If you’ve ever checked out the specs on an air compressor, you may be daunted by the variables of horsepower, PSI, CFM, tank size, and the dollar spread on the price tags. How do you know if you’ll get a decent machine? And how much, exactly, does a good air compressor cost? We’ve found the best models and prices so you can make a purchase with good quality, best bang for the buck, and optimal performance. If you’re not sure which type of air compressor to buy, check out our article What Size Air Compressor Do I Need? for more information.
If you want to use an air compressor around the house for filling tires, using light tools, or spray painting, you won’t need to break the bank. A 3- to 5-gallon tank will probably take care of your needs, and a CFM rate around 2-4 will give you enough power. $200 to $400 should get you a decent model. We recommend the California Air Tools 6010LFC. It has a 6-gallon tank, and is oil-free and ultra-quiet.
Another good fit for home use, especially for light duty, is pancake-style compressors. These tend to come in smaller tank sizes from 1 to 6 gallons and are good if you have limited storage. $100 to $300 should get you a decent pancake model. We recommend the PORTER-CABLE PCFP02003 3.5-Gallon 135 PSI Pancake Compressor. It’s on the lighter side at 26 pounds and still delivers 2 CFM and 135 PSI for around $130.
If you need an air compressor for your profession, get something higher-grade. A larger tank size, high CFM, and high horsepower will keep you working without waiting around for the tank to refill. Check our specs below for some great air compressors to help you out on the job.
From impact wrenches to ratchets, you’ll need a good CFM rate and a large tank to keep up with your work. $300 should get you a good garage model. We recommend the DeWalt DXCMLA1983054 30-Gallon Portable Air Compressor. Its hefty 30-gallon tank size and 5.7-7 CFM rate will keep you going strong.
A large tank is a good idea for the constant pressure needed for paint sprayers. Consistency is key for painters, and consistent performance means a better paint job. Around $300 to $400 will get you a good model. We recommend the California Air Tools 10020C-22060. With a 10-gallon tank and up to 6.4 CFM, it’ll get the job done.
Air tools can run the gamut of air requirements. You’ll want a decent-sized tank, but you’ll also want a good CFM rate to get the right power from your tools. $100 to $300 will get you a good pancake model for using air tools. We recommend the DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor.
There you have it, the best air compressors for the job, and the cost range for each. Overall, you’ll be spending anywhere from $100 to $500 for a good compressor. Shop around and spend some time determining how you’ll be using the air compressor the most. We hope this helps you decide how much to spend on a good air compressor to get the most out of your machine and get the job done. Good luck!
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Image at the top from: Paul Sableman, Flickr
Ryan is a freelance writer from Arizona. When he's not blogging about his favorite hobbies, he's writing fiction, hiking or running in the great outdoors, and spending time with family.