Top 10 Best Air Compressors For Air Tools (And For Your Money) – 2019

Each type has a different CFM requirement, which could make our decision-making process daunting.

While it is easy for experienced workshop owners or DIY-ers to pick the best air compressor for air tools, the process isn’t so easy for an amateur.

No worries, my friends. Below are 10 products that give you the best for your buck.

  • Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallon 150 PSI Oil-Free Compressor – Best for brad nailers
  • California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S Light & Quiet Portable Air Compressor – Quiet option for brad and finish nailers
  • DeWALT D55146 Hand Carry Compressor – Best for framing nailers
  • Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor – Best for air hammer
  • Makita MAC700 Big Bore 2.0 HP Air Compressor – Best for grease guns
  • Makita MAC5200 Big Bore 3.0 HP Air Compressor – Best for ½ inch impact wrenches
  • Industrial Air ILA1883054 30-Gallon Belt Driven Air Compressor – Best for air ratchets and die grinders
  • Campbell Hausfeld VT6271 Air Compressor – Best for orbital sanders
  • Industrial Air ILA3606056 60-Gallon Single Stage Cast Iron Twin Cylinder Air Compressor – Best for 3/4 inch impact wrenches and paint sprayers
  • Powermate Vx PLA4708065 80-Gallon Electric Air Compressor – Best for longer air tool run times

Top 10 Best Air Compressors For Air Tools

Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallon Air Compressor – Best for brad nailers

Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallon Air Compressor
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Pros
  • High-efficiency motor
  • Durable pump
  • Sturdy and well-made
  • Easy to adjust
  • Quickly build up pressure

Cons
  • Quite loud

Bostitch BTFP02012 is a great small air compressor, a compatible machine for brad nailers. Whenever you want to start a major house innovation or just want to build a new bookcase or crown molding, the Bostitch will be helpful.

6 gallon of tank size and 0.8 HP can generate 150 maximum pressure, which is not only great for small tasks like car and truck tires inflation but also some fence work too.

It is lightweight and compact, a trait that makes working around the house and storing as easy as ever.

The only drawback is the noise level. Though it is small, it can generate 78.5 dBA, quite noisy to work inside.

Product Specifications

Horse Power (HP)0.8 HP
CFM/PSI2.6 SCFM @ 90 PSI
Max pressure150 PSI
Tank Capacity6 gallon
Power sourcecorded-electric
Oil requiredNo
Noise Level78.5 dBA
Highlight FeaturesHigh-efficiency motor for easy start-up in cold weather, high flow regulator and couplers, long-life oil-free, maintenance-free pump for convenient use

The affordable Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallon 150 PSI Oil-Free Compressor is a great companion not only for braid nailers but also for various small tasks around the house.

California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S Air Compressor – Quiet option for brad and finish nailers

California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S Air Compressor
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Pros
  • Ultra-quiet
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Durable tank (steel)
  • Suitable for home garage

Cons
  • The on/off switch is not user-friendly

For those who want to use both brad and finish nailers, California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S is another great option. It is ultra-quiet, generating only 56 dBA. This little beast is easy to maneuver around and quiet enough to work inside the house.

I also love the construction of this compressor. The steel tank and oil-free pump promise durability and less hassle for maintenance. There is one drawback though. The location of the on/off switch is a bit awkward and difficult to reach.

Product Specifications

Horse Power (HP)0.6
CFM/PSI1.20 CFM @ 90 PSI
Max pressure120 PSI
Tank Capacity1 gallon
Oil RequiredNo
Power sourcecorded-electric

 

Noise Level56 dBA
Highlight FeaturesOil-Free pump for less maintenance & costs, lightweight for easy transporting

Looking for a quiet and affordable option for brad and finish nailers? California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S Light & Quiet Portable Air Compressor is the best answer I can give you.

DEWALT D55146 Hand Carry Air Compressor – Best for framing nailers

DEWALT D55146 Hand Carry Air Compressor
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Pros
  • You can store it upright and save space.
  • Vertical stand feature and collapsible handle
  • Well-made and sturdy construction
  • Great value for the price
  • Quiet operation

Cons
  • Quite bulky

For those who handle big projects such as building decks or framing houses, finding an air compressor for framing nailers is the important baby step. If you are still struggling, let me introduce you DEWALT D55146.

This hand-carry compressor can generate up to 225 PSI maximum pressure. At 90 PSI, the CFM (cubic feet per minute) is 5.0 – perfect to work with air-hungry tools such as framing nailers. Plus, the compressor can be stored upright, suitable for small home garages and small workshops.

Though the machine is a bit bulky, it features a collapsible handle and 10” non-flat foam tires for easy transport. The value brings certainly exceeds the cost.

Product Specifications

Horse Power (HP)1.6 HP
CFM/PSI5.0 SCFM at 90 PSI
Max pressure225 PSI
Tank Capacity4.5 Gallon
Oil RequiredNo
Power sourcecorded electric
Noise Level78 dBA
Highlight Features80% more usable air, recover quickly, , Ehp efficient high pressure technology, 10-inch non-flat foam tires

DEWALT D55146 Hand Carry Compressor, powerful motor and sturdy construction, offers endless help for light and medium-duty projects with framing nailers.

Makita MAC2400 Big Bore Air Compressor – Best for air hammer

Makita MAC2400 Big Bore Air Compressor
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Pros
  • Relatively quiet,
  • Relatively vibration-free
  • Compact
  • Durable pump

Cons
  • Quite heavy

When it comes to durability and sturdiness, Makita is always my top choice. Their MAC2400 Big Bore is a perfect choice when one needs to work with an air hammer. To run air hammers continuously, you need a compressor that can pump out at least 4 CFM.

With 4.2 gallons of air tank and 2.5 HP, the MAC2400 generate 4.2 CFM at 90 PSI. Its maximum pressure is 130 PSI, enough to handle air hammer and other light-duty air tools. Big Bore oil-lubricated pump allows the machine to run efficiently and recover faster.

The roll-cage construction offers added protection for the interior parts. This beast comes with a useful oil drain, oil sight glass, and a tank drain valve, which makes maintenance and heat dissipation easier.

The cons? It is heavier than it looks. And without tires and proper handle, transport could be daunting.

Product Specifications

Horse Power (HP)2.5 HP
CFM/PSI 4.8 CFM @ 40 PSI and

4.2 CFM @ 90 PSI

Max pressure130 PSI
Tank Capacity4.2 gallon
Oil RequiredNo
Power sourcecorded electric
Noise Level79dBA
Highlight FeaturesLow AMP draw, oil-lubricated, roll-cage construction, large automotive style industrial air filter, lever handle ball valve

Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor is a mighty machine you should have at home. Sturdy, durable and easy to handle. What else do you ask for?

Makita MAC700 Big Bore Air Compressor – Best for grease guns

Makita MAC700 Big Bore Air Compressor
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Pros
  • Low noise
  • Low AMP draw
  • Durable pump
  • Copper finned tank

Cons
  • It is heavier than it looks.

Grease guns are the must-have item in any DIYer’s garage or workshop. Grease guns’ air consumption is low. Some require only 3 CFM to function continuously. That’s why a Makita MAC700 is a perfect choice.

The Big Bore cylinder and piston are capable of maximum performance. The machine generates 80 dBA, but the actual noise is much lower. It also draws low amps which help to reduce motor failure. The copper finned tank stays durable for a long period and reduces heat accumulation.

The roll-bar handle is a great feature for those who need to work at different job sites. However, the compressor is way heavier than it looks.

Product Specifications

Horse Power (HP)2 HP
CFM/PSI3.8 CFM @ 40 PSI

3.3 CFM @ 90 PSI

Max pressure130 PSI
Tank Capacity2.6 gal.
Oil RequiredNo
Power sourcecorded electric
Noise Level80 dBA
Highlight FeaturesA large 1,720 RPM pump, enabling greater displacement at lower RPM, low amp draw, oil lubricated

Makita MAC700 Big Bore 2.0 HP Air Compressor is a trusted companion for low-pressure pneumatic tools such as grease guns and nailers.

Makita MAC5200 Big Bore Air Compressor – Best for ½ inch impact wrenches

Makita MAC5200 Big Bore Air Compressor
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Pros
  • Portable thanks to the rugged wheels
  • The whole thing is solid, compact and durable
  • Two ¼” air hoses can handle two air tools at the same time
  • Reliable

Cons
  • A loud compressor

This versatile MAC5200 is designed for many light-to-medium tasks involving the use of ½ inch impact wrenches. A ½ impact wrench requires at least 4 CFM to remove hubcaps and put fences together.

MAC5200 offers 6.5 CFM at 90 PSI, and with two ¼” air hoses this machine can accommodate 2 air tools at a time. Makita is famous for its sturdy and durable construction. This compressor is also compact for easy storage.

The only thing that makes me disappointed is the noise level. With 90 dBA, it is no way to work comfortably in a garage with this machine nearby.

Product Specifications

Horse Power (HP)3.0 HP
CFM/PSI6.5 CFM @ 90 PSI
Max pressure130 PSI
Tank Capacity5.2 gallons
Oil RequiredYes
Power sourcecorded electric
Noise Level 90 dBA
Highlight FeaturesCast iron pump with Big Bore cylinder and piston, folding handle with low profile design, rugged wheels for jobsite portability

Makita MAC5200 Big Bore 3.0 HP Air Compressor is an assurance for performance, durability, and reliability. Not only ½ impact wrenches, but this compressor can also handle a whole load of low to medium air tools.

Industrial Air ILA1883054 30-Gallon Air Compressor – Best for air ratchets and die grinders

Industrial Air ILA1883054 30-Gallon Air Compressor
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Pros
  • Maximum portability
  • Easy operation
  • Reliable power
  • Vibration-free

Cons
  • It is hard to reach the drain cock.

Those who need to grind, polish, sand different materials as well as tighten bolts understand how tough air ratchets and die grinders are. They require an enormous air supply and high CFM rating.

Air ratchets need 2.5 CFM (1.4”) to 5 CFM (3/8”) while die grinders require at least 4 CFM. But that won’t be a problem with Industrial Air ILA1883054 since they can reach 5.7 CFM at 90 PSI.

The 30-gallon air tank supplies enough air for grinding, polishing and sanding. Plus, this beast features a heavy-duty motor that ensures trouble-free and continuous operation.

The pre-attached pneumatic wheels and front handle allow you to move it around job sites with ease. It may not be the quiet compressor but this machine is vibration-free.

The drain cock location is the biggest design drawback since it is so hard to reach.

Product Specifications

Horse Power (HP)1.9 RHP
CFM/PSI5.7 CFM at 90 PSI; 7.0 CFM at 40 PSI
Max pressure155 PSI
Tank Capacity30 gallons
Oil RequiredNo
Power sourcecorded electric
Noise Level 78dA
Highlight FeaturesCast iron, twin cylinder, oil lubricated pump, dual voltage motor, UL and CSA certified, pre-attached pneumatic tires, quick-set regulator

Industrial Air ILA1883054 30-Gallon Belt Driven Air Compressor is a must-have item for those who have to deal with heavy-duty air tools such as air ratchets and die grinders.

Campbell Hausfeld VT6271 Air Compressor – Best for orbital sanders

Campbell Hausfeld VT6271 Air Compressor
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Pros
  • Accurate air gauge
  • Well-made output regulator
  • Powerful motor
  • Easy to store
  • Sturdily designed

Cons
  • Quite heavy and prone to tip over.

For DIY craftsmen or industrial woodworkers, an orbital sander is an effective tool to smooth wood surfaces. This air tool requires from 6 to 9 CFM to run. At 90 PSI, Campbell Hausfeld VT6271 offers 10.2 CFM, way enough for an orbital sander to run.

With an air tank of 30 gallons, the compressor can hold lots of air for continuous operation. It can run up to 5,000 hours. The VT6271 is designed horizontally, making it ideal for storage in small garages or workshop. This compressor can handle from simple inflation to stapling, bolting and much more.

At 87 dBA, the Campbell Hausfeld is nowhere near a quiet compressor. It is also quite heavy and easy to tip over.

Product Specifications

Horse Power (HP)3.7HP
CFM/PSI10.2 CFM at 90 PSI
Max pressure135  PSI
Tank Capacity30 Gallons
Oil RequiredNo
Power sourceCorded electric
Noise Level87dBA
Highlight FeaturesReliable power, designed to provide up 5,000 hours of product life, durable and safe ASME code tank, cast iron pump, user friendly design

If you are looking for an industrial-grade air compressor to handle some woodwork, probably you can’t get any better deal than Campbell Hausfeld VT6271 Air Compressor.

Industrial Air ILA3606056 60-Gallon Air Compressor – Best for ¾ inch impact wrenches & paint sprayers

Industrial Air ILA3606056 60-Gallon Air Compressor
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Pros
  • Large tank capacity
  • Heavy-duty motor
  • Run smooth

Cons
  • It is quite loud.

Industrial Air is famous for its heavy-duty products exclusively designed to fulfill any tasks around the house, in a mechanic shop or for service trucks. The ILA3606056 is a classic example from Industrial Air.

This beast has anything you need for a sturdy and powerful compressor. From the cast-iron pump, aluminum valve plate to stainless steel reed valves, Industrial Air has built this model to handle heavy-duty tasks and reduce malfunctioned performances.

With 60 gallons, this model has a sustainable air supply for different tasks. It generates 155 PSI maximum pressure and reaches 11.5 CFM at 90 PSI. You will be surprised that all of these commercial-grade features come with a very affordable price.

At 83 dBA, the ILA3606056 generates loud noise, which can annoy some people.

Product Specifications

Horse Power (HP)3.7 HP
CFM/PSI13.4 CFM at 40 PSI

11.5 CFM at 90 PSI

 

Max pressure155 psi
Tank Capacity60 gallon ASME*
Oil RequiredSynthetic oil
Power sourceCorded electric 208-240 volts
Noise Level83 dBA
Highlight FeaturesCast-iron, twin-cylinder, oil-lubricated pump, one-piece cast iron crankcase and 12 inch cast iron crankcase, heavy duty induction motor, large capacity

Industrial Air ILA3606056 60-Gallon Single Stage Cast Iron Twin Cylinder Air Compressor with a powerful motor and durable design is the ultimate options for air tools like ¾ inch impart wrenches or paint sprayers.

Powermate Vx PLA4708065 80-Gallon Air Compressor – Best for longer air tool run times

Powermate Vx PLA4708065 80-Gallon Air Compressor
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Pros
  • Reasonably quiet
  • Large tank capacity
  • Durably built

Cons
  • Easy to fall on its side

What’s special about the Powermate Hi-Flo? With a massive tank size of 80 gallons, this compressor is the ultimate answer for longer air tool run time. Tools like grinders or sanders will no longer frustrate you with the help of Powermate Hi-Flo.

The tank is sturdily built from steel, which promises a long life ahead. The cast-iron, 3 cylinder pump comes with an aluminum head and valve plate to increase heat dissipation. The 155 PSI maximum pressure plus the sturdy motor is a guarantee of trouble-free operation.

The tank comes with an accurate tank pressure gauge and convenient onboard switch. What’s more, this massive compressor features a wired formed belt guard to help with cooling.

Due to the design, most of the heavy parts located on the top, which makes the machine easy to tip over. You should be extra cautious when working with it.

Product Specifications

Horse Power (HP)4.7 HP
CFM/PSI14 CFM at 90 PSI
Max pressure155 PSI
Tank Capacity80 Gallon
Oil Required Synthetic oil
Power source240 volts
Noise LevelN/A
Highlight FeaturesTank Durably Built from Steel, Oil-Lubricated Pump with a piece cast-iron crankcase and a full cast-iron cylinder body

Need to work with various air-hungry pneumatic tools for a long time? Powermate Vx PLA4708065 80-Gallon Electric Air Compressor will be your reliable assistant.

How to choose the best air compressor for air tools (buying guide)

Best Air Compressors For Air Tools

Your working place

Since compressors are available in different shapes and types, knowing where to put your purchase will save you much of time and money. There are two main types of compressors.

Portable: As the name suggests, portable compressors are typically lightweight and easy to maneuver. This type is suitable for inflating cars, sports equipment and powering nail guns.

Stationary: Unlike portable, stationary compressors aren’t easy to move around. They are more compatible with medium to heavy-duty tasks. Both tank size and horsepower rating are increased to accommodate different air tools.

Would you rather a portable compressor for light-duty tasks around the house or a stationary one for its capacity to work with different air-hungry tools?

Tank size

The range of tank sizes is vast. You can find a compressor with only 1 to 2 gallon, but some compressors can hold 80 to 120 gallon of air.

Portable compressors are versatile when it comes to tank size. Hotdog types offer 2 to 3 gallons of tank size, while pancake and pontoon can deliver a double tank size. You can also find vertical portable compressors that offer 30 gallons of tank size.

As for stationary compressors, the tank size ranges from 40 to 120 gallons.

Air tools

Last but not least, which air tools you work with the most? Each tool has a specific CFM rating requirement, so users should keep it in mind while shopping for a compressor.

Take a look at the table below:

Air ToolsCFM requirement
Angel Disc Grinder6 CFM
Air Drill 1/24 CFM
Ratchet 1/4”3 CFM
Spray Gun (HVLP)18 CFM
Die Grinder8 CFM

Who makes the best air compressor for air tools?

Best Air Compressors For Air Tools

Industrial Air

Industrial Air has always popped up in my list of the best air compressor manufacturers. Their products are designed to handle light-duty to professional tasks.

Robust motor. Great air pressure. Good customer service. That’s what makes Industrial Air a trusted place for air compressors.

Powermate

Powermate specifies in air compressors and air tools. They provide light to medium-duty to professional compressors with a wide range of price tags.

The manufacturer emphasizes on the quality, built and performance. Thus, their products are exceptionally well-made and reliable.

Campbell Hausfeld

Campbell Hausfeld offers air compressors and air tools for any types of jobs.

They have been in the business for over 180 years, gathering customer’s insight and technology to build sturdy and durable products for both home use and commercial operation.

Makita

With over 100 years of experience and innovation, Makita’s air compressors deliver top-notch performance, excellent durability and reliable power.

Makita has earned the global prestige in over 40 countries. You can trust their products.

DeWALT

DeWALT is a famous manufacturer for gear, equipment and power tools. When it comes to air compressors, this company offers a wide range of tank size and horsepower.

The price tag is also DeWALT’s highlight because most of their products are quite affordable.

California Air Tools

California Air Tools is the leading manufacturer for the highest-rated and quietest compressors. Even their industrial-grade compressors can run smoothly and quietly.

Bostitch

Bostitch focuses on the portable, hand-carry air compressors rather than the stationary ones. And they know how to do their job best.

Portable compressors from Bostitch are compact and well-designed. They can generate impressive maximum pressure that many bigger beasts can’t.

FAQs

Best Air Compressors For Air Tools

What oil is best for air tools?

Choosing the right oil for air tools could be tricky because the wrong lubricant can cause serious damages. Most pneumatic tools use mineral oil or synthetic oil.

Mineral oils feature anti-foaming and anti-gumming elements, which are beneficial to air tools. Synthetic oils are the hybrid type that can work on both mechanical and pneumatic applications.

What air tools require the most CFM?

Some air tools such as a brad nailer only require 0.5 CFM to run. Others need more than 10 CFM to function properly. When it comes to air tools that require the most CFM, there are a few candidates.

Air toolsCFM
Air Mother 1 Hp12-15
Backfill Tamper30-35
Carving tool10-15
Chain Saw7 -22
Concrete Vibrator20 – 50
Bead Breaker12
Impact Driver 1”12

Do air compressors use a lot of electricity?

It depends on many factors to conclude whether an air compressor uses a lot of electricity.

There are two components you need to pay attention to the horsepower and amp draw. Plus, you also need to figure out the total amount of time the compressor is used.

For example, a compressor of 2 HP draws 8 amps. At 240 vac, it will generate 1920 watts. Let’s say you run the compressor 10 minutes.

1920 W * (10/60)hrs = 0.3 kW-hr.

Kw-Hr costs around $0.33 (it could be different at your place), and if you run your compressor for 8 hours per day. It will cost you 0.33*0.3*8 = $0.792. That air compressor will cost you in total $23.76.

How do I know the CFM of my air compressor?

Most air compressors will come with a specification table in which maximum PSI and CFM are available. However, if you want to calculate the CFM at certain PSI, the specification table isn’t very helpful.

There are simple steps you can follow to figure out the CFM rating you want.

  • Make sure you know the volume of air tank (in a gallon)
  • Divide the tank size by 7.48 (this is the number of gallon in one cubic foot). You will get a number A.
  • Let the air inside your compressor out.
  • Refill the tank again, pay attention to the amount of time the tank is filled and the tank gauge. Record the PSIG (pounds per square inch) at 2 different times: when the compressor kicks in and once it kick out.
  • Subtract the PSIG when the compressor kicks in from the PSIG when it kicks out. Let’s call this number X.
  • Divide X by 14.7, you will get Y – the amount of added pressure during the filling cycle in atm or atmospheric pressure.
  • Multiply A (in step 2) by Y (in step 6). You will get a number in cubic feet that your compressor pumps in the tank to fill it.
  • Convert this number in minutes by dividing it by the seconds it took (in step 7) to pump. Multiply it by 60 and you will have the CFM you want.

The bottom line

It isn’t easy to look for the best air compressor for air tools. Each air tool has different CFM rating, which could be daunting if you want to accommodate multiple air tools at a time.

I believe these 10 compressors above are the excellent answers for your need and preference. Hopefully, my reviews could shed some light on each item and help you pick the right product.

Top 10 Best Air Compressors For Air Tools (And For Your Money) – 2019
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