In This Article
- What is the best air compressor for home use
- Recommendation for Best Air compressor
- Buying Guide – FACTORS TO CONSIDER
- Types of air compressor
- Who Uses Mini Air Compressors and Why?
- What is The Difference Between Commercial Air Compressors and Others?
- How to Find the Right Home Air Compressors
- Who Needs an Oil Free Air Compressor?
- How to Find the Right High-Pressure Air Compressor
What is the best air compressor for home use
Life cannot be imagined without machines especially without compressor pumps. If one looks around, one can find several tools and gadgets that follow movement of a gas or a liquid flowing inside an open or a closed system with the purpose of generating energy which can be utilized further for some or the other purpose. This type of a machine makes use of a compressor pump.
The right air compressor can make the difference between the job being difficult and the job being easier. With the right compressor any job can be made a bit easier. There are many different products on the market and many of them promise to simplify the job so it may be difficult to determine the best one.
Superficially, compressors and pumps are basically used to move and squeeze out fluids. In the liquid condition, any gas or liquid is made to move with the help of a compressor. It forces the gas under pressure to accommodate itself in a very small volume. Thus, a compressor always requires a pump along. Some of the most common examples of use of air compressors are to inflate the car tires, drilling machines of the pneumatic type, different types of working tools etc. Any type of a machine which employs movement of fluids makes use of a pump, be it a dishwasher or a coffee dispenser or anything.
Recommendation for Best Air compressor
For choosing the best quality air compressor for home use, here I’m reviewing some of the best tool available in the market regarding prices and quality.
Makita MAC5200 Big Bore 3.0 HP Air Compressor
The Makita MAC5200 is a larger air compressor. It has output for up to two nailers. Importantly, it also has a foldable carrying handle and rolling wheels on the back side for easy transport. This air compressor was designed to withstand even the toughest of job sites and the most demanding of workers. The big bore pump combined with the cast iron cylinder give the compressor increased compression, faster recovery, and less noise than most compressors. The machine delivers a total of 140 PSI between two outputs, which is enough to support two nailers. This machine was designed for less noise, more output, and industrial strength and durability.
This best air compressor for home garage is great for job sites. It’s completely steel construction makes it durable for any job site. At the same time, the machine is quiet enough to use indoors or in a shop. The machine lives up to its specs, handling any tool rated at 4.2 cfm or lower. An air ratchet rated at 4.5 will work, but just barely. You do have to watch the cfm ratings on the tools you want to use with this compressor. However, for nailers, blow guns, finishing nailers and brad nailers, you cannot go wrong with this compressor.
- Folding handle – Low profile for easy storage with handle folded.
- Rugged wheels for Job-site portability.
- Built-in storage compartment – Conveniently stores air fittings and accessories.
- Air hose wrap that Stores 50 feet of 3/8-inch air hose with handle folded or upright.
- One-year manufacturer’s warranty.
- FREE replacement or refund within 30 days of purchase with any Makita Tool.
- Ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping.
- Available in 2.0 HP – Makita MAC700, 2.5 HP – Makita MAC2400 and 3.0 HP – Makita Mac5200.
This air compressor is rather heavy for being portable. That is due to its steel construction, so you must pay the price for the sturdiness of it but watch out for the buying process. These are only good compressors if you get one that works! Several people have had problems ordering this compressor only to find it is damaged or not working when it arrives. Overall, however, once you get the compressor it lives up to its standards. Even the weight of it is not too much of an issue since it has a folding handle and wheels to maneuver it from site to site. Overall, the Makita MAC5200 is a worthy compressor to purchase.
DEWALT D55146 4-1/2-Gallon 225-PSI Hand Carry Compressor
Whether you’re a contractor or a Do It Yourself enthusiast when it comes to portable air compressor your first thought should be the DEWALT D55146 4.5 Gallon Hand Carry Compressor. Tough and built to last, the upside to this small beast is limitless. With the power and durability of a shop compressor mixed with the size of a mini portable compressor, you get the best of both worlds backed by the name you have always trusted in power tools; DEWALT.
The DEWALT D55146 tank fills to an impressive 200 PSI max pressure which provides you with 80% more usable air than other brands of air compressor. 5.2 SCFM @ 90 PSI allows much quicker recovery times after the initial tank fill. It has a built-in vertical stand feature that allows you to save space for storing the unit and engaging the wheels for easy transport. At only 86 Pounds, this unit is easy to move anywhere you need it compared to a standard shop size air compressor. This model generates 78 dBA noise levels for a much quieter work environment. Another great feature is the 10″ pneumatic wheels which make it very easy to move around your work shop or on the jobsite. The pump is motor oil-free, maintenance-free so you never have to worry about routine maintenance of the unit.
- 200 PSI max tank storage pressure.
- 80% more usable air than the industry leader.
- 2 SCFM at 90 PSI allows the compressor to recover quickly after its initial tank charge is exhausted.
- vertical stand feature and collapsible handle – save space by transporting or storing the compressor in a vertical position.
- 78 dBA operational noise level – quieter work environment.
- 10-inch non-flat foam tires – easy transportation around the jobsite.
- Ehp efficient high-pressure technology – longer pump and motor life.
- Ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping.
All the positive comments rave about the 200-psi tank, the quick refill before losing air tool function, the portability of the unit, especially with the pneumatic tires and extension handle. People also loved that for an air compressor, it was much quieter than expected. In general, the complaints have been small quality issues upon receipt. A flat tire on one unit, a regulator valve tightened down too much on another, or a sticking gauge on a third. One customer had a leaking valve seal and his biggest issue was the parts were not in stock for a repair under warranty.
All in all, the DEWALT D55146 had excellent reviews. People love the design and durability that has come to be known with DEWALT. It is a highly recommended purchase.
Senco PC1010 1-Horsepower Peak 1-Gallon Compressor
The Senco PC1010 is a lightweight, portable, hand carry air compressor. Weighing at only twenty pounds it is very easy to move from place to place. It also has a quiet motor due to its compact size. All of this makes it a good compressor for lightweight tools for things like trim work and hobbies. It runs at around twenty to forty-four drives per minute, depending on the tool being used. The pressure is also enough for things such as trim work, but not for something like drywall.
This is a great secondary air compressor. It is not good for use as a primary air compressor because it cannot handle most nailers. However, a trim nailer works very nicely with this machine, giving at least ten shots before the motor kicks in. A framing nailer will only get about three shots before the tank is empty, but if you only have a few nails to pound in it can be well worth carrying the smaller machine. Overall the compressor does what it is supposed to do. It handles small jobs and smaller pneumatic tools and is much easier to haul around than most air compressors.
- Hand carry-ultra quiet and lightweight.
- Comfortable cushioned handle grip.
- 1/2-Horsepower 1-Gallon capacity.
- Aluminum cylinder.
- gallon of air capacity.
- Ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping.
Many experts don’t recommend this air compressor for most serious contractors. It cannot handle the volume or tools necessary to complete most jobs. If you have a smaller job it is great, but for anything over about fifteen or twenty nails it will frustrate you to no end. You will find yourself sitting around waiting for the tank to refill, as well as hammering in the nails that don’t go in all the way due to a loss of compression in the tank as it empties. Users recommend purchasing the Senco PC1010 for small jobs, do it yourselfers, and hobbyists as the lightweight design makes it perfect for these odd jobs.
Buying Guide - FACTORS TO CONSIDER
There are some factors to consider when looking for a compressor. Those who are looking for a lightweight and powerful compressor on this website have different needs.
- Demand & Task – The first thing you should consider is the tasks that you plan to do with the unit. There are various sizes that compressors come in and they offer a range of capabilities. You need to be sure to purchase a unit that will do the job you need to be done and provide you with enough power to do larger jobs in the future. Some might want an air compressor for woodworking projects, art work, cleaning computers, air brushing, etc. These types of activities don’t require much power, so a smaller compressor is ideal. For those who require a more powerful air compressor for major home improvement projects, you’ll no doubt require a larger portable air compressor.
- Weight – The larger air compressors can weigh over 60 pounds. If you’re looking for power and versatility, you’ll need a heavier compressor. Some of the larger portable compressors we review on this site, even though heavy, are also very portable. That’s because they have wheels and comfortable handles for easy toting. If you’re looking for the lightest compressor with the most power, see my Portable Air Compressor Reviews Top Pick above.
- Price – Typically, the more power you need, the more expensive the air compressor is going to be, that is if you’re wanting top quality. You’ll find prices on most portable air compressors can range anywhere from $70 to close to $400. There are compressors that cost less than $60 but I don’t recommend them because they are lower quality. I’m only recommending the very best and most reliable air compressors.
- Brand – Brand name is very important when trying to find the perfect transportable air compressor. The companies we’ve found to have the most reliable air compressors are Dewalt, Makita, and Senco. Keep in mind that not all the compressors from these companies will suite everyone’s needs. That’s why reading our Portable Air Compressor Reviews are so important.
- Power – Typically, the home owner that wants a compressor for jobs around the home and for small construction projects will typically do just fine with that is strong enough to operate an automatic nail gun. You may also want to make sure that it is strong enough to power spray the exterior of the home. So, it is always a good idea to get a little power than you really need without going overboard.
- Horsepower – Next there is the question of horsepower, or the amount of energy the air compressor uses. The higher the horsepower the higher the psi and cfm, though this may not always be the case. Instead, once you have your psi and cfm requirements, it is a good idea to shop around for an air compressor that meets these minimum standards but does so at the lowest horsepower. The higher the horsepower, the more energy the machine uses and thus the higher your energy expense is. Therefore, if you have a choice between three air compressors that meet your minimum psi and cfm requirements, look for the one that uses the least horsepower.
- PSI – The first thing to keep in mind is obviously your application and ensuring that the air compressor you buy is powerful enough to run the pneumatic (air driven) tool(s) you intend to run off it. This basically means ensuring that the air compressor generates the appropriate psi (pounds per square inch of pressure) and the correct amount of cfm (cubic feet per minute of air flow). Most modern pneumatic tools specifically state what the minimum requirements are to operate the device properly, often expressed in a statement like “requires a min 4.5 cfm at 90 psi”. This is saying that the machine in question will only work properly with an air compressor that is able to generate 90 psi and deliver 4.5 cfm. In order to calculate your requirements, look at all the pneumatic tools you intend to operate and find the one with the highest psi requirement; this should serve as your minimum psi for when you buy air compressors. Further, look at the cfm requirements of each tool. Unlike psi, cfm is cumulative which means if you intend to run more than one device off the compressor at the same time, you must add together the cfm requirements of the maximum number of devices to be run simultaneously to get your minimum cfm. When it comes to psi, more is generally not better, merely wasteful; so, getting an air compressor that matches your highest psi requirement is just fine. When it comes to cfm on the other hand, more is better because frequently at least a little air flow may be lost through the hose or through the mechanics of the pneumatic device. So, having a little more cfm than your minimum is probably a good idea.
Types of air compressor
The air compressor pumps are classified into two different types based on the function – positive displacement type and the dynamic one.
The displacement pumps of the positive type are further classified into three types. They are the rotary screw, rotary vane and the reciprocating types. The reciprocating compressors are the usual types of piston compressors used for inflation of tires. The construction sites usually make use of the rotary screw pumps. The vane type compressor is quite old fashioned and is used in the traditional type of piston compressors. They find extensive use in power steerers, pressure induced hydraulics and several other vacuum applications. The other classification is known as the dynamic type which includes examples like roto dynamic, centrifugal pumps etc. Its refineries make extensive use of the centrifuge pumps, natural gas plants, petrochemicals in order to produce stationary functions.
Another possible classification of compressor includes the oil-lubricated and the oil free compressors. The lubricated ones are quite an old product but are less noisy and last very long. The oil free compressors are the new type with better air quality. But they suffer from the disadvantage of noise, short life and are quite expensive. Both the types can be put to both domestic as well as industrial uses. But the air compressor oil type needs more maintenance and care as compared to the oil free types. Other forms of air compressors are the small air compressor, HVAC compressor, Pancake air compressor etc.
Another important classification of compressor pump depends on the number of cylinders used by the pump and are divided into two stages or one stage compressor pump. The 2-stage air compressor has two cylinders wherein a piston in the tank compresses the air going inside and then the compressed air is sent to the second cylinder where the storage takes place. They are made available as and when it is required. They find massive use in chemical, agriculture and the fertilizer industry due to its versatility.
Who Uses Mini Air Compressors and Why?
The idea of what precisely constitutes a “mini” air compressor is open to interpretation; the term does not have a defined meaning when it comes to air compressors. It is fair to say that most air compressors meeting this standard are small, portable, use a small power supply, and are not designed for constant or serious industrial usage. Based on these characteristics, mini air compressors may range from the tiny ones designed to operate air brush machines, to the larger household models used to top of car tires and fill other inflatable items around the house. Some people consider the larger air compressors used in small offices and workshops as mini as well, but this does not meet the portability requirement above.
Perhaps the most common, and least expensive, mini compressors are those small 12-volt models that are sold at general retail outlets for about $19.99. These tiny compressors are usually designed to be powered by a vehicle’s electrical system, either through the cigarette lighter socket or directly attached to the vehicle’s battery. Most also come with adapters that will allow you to use them from a general electrical outlet as well. These compressors usually have a low psi (pounds – of pressure – per square inch) levels and low cfm (cubic feet per minute) rates. They are basically only good for topping up tires, blowing up inflatable items (cycle tires, balls, swimming toys, etc.) and they usually work on a continuous basis without any form of tank. These little mini compressors are not strong enough to run most pneumatic tools and have very limited application.
The next most popular type of compressor that might be defined as mini are the two- or three-gallon household compressors. Many of these two gallons (so named because they have a two-gallon air tank built in) generate around 90 to 100 psi, which makes them strong enough to operate at least one pneumatic power tool. However, the cfm may be considerably lower, and this is important to keep in mind: remember even if your compressor meets the psi requirements, it will not power your tool if it does not generate enough cfm. These compressors are usually excellent for household use since they are powerful enough to do something while at the same time being small and compact enough to easily move around the house without it being an issue. Though there are exceptions, many of these compressors can be purchased for under $100 today.
There are also several compressors that may be justly defined as “mini” that are created and designed for a very specific purpose. A prime example of these specialized compressors is the tiny air compressors designed to run air brushes. These small compressors are usually much too small and weak to do much else, but at the same time have special settings and options which allow the operator many functions that a more general air compressor would not. There are other mini compressors of this type as well, that are designed for very specific purposes and usually quite worthless for any other one. One can generally expect to pay more for these specialized compressors simply because they are specialized and presumably offer the user some option that would not be otherwise available.
What is The Difference Between Commercial Air Compressors and Others?
Anyone that has spent time shopping around their local hardware store for air compressors will know that there is plainly a significant difference between commercial air compressors and others. Home air compressors may have the same psi level and the like, but they cost a lot less. Why is that and what is the difference?
In the most basic sense, obviously, commercial air compressors are meant for commercial use or for use by businesses or professionals as opposed to individuals and hobbyists. More importantly commercial air compressors tend to be stronger, tougher, longer-lasting, and are designed to be used heavily. At the same time, most home use compressors are not meant to be used too heavily and generally could not deal with the pressures stemming from commercial use.
On the high end, commercial air compressors include the giants used in most factories, natural gas pipelines and other heavy industrial uses. Often, these are massive, stationary units generating far more power than could ever be used by a small operator. These behemoth air compressors tend to be custom built for their purpose and maintained by very specialized technicians trained to deal with these machines. Some of these giants run literally thousands of pneumatic devices within a factory and most operate in pairs, in order to keep continuous air pressure going all the time.
In the middle range is a series large air compressor that can generate enormous power, but are mass produced and installed as needed. Most of these units are considerably less expensive than the customized ones, but still well outside the price range of most individuals. Like the enormous units, they also draw a lot of power and can be relied upon to power a wide range of pneumatic devices simultaneously. These might be found in smaller factories, airplane hangars, or very large motor pools.
On the lower range are the models designed to operate a reasonable number of machines and that maintain consistent pressure for multiple tools on a smaller scale. This is the type of air compressor frequently used by garages or small workshops. These are also the most common commercial air compressors to be found for sale used on the open market. These types of compressors usually cost at least a few thousand dollars but are within the price range of many small businesses.
Finally, there are the commercial use portable compressors. These frequently operate on gasoline or diesel (though there are other power sources possible, like electric or propane) and are usually designed for hard and constant use. Good examples of applications might include in logging camps or on diving boats. Many of these compressors can be quite expensive but are expected to last much longer than non-commercial compressors do.
Ultimately, that is the primary difference between commercial and non-commercial air compressors: commercial compressors are expected to last longer and perform better. Therefore, it is safe to assume a commercial air compressor is a better built, more rugged, and more dependable air compressor than non-commercial ones. This is the primary reason that the commercial air compressors end up cost considerably more than the alternatives. The expectations are simply much higher.
How to Find the Right Home Air Compressors
Home air compressors have steadily become more and more popular over the last decade and are likely to continue doing so. Do-It-Yourselfers (DIYers) find pneumatic (air powered) tools like nail guns and paint sprayers extremely helpful. Others use them to top up their car tires, for household cleaning purposes, for yard maintenance, and just to blow up their children’s inflatable toys. People that have their own swimming pools also consider them very helpful for maintaining the pool.
Nevertheless, the idea of buying a home air compressor is still relatively new to many people, so it pays to know what you are looking for. Obvious concerns like size and noise do not take any specialized knowledge: it is easy enough to determine how much space you have available for an air compressor and what an acceptable noise level is. However, you must buy a home air compressor that is strong enough to satisfy your requirements, but at the same time you want to avoid getting one that is far too powerful. A tiny home air compressor designed to fuel a paint brush will not drive a pneumatic air gun; similarly, an industrial air compressor that generates far more compressed air than you will ever need is just a waste of electricity.
Although there are exceptions, most modern pneumatic devices specify precisely what their requirements are. These requirements are generally expressed in terms of “psi” (pounds per square inch of pressure) and “cfm” (cubic feet per minute). Sometimes “psi” is expressed as “psig” (pounds per square inch gauge) and sometimes “cfm” is expressed as “scfm” (standard cubic feet per minute); but these all mean the same thing. The psi is the amount of pressure the compressor generates, while the cfm is the speed that the air is expelled from the compressor, or the generated rate of air flow.
Most of your pneumatic tools should come with a list of requirements that reads something like “90 psi at 5.2 cfm”. These are the minimum requirements necessary to run the tool in question, so the home air compressor you buy must meet this standard in order to serve your purposes. The psi of your compressor should be enough to cover the highest psi requirement of your various tools. The cfm can be cumulative if you intend to run more than one pneumatic device at a time. Therefore, you must add together all the cfm requirements of the largest number of tools you can envision using simultaneously and ensure that your home air compressor can meet this cfm requirement.
Many people suggest that you somewhat over estimate the amount of psi and cfm that you will require. With respect to psi, this is nonsense and it makes no difference. With respect to cfm, having slightly more than the minimum can be helpful because sometimes you lose some of your air flow through the hose or through the tool’s mechanism. Therefore, having slightly more cfm than the minimum is a good idea. However, contrary to the claims of some salesmen out to sell you far more compressor than you need, you should avoid buying too a home air compressor that far exceeds your basic requirements. This is just a waste of energy and utterly defeats any efficiency goals that may behind using pneumatic technology in the first place.
Who Needs an Oil Free Air Compressor?
Many air compressors on the market today are designed to operate with oil, which helps prevent air from escaping, helps to clean foreign particulate matter from the air and otherwise tends to help most modern air compressors work better. When the air/oil mixture is expelled from the compressor, it goes into a separator unit that is designed to separate the air from the oil. The air continues to the output valve or hose, while the oil is filtered and then recycled back through the air compressor. The problem is that there are no separator units on the market today that can separate all the oil from the air. Therefore, without exception, all air compressors that use oil end up expelling at least a little bit of it with the compressed air that it generates.
Plainly having oil in the compressed air is a major problem in many different applications. One of the most important being air that is compressed the purpose of being breathed. Examples of compressed air meant to be breathed range from scuba tanks used by divers to oxygen tanks used by firemen. Obviously, this also applies to almost all compressed air used in medical applications, from oxygen given directly to patients to the air picks used by dentists. Another major application of compressed air meant for breathing is the air that is carried about airplanes to keep the cabin pressurized during flight. The military also has several more specialized compressed airs for breathing, such as the air used aboard submarines, in high altitude aircraft, or in the space program. In none of these instances would oil in the air be desirable or tolerated.
It is often the case that oil could poses serious problems when it comes to other gasses that are compressed other than just air. Oxygen, helium, hydrogen and any of several other specialized gasses are routinely compressed and stored for a wide range of purposes, from blowing up balloons to operating atomic colliders and in almost all cases these gasses must meet certain purity standards in order to be sold legitimately. These purity standards do not, in most cases, make allowances for oil; therefore oil-based air compressors are frequently not appropriate for the compression of these other gasses.
Oil can also cause major problems if the compressed air is to be used in the production or operation of highly sensitive equipment or technology. For example, most assembly lines producing high technology devices and their components today use lots of compressed air, as is the case with almost all factories. However, compressed air with oil in it could cause major problems to sensitive electronic components, optical devices (like lenses), and magnetic devices and so on and so forth. Therefore, once again, air compressors that use oil are simply not acceptable for these applications.
Oil-based air compression works very well in many cases and in many applications; however, as illustrated above, this is certainly not the case in all applications. For this reason, most major manufacturers of air compressors offer both oil and oil free varieties. Depending on how you intend to use the air, an oil free air compressor might be the right investment for you or your company.
How to Find the Right High-Pressure Air Compressor
Today one can find a staggering array of air compressors on the open market, from massive industrial units to tiny little hand-held compressors that are only good for operating airbrushes. With so many choices available, how do you figure out which high pressure air compressor is right for you?
The first thing to take into consideration is how you intend to use the compressor in the first place. If all you intend to do is run a light airbrush off it, then obviously you have no need for a massive industrial unit. So, how do you intend to use your high-pressure air compressor? Chances are you already have some uses in mind, but it is important to know the requirements of the tools you intend to run off the high-pressure air compressor before you buy the compressor. If you intend to use it for a single application – for example, a paint sprayer or to top up your tires – then you need to investigate the pressure requirements needed to accomplish this task. If you intend to use the high-pressure air compressor for many different purposes, then you need to take all the relevant tools into account.
Almost all pneumatic (air driven) devices on the market today specify what psi – pounds (of pressure) per square inch – the high-pressure air compressor should have to operate the tool correctly. So, the first thing to look for when selecting a compressor is one that meets the psi requirements of your tool(s). If you intend to use an array of tools, then use the tool with the highest psi requirement as the determining minimum psi that your compressor should have. Many people also advise that you aim at a slightly higher psi than the minimum in order to compensate for the built-in shut off point (when the compressor shuts off to avoid going over its recommended psi). However, this can also be tricky, because if you are using a compressor with 135 psi to operate a tool that only requires 90 psi, then you are just wasting energy and driving down the efficiency of your compressor.
Along with the psi, most tools on the market today also clearly state their cfm, or cubic feet per minute, air flow requirements. This determines how much air your air compressor releases from its output hose. Often this information is connected directly to the psi information, for example “5 cfm at 90 psi.” if you intend to run more than one tool at the same time, then you must add all the cfm requirements of any combination of tools that you intend to run into one maximum cfm rate. Further, while it can be wasteful to overestimate your psi too far, over estimating your cfm is a good idea. This is simply because some pressure may be lost through the hoses leading to the tool, or from the tool itself, so when it comes to cfm, the more the better.
Finally, you should look at the horsepower of the high-pressure air compressor you have in mind. Generally speaking – and there are exceptions – the lower the horsepower, the less the amount of energy it takes to operate the air compressor. This means if you find several different compressors that meet your psi and cfm requirements, then you should aim for the one with the lowest horsepower, as this will cost less to run.
Brandon is a compressor service technician at ACE Compressor Services. And he has around 13 years experience in this field. We reached him to create this helpful guide for all of us.
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