10 Best Air Compressors of 2021 – Top Picks & Reviews
Air compressors are versatile tools that belong in any 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 different models out there that it can be challenging to sort through them all. They are not all made the same. 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 on the market so you can make the best decision for your situation.
Quick Comparison of the Winners in 2021:
|Best Overall||California Air Tools 8010 Steel Tank Air Compressor||
|Best Value||EPAUTO 12V DC Portable Air Compressor||
|Premium Choice||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, but that means it has a lot of capacity. It has enough capacity for most jobs. 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. This feature means there is far less maintenance involved than other models. It is also on wheels, which makes it easy to move it from place to place. The motor is decently powerful at 1 HP, though there are some stronger options on the market.
Overall, this is the best air compressor for most home DIYers and professionals. It can do just about everything and comes with all the features you need – without any of the ones you don’t. We also appreciated the decently 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 the lighter socket of your vehicle, making it perfect for on-the-go use. It can inflate tires on most cars and bikes, including sedan 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.
The capacity of this machine is plenty big enough for most tires, but it is not suitable for truck tires. The display is straightforward to read and simple. Even if you are new to using 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, this air compressor shuts off automatically, preventing over inflation. This is particularly important for those who are new to filling up tires. The machine literally won’t let you mess it up. For these reasons, it is 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, though it isn’t necessarily as quiet as our top option. We still appreciated that it was much quieter than most air compressors on the market. This machine is also quite a bit more powerful than others at 1.6 HP.
The only huge downside to this machine is the price. It is three times more expensive than other models on the market. 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 is truly a kit. It comes with 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 itself is pretty decent. It can hold 6 gallons of compressed air and is 150 PSI. The tools are decent as well, though they aren’t the highest quality tools out there. A 1-year limited warranty covers everything. However, remember that it is a limited warranty, so it doesn’t cover everything.
If you need everything the kit comes with, this is a pretty okay option. The price does reflect the inclusion of all the tools. However, it is still cheaper than our premium option. With that said, most people are not going to need all of these tools. They’re very niche and are only going to be useful for particular products. If you don’t need the tools included, you’re better off saving your 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 it is easy to store it and move it around. The shape makes it quite a bit more stoat, which makes it easier to store it under tables and that sort of thing. It is oil-free, so there is very little maintenance required. This feature also increases the lifespan of the pump.
With a max 150 PSI, this machine is about as powerful as other options on the market. It can do most jobs that require an air compressor. It can refill very quickly as well after the tank has been emptied – another feature that is pretty common among higher-end machines. We did like that this machine starts up quickly in cold weather, though.
With tons of different accessories, this air compressor has everything you need to do practically any job. It comes with a PVC air hose with a coupler and plug assembly, a tire chuck, blow gun, 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, there were other air compressors on this list that were just as quiet as this one, so it isn’t notably quieter than most other high-quality options. Still, the quietness of this unit does make it perfect for indoor and outdoor use.
This machine is versatile enough to be used during lots of different projects. It is oil-free with a dual-piston pump. This feature makes it last much longer than some other options on the market and means that 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 some of the other handles on machines we’ve reviewed, so we had no complaints there. 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 is only 100 PSI, which is quite a bit lower 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 tell much of a difference. The engine is decently under-powered as well at less than one 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 out there. This means that it can bow air for a more extended period, which is useful in some situations. Because of the lower price, the value of this compressor is relatively high, which is mostly why it ended up as number seven on our list. However, there are many better options out there, even if you’re on a budget.
8. Metabo EC28M HPT Air Compressor
The Metabo EC28M HPT Air Compressor is designed to be ultra-lightweight and very 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 wheels on a machine this small. It is very quiet as well, which is useful if you’re using 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, to be portable, 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 is only going to be useful in some situations.
Furthermore, for what it is, this machine is costly. You can get equally portable machines for much cheaper, just look at our best value pick. Overall, while this machine isn’t necessarily bad, the value just 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 options we’ve reviewed. It will need a permanent space in your workshop. However, it does have a 20-gallon capacity, so that bigness is worth something.
Despite the large size, this air compressor is decently quiet. It isn’t necessarily the quietest on the market, but it isn’t the loudest either. It is decently powerful with a 1.8 HP motor. The tank can refill from empty in only 70 seconds.
This machine 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 this machine arriving broken or breaking after only a few uses. The wheels are poorly made and don’t seem to work very well, and leaks are quite common. The customer service isn’t incredibly helpful either, which can cause problems if your machine ends up breaking.
10. Makita Quiet Series Electric Air Compressor
The Makita MAC100Q Quiet Series Electric Air Compressor is designed to be portable. It is decently small and made to be very quiet. It is quiet when compared to other air compressors, though not significantly. The quietness does make it ideal for indoor use, however. 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 things are going to require more than one gallon of air. Furthermore, it is expensive when compared to similar air compressors of the same size. Our best value pick is also tiny, but it also happens to cost a third of what this one does.
This machine does not have enough power to run a few different tools. However, it may work for a brad nailer or something of that sort. For a variety of tools, though, you’re going to need a more powerful option.
Air compressors are pretty simple. 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 large variance in quality when it comes to the current air compressors on the market. Some are very high-quality and inexpensive, while others break easily and cost way 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 extravagate 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 do tend to produce more power – they just might not reach the exact horsepower listed in their product description.
This is another measurement you’ll need to watch for when you’re 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, so this is the bottom limit for most quality 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 any air inside their tank while being used. This can be frustrating and annoying.
But it is essential to keep in mind that this only happens with very small air compressors. There are a few small air compressors on this list, but they’re mostly for refilling tires and that sort of thing.
Machines with more giant tanks do tend to be more expensive. They’re just larger in general and required 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 size unless you need one.
Oil-Free or Not
Historically, all air compressors pretty much 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 save you less money as well, 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.
You just won’t have to deal with oil, which is usually a plus.
With that said, 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 out on 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, this 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 we were reviewing the models currently on the market, we found a small, 1-gallon air compressor for under $50 and another one 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. These inexpensive models can be low-quality and may not come with 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.
Out 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. This air compressor is VERY inexpensive and portable. It can plug right up into your car in case you need to refill your tires suddenly.
Whether you chose one of these options or not, we hope our article gave you some idea of the current air compressors available on the market. Our reviews and buyer’s guide should provide you with all the information you need to choose the best option for your situation.
- Quick Comparison of the Winners in 2021:
- The 10 Best Air Compressors:
- 1. California Air Tools Steel Air Compressor – Best Overall
- 2. EPAUTO 12V DC Portable Air Compressor – Best Value
- 3. DEWALT D55146 Air Compressor – Premium Choice
- 4. BOSTITCH Air Compressor Combo Kit
- 5. CRAFTSMAN CMEC6150K Air Compressor
- 6. Campbell Hausfeld Portable Quiet Air Compressor
- 7. Briggs & Stratton Air Compressor
- 8. Metabo EC28M HPT Air Compressor
- 9. Stealth Ultra Quiet Air Compressor
- 10. Makita Quiet Series Electric Air Compressor
- Buyer’s Guide