Best Air Compressor in 2021: Ultimately, the excellent air compressor has enough PSI to run your pneumatic tools.

Unless you get a corded version, your nail gun is useless if you don’t have an air compressor. It’s important to know that your pneumatic tools require the right air compressor, and there are different versions available. Ultimately, the best air compressor is one that has enough PSI to run the tool.

How does an industrial air compressor work? It pressurizes the air inside so that it powers the nail gun.

Most air compressors don’t have to be industrial-sized, especially if you’re doing DIY projects around the house. With that, small businesses don’t require an industrial air compressor.

Here are the best options:

Top Non-portable and Portable Air Compressors:

9.5
Best Air Compressor in 2021: Ultimately, the excellent air compressor has enough PSI to run your pneumatic tools.

Makita MAC5200 Big Bore 3.0 HP Professional's Choice

f mobility is a top priority, this powerful and versatile 5.2-gallon air compressor is unbeatable. Ultimately, it yields a 6.5 CFM at 90 PSI through 6.9 CFM at 40 PSI. With this range, you can do just about any job at all.
9.5
Best Air Compressor in 2021: Ultimately, the excellent air compressor has enough PSI to run your pneumatic tools.

California Air Tools CAT-4610AC Ultra-Quiet Ultra-Quiet!

The California Air Tools brand offers the perfect blend of efficiency, aesthetics, durability, and power with its air compressor. In fact, it’s earned a place for the best air compressors for many reasons.
9
Best Air Compressor in 2021: Ultimately, the excellent air compressor has enough PSI to run your pneumatic tools.

Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5HP Compressor Best Performance

the Makita brand features an oil-lubricated pump to make it run a bit cooler. With that, the machine sees less wear and has a longer lifespan
8.5
Best Air Compressor in 2021: Ultimately, the excellent air compressor has enough PSI to run your pneumatic tools.

Porter-Cable PCFP12234 3-Tool Combo Kit with Air Hose High in demand

To round it all out, there’s a belt hook available to hold the nailers while you’re moving around.
8.5
Best Air Compressor in 2021: Ultimately, the excellent air compressor has enough PSI to run your pneumatic tools.

Eagle EA-3000 – Silent Air Compressor Silent!

semi-professional framer or fix cars in your spare time, this could be a perfect choice!
8
Best Air Compressor in 2021: Ultimately, the excellent air compressor has enough PSI to run your pneumatic tools.

Porter-Cable C2002-WK Oil-free UMC Pancake Compressor Portable Design

This compressor offers High-Flo air technology to prevent this problem.
7.5
Best Air Compressor in 2021: Ultimately, the excellent air compressor has enough PSI to run your pneumatic tools.

Grip-Rite GR152CM 1.5-HP Compressor Durability

Though it’s a bit loud, it’s in range for similar air compressors. Plus, it has a lifespan of about 4,000 hours.

Full Reviews:

Makita MAC5200 Big Bore 3.0 HP

Professional’s Choice
When you’re on a job site and framing, you require a powerful air compressor to face any task assigned for it. The Makita MAC5200 is a portable air compressor that has everything you need. With that, you get a state-of-the-art design with the Makita MAC5200. The wide-bore cylinder offers a large capacity, so you can use it professionally.
9.5Expert Score
Durable cast iron cylinder reduces wear and increases pump life

If mobility is a top priority, this powerful and versatile 5.2-gallon air compressor is unbeatable.

Good Performance
10
Easy Maintenance
10
Pros
  • Cast-iron cylinder
  • Up to 140 PSI
  • 40 to 90 PSI for delivery pressure
  • 8-inch wheels
  • Storage area
  • Four rubber feet
  • Pressure gauges included
  • Roll-cage construction
Cons
  • Quite noisy

When you’re on a job site and framing, you require a powerful air compressor to face any task assigned for it. The Makita MAC5200 is a portable air compressor that has everything you need.

Makita MAC5200 Big Bore 3.0 HP Air Compressor

If mobility is a top priority, this powerful and versatile 5.2-gallon air compressor is unbeatable. Ultimately, it yields a 6.5 CFM at 90 PSI through 6.9 CFM at 40 PSI. With this range, you can do just about any job at all.

You get a 3HP motor in the compressor, even at 13.8 amps. Though this consumes a bit more electricity, your goal here is performance.

With that, you get a state-of-the-art design with the Makita MAC5200. The wide-bore cylinder offers a large capacity, so you can use it professionally.

On top of it all, the Makita brand focuses on durability. It has oil-based lubrication to prevent wear and tear, heat-trapping, and friction. This gives you a longer lifespan.

To make it transportable, it offers a compact size. With that, it features a rugged steel frame that can go almost anywhere. You also get an anti-slip grip on the handle to carry with you.

Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5HP

Best Performance
When compactness and portability are a concern for you, air compressor size matters. Framers usually have to compromise with power and capacity. That no longer happens with the Makita MAC2400 Big Bore!
9Expert Score
lower noise

This 4.2-gallon air compressor features a cast-iron pump and big bore cylinders.

Efficiency
9
Pump Durability
8.5
Pros
  • Powered by 2.5HP motor
  • Quick recovery times
  • Operating pressures of 40 to 90 PSI
  • Easy to remove parts and maintain
  • Reduced wear because of the cast-iron cylinder
  • Lower RPM for higher durability
  • Copper discharge tube to offer heat dissipation
Cons
  • Still noisy, though not as bad as others

When compactness and portability are a concern for you, air compressor size matters. Framers usually have to compromise with power and capacity. That no longer happens with the Makita MAC2400 Big Bore!

This 4.2-gallon air compressor features a cast-iron pump and big bore cylinders. Therefore, this offers fast recovery times from compressed air.

Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5HP Air Compressor

You never have to struggle with tiny tanks using this air compressor. It operates at 130 PSI and delivers between 40 and 90 PSI. Regardless, you could power two nailers at once or easily air up car tires.

Most oil-lubricated compressors don’t do much for standard cubic feet per minute, but this one has a boost because of the diameter piston inside. Therefore, you get faster recovery times and more CFM to work with.

Over-consumption of fuel and heat are the biggest problems with air compressors. However, the Makita brand features an oil-lubricated pump to make it run a bit cooler. With that, the machine sees less wear and has a longer lifespan.

Typically, there are challenges when working outside and using an air compressor. However, the roller-cage design and sturdy construction help here.

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Porter-Cable PCFP12234 3-Tool Combo Kit with Air Hose

High in demand
Most portable air compressors still weigh a bit extra, but this one is just 30 pounds. You should be aware that this is an oil-free air compressor. Therefore, the accessories and parts come oil-free. That means there’s virtually no maintenance at all. However, this also means you can’t use oil-lubricated tools with this machine.
8.5Expert Score
Innovative shroud allows for better protection and portability

The biggest factor for the air compressor is its capacity and size. This portable air compressor can power up to five tools at once, which is amazing power output.

Criteria name
10
Criteria name
10
Pros
  • Max PSI of 150
  • Comes with a finish nailer, brad nailer, and crown stapler Provides 10 amps of current Weighs 30 pounds Noise-canceling design
  • Provides 10amps of current
  • Weighs 30 pounds
  • Noise-canceling design
Cons
  • Regular drops are common before the air goes in the hose

When you’re trying to make your pneumatic tools work, the 6-gallon air compressor from Porter-Cable has you covered.

The biggest factor for the air compressor is its capacity and size. This portable air compressor can power up to five tools at once, which is amazing power output.

On top of that, the motor runs on 120V, so it’s great for most commercial needs. Plus, you don’t have high electricity bills.

Porter Cable PCFP12234 3 Tool Combo Kit with Air Hose 1 - Best Air Compressor in 2021: Ultimately, the excellent air compressor has enough PSI to run your pneumatic tools. - HandyMan.Guide - Air Compressor

Most portable air compressors still weigh a bit extra, but this one is just 30 pounds. You should be aware that this is an oil-free air compressor. Therefore, the accessories and parts come oil-free. That means there’s virtually no maintenance at all. However, this also means you can’t use oil-lubricated tools with this machine.

In the combo kit, you get the compressor, a 16-gauge finish nailer, an 18-gauge brad nailer, and an 18-gauge crown stapler. Ultimately, the finish nailer offers a rear exhaust to blow dirt away, while the brad nailer handles large fasteners.

To round it all out, there’s a belt hook available to hold the nailers while you’re moving around. You also get some fasteners, so you can get started immediately.

Eagle EA-3000 – Silent Air Compressor

Excellent Choice
Whether you’re focused on functionality or noise, air compressors come in various styles and options. With that, you also need to think about electricity consumption. The Eagle Silent Series has an electric motor and ensures full-on operation. Plus, it only uses 6.5 amps. Who says electric compressors have to use tons of electricity?
8.5Expert Score
Better protection and portability

You can easily power your pneumatic tool or check the air pressure in your car tires with this air compressor.

Capacity
9.5
Increased life
9
Pros
  • 1HP motor
  • Draws little energy
  • Extra steel protection
  • More energy efficiency
  • Slow RPM motor
  • Low-decibel product
  • 1-gallon fuel capacity
  • Oil-free pump
Cons
  • Weighs almost 40 pounds

Whether you’re focused on functionality or noise, air compressors come in various styles and options. With that, you also need to think about electricity consumption. The Eagle Silent Series has an electric motor and ensures full-on operation. Plus, it only uses 6.5 amps. Who says electric compressors have to use tons of electricity?

Eagle EA-3000 Silent Series Air Compressor

You can easily power your pneumatic tool or check the air pressure in your car tires with this air compressor. Plus, it offers great functionality with a 1HP motor and 100 to 125 PSI. Whether you’re a semi-professional framer or fix cars in your spare time, this could be a perfect choice!

This compressor comes with a pressure gauge, though it’s delicate. To offset that, the brand used a steel cage to protect it. Plus, this gauge faces at a 65-degree angle, so it’s easy to see while you work.

Though it’s not portable, it isn’t that hard to move around. Still, it’s a bit heavier than some others from the brand at 39.7 pounds. Those who typically work in one area shouldn’t have any trouble, though.

California Air Tools CAT-4610AC Ultra-Quiet Air Compressor

Heavy-duty applications
You are likely focused on durability. This oil-free compressor has a 3000-hour lifespan, so it’s good to go for many years to come. Plus, the duty cycle ensures that it runs longer without ruining the high-efficiency motor. On top of that, it uses an oil-free piston design, so there’s little maintenance to do. If that weren’t enough, it’s made of aluminum to prevent rust and corrosion.
9.5Expert Score
Ultra Quiet only 60 Decibels

The California Air Tools brand offers the perfect blend of efficiency, aesthetics, durability, and power with its air compressor. In fact, it’s earned a place for the best air compressors for many reasons.

Durability
9.5
Low maintenance
9
Pros
  • Max PSI of 120
  • Large dual-piston
  • Long lifespan
  • Ultra-quiet
  • Easy to start
  • Rust-free aluminum construction
Cons
  • Weighs 45.5 pounds
California Air Tools CAT-4610AC Ultra-Quiet Air Compressor

The California Air Tools brand offers the perfect blend of efficiency, aesthetics, durability, and power with its air compressor. In fact, it’s earned a place for the best air compressors for many reasons.

You’re sure to appreciate that this is an ultra-quiet air compressor and has a 1HP motor that revs to 2HP at its peak. Plus, the airflow is rated for 3.10 CFM with 40 PSI. If you boost the PSI levels to 90, this decreases the CFM to 2.20. Regardless, it’s sure to be one of the greatest air compressors you’ve ever worked with.

You are likely focused on durability. This oil-free compressor has a 3000-hour lifespan, so it’s good to go for many years to come. Plus, the duty cycle ensures that it runs longer without ruining the high-efficiency motor. On top of that, it uses an oil-free piston design, so there’s little maintenance to do. If that weren’t enough, it’s made of aluminum to prevent rust and corrosion.

Porter-Cable C2002-WK Oil-free UMC Pancake Compressor

Portable Design
Its pancake-style construction offers more stability while at work. With that, you get a water drain valve and rubber covers. Ultimately, the water drain valve prevents it from flooding. Oil-free air compressors like this have an induction motor inside to offer better performance and an extended lifespan. Whether you’re using it as a tire inflator or as a finish nailer, this product can serve you well.
8Expert Score
portable air compressor

Air compressors don’t always have to be bulky or have double cylinders for framers. You can still get the best pancake air compressor from Porter-Cable without all that.

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starts easily in cold weather
10
easily support two users
10
Pros
  • Max PSI of 150
  • 6-gallon capacity
  • Pancake style
  • Compact construction
  • Protective rubber on the legs
  • 13 accessories included Quick recovery time
  • 25-foot hose
Cons
  • The brushed motor may require more replacements

Air compressors don’t always have to be bulky or have double cylinders for framers. You can still get the best pancake air compressor from Porter-Cable without all that.

Porter Cable C2002 WK Oil free UMC Pancake Compressor 1 - Best Air Compressor in 2021: Ultimately, the excellent air compressor has enough PSI to run your pneumatic tools. - HandyMan.Guide - Air Compressor

Its pancake-style construction offers more stability while at work. With that, you get a water drain valve and rubber covers. Ultimately, the water drain valve prevents it from flooding.

You’re sure to appreciate that you can get 150 PSI compressed air from this small air compressor, too. On top of that, it offers a quick recovery time. That’s because of the larger air tank that holds 6 gallons of compressed air.

Oil-free air compressors like this have an induction motor inside to offer better performance and an extended lifespan. Whether you’re using it as a tire inflator or as a finish nailer, this product can serve you well.

To protect the components, it comes with a durable container. Plus, this air compressor has 13 accessories. You can check tire pressure with the tire gauge. There’s also a quick coupler, plugs, a tire chuck, a nylon hose, and a blowgun!

Many times, air compressors have an issue with pressure drop, but that’s not the case here. This compressor offers High-Flo air technology to prevent this problem.

With that, you also get a 25-foot hose, so you can go just about anywhere.

Grip-Rite GR152CM 1.5-HP Compressor

Durability
The last of the air compressors on the list is the Grip-Rite industrial air compressor. It’s a low-budget option, so you may not be able to use it with heavier workloads. With that, it comes with a 1.5HP electric motor, so it can easily handle paint sprayers and nail guns.
7.5Expert Score
Perfect for finishing tools

Everyone can enjoy oil-free compressors like this. It draws little power and has a 2-gallon air tank. That means it’s suitable for light jobs.

jobsite durability
10
light duty
10
Pros
  • Oil-free pump
  • 12-second recovery time
  • 37 pounds
  • 1.5HP motor
  • Low center of gravity
  • Rugged construction
Cons
  • No accessories included

The last of the air compressors on the list is the Grip-Rite industrial air compressor. It’s a low-budget option, so you may not be able to use it with heavier workloads. With that, it comes with a 1.5HP electric motor, so it can easily handle paint sprayers and nail guns.

Grip-Rite GR152CM 1.5-HP Compressor

You’re sure to appreciate the compact and sturdy construction here. Plus, the center of gravity is low and close to the ground. However, you should be aware that there’s some instability when it’s on an uneven surface.

Everyone can enjoy oil-free compressors like this. It draws little power and has a 2-gallon air tank. That means it’s suitable for light jobs. It takes 50 seconds to pump it up and about 12 seconds to recover. Therefore, you can complete all your tasks quickly.

Though it’s a bit loud, it’s in range for similar air compressors. Plus, it has a lifespan of about 4,000 hours.

Since it has an oil-less pump, you don’t have to do much maintenance on it. There’s also a roll cage to keep it safe.

Buyer’s Guide for the Best Air Compressor

You’re sure to find that the average air compressor features make all the difference. Though you know which products are the best, you may still wonder how to choose the right air compressor for your needs.

It comes down to your preferences and budget, but there are other things to consider. Here are the factors you should understand when buying an air compressor for framing and nailing:

PSI

Pounds per square inch (PSI) is the measurement of pressure that your air compressor could deliver while you’re working.

The pounds per square inch can differ a lot based on the CFM (which you learn about below.) Therefore, don’t expect to use the air compressor at max PSI all the time. Along with that, you can’t use a model that delivers higher PSI levels than what you need. It wastes energy and doesn’t make any difference for the job.

CFM

The cubic feet per minute is a key player in determining how an air compressor performs. This is the calculation of the air pressure that the compressor can deliver.

The CFM of the air compressor and requirements for the nail gun should be the same. If they don’t sync, you could have a malfunction or damage to the gun or the compressor.

Design

There are four different designs available – the hot dog air compressor, pancake air compressor, twin-stack, and wheelbarrow style. Each one has a different structure and can have various outputs and power. Here’s what you should know:

  • Pancake Compressors – These air compressors feature a round and flat air storage area. They take up less space.
  • Hot-Dog Style Compressors – With these air compressors, there is a horizontal design and one cylindrical tank.
  • Twin Stack Compressors – A twin-stack compressor uses two horizontal tanks and has more air capacity because of this.
  • Wheelbarrow Compressors – You get two cylindrical tanks with a wheelbarrow compressor, but they are slightly laid down. This often makes it easier to move.

Tank Size

The tank of the air compressor is measured solely in gallons. Because a nail gun is an intermittent tool (meaning it doesn’t run all the time), you don’t need such a large tank for the pressurized air.

However, the size air compressor you choose depends on what tasks you’re completing. For example, if you plan to air up tires, you may want bigger air compressor tanks. That way, you don’t have to use some air, plug up the tire, and then go back to it a bit later.

For nailers, you want a tank size of 2 to 6 gallons, and the higher side works well for automotive needs. Still, you can find bigger air compressors. If you plan to use the nail guns for heavier workloads, it’s best to get a larger one. While bigger isn’t always better, it could be for your tasks!

Noise

Air compressors are motor-driven machines, so they have to create noise. It’s important to figure out which noise level is tolerable for you and the area in which you work.

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When you’re at a busy job site, 90 decibels might not be a big deal. You’re already wearing protective gear, such as earplugs, so there’s no risk of damage to your ears. However, when you’re working in your home garage, that could be too high.

Even 70 decibels can hurt the ears and make it hard for the people inside to enjoy themselves.

Therefore, you must think about the decibel level when using an air compressor. It might be wise to go with quieter versions, such as the ultra-quiet one mentioned earlier.

Portability

Another crucial factor is portability, at least as far as framing and nailing go. You don’t necessarily want an air compressor that stays in one spot. That way, you can take it with you to any job site. Therefore, mobility and portability are essential here.

This doesn’t necessarily focus on the weight of the air compressor. Heavy ones can be put onto pallets or carrying trolleys to easily roll them around.

Therefore, if you can’t carry the air compressor because it’s too heavy, you may want to get something more compact. Otherwise, you need a large tank with appropriate features to help you wheel it around. Some avid DIYers may consider building their own trolleys. This can save you a lot of money if you have the tools and materials to do that.

Still, you have to think about the durability of the wheels. Could they jam or wear down and break? Choose to carry trolleys with big wheels to ensure that there aren’t any problems later down the line.

Internal Temperature

As the air compressor works, it goes through many processes. Therefore, it’s bound to create heat and plenty of it.

That’s why many of the models feature an oil-lubricated pump. This reduces how much friction the air compressor sees, which also reduces the amount of heat. Sometimes, you can get air compressors that offer built-in devices for heat dissipation. They’re often more expensive, but they can help you in the long run.

If you know that the compressor could be used often and for heavy workloads, you need to think about the internal temperature. Otherwise, it negatively affects the machine’s performance and could do serious damage, too.

Cylinder Material

You may not think that the material used for the cylinder matters, but it is quite crucial. Ultimately, the cylinder is what stores the compressed air once it’s made. Therefore, it’s exposed to oxygen pretty much all the time.

As everyone probably knows, oxygen and metal cause rust because of the oxidation process. To prevent your air compressor from rusting, you need to consider the right material. Aluminum and stainless steel work best here.

Even then, that doesn’t necessarily prevent rust from happening. For example, if you leave the air compressor in a damp area, you may want to consider options with thick powder coating on the outside. That way, it further protects the cylinder from wear and rust.

Protection from Outdoor Mishaps

Most framers take their air compressor with them to outdoor job sites. It’s part of the game, but that could mean that the compressor gets damaged if something falls on it, or it rolls away.

You may not realize it, but the air compressor is a delicate piece of machinery and features electrical parts. Therefore, you don’t want to see it damaged.

It’s crucial to find a sturdy frame for the air compressor. That way, it acts as a protective barrier. With that, you may want a longer electrical cord so that you can plug it into the electrical outlet away from the rest of the team.

Electricity Consumption

Another consideration to focus on here is how much electricity the air compressor consumes. You need a constant supply of power to keep the compressor going, and it could eat up a lot.

Therefore, you should focus on how many amps of power the compressor requires to work. This review tried to provide that information whenever it was possible. Remember, when it needs less amperage, it consumes less power!

Power Supply

Typically, you can find electric air compressors and gas-powered air compressors.

Many people feel that electric models are more convenient. They don’t need as much maintenance, can be quieter, and don’t cost as much to run. With that, you’re not rushing to the gas station all the time to get more fuel for stationary air compressors.

Still, gas-powered models do offer some benefits over the electric versions. For one, there’s more mobility. If you’re working in a remote area, and there’s no electricity, this could be the only option available to you.

With that, gas-fueled compressors offer more power, even if they have a smaller tank size. This review didn’t include any compressors with a gas engine. That is mainly because of the pollution and other concerns.

However, you can cut the power cord and get a gasoline-powered model if that’s what you like best. It’s still a compact compressor and is suitable for cold weather.

Conclusion

With so many air compressor reviews out there, it’s often hard to read just one. However, the goal here was to ensure that you had all the information necessary to determine what the best air compressors are for pneumatic tools.

However, it went above and beyond to focus on the automotive industry because you never know when you might have a flat tire. There’s no need to call roadside assistance when you have a portable compressor. It does everything you need and so much more!

With that said, we feel that the best air compressor is the one from California Air Tools. The ultra-quiet air compressor is portable and runs on electricity. It doesn’t require oil, so there are fewer maintenance issues. Plus, it has a powerful motor that can go up to 2HP when necessary.

Itamar Ben Dor

My father is a practical engineer, and as a hobby he was also involved in construction, renovations, carpentry and woodwork at home; So there was always tools, saws, drills and more at home. Already I was a little kid Dad and I would renovate the house. Once we built a shed for garden tools, once we did flooring for the garden, once we renovated the bathroom and that’s the way it is. Long before there was an internet, directories and plans. We would build things, kitchen cabinets, install electrical appliances, do flooring, pour concrete and more ... I in this blog want to pass on to you the experience I have gained over the last 20 plus-minus years since I was a child to this day and give you information about the best tools, project plans, guides and more.

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