Best Home Air Compressor Buying Guide

Buying and installing a home air compressor is absolutely essential for your home. You can install it in your garage and your compressor will be the biggest work saver, irrespective of how you use it.

The power and speed that this machine generates from the air, the unlimited source of energy around you, will make the tasks appear safe and easy. You will get an excellent return on the investment you make in buying the air compressor for your home or garage, and you will be glad you did!

Before buying a new air compressor, take a few minutes to educate yourself on a few of the essential features to consider and how your project or usage determines the type of air compressor you need. This is after all a moderate investment, and you would want good value for money.

The first step is to get clarity about the various kinds of air compressors, fasteners, tools, and accessories available out there. Read on to find out all you need to know to help you select the right home air compressor.

What kind of home shop air compressor do you need?

To determine the specific kind of air compressor you need, take a minute to think about your applications or uses for this product. Make a list of some of the tasks you will use the compressor to do. Once you have the list of possible applications, you can move on with your search.

Next, establish the factors which can determine the specific type of air compressor you need. The type can mean the power source needed to run the compressor, the storage tank capacity, or whether the unit is stationary or portable. Air compressors range from portable, small units suitable for inflating equipment such as a car or bike tires, to very big ones for use with spray guns on large projects.

Another important factor that your buying decision is based on is the frequency of use. Are you a woodworker who needs a light compressor for your framing nailer on weekends? If you do automotive work, you will require a compressor with a high capacity to run your pneumatic sander.

At first glance, it may be hard to choose from the numerous product options for air compressors. This is because all major manufacturers of air compressors offer compact models that are portable and lightweight, and sufficiently powerful to drive any air tool you may use at home. Some of the products are designed for professionals such as carpenters and woodworkers, and are small and quiet, and quite reasonably priced.

These are some of the important factors you must consider as you search for the perfect home shop air compressor.

1.  Power Supply

Air compressors come with one of two kinds of power supply. Electricity is the commonly used power source where a separate compressor unit is driven by an electric motor. Home air compressors mostly run on 20 amp, 115-volt current. Due to their convenience, quiet operation, and cleanliness, electric air compressors are more popular.

The second power supply option is gasoline-fueled air compressors. These are excellent for portable air compressors that you will use at a job site that does not have a power grid nearby. Gas air compressors may not be the best option for use in the home because they function at a louder noise level. Additionally, their exhaust fumes need sufficient ventilation to avoid health hazards that may be caused by using the machine in a closed area.

2.  Air Capacity

Once you know the preferred fuel source for your new air compressor, you can move on to reviewing your air capacity requirements. These include the volume of air that your air compressor has the capacity to produce, store and refill during a specific time period.

The two main elements that govern the capacity of the air compressor are air pressure and air volume. The quantity of compressed air that an air compressor can produce and store depends on how it is configured.

Air volume is measured in cubic feet per minute or CFM which is atmospheric air volume that is compressed and then released in one minute. Compressors with large volume and a 16 CFM rating offer greater versatility in comparison to small 4 CFM air compressors for operating multiple tools.

Air pressure reflects the amount of air that can be squeezed into the reservoir tank of an air compressor. This is measured in pounds per square inch or PSI. When air is packed more densely, the pressure will be higher.

The CFM determines the duration for which an air compressor is able to operate tools, whereas, the PSI defines the amount of power the air compressor has the capacity to produce. An air tool depends highly on particular PSI requirements for correct performance. This is why it is absolutely essential to know the tools you intend to use and then find an air compressor with a capacity that is slightly above that.

3.  Compressor Design

Air capacity and fuel capacity are both the main factors that will influence your choice of air compressor. These are the primary factors and other factors will follow. Another important specification is the air compressors’ design and there is a large variety of designs to choose from.

Air compressor designs are of three main kinds. The most common is the piston-powered compressor, in which the compressor compacts or squeezes the air using cylinders that have reciprocating pistons. It then sends the air to the reservoir where it is stored until required.

The second kind of air compressor is the rotary-screw model. It is quite unlikely to find this in a home air compressor. The screw compressor is quite similar to supercharges on drag racing cars and diesel trucks.

Scroll compressors are the third kind. They are like turbochargers that are used in industrial applications and other high-performance areas. You are not likely to find scroll compressors in a home air compressor either.

4.  Air Compressor Configuration

The configuration of an air compressor is more relevant to practicality than performance. You will find a wide range of configurations for equipment as you review various air compressor models, fasteners, air tools, and other accessories. The reason is that manufacturers of air compressor equipment build a variety of equipment to meet the needs of a wide range of applications.

Two important configurations include horizontal and vertical tank compressors. There isn’t much difference in the way a tank that stands up performs in comparison to one that lies on the side. The options in a configuration are more connected to site specifications and application.

Vertical tanks are preferred for shop or garage settings to make the maximum use of space. Workers on construction sites prefer horizontal compressors due to their stability in comparison to vertical units. The stability of horizontal compressors makes them more practical and less likely to get knocked over easily.

Air compressors of various sizes may also have several tank configurations. Whether you choose a model with one tank or two depends on what you need. Have a detailed conversation about this with a specialist for air compressors for the recommended model to suit your needs.

What size air compressor do you need for air tools?

Choosing the right size for your home air compressor means getting the right blend of features. This includes the size, which for an air compressor, does not mean the physical dimensions. In terms of an air compressor, this means the ability of the compressor to handle whatever work you plan to use it for.

Your air compressor must have the right features to be an appropriate fit for the energy source you have, whether gasoline-powered or electric. It must also have adequate air capacity as measured in PSI and CFM. The right design for the compressor and its overall configuration must also be there so that it is a good fit for its designated space at your home.

While these are some of the essential features, there are some more factors to take into consideration before you choose your home air compressor.

1.  Air Reservoir

The air reservoir refers to the tank size of your air compressor. Even if it has sufficient CFM and PSI, the tank has to be of an appropriate size so that it can store sufficient compressed air to keep your air tools working without disruption.

If you do not want your work to be disrupted due to low air volume, you need a reservoir tank that is large enough to store adequate air levels while your compressor unit goes through the process of recharging.

Tank sizes for air compressors are measured in gallons by American manufacturers. The market offers a diverse range of capacities for reservoirs that range from small units for home use to large ones for commercial use. You can choose between 1-gallon units to 80-gallon products.

For a home air compressor, a compressor size of 2.6 to 20-gallon range will be suitable. However, to get the size right, you must think about the number and size of air tools that you plan to use.

2.  Air Tools

The kinds of air tools you use normally are the main influencing factor for the air compressor size you need for your home air compressor. Make a list of all the air tools you plan to use and how frequently you will be using them. 

You also need to think about how many of these air tools you are likely to use simultaneously at any time during one cycle of your air compressor. The cycle is the time it will take the air compressor’s tank capacity to become low enough that it has to recharge its reservoir.

Some particular air tools need more PSI and CSM draw in comparison to others. For example, a nailer uses more CFM in comparison to an air stapler.

To calculate the correct size for your air compressor, add together the CFM needs of the tools that you will use and identify the highest PSI that each tool needs. Using this method, you can calculate in gallons the upper limit of tank size, the PSI pressure, and CFM capacity you need. Following the rule-of-thumb, add 10-20% to your expected limit to cater for unexpected draws and add-ons you may need in the future. 

3.  Horsepower

When you review the specifications for air compressors, you will observe that a horsepower tag is always attached to every product. Your power source has to be sufficient for running the air compressor however this is not a factor you need to be concerned with.

This is because leading air compressor manufacturers size their products’ horsepower to meet the gallon capacity, PSI, and CFM. It is not advisable to select an air compressor based on the horsepower rating. Instead, be attentive to the air pressure and capacity because the manufacturers will ensure that the correct power rating is supplied.

Setting up your home shop air compressor

After completing your review process regarding the right capacity and size of your home air compressor, the next step is planning how and where to set it up in your home. You can choose to set it up in your garage or your workshop, depending on where you plan to use it.

In addition to your air compressor, there are a number of tools, fittings, and accessories that you can choose from to complete the air compressor system. These accessories and tools must match your compressor product for its optimum performance.

Finding the right location for the air compressor is very important. It has to be placed centrally in your workspace so that you can avoid long hose runs and air-lines. It is important to be aware of the fact that long runs reduce your compressor’s efficiency and result in a drop in PSI strength and CFM delivery.

Another important factor you must take into consideration while selecting the placement of your air compressor is noise. Some compressor units generate higher decibel levels while others don’t. While this information is present in the product specifications, you can email or call your supplier for details if noise is a critical concern for you. 

Some people place their air compressors in an enclosed space to manage the noise. Although this may solve the noise problem, it creates another one as the heat generated by the air compressor has to be disbursed. This is why a sound-resistant container may not be the best strategy for your air compressor’s long-term performance.

While shopping for a home air compressor, it is wise to involve your supplier for the air compressor and air tools. This is because reputable tool providers understand their products and will provide you with the right support so that you make the right decisions the first time. Additionally, they will help you in selecting your air tools and accessories that are compatible with your air compressor.

What are the essential air tools and air compressor accessories?

You will accomplish some very productive work while using your home shop air compressor and this will be possible only when you use air tools that your air compressor unit supports. There are numerous advantages that air tools offer over electric tools. In fact, most people become accustomed to air tools very quickly and find it very hard to return to electric tools. 

Here is a list of some of the very essential air tools and accessories for air compressors that you must add to your tool collection.  

  •     Screwdrivers
  •     Drills
  •     Staplers
  •     Grinders
  •     Oils and lubricants
  •     Riveters

Uses for a home air compressor

Some of the common uses for a home air compressor include the following. However, you can add more uses for your air compressor based on your preferences and experience levels.

  •     Blowing leaves and dirt off your porch
  •     Blowing the wood dust off furniture after sanding, before you paint
  •     Filling balloons, or tires of cars, bikes, or wheelbarrows
  •     Nailing staples or small nails
  •     Grinding or sanding while using a pneumatic tool
  •     Spray painting using a spray gun
  •     Driving bolts using an impact wrench

Product reviews for air compressors

Here are some of the best home shop air compressors you can choose from. They range from the best ones for large projects to small air compressors for your DIY projects.

Rolair AB5Plus

This oil-less single-stage air compressor is efficient, powerful, and quiet. The Rolair AB5Plus cast aluminum dual cylinder pump stores one gallon of compressed air. 

The Rolair is portable and lightweight and comes with a braided power cord and discharge hose that make it easy to use. The low amp draws on its 0.5 horsepower engine and 17000 RPM motor functions on only 2.8 amps.

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Metabo HPT

The Metabo HPT is lightweight and portable and has a one-gallon tank. It operates ultra-quietly at just 59dBs and is protected by its steel roll cage with rubber grips. Its industrial pump is oil-free making it durable and maintenance-free. 

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Craftsman Air Compressor

This 6-gallon pancake air compressor maximizes stored air and portability. Its oil-free pump ensures durability and no maintenance requirements. The 150 max PSI makes it compatible with several applications. 

The Caftsman Air Compressor unit has a quick recovery time and starts up easily in cold weather. The accessory kit includes 13 important tools and the air compressors come with a one-year limited warranty.

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Freeman PE20V1GCK

The Freeman PE20V1GCK cordless and portable air compressor model is perfect for handling inflation requirements and powering pneumatic tools. Its 20-volt rechargeable battery can drive approximately 700 nails per charge. 

The oil-free electric motor requires little maintenance. The air compressor has 2 gauges for output air pressure and tank pressure, while the locking pressure regulator ensures consistency and accuracy. 

You can move this unit around the house with its padded carry handle.

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Senco PC1010

The Senco PC1010 is portable and lightweight which makes it easy to move around your worksite. It comes with a one-gallon capacity and delivers 20-44 drives in a minute. 

This model is perfect for a range of home improvement jobs and a range of renovations, in addition to crafts and hobbies. This air compressor model comes with a one-year warranty. 

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You are now all set to choose, purchase and use your new home air compressor!

 

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