Best Air Compressors Buying Guide

Air compressors can be found in most auto body shops and are considered a staple for performing a wide array of tasks. An air compressor works by pulling in air from the atmosphere. It first reduces the volume of the air and then places it under pressure. This versatile device is able to deliver pressurized air into tight spaces. 

There are two main parts in an air compressor: the compressing system and the power source. The compressing system may include a piston, rotating propeller, or a vane, depending on what type of compressor is being used. The compressor simply uses energy from the power source to be able to compress the air to a much lower volume. This guide will help you choose the best air compressor to meet your needs.

Types of Air Compressors:

There are four main types of air compressors which are all for different needs to be met:

  • Reciprocating Air Compressor - This type of air compressor uses pistons to compress the air and then store it in a storage tank until it is needed. The number of pistons in a reciprocating air compressor will depend on how many compression stages it offers. A single piston runs a single-stage compression model while two pistons run a double-stage. This is the most commonly available type of air compressor and can be used in a variety of applications, from home use to business.

  • Rotary Screw Air Compressor - Rotary air compressors are somewhat similar to reciprocating models because they have the same displacement setup. This type of compressor uses two spinning helical screws to compress air from the atmosphere. As the two screws move towards one another, the air entering the compressor is compressed and then pushed inside the storage tank. This type of compressor is primarily used in industrial applications or to run high-powered air tools such as jackhammers.

  • Centrifugal Air Compressor - This type of air compressor is often referred to as a dynamic compressor. A centrifugal air compressor is ideal for producing high volumes of compressed air at a fast rate. A fast-moving propeller works to increase the velocity of the air and then a diffuser converts the velocity into air pressure. These compressors are typically used in manufacturing, where there is a constant demand for compressed air.

  • Rotary Sliding Vane Air Compressor - This type of air compressor features a shaft that is attached to a vane housing. The vanes move via centrifugal force which keeps the vanes moving tight against the cylinder. The turning of these vanes creates a lower volume in the air and then pressurizes it so it can be stored in the tank until needed. This compressor can be used to run a variety of air tools and is often used in road and building construction.

It is important you fully understand the different types of air compressors so you can make the best decision on your purchase. Make sure you read through the following air compressor reviews to ensure you are equipped with the full information you need so you can make your purchase without fear of buyer's remorse. We have made it easy for you by compiling facts on the very best air compressors available on the market.

Top Air Compressor Reviews:


This piston air compressor features a cast iron pump with a big bore cylinder to be able to provide improved performance over other brands. This model offers a fast recovery time and a low AMP draw which can help to prevent tripped breakers when starting. 

With roll cage construction, this air compressor can take a beating and continue to work like brand new. The powerful 2.5 HP 4-Pole motor has the power to produce 4.2 CFM at 90 PSI, allowing for a greater level of productivity. This compressor features a 1/4 inch universal coupler so it works for most air tool applications. 

To protect the motor, Makita has added a built-in thermal overload to increase the life of the motor. This model delivers a higher output with less noise. Makita offers a one-year manufacturer's warranty on this model.

This pancake style air compressor delivers 2.6 SCFM delivered at 90 PSI. The maximum PSI is 150. Bostitch has provided one of the quietest operating air compressors on the market with a 78.5 dBA operational noise level. This model features high flow regulators and couplers so the performance of the compressor is maximized in every way possible. 

Weighing in at only 29 pounds, this compact design allows for easy carry around the job site. To prevent twisting, Bostitch has crafted this air compressor with couplers that are inline to standpipe. 

The console cover can be easily removed for quick cleanup and the compressor features a cord wrap so it can be easily stored away until it is needed. The power type is AC and the hose length is 25 feet. Bostitch offers a one-year warranty on this model.

This air compressor delivers 5.0 CFM at 40 PSI and 4.0 CFM at 90 PSI with a maximum PSI of 150. The twenty-gallon tank is ASME certified. This compressor is easy to maneuver around the job site because it features two 7-inch pneumatic wheels and rubber feet to ensure safe footing. 

This model is fully equipped with gauges, regulator, and a quick connect. The oil-free induction motor ensures long life. The working components of the air compressor are fully enshrouded in protection. This low-maintenance model is easy to use and does not require oil checks or changes. 

With the low voltage startup, breakers will not be tripped when this compressor is plugged in. This compressor weighs in at 97 pounds and offers a power level of 1.5 HP. Porter Cable offers a three-year limited warranty on this model.

This Hi-Flow single stage cast iron twin cylinder air compressor is perfect for industrial work that requires a constant supply of pressure. This air compressor offers extreme power with the 240-volt heavy duty induction motor. It comes fully equipped with a pressure gauge and on/off switch for ease of use. 

This air compressor weighs in at 228 pounds so it is best suited for stationed work. Industrial Air has equipped this air compressor with 3HP for unmatched performance power. This compressor is 65 inches tall and 24 inches wide. 

The only drawback of the compressor is it does not feature an air after cooler which will need to be installed for proper operation. Industrial Air offers a two-year limited warranty on this model.

This single stage tank air compressor offers a 2 HP engine for plenty of power for garage applications. Made with durable cast iron construction, this air compressor can stand up to all types of abuse and keep working strong. 

This air compressor delivers 5.7 ACFM at 90 PSI with a maximum 135 PSI. Although it weighs 185 pounds, it can easily be moved with the attached wheels that offer plenty of stability. This is the perfect model for both professionals and DIY types. 

The oil lubricated pump ensures reliable performance at all times. Even though this air compressor offers extreme power, it is very quiet in operation so it is perfect for quiet environments. Ingersoll-Rand offers a one-year warranty on this model.

The oil-free pump on this air compressor means less maintenance and cleaner air during operation. This air compressor delivers 3.10 CFM at 40 PSI and 2.20 CFM at 90 PSI with 120 maximum PSI. 

The extremely quiet motor (60 decibels) has been designed to increase the duty cycle so users can use it for longer periods of time without worry. The powerful 1.0 HP motor operates at 1680 RPM. 

This lightweight air compressor weighs in at only 46 pounds for ease in carrying. This air compressor is perfect for small jobs that need to be carried out in places where sound is an issue.

This low-maintenance oil-free air compressor is easy to care for and use. With a direct drive pump and a two-piece cooling system, the life of the pump is extended. This air compressor features a 5 HP Honda OHC/OHV residential gasoline engine. 

This Industrial Air compressor delivers a maximum air pressure of 155 PSI so it is optimal for using with all types of air tools. It delivers 5.0 CFM at 90 PSI and 6.9 CFM at 40 PSI. 

This model is a pontoon style with two 2 gallon tanks. The design is lightweight and compact for easy maneuverability. Industrial Air offers a two-year limited warranty on this model.

This Senco air compressor is perfect for carrying from job to job due to its extremely light weight at only twenty pounds. The motor offers a one HP peak and a 1/2 HP running performance. This is a perfect model for DIYers and hobbyists and is ideal for small jobs. 

This air compressor has the capacity to deliver around 20 to 44 drives per minute and is electric powered. This compressor offers 4 amps @ 115V and a 120 maximum PSI. This Senco model features a 1/4 inch quick disconnect coupler for ease of use. 

This model offers two gauges for the tank and regulated output pressure. With its ultra-quiet operation, it is perfect for any area where noise should be kept to a minimum. Senco offers a one-year warranty on this model.

This heavy-duty cast iron model has the ability to power a wide variety of air tools so it is perfect for contractors or DIY. The high horsepower motor has the capability to run on 240 volts of power. The durable and safe air tank has been ASME approved for long-life. 

The twin-cylinder oil-lubricated pump delivers reliable performance. This air compressor delivers a CFM of 10.3 at 90 PSI and features a 3.2 HP motor. 

Although it is heavy duty, it is considered a portable unit and is fairly easy to maneuver with the included pneumatic wheels. Campbell Hausfeld offers a three-year warranty on this model. This is a perfect air compressor for small jobs and the use of some types of air tools.

This stacked tank air compressor offers overload protection and a manual override option for safer operation. This compressor delivers 4.1 CFM at 90 PSI. Splash lubrication ensures a longer pump life on this model. The cast iron cylinder tanks are meant to withstand plenty of abuse without becoming overly damaged. 

This model features a 3400 RPM motor for plenty of power for all types of air compressor uses. This stationary electric air compressor's motor is rated for continuous use so there is no downtime during operation. 

With an ergonomic handle and fairly lightweight and compact design, this air compressor is easy to transport. Rolair offers a one-year warranty on this model.

This pancake air compressor delivers 165 maximum PSI with 2.6 SCFM delivered at 90 PSI Pump. This air compressor features an easy to start motor even when in cold weather or using an extension cord. This model runs at a low decibel noise level of 75.5 so it is ideal for quieter environments. 

The high flow regulators and couplers ensure continuous and reliable performance to maximize the performance level of the air compressor. This oil-free pump allows for low maintenance and the removable console cover protects the working components for longer life. 

With protective rubber legs, this air compressor stays put. Weighing in at only 30 pounds, it is easy to carry and store. Dewalt offers a three-year limited warranty on this model.

This Ryobi air compressor delivers 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI for a quick recovery. This model offers 150 maximum PSI for increased performance range. The oil-free pump allows for ease of maintenance. The universal push-to-connect couplers accept 1.4 inches. 

This compact air compressor is perfect for jobs around the home or at the shop. This air compressor features a fully lockable regulator for precise use. With the hose management channel, this model is less likely to tip over during use. 

This portable, compact air compressor weighs in at only 35 pounds. Ryobi offers a three-year limited warranty on this air compressor model.

How To Choose The Best Air Compressor:

With so many different brands, models, and types of air compressors, it can be somewhat daunting to try and choose the right one. The type a person chooses will depend on the amount of power they need and how portable they need the compressor to be. Compressors can vary from one another in the following ways:

  • The voltage of the motor
  • The motor's horsepower
  • The compression capacity (how high the pressure can go)
  • The tank size (typically in gallons)

If one finds a they are having difficulty deciding on two air compressors that are similar in HP, voltage, portability, and storage capability, one should go with the brand and model that offers the best warranty to ensure they can rely on the air compressor to provide them with the lasting service they need.

There are several questions you will need to ask yourself before purchasing your air compressor:

  • What is your maximum required operating pressure? The answer to this question will determine whether you need a single-stage or double-stage air compressor. Two-stage compressors are generally needed for professionals while single-stage compressors are typically ideal for the average DIYer.

  • What is your maximum required CFM usage? To answer this question, you will need to add up all of the air tools that will be used simultaneously with the air compressor. It is a good idea to add 30% to the needed CFM to ensure you will have a buffer against any unknown issues during the operation of your air compressor.

  • Do you need a portable or stationary air compressor? Stationary units are generally higher in power and larger in size so they are difficult to move around. Portable units are lighter in weight and are perfect for around the home or in shops.

  • What type of drive system will you need? There are electric and gasoline driven engines for air compressors. Electric air compressors are typically less expensive and require less maintenance than gas run air compressors. If the area it will be used in has a constant supply of electricity, it may be best to purchase an electric model.

  • What size of receiver tank will you need? The size of the tank is typically measured in gallons. The size needed will depend on how much the tank will be used at any one given time. Smaller tanks are perfect for short periods of use while larger tanks will be needed for ongoing use.

The Average Air Compressor Shopper Should Look for These Key Features:

  • Oil-free pump for ease of maintenance
  • A belt-driven system for quieter operation
  • Thermal protection to prevent the motor from overheating
  • Multiple couplers to connect and disconnect many types of tools
  • Included accessories and tools to add value to the air compressor

How To Properly Care For Your New Air Compressor:

Since an air compressor is often a big investment, owners need to make sure they know exactly how to care for them. It is crucial owners follow the manufacturer's recommended guidelines for use and care so they can avoid problems in operation. It is a good idea for an owner to read through the owner’s manual thoroughly before they attempt to operate the air compressor so they can be sure they know what to expect from operation.

With proper maintenance, owners can extend the life of their air compressors well beyond their warranty period.  
If an air compressor is an oil-lubricated pump system, it will need more maintenance than oil-free models. To maintain an oiled pump air compressor, follow these easy steps:

1. Turn the air compressor on for a few minutes before you attempt to drain the oil. This will warm the oil so it is thinner and less viscous so it can properly drain from the pump.

2. It is also important to remove the fill cap so air can enter the system and encourage full drainage.

3. Remove the drain plug from the air compressor and make sure you have a drainage vessel located under the drain to catch the old oil as it drains out of the compressor.

4. Once all of the oil has been drained from the air compressor, make sure you replace the drain plug tightly so the air compressor can be refilled.

5. This part of the process must be carefully and slowly carried out. Refill the air compressor with a high-quality air compressor oil that is recommended by the manufacturer. You may need to pour some oil in and let it settle in the fill valve and then add more until it reaches the right level. If the air compressor features a dipstick, it is important to check it to make sure the right level has been reached.

6. Replace the fill cap tightly and securely.

NOTE: The oil in an air compressor should be changed every 500 to 1000 hours of use!
Perform these maintenance tasks according to how often you use your air compressor:

  • Drain the moisture from your tanks - Receiver tanks can collect moisture, especially when they are being used in a humid environment. It is important to first release the air pressure from the tanks and then use the drain valve to drain the moisture. (Not all models include a moisture drainage valve)

  • Clean intake valves - These valves can easily become dirty and grimy, especially if used in a dirty environment or for long periods of time. It is important you check these valves on a regular basis to ensure they are kept clean.

  • Tighten all fasteners - Because an air compressor vibrates, it can knock the fasteners loose over a period of time. The fasteners should be checked on a regular basis to ensure they are not loose and need to be tightened.

  • Check hoses - Cracked and corroded hoses can put an undue strain on the components of the air compressor. All hoses should be checked a few times a year and replaced once they become damaged in any way.

  • Test the safety shutdown - If your air compressor has a safety shutdown or manual shutdown, it is important to check to make sure it works. It is always safer to check at the right time instead of waiting until an emergency occurs.

  • Check and change air filters - A dirty air filter can shorten the life of the air compressor and cause improper operation. The filters should be changed at least every six months or more often during periods of high usage.

  • Clean the fuel tank- Gasoline models will need to have the gas tank cleaned to ensure optimal operation. This task needs to be carried out at least once a year to prevent buildup in the tank.

  • Change the separator element - The separator prevents the overuse of oil but it will need to be replaced after every 1000 hours of operation.

  • Clean the heat exchangers - A dirty heat exchanger cannot do its job. It is important to keep these cleaned on a regular basis to avoid overheating. Cleaning these on a regular basis will prolong the life of your air compressor.

By following these easy maintenance tasks, you can ensure your air compressor will provide you with years of high performance. These tasks need to be performed on a regular basis, as often as recommended, or even more often if you use your air compressor on a regular basis. These tips will apply to most all types of air compressors but you will need to refer to your owner's manual to ensure you are performing the maintenance tasks properly.


While purchasing the best air compressor may seem like a daunting task, it is not too difficult when you know the basics. The main aspect of finding the right brand and model is deciding on the capacity, power, and ease of use. Through this exhaustive guide, you are now armed with all of the information you need so you can make an informed decision on purchasing the right air compressor, no matter what you may need it for.

As you can see, this guide includes helpful reviews on a variety of types of air compressors for a myriad of applications. We have taken the exhaustive work out of your research and provided you with all of the information you need on the top-selling air compressors on the market. After hours of comprehensive research, we feel this guide provides both beginners and experts with a level playing ground to understand what to look for when making a purchase.

Once you have decided on the perfect air compressor, make sure you follow your manufacturer's instructions for maintenance and care. It is especially important to maintain oil-lubricated pump styles so they will continue offering the highest level of performance possible. Owners who properly maintain their air compressors report they perform better and last much longer without the need for repair.

Visit each of the links to see which of these air compressors will be able to provide you with the power, air capacity, and portability you need. Because of the high quality of each of these featured brands, you cannot go wrong, no matter which one you choose to purchase. Take time in making your decision and purchase the best model you can afford so you will be happy with your purchase. 

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