Do you have a hard time choosing the right air compressor for your home repairs and workshop projects? The task can be very daunting unless you understand your tools and match them to a compressor from a reliable manufacturer like the ones in this review.
The trick is getting the highest CFM rating at 90PSI from the smallest unit you can find. Most top air compressor manufacturers are now investing in powerful induction pumps and reliable motors.
You can choose to go for more horsepower, a larger tank, or just a reliable pancake compressor that can work well with your tools. Your final choice of a compressor has to rely on a performance-based analysis.
We analyzed these four bestsellers to make your choice easier. This review has focused on the tools you need in your auto shop, garage, woodwork shop, construction site, or home projects.
CAT 2010A is the most popular among homeowners and DIYers for its friendly price and high-power motor. It has a 1.0 HP rating delivering 2.2CFM at 90PSI, which is all you require to operate any standard pneumatic tools comfortably.
Makita MAC5200 is the most popular air compressor for tools that consume more air continuously. It is suitable for sanding and painting. It has a 3.0HP motor delivering 6.5CFM at 90PSI, which is enough to run your LVLP sprayer, wrenches, and sanders.
If you intend to go for a pancake air compressor, Porter-cable PCFP02003 comes at top. It is very light but astonishingly powerful, filling up 135PSI of air.
It has a 3.5-gallon tank rated at 2.0 SCFM at 90PSI, which can run any midsized or small tool. Senco air is one of the cheapest air compressors you can find if you intend to run intermittent air-flow tools only. It has a 1-gallon tank and delivers 0.7CFM at 90 PSI.
Here is an in-depth review of the three air compressors
1. California Air Tools CAT2010A Ultra Quiet air compressor
If you are looking for a powerful but quiet air compressor to run your garage or woodworking tools, this is the best option. It is very light despite having a 2.0-gallon aluminum cast tank weighing just 30lbs.
It is an oil-less compressor so you won’t have to spend much on maintenance. It also features a large automotive-style air filter to deliver sufficient clean air to the pump with each stroke.
Its greatest advantage is its quiet operation rated at just 60DB, which doesn`t irritate you or your neighbors. It is fitted with a four-pole motor with a low RPM of 1680.
This low RPM rating helps keep the noise down and also increases the lifespan of the pump. The pump is an iron-cast induction model with dual pistons designed for durable service of over 3,000 hours.
CAT2010A has two pistons, which build up more pressure in the tank in a short time compared to single-piston pumps. The motor is also power-efficient, taking up just 8.5Amps at 120V.
The horsepower rating is at peak load is 1.0HP. Its performance rate is 2.2CFM at 90PSI, which can run multiple nail guns, blowguns, or brad guns at a time. This air compressor both current overload protection and overheating protection.
- Motor: 4-pole with 1680RPM
- Tank size: 2.0 gallons
- performance: 3.10 CFM at 40PSI, 2.2CFM at 90PSI
- Horsepower: 1.0HP
- Power: 8.50 Amps at 120V
- Sound: 60DB
- 1-year warranty
- Dual pistons build pressure quickly
- Stainless steel valves are durable
- It is oil-less, needs less maintenance
- It is light (35lbs), easy to move and position
- Short recovery time
- The handle is not well balanced
- Pressure gauges are rather small.
Q: Does this air compressor work with a universal ¼-inch connector?
Q: Can this compressor power an impact wrench?
A: No. You need a higher CFM rating for that.
Q: Does it include a quick connector?
Q: How long does it take for the tank to fill up?
A: 50 seconds
2. Makita MAC5200 3.0HP Portable Air Compressor
Makita focused on increased power from the motor making this one of the most powerful mid-range air compressors on the market. It has a horsepower rating of 3.0HP, which allows this air compressor to deliver 6.5CFM at 90PSI/6.9 at 40 PSI.
The increased pressure delivery makes this a top choice for auto-shops and garages as well as woodworkers for sanding and painting. It can run any 90PSI-rated pneumatic tool delivering extended runtime with every round.
It uses a durable induction motor that delivers more power with over 3,000 hours of service. The motor rotates at 3435RPM, bringing in more air with each stroke to improve your productivity. MAC5200 has an oil-based pump that lasts longer and also reduces the noise levels to 90DB.
It has wheels allowing you to move it with ease at the job site, so no lifting is necessary. It is still power efficient despite the large motor size. It has an amperage of 13.8Amps on a 120V plug so that you can use it at home.
MAC5200 has a big-bore cylinder piston designed to fill up the tank in 2 minutes, which also reduces the recovery time. It has a 5.2-gallon tank, large enough to allow the air to cool, reducing moisture in the discharge.
It builds up a maximum pressure of 140PSI, which delivers more run time on heavy-duty pneumatic tools such as impact wrenches. It is mounted on a sturdy steel frame and a stand to keep it stable on any terrain.
- Motor: 4-pole with 3425RPM
- Tank size: 5.2 gallons.
- performance: 6.9 CFM at 40PSI, 6.5CFM at 90PSI
- Horsepower: 3.0HP
- Power: 13.8 Amps at 120V
- Sound: 90DB
- 1-year warranty
- The handle is lifted and comfortable to pull
- It has wheels for movement convenience
- Large pistons for the quick build-up and short recovery time
- The large tanks allow air to cool
- It has a durable steel frame
- It has two ¼-Inch quick couplers
- Oil-based pumps have high maintenance costs
- It is rather loud releasing 90DB of noise.
Q: Can I use a large sander on this air compressor?
A: Sure. A small one would be more convenient to prevent stoppages.
Q: How long does the tank take to fill up?
A: 2 minutes
Q: How long will it run before becoming extremely hot?
A: It har a powerful pump and a large aluminum tank, which disperses heat quickly. It can run for over 5 hours without heating up.
Q: Do I need ear protection?
A: 90DB may be uncomfortable for some people. It is advisable to have it with you when using this air compressor.
3. Porter-Cable PCFP02003 3.5 Gallon pancake air compressor
This is probably the most powerful pancake air compressor you can buy on a budget. It weighs just 26lbs with a handle so you can still carry it around with you despite its high-pressure capacity of up to 135PSI.
It is also oil-free, delivering cleaner air into the tank with little maintenance required. It also improves your productivity on-site because it has a duty cycle of 70 percent, which means the recovery time is just 3 minutes.
It has a Horsepower rating of 0.8HP, which is also higher than most pancake air compressors allowing you to use some mid-range tools as well. It has a 3.5-gallon tank, which holds more air allowing you to work for longer before the pressure drops.
Its performance is rated at 2.0SCFM at 90 PSI. It has a low RPM rating of 1720RPM, which also extends the motor`s life. It can run most finish pneumatic tools such as nail guns, blowguns, and sprayers.
It comes with two quick connectors, although it would be better to use only one at a time considering the small tank size. It is still fitted with four leg mounts for stability plus rubber padding to absorb the vibration.
It has an aluminum-cast discharge, which prevents rusting. It also has a pressure cut-off and current overload protection.
- Motor: 4-pole with 1725RPM
- Tank size: 3.5 gallons. performance: 2.0sCFM at 90PSI
- Horsepower: 0.8HP
- Power: 10Amps at 120V
- Sound: 82DB
- It is light and portable weighing just 26lbs
- Easy to start even in cold weather
- The oil-free pump needs little maintenance.
- Short recovery time.
- large tank gives you more runtime
- 82 DB is very loud and can be irritating indoors
- The motor is on top of the tank reducing stability
- The oil-less pistons tend to wear out fast when used continuously.
Q: Does it include the connector?
A: No. It is a tool-only package.
Q: Is there a way to reduce the noise levels?
A: You should consider setting up on a flat padded surface.
Q: Does it use a universal connector?
Q: How long is the power cord?
Q: Will this air compressor power an impact wrench?
4. Senco PC1010 1.0HP portable air Compressor
Senco is famous for pocket-friendly air compressors, and this is the best choice if you need a compressor for standard and light home and workshop blowing, spraying, and nailing.
It is a simple straightforward unit weighing just 20lbs, which can be carried around with ease. Its pump also delivers a strong punch with a 1.0 horsepower motor and a 1-gallon tank, which can run continuously for up to 1 hour without overheating.
PC1010 has a 70 percent duty cycle bringing the recovery time down to just 3 minutes. It is oilless, so there is no maintenance needed.
Its noise levels are regulated at 73DB, which allows you to use it indoors comfortably. It delivers 0.7CFM at 90PSI, able to run most domestic pneumatic tools such as nail guns up to 23 gauges and blowguns for car tires and other inflating tasks.
The motor is efficient and goes slow on the power bill at just 4 Amps on a 120V plug. The 1-gallon tank is aluminum cast suitable and fitted with steel sleeves to last.
Its power cord is 6ft long, giving you more location convenience. It also has a steel handle padded and balanced for comfort. Moreover, it is covered by a 1-year warranty.
- Motor: 4-pole with 1720RPM
- Tank size: 1.0 gallons. performance: 0.7 at 90PSI/1 CFM at 40PSI
- Horsepower: 1.0HP
- Power: 4.5 Amps at 120V
- Sound: 73DB
- 1-year warranty
- The oil-free pump delivers clean air and needs little maintenance
- Short recovery time (35 seconds)
- Corrosion-resistant build
- It is light (20lbs) with a comfortable, balanced handle
- It has a small tank that takes up little space and fills up quickly
- It is limited to intermittent air-consumption tools
- The pump heats up quickly.
Q: Does the package include a male coupler and accessories?
A: No. It is, however, compatible with universal accessories, including a ¼-inch coupler.
Q: Can it power a paint sprayer?
A: Not really. It cannot handle anything over 0.7cfm at 90 PSI.
Q: Can I use it to inflate my 4×4 truck tires?
Q: What hose size can I use on this air compressor?
A: A standard 3/8-inch hose is enough
Most consumer-grade air compressors have single-stage pumps leaving the air filter and piston size as the main determinants of how powerful your pump is.
CAT2010A has the best pump in this review featuring two pistons that build up more pressure in fewer strokes. MAC5200 has a single-stage piston pump but also delivers high-pressure thanks to the big-bore cylinders on the pump.
The larger pumps build up more pressure and allow you to mount more demanding tools such as wrenches and high gauge nailers onto the air compressor.
Senco PC1010 and Porter cable PCFP02003 have small single-stage pumps which limit their use to light tools such as airbrushes and brad guns.
The CFM at 90 PSI is the most valuable performance indicator of an air compressor for regular workshop and home use.
Most tools are rated at 90 PSI, and the higher the reading, the more value you derive. MAC5200 has a giant CFM of 6.5, which can run multiple tools in an auto shop or home. It’s motor and pump can sustain longer runtimes allowing you to complete larger projects.
CAT2010A can also run demanding tools such as a high gauge nail gun with a performance of 2.2CFM. It is, however, limited to short tasks that don’t need continuous airflow for long periods.
PCFP02003 is a powerful pancake compressor rated at 2.0CFM, which is suitable for most small projects. It is an added advantage considering it can be moved around easily. Senco PC1010 has the lowest performance rating at 0.7CFM.
Weight and portability
Getting a light air compressor is always an added advantage since you can lift and carry it around easily.
Having wheels is, however, an added advantage since you can roll it around just like a suitcase at your comfort. This is why MAC5200 comes in as the most portable in the review.
The wheels, however, make it hard to position on a sloppy surface. PC1010 is also light weighing just 20LBS so you can carry it around with ease. FCFP02003 and CAT2010A both weigh about 35lbs and don’t have wheels, making them the hardest to move around.
Lower DB readings are always welcome because you don’t have to invest in ear protection or worry about your neighbors.
CAT is the top pick for a quiet air compressor with a noise emission of just 60DB. This is very comfortable to use indoors because it sounds more like a normal conversation.
Senco PC100 is also regulated, releasing only 73DB, which is also manageable indoors. Makita and porter cable has the loudest air compressors with MAC5200 producing 90DB, which is very loud. PCFP02003 releases 82DB, which is also high.
Understanding your tools is essential when you intend to get an air compressor that delivers a professional finish.
It is, however, harder to match your tools to a reliable air compressor without understanding its features. This is why we picked a best-seller air compressor for any range of tasks from standard sanding needs to light tasks like inflating your balloon.
MAC5200 and CAT2010A are the best choices for commercial projects with a high demand for continuous airflow. They are also an excellent choice for your home.
PCFP02003, on the other hand, is a famous pancake compressor with the power of any consumer-grade compressor. You can also choose Senco PC1010 if all you need is to accomplish a few light projects with small tools.