compression is done in just one stroke, and tank fill up pretty quickly. You can start preparing all you air-demanding tools now, because it’s this machine can keep up.

What we like about it

  • Heavy duty cast iron construction
  • Supply air-hungry tools without any hiccups
  • 3 cylinder single stage pump works more efficiently and recovers quickly
  • Ideal for both DIY and professional use

Where it can be improved

  • Manual drain valve is quite difficult to access.

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