Wisdom says you shouldn’t make big purchases on the internet. Without trying out a heavy piece of equipment, it can be hard to know if you’re getting the right thing for your needs. Many websites make shopping online even harder. Misleading product descriptions written by sales executives looking to make a quick buck don’t do consumers any good.
We think it shouldn’t have to be that way. We cover each model’s best and worst features so you know exactly what you’re getting before you buy. That way, you can get the model that meets your needs, while avoiding flaws that would drive you nuts. We’ve also included a buyer’s guide, so you can learn everything you need to know about air compressors, even if you haven’t owned one before.
|Quincy QT-54 Splash 60-Gallon Air Compressor|
|DeWalt DXCMV5076055 Two Stage Air Compressor||400 lbs||4.5/5|
|PowerMate Vx PLA3706056|
(Best for the Money)
|Porter Cable PXCMLC3706056||236 lbs||4.2/5|
|Industrial Air ILA3606056 60-Gallon Compressor||228 lbs||3.9/5|
There’s a lot to like about the Quincy QT-54 Splash 60-Gallon Air Compressor. It has one of the best motors in the business, and its benefits are manifold. It’s a capacitor-start motor, so you won’t require any special wiring when installing this air compressor, which will save you time and money. It’s also one of the most efficient models on the market, which could lead to significant savings if you use it a lot. While it’s not “quiet” in the traditional sense, most users find it’s quieter than previous models they’ve used with similar capacity.
Quincy also provides great customer service. Most parts are automatically covered for a full year, and you can buy an extended warranty that covers some parts for much as three years. Quincy has a good reputation for being very responsive, which is always nice. Occasionally, a model will ship with a bum pump, but that’s covered under warranty, though it is a pain to replace. Overall, if you’re looking for a compressor that will give you the air pressure you need for big jobs without giving you trouble along the way, this is the model for you.
The DeWalt DXCMV5076055 Two Stage Air Compressor is another good choice for those looking for a large air compressor. It comes with a different type of motor, which isn’t as great as that found on our top model, but it adds value in a different way. It has a pump that operates at a lower RPM without sacrificing SCFM. That lets this model run more coolly, and between that and the lower RPM, you should expect it to take less wear. This model also performs well and is great for even medium shop use.
This model has an excellent warranty. It covers the pump for two years, and everything else for a year, so if you have any problems caused by shoddy factory work, you won’t be out an arm and a leg. The slightly worse motor keeps this model out of first place, and it’s further hurt by its high price relative to the top model. If it came at a lower price, we might consider bumping it up to the top spot. While most people will be happy with how this compressor performs, the price could be better.
The PowerMate Vx PLA3706056 does a number of things right. It has a twin-cylinder motor, so it produces fewer vibrations and less noise than competing models. While it isn’t totally quiet, it is less noisy than much of the competition. The twin-cylinder motor also provides smoother operation and produces less heat, which is always good. This model also comes with a cast-iron flywheel, which is a part you should expect to last forever, and this one should. Plus, it’s balanced, reducing noise and wear over time.
However, the best thing about this model is that you can snag it for a few hundred bucks less than what the top two models on our list would put you out. That’s a great deal, and you don’t lose a lot of power despite the lower price. While this compressor tops out at 155 PSI, which is about 20 less than our top models put out, that’s still more than enough for most people’s needs. This is the model to get if you need a big air compressor but want it at an affordable price.
The Porter Cable PXCMLC3706056 bears some passing similarities to the previous model. It comes with a twin-cylinder motor that confers similar benefits. It produces fewer vibrations than similar air compressors, which extends its life, and also means that it runs a bit quieter than equally powerful single cylinder models. It makes less heat, so it will experience less heat-related performance and wear issues. It also has a high-quality cast-iron flywheel, which will last pretty much forever.
However, this model has some noticeable flaws. It refills about 20 percent slower than the next model on our list, so if you’re going to be really taxing your 60-gallon tank, you’ll have to wait longer for it to catch back up. That can lead to work stoppages, which slow you down and cost you time and money. This line also has quality control issues that can lead to the motor burning out even when everything is set up correctly. That’s a waste of your time and money, and a problem you wouldn’t want to deal with at this price point. This compressor doesn’t provide great value for the price, and it’s likely to leave most people disappointed with their purchase.
The Industrial Air ILA3606056 60-Gallon Compressor does some things right, but it has some problems that will make most people wish they’d invested in a different model. It does have a twin-cylinder motor. Those usually run more quietly and cooler than their counterparts. This compressor also has easy-to-check oil levels, and it’s set up to make refilling oil easy.
However, it doesn’t live up to what you might expect from a model of its price. Despite its twin cylinder motor, it runs hot. That means there are suboptimal things elsewhere in its assembly, and that’s always a cause for concern. It’s also very loud relative to the competition, so if you need a quieter model, you won’t be happy with this one. Even worse, it has a poor refill rate, only mustering a maximum of 11.5 CFM at 90 PSI. If you’re going to be pushing your air compressor hard, there’s no way this one will meet your needs. It’s not the most expensive compressor out there, but if you’re looking for high performance and a great design that extends the air compressor’s life, you won’t like this model.
Hopefully, our reviews have already led you to the right model for you. If that hasn’t happened yet, don’t worry. There’s a lot to consider when making a purchase of this magnitude. This buyer’s guide is a great place to start if you’re not sure what to look for, or a good guide to consult if you want to make sure you’re up to date with technological improvements. We’ve added some tips on getting great value for your money, so if you’re looking to get great bang for your buck, make sure you check out this guide.
The most important metric to understand before buying an air compressor is CFM. That stands for “cubic feet per minute,” and describes how fast an air compressor can refill. If you’re using more powerful tools, you’ll need an air compressor with a larger tank, but one with a higher CFM will be able to keep its pressure high for longer.
Since gases change pressure based on temperature, humidity, and other factors, CFM can be a very variable measure. Some manufacturers list CFM in a way that’s unlikely to correspond to real-world conditions, but makes an air compressor look beefier than it actually is.
SCFM stands for “standard cubic feet per minute,” and it’s a measure of CFM with the extraneous factors held constant. This allows you to compare different brands and models. That makes it the more reliable measure to consider when comparing models, but not all manufacturers list it in their product descriptions.
The idea behind twin-cylinder motors is that two smaller cylinders working together are more energy-efficient than a single cylinder. That’s because energy costs rise exponentially with increases in cylinder size. Even though they’re putting out the same total CFM and there are twice as many cylinders, twin-cylinder motors usually use less power. Since they’re smaller and tend to be set up in a way that reduces vibrations, they ultimately run cooler, which is good for the machine as a whole. They also tend to be quieter, though a poorly made twin-cylinder motor will be quite loud, just as a poorly made single-cylinder would be.
However, adding a second cylinder adds a lot of complexity. That means if or when it does break, it’s going to be a more expensive repair call. Of course, with proper maintenance, high-quality air compressors can last for decades without a problem. In most cases, it’s more important to invest in a good air compressor instead of focusing on single or twin-cylinder setups.
We all know people who spend a lot of money on a product, just to show it off. Often, they’re not pushing it to its full capacity, and that means they’re getting terrible value for their money. Likewise, we all know people who are looking to spend as little as possible, and we also know that they often end up with unusable junk.
If you want to get great value for your money, focus on getting a model you’ll like using, instead of on the price tag. If you don’t like using a particular model, you’ll use it less, or have to endure frustration while you do. Either way, that’s a bad buy.
Focus on the features you need in an air compressor to get a great experience. Make a short list of air compressors with those features. Then, choose the most affordable model from that list. It has the features you need for a great experience, but provides them at the lowest price, making it the best overall value for your money.
The Quincy QT-54 Splash 60-Gallon Air Compressor is our favorite model due to its capacitor-start motor, efficient operation, and great customer service. The DeWalt DXCMV5076055 Two Stage Air Compressor comes with cool operation, great performance, and a good warranty, though its high price keeps it out of the top spot. The PowerMate Vx PLA3706056 has a twin-cylinder motor, and it runs relatively quietly. You can save a few hundred bucks when buying this model, which makes it the best value for the money on our list. The Porter Cable PXCMLC3706056 has a twin-cylinder motor and quiet operation, but its underwhelming CFM and quality control issues drop it to fourth place. In last place is the Industrial Air ILA3606056 60-Gallon Compressor. It has easy oil refill and a twin-cylinder motor, but its poor refill rate and its hot and loud operation hurt its value.
We hope that our reviews and buyer’s guide have helped you learn everything you need to know about 60-gallon air compressors, and have helped you find the compressor you need.