When it comes to buying an air compressor, there are so many choices out there on the market that it can be quite daunting to select the best one for your needs. The makes, the models, the sizes, shapes, and horsepower, it’s enough to make your head spin just thinking about it. It’s not all bad news though, I’m here to make the process as easy for you as possible. I’ve performed extensive research on all of the top models. The following air compressor reviews cover a wide range of categories, making it convenient for you to choose the best air compressor you need.
Categories for My Air Compressor Reviews
If you don’t want to read any further and just want to check out the reviews, you can click on any one of the categories below to be taken there immediately.
- Best Value Air Compressor
- Most Quiet Air Compressor
- Best Heavy-Duty Compressor
- Best Budget Air Compressor
- Best Air Compressor Overall
We provide some necessary information about air compressors and a summary of the top choices.
Types of Air Compressors
Let’s start with the various different shapes you might see in an air compressor.
- Pancake – These are the smallest and lightest models you can find. It’s called pancake because, well, that’s what it looks like, a fat pancake. Usually, they are equipped with a top handle; these are great for regular household use and are very portable. Check our air compressor reviews to see how they ranked.
- Twin Tank – These models are mostly still quite portable but have noticeably more weight than the pancake varieties. The two tanks are usually stacked on top of the other or side-by-side. They typically include either a handle on top to carry it or a handle and wheels for easy movement on the ground. Many are also equipped with two outputs to have more tools connected at once, and they have a bit more power than the pancake. This design shows up in the top spot more than once in our air compressor reviews.
- Horizontal/Vertical – These are single tank compressors larger than the others we’ve mentioned already. They have a cylindrical tank, either lying sideways or standing up straight. This type is best for professionals who continuously use their air tools throughout the day and industrial settings to run powerful machinery. Some models include wheels to move them around, and others are meant to be stationary. These are far less portable and more powerful than the others.
Apart from just the shapes and sizes, air compressors have other differences that you might want to consider. For example, some models use oil for the lubrication of moving internal parts. They are designed so the oil will not escape, but it isn’t 100% foolproof. These types are sufficient for most tools, but if you plan to use an air-powered paint gun to paint a car, it might not be the best choice as there could be contamination. For jobs like this, it’s recommended you go with an oil-less model.
The technologies that make air compressors work can also vary from model to model. The most basic is the piston-type. These can have either one or two pistons forcing air into the tank until it reaches maximum pressure. When the pressure lowers, they start up again to keep the pressure high. This type has more vibration than others. The other most common type is the rotary screw compressor. These have a screw that is continually turning, forcing air into the tank, and pressurizing it at the same time.
Vane air compressors have what looks like a massive fan placed sideways on the inside. It sucks in air from the back as it spins and forces it into the tank on the other side. The last type is what they call negative displacement. I won’t get into the complicated technical details, but it uses something called an impeller. As it spins, it forces the air particles against the tank’s inside wall, creating pressure.
Top Picks from My Air Compressor Reviews
Best Value Air Compressor – When we think of value, we think of the right mix between price and performance. The choice for this category is the Rolair FC2002 2 HP Twin Stack Compressor with Overload Protection and Manual Reset. It comes equipped with a respectable 4.3-gallon tank, a little smaller than others but still big enough for most tasks. What really sets it over the edge is the 4.1 CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute), which means it delivers more air to your connected device in a shorter time. It does all of this at 90 PSI. We were pleasantly surprised by this model and just had to give it the top spot in one of the air compressor reviews.
Most Quiet Air Compressor – There was one clear winner when it came to quiet compressors. That was the California Air Tools CAT-6310 Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free 1.0 Hp 6.3-Gallon Steel Tank Air Compressor. Made to be quiet by design, this machine is even more silent than two people having a conversation, which on average, is about 65 decibels. This compressor runs at 60. If silence is important to you, you don’t need to look any further; it doesn’t get better than this.
Best Heavy-Duty Compressor – When it comes to air compressor reviews, you can’t leave out the beasts. The ROLAIR 5.5 HP Honda, 9.3 CF, is just that, a beast. Equipped with a 5.5 horsepower Honda motor, this compressor pumps out a massive 9.1 cubic feet per minute. That’s enough to do just about anything you want an air compressor to do. The construction is also top quality and built to last.
Best Budget Air Compressor – When deciding which to choose for the budget section of my air compressor reviews, I didn’t want to just pick the cheapest. I also wanted it to be of good quality. I finally decided on the PORTER-CABLE PCFP02003 3.5-Gallon 135 PSI Pancake Compressor. This model is small and super light, but don’t let that make you think it has nothing under the hood. With an impressive max PSI of 130 and delivering a constant 2 CFM at 90 PSI, this machine is a steal for about 100 bucks. There were a few cheaper models, but none of them compared to this one.
Best Air Compressor Overall – Well, here it is, the one you’ve been waiting for. To be chosen for this spot, the compressor had to have a little bit of everything we covered in our other air compressor reviews and more. Only one can claim this spot, and the winner is… Drum roll, please… The Makita MAC700 Big Bore 2.0 HP Air Compressor. Powerful, quiet, affordable, and tough. Reviews everywhere online, included mine, are going crazy over this machine. If you’re serious about purchasing an air compressor and plan to use it for serious work, don’t bother searching for something better because you will not find it.
The Makita MAC700 Big Bore delivers quite a lot, as its consistent power rating for its motor is at an impressive two horsepower.
The industrial-grade, “Big Bore” Makita MAC700 comes complete with oil lubrication of the pump to make it run cooler (although this might come as a demerit instead of merit for those who prefer oil-less pumps), low amp draw that mitigates incidences of breaker tripping or voltage drops that can destroy your air compressor motor, and substantially lower noise levels despite it sporting a pump that goes at a rate of 1,720 RPM.
The Big Bore Stationary Air Compressor by Makita indeed has a lot to offer consumers. The device’s ability to deliver more significant displacement at lower RPM makes it stand out from many other types of compression and pneumatic equipment out there.
Moreover, Makita includes a one-year manufacturer’s warranty with it. Finally, the commercial-grade Makita MAC700 Big Bore includes a cast-iron pump with big-bore cylinders and pistons.
Combined with more significant stroke and bore, the Makita MAC700 delivers optimum performance every time. It’s never sloppy with its work, and it provides a consistent 2 HP of motor operation every time. Thanks to its Big Bore Engineered Pump with cast-iron construction of its cylinder, you’ll get to enjoy better and faster air compression at reduced noise levels and with shorter recovery times.
Even if you’re dealing with the toughest on-site conditions, the tough-as-nails construction of the cast-iron pump should be able to take all that abuse as well as wear-and-tear. This is arguably the most rugged air compressor on this list.
That about sums up all of the top picks for the air compressor review. To learn more about each model, click the links to go straight to a full written review, packed with the information you need to know to make an informed decision.