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Whether you have a home, car, RV, or all of the above, there’s a good chance that you’re going to need an air compressor at some point. Air compressors are pneumatic devices that store pressurized or compressed air that is released when the tank is opened by users and a motor pushes the air out. This pressurized air is commonly used to pump up tires or power pneumatic tools, including paint and nail guns, drills and compactors. Air compressors can be used around the home to inflate air mattresses, pool toys, and to pressure wash driveways and the sides of houses.
What To Look For In an Air Compressor
Air compressors come in a variety of styles, from units found inside your car to massive machines that power tools in factories. Make sure the air compressor you’re searching for is the right size and design for your task at hand.
Match PSI levels and add 50% of the CFM value for safety. When purchasing an air compressor, it should have the same PSI value required on your tool (ie. 90 PSI with 90 PSI) and 50% of the CFM added (ie. requires 3, opt for 4.5 CFM).
Decide whether you want to go oil-free, which reduces maintenance, or use a belt-drive system, which reduces noise.
How We Chose the Best Air Compressors
We focused mostly on portable air compressors for our list since they are more commonly used around the home and in non-professional settings. These compressors are lightweight, often feature wheels for easy mobility and can be used for small tools. Air compressors without storage tanks are inflators and are mostly used for inflating small items, like air mattresses and car tires. All the air compressors on our list are made by trusted brands and feature hundreds and sometimes thousands of positive reviews.
1. Craftsman Air Compressor
Craftsman is one of the most trusted names in tools, which is why we like its air compressor for powering our pneumatic tools. The six-gallon pancake-style air compressor is oil-free, meaning no maintenance for users. The durable unit has a 150 Max PSI and comes with several accessories that make it ideal for a wide application of uses, including a tire gauge, blow gun with plug, tire chuck with plug, rubber tip and three inflator adaptors. The air compressor has a 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI to allows for a fast recovery time. The Craftsman air compressor is made in the US.
2. Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor
For an air compressor that can power through in any conditions, there’s the Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor. The Makita pump is oil-lubricated, which makes it ideal for cooler temperatures, and also features a built-in thermal overload for safety. The 4.2-gallon compressor has an operating pressure of 130 PSI and dual tanks with dual fittings, making it possible to power two tools at the same time. A roll cage offers the protection needed for professional use, while the use of oil helps to cut down on noise pollution, making it ideal for home use. The engineered pump and cast iron cylinder that make up the Mikita create an air compressor with a fast recovery and increased rates of compression.
3. VacLife Air Compressor Tire Inflator
Whether you live in a climate with extreme weather highs and lows or have a set of tires that seem to always be leaking, the VacLife Air Compressor Tire Inflator makes it easy to ensure your wheels are always road-ready. The VacLife can be plugged directly into a car’s cigarette lighter to deliver up to 15 amps or 180 Watts of power. For cars and SUVs with engine sizes under 3.5 liters, the universal connector for the Schrader valve on the VacLife makes it easy for users to quickly inflate their car, SUV, or bike tires. An auto-shutoff ensures that users won’t overload their tires. The VacLife includes a large and easy-to-read screen that displays pressure in PSI, KPA, BAR or KG/CM. The VacLife comes with adapters and needles for sports balls, pool accessories, and more household items.
4. AVID POWER Tire Inflator Air Compressor
Inflating tires, toys, and mattresses is easier than ever with the Avid Power Tire Inflator Air Compressor. The cordless air compressor can be used on car, bicycle, and motorcycle tires, as well as athletic balls, pool toys and air mattresses. Users can preset their value and the Avid Power will automatically shut off when the desired pressure level has been reached. The LED screen can display pressure units in four modes and will also let users know when the battery is running low. The Avid Power’s battery pack can be charged using a USB port and the air compressor comes with a 12V car power adapter for backup.
5. Kobalt QUIET TECH 26-Gallon Single-Stage Portable Electric Vertical Air Compressor
BEST FOR BIG JOBS
If you need an air compressor that can keep up with big jobs, we recommend the Kobalt QUIET TECH 26-Gallon Single-Stage Portable Electric Vertical Air Compressor. The 26-gallon air compressor features a four-pole induction motor and two oil-less pumps that reduce maintenance and create a compressor that is built to last. Power pneumatic tools like spray guns and nail guns with an impressive airflow of 4.5 CFM at 90 PSI with 150 max PSI. A reinforced frame protects both the pump and motor, making this a great option for small job sites, while a quiet, oil-less pump means the Kobalt can also be used around the home. Semi-pneumatic wheels and a strong handle with a reinforced grip make it easy for users to bring their air compressor wherever their work takes them.
6. 20 Gal. Oil Lubricated Portable Vertical Air Compressor by WEN
BEST FOR PAINTERS
Get an even coat of paint with every pass using the 20 Gal. Oil Lubricated Portable Vertical Air Compressor by WEN. Easily power pneumatic tools, including paint sprayers, nail guns, and staplers using the 20-gallon tank included with the WEN air compressor, which features an airflow rate of 3.8 CFM at 90 PSI, and 5.0 CFM at 40 PSI. The 15A motor on the WEN has a max pressure of up to 135 PSI and an auto-shutoff that ensures items aren’t overfilled. Made with reinforced steel for added durability, the WEN has two pressure gauges and an onboard handle and wheels for added portability.
7. STANLEY J5C09 JUMPiT Portable Power Station Jump Starter
BEST FOR ROAD TRIPS
If you have an older car that can sometimes give you engine trouble or you’re planning a long car trip and want to be prepared for the unexpected, the STANLEY J5C09 JUMPiT Portable Power Station Jump Starter is an excellent addition to any trunk. Designed with a 120 PSI air compressor for tire inflation, the Stanley can jump-start your car thanks to 1000 peak amps and 500 instant starting amps. Attaching cables to a car battery is a delicate task and the Stanley features a reverse polarity alarm to let users know if they’ve crossed their red and black cables. A high-powered LED light makes it easy to inflate tires or jump-start a car even in the dark, making this a great product for car safety. A 12V DC outlet and USB can be used for charging the Stanley and powering small electronics.