An air compressor is used for a lot of industrial and home projects. It can be used to refill tires, operate pneumatic instruments, and even operate cooling equipment.
However, such instruments often cost a pretty penny. Still, there are some great options out there at budget prices.
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Here are the best 4 air compressors you can buy. My choice is the Porter-Cable pancake compressor because it is oil-free and has a 6-gallon tank. Check it out at Amazon.
1. Senco PC1010 Compressor
This is probably the best choice for everyman. It barely weighs 20 pounds; it costs less than $200 and features the best refill time on this list. It is also marked as “ultra-quiet”. Now that doesn’t mean that you won’t hear anything, but it won’t bother you while it’s running.
This is for the suburban family renovating their house or the bachelor who wants to refill his motorcycle tires regularly. Its one-gallon tank makes it very easy to store in a small space, and the lightweight makes it extremely mobile. You can pump the whole thing out in about 128 seconds, and refill it in just 35. That is an incredible value for money.
The Senco PC1010 is also built for sturdiness. It features four rubber feet that give the compressor stability. It also requires no oil, since it has an oil-free engine. Hence, you won’t have to worry about oil refills and the mess that follows.
Some buyers have complained about parts breaking over time. However, there is a one-time warranty included out of the box. This should give you peace of mind. One thing that should give you pause is that it has a potentially defective shut-off mechanism. Hence, you should keep it away from flammable substances at all times, and store it somewhere cool.
2. California Air Tools Air Compressor
The Steel Tank Air Compressor from California Air Tools combines efficiency and solid design. You will love how fast this thing is, and how little you have to maintain it. It is very quiet during operation (60 dB) and has an oil-free pump. So you won’t have to worry about lubricating the pump to keep it at peak operating levels.
Hence, it gives you quiet operating conditions as well as great efficiency. That’s a pretty great package.
It does have a longer refill time than the Senco PC1010, but that’s only because it has a 5-gallon tank. That’s much bigger than the 1-gallon one of the Senco. It’s not much pricier than the Senco either.
However, keep in mind that it is built for smaller DIY projects and for residential use. It’s not really designed for industrial projects. And when you factor that in, it’s not really feasible to store it in the home. Unless you really go hardcore doing work in your garage, or with your power tools.
3. Viair 440P Portable Compressor
The Viair 440P Heavy Duty Portable Compressor is probably the cheapest on this list. It’s light, it’s portable, and its quality is on par with much more expensive units. You could say that it’s the best value for money on this list.
Weighing in at just 5.5 lbs, a fraction of the Senco’s 20 lbs, the Viair 440P fills motorbike tires easily. It can even fill up car tires and inflatable pools. However, due to its small size, the unit falls short of the capability of pricier units.
While it is impressive for its 12-volt power input, it can’t be used for power tools or large projects. And that goes for any industrial projects or home repairs. It’s just good enough for portable, small-scale use. Fill up your motorbike or car tires until your heart’s content. However, don’t try using it for pneumatic triggers.
4. PORTER-CABLE Pancake Compressor
The first thing you’ll notice about this is the striking red color and the feet that keep it stable. Not only is the PORTER-CABLE C2002 a great looker, and a top performer, but it’s a bestseller on Amazon.
The small air compressor has a 6-gallon tank. It also has an oil-free unit which has a very short air recovery time period. It can be used to air up tires, operate power tools and do all sorts of home and industrial projects.
Though it is a little on the heavy side at 34 lbs, one can’t call it non-portable. It can work with most home circuits and this provides it with an edge over other, less compatible air compressors.
For less than $100, this is a steal. However, like any compressor. This has its problems too.
It is quite noisy, and some reviewers point out that it can break easily if overused. If you’re a little thick-skinned, then you won’t be bothered by the former. And for the latter, there is a 1-year warranty included.
Buying Tips for Air Compressors
These are a few things you should keep in mind when shopping around for an air compressor.
The design can sometimes render an air compressor quiet. And sometimes, it can render it noisy. If you’re disturbed by loud noises, get an air compressor that will barely make a sound. However, if you’re working on industrial projects, then you’ll probably need to wear over-ear protection anyway.
Check the specifications. Is there a dual-purpose capability? Is the tank large enough? Is the refill speed fast enough? All these things will tell you if the air compressor is right for you.
Find out what materials were used for construction. Also, look online for the product’s reputation. Find out if it lasts long or begins to show wear and tear after a few months. Also, check for a warranty. This can usually offer peace of mind.
Make sure you buy a compressor with safety shut-off features. These will keep it from injuring you in case of overheating and tipping. Make sure that the unit has a solid foundation and that the power cord is appropriately long.
This again depends on your needs. If you need large air compressors for heavy-duty work, then you should go with 3-gallon tanks or bigger. Think about where you’re going to store the compressor as well.
If you have enough space for operation and require a big compressor for heavy-duty work, then go for it. Also, keep it away from flammable substances.
If you’re buying anything, you get what you pay for. However, if you get a good deal at a lower price, then you shouldn’t shy away from it. For air compressors, approach it scientifically. What kind of features do you need, and what does it offer? Find out about the reputation of the brand before you buy it. Check out online reviews and consult dealers as well.