Air compressors are essential parts of any DIY kits that home-based hobbyists love to have. When it comes to the size, 6-gallon air compressors are relatively small compared to its counterparts. This type of air compressors is best for infrequent air-filled tool use.
As for a 6-gallon air compressor, it is best to use with short tasks of grease gun, roofing and framing nailer, etc. since the machine can’t maintain an extended operation. Other than that, auto tire inflation, gauge finish nailer, and the like are what this small-size air compressor can finish with ease.
So, if you want to do some light household & garage work, you should consider buying 6-gallon air compressors. Here comes the question. Which is the best one for home & garage use? We certainly don’t want to throw our money mindlessly into a machine that lasts for a couple of weeks, do we?
In this review, I will walk you through several items that I believe are the best 6-gallon air compressors for home & garage use in the market. I will also answer some common questions regarding air compressors at the end of this article.
|Porter Cable C2002||
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|California Air Tools 8010A Ultra Quiet||
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|Makita MAC5200 Big Bore||
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Oil-free Pancake Air Compressors
- 150 psi max tank pressure stores more air in the tank for longer tool run times
- 2.6 SCFM at 90 psi allows for quick compressor recovery time, per ISO1217
- Six-gallon pancake-style tank for stability, includes water drain valve and rubber feet
- Low-amp 120-volt motor starts easily in cold weather or with extension cord
|CFM/PSI||2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI|
|Max pressure||150 PSI|
|Warranty||1-Year Limited Warranty on Compressor Components|
- Highly Portable
- Ideal for both home and professional use in some situations
- The unit is quite loud
This pancake air compressor is not only a budget-friendly option, but also the most popular choice among DIY mechanics. And there are plenty of reasons to explain why.
The PORTER-CABLE C2002 Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor is an ideal piece of machine to support numerous finishing nailers or light framing operations.
This piece can easily tackle auto tire inflation and several small SCFM tools. The 10-amps and 12-volt motor allow PORTER-CABLE C2002 to confront cold weather. Only with the help of an extension cord, you will never be worry about common cold machine starts.
This air compressor is lightweight, only 30 lbs. The design is also worth mentioning. The machine features a handle so that you can carry it around with ease. Plus, it is quite small, thus easy to store in your garage.
Now, PORTER-CABLE C2002 Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor needs roughly 130 seconds to fill its tank to its max pressure of 150 PSI. You only have to fill the tank again later if the pressure reduces to its preset pressure– which means around 120 PSI.
What I don’t like about this air compressor? Well, it’s the noise level. The PORTER-CABLE C2002 Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor’s noise level is at 82 decibels, which, in theory, is quite reasonable. However, I find this rating is liberal since the actual noise seems to be louder.
Those who love well-built and handy air compressors for light home-based operations would think this PORTER-CABLE C2002 a great piece to have. Of course, only if they don’t mind the noise.
- 165 max PSI 6.0 gallon tank (22.7 L) and 2.6 SCFM delivered at 90 PSI pump. SCFM @ 40 PSI 3.7 SCFM
- High efficiency motor for easy start up in cold weather or extension cord application. [14 ga or larger, 50 feet. (15.2 m) or less]
- 75.5 dBA noise level for a quiet work setting
- High flow regulator and couplers to maximize air tool performance
|CFM/PSI||2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI. 3.7 SCFM @ 40 PSI|
|Max pressure||165 PSI|
|Noise level||75 dBA|
|Warranty||1 year limited manufacturers warranty|
- Relatively lightweight
- Require minimum maintenance
- Easy to use
- No air hose included
Another portable, lightweight air compressor I want to introduce. Like PORTER-CABLE, DEWALT DWFP55126 features a handgrip that enables you to carry it around for outdoor applications. It weighs only 32.2 lbs with ultimate portability.
DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor uses an oil-free motor. One thing I love about this type of oil-free pumps is that they require minimum care. You have to do neither maintenance or periodic oil checks.
Another thing that makes DEWALT an ideal choice for home use is the low amperage. This air compressor draws around 10 amp, suitable for small garage since it won’t release the circuit breaker and leave everything in the dark.
If anything besides portability that I fancy about this piece of motor, it’s the power the air compressor delivers. DEWALT DWFP55126 can supply maximum pressure of 165 PSI and create an air flow of 2.6 CFM at 90 PSI. Considering its size, this is an exceptional specification. This allows DEWALT DWFP55126 to supply air for 3 trim guns at least.
The noise level of this machine is around 75 decibels. This is not a brilliant rate but compared to other pancake models it is quite alright.
The only shortcoming is the machine comes without air hose. You have to spend a few extra dollars for it.
Overall, I think DEWALT DWFP55126 is an excellent item for simple home-based operations. Its portability and powerful motor will satisfy even the most demanding users.
- Note:Item does not includes hose or gun kit
- 150 max PSI 6.0 gallon tank (22.7 L) and 2.6 SCFM* delivered @ 90 PSI pump
- High efficiency motor for easy start up in cold weather ; BOSTITCH high efficiency motor for easy start up in cold weather or extension cord application [14 ga or larger, 50 ft. (15.2 m) or less]
- 78.5 dBA** operational noise level for a quiet work environment
|CFM/PSI||2.6 SCFM* 90PSI|
|Max pressure||150 PSI|
|Noise level||80 dBA|
- Great price comes with great features
- Long lifespan
- The lightest and smallest model within this list
- Louder than the manufacturer claims
If you take a look at the specifications, you will quickly notice the two prominent features that make Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallon 150 PSI Oil-Free Compressor the lightest and smallest model within the pancake series I cover.
This machine weighs only 29 lbs. Compared to the other two above, which both weight up over 30 lbs, Bostitch BTFP02012 is the winner. What’s more, the tank diameter, which is roughly 14”, doesn’t eat up space in your garage.
This air compressor utilizes a sizable 0.8 HP motor. It can supply an air flow of 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI, which is more than enough if you only want to use for finish nailers and other light-duty applications such as filling tires or air spray guns.
The Bostitch BTFP02012 uses an oil-less motor that liberates you from any frequent maintenance and regular oil changes.
According to Bostitch, the BTFP02012 model offers around 450-hour in-house rating. This means that if the environmental conditions are great and you are able to maintain a habit of regular checking, this item can perform up to 450 hours. Since 6-gallon air compressors are only used for occasional applications, 450 hours could mean approximately five years. After that, it’s up to you to repair & continue using it or buying a new one.
Pancake series is well-known for its loudness. In this case, though the manufacturer claims that this model emits 80 dBA of noise, but I have the feeling that the machine is louder than the claimed specification.
If you are looking for a reasonably priced air compressor coupled with useful features for occasional home use, this Bostitch BTFP02012 is an excellent choice.
Oil-free Hotdog Air Compressor
California Air Tools 8010A Ultra Quiet
- Ultra quiet only 60 decibels
- Oil-free pump for less maintenance & costs
- Lightweight & rust free - only 37.25 lbs. 120 PSI Maximum Pressure
- Powerful 1.0 HP (rated/ running) 2.0 HP (peak) motor
|CFM/PSI||3.10 CFM at 40 PSI|
2.20 CFM at 90 PSI
|Max pressure||120 PSI|
|Noise level||60 dBA|
- Ultra quiet
- Incredible built-in features such as Thermal overload protector and gauges for pressure control
- Stainless steel tank is quite heavy
In general, Hotdog compressors are quite bulky compared to those 3 pancake models I have mentioned above. That’s why when it comes to Hotdog compressor, I only pick California Air Tools 8010A Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free 1.0-HP 5.5-Gallon Steel Tank Air Compressor as my favorite item. It is a 5.5-gallon, not a full 6-gallon compressor and slightly weighty; however it runs smoothly and offers various useful features.
If you are tired of the noise those 80-dBA air compressors make, then California Air Tools 8010A Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free 1.0-HP 5.5-Gallon Steel Tank Air Compressor will seriously be your cup of tea. It has the noise level at only 60 decibels. I have to say this is an extremely impressive rating in the market. Finding an air compressor with that low noise level is rare. California Air Tools 5510SE adopts a 1.0 horsepower (SP-9431) motor working at around 1680 RPM, which can explain its quietness.
To fill up the 5.5-gallon tank, this air compressor needs about 120 seconds, slightly faster than other models. However, the maximum pressure is only 120 PSI. That takes the model a full 40 seconds to recover from 90 to 120 PSI.
California Air Tools 8010A Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free 1.0-HP 5.5-Gallon Steel Tank Air Compressor provide reasonably useful features for infrequent home-based applications. Those who want to work in a quiet environment will appreciate the low noise level of this model.
Oil-Lubricated Wheelbarrow Air Compressor
Makita MAC5200 Big Bore
- Cast iron pump with Big Bore cylinder and piston is engineered to provide faster recovery time for improved performance
- Powerful 3.0 HP* motor produces 6.5 CFM at 90 PSI for increased productivity
- Pump is oil lubricated for cooler running temperatures and reduced wear
- Durable cast iron cylinder reduces wear and increases pump life; removable for easy maintenance
|CFM/PSI||90 PSI: 6.5 cfm|
40 PSI: 6.9 cfm
|Max pressure||140 PSI|
|Noise level||80 dBA|
- Highly Portable
- Powerful motor
- Requires maintenance
As you go through the list, you may wonder if there is any 6-gallon air compressor that can handle heavy-duty pneumatic air tools. The answer is yes. Makita MAC5200 Big Bore 3.0 HP Air Compressor is the answer you are seeking. Though it is just a 5.2-gallon air compressor, its powerful motor is still able to get jobs well done. Regarding long-time performance, it’s not second to any big 6-gallon brothers.
In the world of power tools, Makita isn’t a stranger. This machine producer promises to deliver high-end best-quality tools and industrial instruments. Makita MAC5200 Big Bore 3.0 HP Air Compressor is able to handle tough jobs that those average 6-gallon air compressors simply can’t. The airflow is at the peak of 6.5 SCFM at 90 PSI, which is about triple of that in other models above. It features a 3.0 HP motor with bigger bore and stroke for ultimate use in a long time.
There are two shortcomings. This particular item lubricates its motor by oil. It implies that you need to check the oil frequently and maintain it if necessary. In general, the oiled motor has a longer lifespan than those oil-free ones, but only if you pay adequate attention to its health. Second, Makita MAC5200 Big Bore 3.0 HP Air Compressor is vertically bulky so that it will take up much space in your home or garage.
This high-end piece of air compressor is excellent at heavy jobs. Those who want to experience excellent features in a high-quality product should not ignore this item.
What Can You Do With A 6-Gallon Air Compressor?
Air compressors allow you to work with numerous pneumatic air tools such as nail guns, spray guns, tire inflators to name a few. Not long ago, air compressors were only available in large garages for professional and heavy-duty jobs. Nowadays, the demand for portable and useful air compressors for home use applications is increasing.
In fact, air compressors for home use can come with many sizes. In this particular case, the 6-gallon air compressor is able to handle light household & garage works with relatively short working cycle such as tire inflation, car painting (depends on what & how you want to paint). These portable compressors are also ideal for small air tools like such as nail guns, air impact wrenches, etc.
Other than that, I would not recommend this air compressor for any heavy-duty applications.
How Long Can You Run Air Tools On A 6-Gallon Compressor?
How long a compressor can run largely depends on the size of the tank. The smaller the size is, the more likely it will run out of air faster. Most 6-gallon air compressors deliver an air flow of around 3 SCFM at 90 PSI, and from 3 to 6 SCFM at 40 PSI. In case you don’t know, SCFM stands for Standard Cubic Feet Per Minute.
Looking at the product specifications, you will notice the rating of CFM/PSI, which implies the airflow an air compressor can deliver in different situations. In case your 6-gallon air compressor can deliver, let say, 3 SCFM at 40 PSI, which means you have roughly 3 minutes of working cycle before the tank air pressure is below 40 PSI. At 90 PSI, 6-gallon air compressors often deliver roughly 2 SCFM, meaning you have around 2 minutes or less to finish any light-duty jobs.
Pancake or Hotdog or Wheelbarrow style?
There are three popular types of 6-gallon air compressors: Pancake, Hotdog and Wheelbarrow. Each provides different features and designs.
The highlight of Pancake air compressors is their weight. As you can see from the list, three pancake models are relatively light and portable, which allows you to carry them around with ease. There are several downsides going along with their lightweight though. These pancake air compressors often run at a very high noise level and comes with small motors so that they are not suitable for heavy, time-consuming tasks.
Hotdog Compressors are the most popular options when it comes to 6-gallon models, offering numerous useful features for DIY hobbyists. They are especially great with home use operations. Though they are a bit heavier than Pancake, they tend to produce less noise than their counterparts. Most Hotdog items feature handles for easier transportation.
Wheelbarrow was born as a reply to those who want to have a mobile air compressor which they can use in different places. Since Wheelbarrow air compressors are with the most robust motors, capable of heavy-duty tasks, they also tend to be heavier. Most of these compressors come with long handles and wheels so that you can drag them along. Because of their designs, Wheelbarrow air compressors eat up space.
So if you only want an portable air compressor for occasional garage works or tire inflation, go for the Pancake or Hotdog product. Those who want to tackle heavier jobs and don’t mind the bulky design, the wheelbarrow is the best choice.
To wrap up, it depends on your personal preferences and purposes of use to choose a suitable air compressor. If you only need to tackle basic home-based operations with low work cycle, 6-gallon air compressors will make your best choices. I hope my review of the Best 6 Gallon Air Compressors For Home & Garage Use above will provide sufficient information for you to choose the right product.