Best Shop Air Compressors 2020 – Reviews & Top Picks
Having a decent air compressor for your shop makes all the difference in job efficiency, regardless of what industry you’re in. There are plenty of different brands to choose from across a range of styles and sizes, and they’re usually much less expensive online than from a brick and mortar store.
Yet which one do you choose? There are so many available, and each company puts its best foot forward, which you know is never the full story. To help you work through the confusion, we have reviewed 10 of the best air compressors available. We’ve highlighted their pros and cons and revealed why many other people have bought them and why others haven’t.
They’re not all perfect machines, but they’re the best of the bunch, and we hope these reviews help you find what you’re looking for.
Comparison of Our Favorite Products
|Best Overall||Quincy QT-54||
|Best for the Money||California Air Tools||
|NorthStar Electric Compressor||
|Best Budget Buy||Bostitch BTFP02012||
The 10 Best Shop Air Compressors
1. Quincy QT-54 Air Compressor – Best Overall
Quincy has decades of experience with air compressors and are one of the leading brands that shop owners trust. The Quincy QT-54 5 HP Reciprocating Air Compressor is one of their best and a popular choice because it’s not too expensive and performs exceptionally well across all industries.
It’s one of the quietest compressors you can buy, especially for its size. It’s typically bought for small to medium-sized shops and will deliver enough air for multiple tools running at the same time. The Baldor motor is one of its key components and what makes the compressor so quiet. Plus, it’s guaranteed to last many years due to its high-quality build.
One downside to Quincy is their customer service is not always as good as it should be, so don’t expect top treatment from them after your purchase. However, if you’re looking for an industrial air compressor that won’t let you down, the Quincy QT-54 5 HP Reciprocating Air Compressor is easily our top recommendation. It’s not the most affordable on the market, but it’s certainly not over-priced, and thus, well worth anything you’ll pay for it.
2. California Air Tools Compressor – Best for the Money
If you’re looking for a convenient and moveable air compressor, the California Air Tools 10020C Air Compressor is an excellent choice. Similar to the Quincy QT-54 5 HP Reciprocating Air Compressor, it’s a powerful machine that’s exceptionally quiet.
It isn’t built to the same industrial standard as the Quincy, however, which is obvious from the low-quality fittings and low-quality wheels. Yet, they aren’t too bad and generally don’t affect its overall performance.
This is one of the best air compressors for a home shop, not only because it’s so quiet, but it also gives enough constant air pressure for two people using tools in spite of its small size. It’s also handy to wheel it around easily to different spots, unlike the bigger 30- or 60-gallon compressors.
With it being so quiet, the 10020C can also be used any time of the day or night without upsetting neighbors or waking up family members. This is definitely the best air compressor for your money and won’t fail to perform in many different scenarios.
3. NorthStar Electric Air Compressor
The NorthStar 3 HP Stationary Air Compressor is a slightly more affordable 60-gallon air compressor than the Quincy QT-54 5 HP Reciprocating Air Compressor. It has a similar look with its vertical tank, but it only has a three-horsepower motor instead of Quincy’s five- horsepower.
This makes quite a difference in its performance, and we feel it’s not worth the savings. Especially considering it doesn’t have the same industrial standard as Quincy air compressors.
The NorthStar still produces good air delivery and is reasonably quiet to run. The motor is dependable, too; it’s not a Baldor motor, but it’s still very good. We recommend this above most of the other air compressors available in the size and style, but it’s definitely our second recommendation below the Quincy QT-54 5 HP Reciprocating Air Compressor.
4. Bostitch BTFP02012 Compressor – Best Budget Buy
For a small six-gallon air compressor tank, any motor less than one horsepower is normally undesirable. The Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallon 150 PSI Oil-Free Compressor has a 0.8 horsepower motor, but surprisingly, runs better than other pancake compressors running off one-plus-horsepower motors. This small air compressor is very impressive.
It’s been made exceptionally well and yet costs very little for what you get. The feet sit on hard-wearing anti-vibration pads, which help reduce noise. The BTFP02012 is not as quiet as other air compressors, but it’s nothing too noticeable.
The tank is too small to use any more than one tool at a time, but it’s designed for portable one-man work, which it’s easily sufficient for. There is also plenty of low-priced combo kits you can purchase with it. These reasonably priced kits include hoses, fittings, and guns
Overall, this is the best pancake air compressor on the market. It is trusted by thousands of users, and very rarely does it fail to perform.
5. Industrial Air Air Compressor
The Industrial Air ILA188354 ILA1883054 30-Gallon Air Compressor is a really nice compressor in between a pancake and full 60-gallon size. It’s a heavy-duty machine in almost all of its components. What stands out with this, compared to many other portable air compressors, is that the wheels are good quality.
Many of the air compressors are easy to roll around, but their tires are of poor quality. This is an exception that shows Industrial’s concern for excelling in the small details. Although, unfortunately, the drain has been placed in a difficult place to reach, which many people end up extending to a more convenient spot.
The tank isn’t the fastest to be filled; it isn’t too bad, normally around five minutes from an empty tank. But we like how others are much quicker. Overall, it runs very quiet and is an affordable option for any small to medium shop needing a reliable air compressor.
6. Campbell Hausfeld Air Compressor
The Campbell Hausfeld 8 Gallon Portable Air Compressor has a typical horizontal tank. It’s an affordable option many shops trust for their daily work. It’s one of the quietest air compressors available, so for domestic shops, it’s an ideal choice.
It’s easy to assemble with only basic mechanical knowledge; but unfortunately, it doesn’t come with an instruction manual to help you. Some people who are more mechanically challenged have had difficulties with it because there isn’t any manual to follow, even though it’s a straightforward process.
This isn’t an industrial air compressor, so even though it’s a heavy-duty machine, it shouldn’t be treated like it’s a Quincy machine. Yet, it does pretty well nonetheless, and we recommend it if you prefer an air compressor that has a traditional horizontal tank.
7. DeWalt Portable Air Compressor
The DeWalt DXCMLA1983054 30-Gallon Portable Air Compressor is not the most popular air compressor, but it’s not a bad option to consider. It comes with a set of wheels that can transport the air compressor anywhere you like. They are high-quality wheels and make the machine comfortable to move around on uneven surfaces.
The price is quite affordable too, although it’s not the least expensive 30-gallon air compressor on the market. It has served people well, but it’s also known for having a few issues which their customer service team fails to fix. Customer service is critical for machines like air compressors, which makes this a large downside.
Also, this isn’t the quietest air compressor available, either. It’s not excessively noisy, but one of the least quiet in our list, so it doesn’t really suit home shops. Overall, it isn’t a bad choice, but we would recommend something like the Industrial Air ILA188354 ILA1883054 30-Gallon Air Compressor as a better 30-gallon option. It’s lower-priced, quieter, and comes with better customer service.
8. Husky Portable Air Compressor
If you prefer a medium-sized machine, the Husky 20 Gallon 175 psi Quiet Portable Air Compressor is a good option to consider. We think it’s an unusual size for most needs, but some people like it, so we have it on our list.
It has a small vertical tank with a tall profile, making it more unbalanced than most air compressors. However, it’s easy to transport around, and you don’t have to bend down like the horizontal air compressors on wheels since the handles are easier to reach.
The Husky is a light-duty machine which isn’t ideal for industrial scenarios with extensive use. The weight and size make it too big for easily transporting it like the pancake compressors, and the tank is much smaller than the standard 30- or 60-gallon cylinders. It’s also not the quietest air compressor around; but nonetheless, it’s offered at an affordable price and will serve a home shop well if you like the size.
9. Ford Silent Series Oil-Free Air Compressor
The Ford Silent Series 15 Gallon Air Compressor is a similar type of air compressor to the Husky 20 Gallon 175 psi Quiet Portable Air Compressor. It has a fifteen-gallon vertical tank, but it’s not as tall and much larger in diameter, making it significantly more stable.
It comes with an impressive set of Ford wheels with imitation chrome hubs that many users like. It’s a great looking air compressor and is designed well for transportation and feel. Yet, the whole air compressor is a little too light duty for our liking.
The packaging is also not the best, so it’s not uncommon for people to receive this in the mail with broken parts. Their customer service is quite good, so they find solutions for you, but this is still a downside.
It’s also a quiet air compressor, which makes it ideal for home shop use, especially with its size. The price is reasonable, too, for what you get. All in all, this is a decent product to consider, and we recommend it if you want something slightly bigger than a pancake air compressor, but still lightweight and stable.
10. Ingersoll Rand Two-Stage Compressor
Last on our list is the Ingersoll Rand 2340L5-V 5hp 60 gal Two-Stage Compressor. It’s quite a good machine performance-wise. It’s known to go the distance if it’s taken care of as per the manual, and it has simple, effective components that are well placed and easy to maintain.
What we don’t like is the small details like the lack of anti-vibration pads to keep the noise down and make it more stable. It’s a minor issue but something a medium-priced air compressor should have. Also, it doesn’t come with any oil even though it can’t run without oil. This is more of a nuisance than anything as oil isn’t too expensive, but the hassle of having to go buy this too isn’t ideal when they could easily include it.
The last issue is that Ingersoll Rand doesn’t have very good customer service. As mentioned in an earlier review, this is critical for air compressors as sometimes there are faults that a little customer service can easily fix. This puts people off buying from Ingersoll Rand, but nonetheless, it’s a good air compressor and runs quietly.
In conclusion, there are some excellent air compressors available online to choose from in various different sizes, and we have summarized hundreds of reviews in the previous ten options. Yet, our favorite among the lot is the Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallon 150 PSI Oil-Free Compressor.
It’s recognized by most users, including us, as the best air compressor for extensive use in shops. It has shown its reliability for thousands of people by consistently lasting many years without serious issues.
However, if you’re keen on a good deal to save yourself some money, the California Air Tools 10020C Ultra Quiet Oil-Free and Powerful Air Compressor is an excellent option to consider as well. It’s small, portable, and it’s one of the quietest air compressors available. The wheels are not the best available, but it’s so light it doesn’t really matter, and the rest of the machine is top-notch.
Thanks for reading through these reviews. We hope this has given you some clarity on your next purchase, and feel free to let us know your comments below.
- Comparison of Our Favorite Products
- The 10 Best Shop Air Compressors
- 1. Quincy QT-54 Air Compressor – Best Overall
- 2. California Air Tools Compressor – Best for the Money
- 3. NorthStar Electric Air Compressor
- 4. Bostitch BTFP02012 Compressor – Best Budget Buy
- 5. Industrial Air Air Compressor
- 6. Campbell Hausfeld Air Compressor
- 7. DeWalt Portable Air Compressor
- 8. Husky Portable Air Compressor
- 9. Ford Silent Series Oil-Free Air Compressor
- 10. Ingersoll Rand Two-Stage Compressor