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Here’s How you can Find the Best Air Compressor for Home Use…

So DIY is your bag? What better addition to your home maintenance capability could there be than a great quality air compressor? The compressor marketplace is filled with a wide selection of models and with vendors all vying for your hard-earned cash, it’s sometimes hard to work out what’s the best way to sort the contenders from the wannabes.

Read on here to learn about the important criteria you'll need to consider and if that’s not enough read on even further to find out about some of the top contenders we’ve sifted out through a range of home air compressor reviews.​

The Home-Use Air Compressor Buying Guide

Home compressor guide

Choosing the type of air compressor to suit your needs can be a bit of a nightmare if you are new to the world of air tools. With so many models on offer, where do you start if you want to avoid an expensive purchasing mistake. We think it’s all about narrowing down your choices so we’d suggest three ways of beginning.

1. What’s the Plan?

Whatever else you think of, start by deciding what tasks your compressor will be helping you out with. Are you looking for help with the occasional flat tyre or pool inflatable or is it something more substantial such as nailing planks that need short bursts of high pressure?

Look at the tools you plan to use and find out how much compressor oomph they need. These tools are rated in standard cubic feet per minute.

Think about how often you expect to use your compressor. For less frequent use, an 110-volt oil free model is the way to go. For more frequent use, find a larger 220-volt model most likely needing to be oil lubricated.​

2. Technical Nightmare

Reading a spec sheet about anything can sometimes be a bit daunting and air compressors can take daunting to a new level. Look out for PSI or pounds per square inch. It’s a measure of compressors oomph and a good one should work comfortably at 90 PSI.

Don’t forget to out for the standard cubic feet per minute (SCFM) this tells you a bit about the sort of tools a compressor will power. Look at your tools and check the required SCFM and multiply by 1.5 to get the SCFM rating you need.

Finally, think about tank size. The larger amount of compressed air a tank will hold; the more work your compressor can do before the air needs to be replenished. Ten gallons is great but just like a ten-gallon hat – you may not have enough space for storage.​

3. Pancake vs. Hot Dog vs. Twin Stack

At first glance, air compressor types seem to be about food but that’s why we have second glances. Pancake air compressors are named after your favourite breakfast because the air tank is described as looking like a pancake.

Well, nothing I’ve ever bought for a Maccie D breakfast looks like this but the relatively flat tanks on these compressors mean a compressor is lighter in weight and easy to store.

Hot Dog compressors (see, more food) are called this after the shape of their tanks. They are often slightly larger and will drive a nail or staple guns.

At the larger end of the home compressor range is the non-food Twin stack (is that a sandwich, though?). With two air tanks, mounted one above the other, this type of machine stores more air, often at higher pressure so will suit the most determined DIYer, and may even suit light professional use.​

Best Home Air Compressor Reviews

There’s air compressors, and then there’s home air compressors – it all depends on the points we just spoke about, because its not a ‘one size fits all’ solution (it never is when it comes to power tools, right?)

The following 3 compressors are (in our opinion) the best air compressors for home use. Get excited.​

The 3 Best Home Air Compressors in 2016

California Air Tools 

CAT-10020

The California Air Tools 10020

Capacity: 10 gallons

Noise Level: 70 dB 

Weight: 88 pounds

1 Year Warranty

Makita 

MAC 2400

the makita mac2400 big bore 25 hp air compressor

Capacity: 4.2 gallons

Noise Level: 79 dB 

Weight: 81 pounds

1 Year Warranty

Porter Cable
 

 C2002-WK

the porter cable pcfp02003 35 gallon 135 psi pancake compressor

Capacity: 6 gallons

Noise Level: 82 dB 

Weight: 34 pounds

1 Year Warranty


1. The California Air Tools 10020

Quick Facts:

  • Capacity: 10 gallons
  • Noise Level: 70 dB – you get to hear yourself speak
  • Weight: 88 pounds – not exactly a light weight
  • Warranty: one year
The California Air Tools 10020

The problem with using an air compressor indoors is the noise so the California Air Tools CAT -10020 gets off to a great start – it’s a damn quiet air compressor. At 70 decibels it is quieter than the average conversation. Despite this, it has a two horsepower motor that keeps the noise down by powering two pistons to fill up the tank.

Providing 5.3 SCFM, it will also drive most of the air tools you’re likely to need at home. The only downer is the physical appearance; it’s a bit well…., industrial; but who cares. It’s small enough to fit in a cupboard so you certainly don’t need to look at it when it’s not being used

PROS

  • Ssshhh! No need to worry about disturbing the neighbours
  • Sturdy construction
  • The tank, even at 10 gallons, refills quickly
  • Ready to use out of the box (well…. almost)

CONS

  • Wheels not exactly the best – that’s why we didn’t mention them

The Verdict:  If you're looking for an air compressor to keep the peace, then look no further. At just 790dB, the CAT-100200 provides a weighty 10 gallons of compressed air that is enough to support most air driven tools that are needed at home.

It would probably stop short at grinding and spraying applications but for most DIYers needs this compressor should suit. It even supports dual lines so when there’s a larger task on hand you can get it done twice as quick.


2. The Makita MAC 2400

Quick Facts:

  • Capacity: 4.2 gallon
  • Noise Level: 79 dB – more than respectably quiet
  • Weight: 81 pounds - ouch
  • Warranty: one year
the makita mac2400 big bore 25 hp air compressor

As soon as you see the up and over twin tanks you know you’ve got a real compressor on your hands with the Makita Mac 2400. Everything about this compressor says toughness and durability.

The pump is made from cast iron (so the whole thing is a bit heavier than other models); it features a roll cage construction that protects the unit from bumps and knocks as you move it around and, of course, the twin tanks can store an impressive 4.2 gallons of compressed air.

The motor is a 2.5 horse power motor that is particularly efficient, which means no hanging around for the tank to refill, it goes from empty to 130 PSI in 80 seconds but remarkably, due to its low amp draw it is unlikely to trip out your power supply every time the tanks needs a refill.

PROS

  • Larger bore piston for quieter operation and less wear and tear
  • Facility to run two tools side by side
  • Rough, tough design stops accidental damage
  • Powerful enough for demanding DIYers
  • Safety design on discharge to avoid burns

CONS

  • Weighty, not the easiest to move around at home
  • Oil lubricated so some maintenance needed

The Verdict:  For the more demanding home improvers, this solid and weighty compressor should prove a very reliable work mate. The excellent build quality means you can feel confident that you’ll be able to rely on the tank after tank of compressed air exactly when you need it and with just a little effort exactly where you need it as well.


3. The Porter Cable C2002-WK

Quick Facts:

  • Capacity: 6 gallons
  • Noise Level: 82 dB – you'll need your ear-muffs for this one
  • Weight: 34 pounds but this is no lightweight compressor
  • Warranty: one year (on compressor components)
the porter cable pcfp02003 35 gallon 135 psi pancake compressor

Pancake compressors are excellent choices for the home for a number of reasons. With the Porter Cable C2002-WK, you get a compressor that delivers 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI, more than enough for most tasks around the home and home workshop.

The motor quickly fills the six-gallon tank but most important of all, due to its compact design it has a small footprint so can be easily stored in a cupboard or under a workbench when not in use.

Weighing in at just 34 pounds you don’t need to be an Olympic weightlifter to move it around the home, garden or garage where it can undertake a wide number of tasks.

These days, life is all about accessorising and joy of joy this little beauty comes with a 13-piece accessory kit that includes a 25-foot hose, a tyre chuck, a blow gun and attachment, a tyre gauge, quick couplers, plugs and Teflon tape.

PROS

  • Small footprint means easy storage
  • Oil-free pump so no maintenance required
  • 6-gallon pancake tank also provides stability

CONS

  • Pardon – oh sorry, it’s BIT ON THE NOISY SIDE!
  • Break in procedure to follow when first used

Best suited for: 

The Verdict - All things considered, Porter-Cable C2002-WK is an ideal compressor for home use. Whether maintenance, light construction activity, or tidying up the garden leaves, it's a compressor that you can rely on: It's a small machine at a small machine price that will deliver large machine performance.


It doesn’t matter if you need a compressor simply for inflating tires, for fixing trim carpentry around your home, for building furniture or even for a full-blow home remodel – the above models are tried and trusted, and are hands down the best air compressors for home use.

Visit Budget Air Compressors for more air compressor reviews and buying guides.​