10 Best Air Compressors of 2023 – Top Picks & Reviews
Air compressors are versatile tools that belong in every home workshop. Many tools need an air compressor to run correctly. Plus, you never know when you’ll need to inflate a tire or a ball. Luckily, there are plenty of air compressors on the market to choose from.
However, there are so many models out there that it can be challenging to sort through them all. While all air compressors compress air, some are designed for particular purposes. Others are more versatile. Choosing the correct one for you is vital.
We wrote reviews on the ten top air compressors so that you can make the best decision for your situation.
Quick Comparison of the Winners in 2023:
|California Air Tools 8010 Steel Tank Air Compressor
|EPAUTO 12V DC Portable Air Compressor
|DEWALT D55146 Air Compressor
|BOSTITCH BTFP3KIT Air Compressor Combo Kit
|CRAFTSMAN CMEC6150K Air Compressor
The 10 Best Air Compressors:
1. California Air Tools Steel Air Compressor – Best Overall
For most purposes, the California Air Tools 8010 Steel Tank Air Compressor is the best option. It is quite large, which means it has a large capacity. It is also very quiet, which is one of the reasons we rated it so highly. If you have neighbors or just don’t want an extremely loud air compressor, this one is perfect.
It can fill up in only a few minutes from empty to full and is oil-free. There is far less maintenance involved than in other models. It is also on wheels, which makes it easy to move it from place to place. The motor is suitable at 1 HP, but some competitors have more powerful motors.
We think the 8010 is the best overall home air compressor for most DIYers and professionals. It can do almost everything and comes with all the features you need, without any of the ones you don’t. We also appreciated the low price.
2. EPAUTO 12V DC Portable Air Compressor – Best Value
The EPAUTO 12V DC Portable Air Compressor is a small, portable air compressor. It can be plugged directly into your vehicle’s lighter socket, making it perfect for on-the-go use. It can inflate tires on most cars and bikes, including sedans and midsize SUVs. There are quite a few adaptors that are included as well. For example, there is a needle valve for basketballs and a cone adaptor for swimming pool accessories, kayaks, and similar items.
This Epauto’s capacity is big enough for most tires but unsuitable for truck tires. The display is straightforward to read and simple. Even if you are new to air compressors, you should have no problem figuring this one out. It also comes with an LED flashlight, just in case you end up working in the dark.
When the tire is filled up to the desired range, the air compressor shuts off automatically, preventing overinflation. This is particularly important for those who are new to filling up tires. The Epauto won’t disappoint you, and we think it’s the best air compressor for the money.
3. DEWALT D55146 Air Compressor – Premium Choice
If you need a machine that can get things done, DEWALT D55146 Air Compressor is the one you need. It has a 225-PSI storage tank, which is far higher than most other air compressors on the market. After the initial tank is depleted, it quickly refills. The vertical stand makes this machine easy to store away, as does the collapsible handle. This is a machine you will not have to dedicate permanent space to in your shop. It easily stores underneath tables and in closets.
It has a low noise level but isn’t necessarily as quiet as our top pick. We still appreciated that it was much quieter than most air compressors on the market. It’s also quite a bit more powerful than others at 1.6 HP.
The only huge downside to the Dewalt is the price. It is three times more expensive than other models on the market, but it is because it’s one of the best brands of air compressors there is. However, it is indeed the premium option; you get what you pay for.
4. BOSTITCH Air Compressor Combo Kit
The BOSTITCH BTFP3KIT Air Compressor Combo Kit has an air compressor, brad nailer, straight finish nailer, and a heavy-duty crown stapler. All of the tools run off of compressed air and can be hooked up to the air compressor.
The air compressor is pretty decent. It can hold 6 gallons of compressed air and produces 150 PSI. The tools are okay, though they aren’t the highest quality. A 1-year limited warranty is included, but it’s a limited warranty, so it doesn’t cover everything.
The Bostiich kit is a practical option if you need everything the kit comes with. The price reflects the inclusion of all the tools. However, it is still cheaper than our premium pick. However, most people are not going to need all of the tools. They’re very niche and will only be useful for particular projects. If you don’t need the tools included, you’re better off saving money and purchasing one of the other air compressors.
5. CRAFTSMAN CMEC6150K Air Compressor
The CRAFTSMAN CMEC6150K Air Compressor can hold 6 gallons at a time. It is a “pancake” shape, so storing and moving it around is easy. The shape makes storing it under tables easier. It is oil-free, so there is very little maintenance required. This feature also increases the lifespan of the pump.
With a max of 150 PSI, this machine is about as powerful as the competition. It can do most jobs that require an air compressor. It can refill very quickly after the tank has been emptied, which is pretty common among higher-end machines. We liked how the Craftsman starts quickly in cold weather, and with so many accessories, you’ll have everything you need to do practically any job.
It has a PVC air hose with a coupler and plug assembly, a tire chuck, a blow gun, a tire gauge, and three inflator adaptors. Truthfully, this is one of the more complete air compressors on the market.
6. Campbell Hausfeld Portable Quiet Air Compressor
The Campbell Hausfeld DC080500 Portable Quiet Air Compressor is advertised as being very quiet. It produces around 68 dBA, which is about as loud as your average school classroom. However, other air compressors on this list were just as quiet as this one, so it isn’t notably quieter than most other high-quality brands. Still, the unit’s quietness makes it perfect for indoor and outdoor use.
The Campbell Hausfeld is versatile enough to be used for many projects. It is oil-free with a dual-piston pump. This feature makes it last much longer than other models and means it is practically maintenance-free.
The large wheels are durable and make it very easy to move around. The rubber-grip handle is far better than other handles on machines we’ve reviewed, so we had no complaints. It also includes all the accessories you need to get most projects done.
One of the significant downsides of this air compressor is that the warranty is minimal and virtually non-existent. They will not repair it, even if it is brand new in most cases.
7. Briggs & Stratton Air Compressor
Despite its appearance, the Briggs & Stratton 074016-00 Air Compressor is not that powerful. It only produces 100 PSI, which is quite a bit less than most of the other options on the market. The two-tank system does make it seem like it should be more powerful, but it is mostly just for show. It is supposed to deliver a smoother airflow, but you probably won’t see much of a difference. The engine is underpowered as well at less than 1 horsepower.
There is a tool storage hook for easy tool organization. However, this is only somewhat helpful. It isn’t going to fit all tools and is only useful in some situations. One good thing about this air compressor is that it has a 20-gallon capacity, which is far higher than most models.
This means it can blow air for extended periods, which is useful in some situations. Because of the lower price, the value of this compressor is relatively high, which is primarily why it ended up as number seven on our list.
8. Metabo EC28M HPT Air Compressor
The Metabo EC28M HPT Air Compressor is designed to be ultra-lightweight and portable. For the most part, it does this very well. It is tiny and comes with a decent carrying handle. It does not have wheels, but you don’t need them on a machine this small. It is also very quiet, which is helpful if you use it around your home or while out and about. It is also oil-free, so you won’t have to perform much maintenance on it at all.
However, it has a tiny storage tank: – only 1 gallon. This is so small it is practically worthless. It is not very versatile at all and will only be useful in some situations. Furthermore, for what it is, the Metabo is costly. You can get equally portable machines for much cheaper, just look at our best-value pick. While this compressor isn’t necessarily bad, the value isn’t there, which is why it is rated so low on our list.
9. Stealth Ultra Quiet Air Compressor
The first thing you’ll notice about the Stealth SAQ-12018 Ultra Quiet Air Compressor is that it is enormous. It is much larger than most other models we’ve reviewed. It will need a permanent space in your workshop. However, it has a 20-gallon capacity, and despite the large size, the air compressor is pretty quiet.
It isn’t necessarily the quietest on the market, but it isn’t the loudest either. It is powerful with a 1.8 HP motor. The tank can refill from empty in only 70 seconds. The Stealth is quite expensive. This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem considering its large size. Often, larger compressors are more expensive.
However, the quality just doesn’t match the cost. There are many reports of the machine arriving broken or breaking after only a few uses. The wheels are poorly made and don’t seem to work well, and leaks are common. The customer service isn’t incredibly helpful either, which can cause problems if your machine breaks.
10. Makita Quiet Series Electric Air Compressor
The Makita MAC100Q Quiet Series Electric Air Compressor is designed to be portable. It is small and made to be very quiet. However, it is quiet compared to other air compressors, though not significantly, but it’s ideal for indoor projects. It comes with a roll cage, which is helpful since it is so small and portable. A drop could quickly bang it up otherwise.
However, there was a lot we didn’t like about this air compressor. It only has a 1-gallon capacity. This just isn’t useful for most jobs. Most tasks are going to require more than 1 gallon of air. Furthermore, it is expensive compared to similar air compressors of the same size. Our best value pick is also tiny, but it costs a third of what this one does.
This machine does not have enough power to run several tools. However, it may work for a brad nailer. You will need a more powerful option if you have several pneumatic tools.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Pick the Best Air Compressor
Air compressors are pretty simple machines. They’re merely big (or small) machines that compress air. However, that doesn’t mean picking one out is easy. There are a surprisingly large number of features you should consider when choosing an air compressor. Different models are not made equal by any means.
There is also a significant variance in quality regarding the current air compressors on the market. Some are very high-quality and inexpensive, while others break easily and cost too much. You can save yourself a lot of time and headache by keeping a few pointers in mind during your shopping expedition.
All air compressors should have their horsepower listed. Horsepower is essential because it is the main driving force that determines how powerful an air compressor is. Generally, you want more horsepower.
Sadly, you can’t always rely on the listed horsepower when choosing an air compressor. Many companies exaggerate how much horsepower their machines run at. Sometimes, the horsepower listed is theoretical and not a number the machine will reach in an everyday situation.
Still, machines with a higher advertised horsepower tend to produce more power; they just might not reach the horsepower listed in their product description.
This is another measurement you’ll need to watch for when shopping for an air compressor. The air pressure of each air compressor ranges and is not connected to the horsepower. Most tools need about 90 PSI to work correctly, which is the bottom limit for most air compressors. However, some smaller, portable air compressors don’t always meet this lower limit, especially if they’re designed more for blowing up tires than running tools.
Furthermore, compressors tend to have at least two stages, with some having even more than that. Usually, the higher stages produce about double the air pressure as others.
Many companies will push their tank size to sell their air compressors. However, the size of the tank doesn’t matter too much. Air compressors continuously fill up their tank, so the tank size doesn’t limit how much you can use your air compressor. Very small compressors will have a problem with running continuously. They’re just too small to maintain the air inside their tank while being used. This can be frustrating and annoying.
But it is essential to remember that this only happens with tiny air compressors. There are a few small air compressors on this list, but they’re primarily for refilling tires and that sort of thing.
Machines with giant tanks tend to be more expensive. They’re larger in general and require more material to be manufactured. They also take up more room, which is something to consider. We generally don’t recommend purchasing a larger tank unless you need one.
Oil-Free or Not
Historically, all air compressors used oil. However, there is a shift in the market currently to get away from oil. This makes the machines require less maintenance since you won’t have to change the oil, refill it, etc. It also makes the machine less messy for the same reason. This feature will also save you less money, as you won’t have to purchase oil for the air compressor. Oil isn’t expensive, but it can add up! The positive impact on the environment is also something to keep in mind.
However, air compressors that use oil are usually quieter and last longer. These two features are essential for some buyers and may push you towards purchasing a gas-lubricated model. It is just a matter of which features are most important to you. Would you rather skip the oil changes or have a quieter air compressor?
The cost of air compressors varies widely. You can find some for under $50 and others for over $300. Usually, the most significant contributing factor to the cost is the size. Larger models almost always cost more. However, that isn’t always true.
Some air compressors are expensive for very little reason as well. Sometimes, you’re just paying for the brand name. While reviewing the models currently on the market, we found a small, 1-gallon air compressor for under $50 and another for over $200. They had similar features and few differences between them. There was no reason for the $200 model to be so expensive, but it was!
Of course, sometimes, choosing the cheapest model isn’t necessarily the best choice. Inexpensive models can have low-quality components and may lack a good customer service team to back them up.
Just keep in mind the value of the air compressor you’re considering purchasing. Don’t pay more than you have to unless the compressor is worth the extra money.
Of all the compressors we reviewed, we preferred the California Air Tools 8010 Steel Tank Air Compressor. This compressor is oil-free, quiet, and isn’t expensive. We also loved how it fills up quickly. It isn’t the most powerful option on the market, but it has plenty of horsepower for most users.
For a smaller option, we also enjoyed the EPAUTO 12V DC Portable Air Compressor. It is VERY inexpensive and portable. It can plug right into your car if you need to refill your tires suddenly.
Whether you chose one of these options or not, we hope our article gave you an idea of the current air compressors available. Our reviews and buyer’s guide should provide all the information you need to choose the best option for your situation.
- See Also: 10 Best 12V Air Compressors