10 Best Air Compressors - The 2019 Buyer’s Guide

10 Best Air Compressors – The 2019 Buyer’s Guide

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When you need more strength and speed than your electric tools have to offer, pneumatic (air-powered) tools are usually the way to go. To make the absolute most of a pneumatic system, you’ll want an air compressor that can provide full power to all the tools you want to use, for as long as you want to use them. In most cases, this will be a stationary compressor with a large tank and a powerful motor.

When choosing a stationary air compressor, I recommend checking the requirements of the tools you intend to use with it before you start shopping. Probably the most important figure to pay attention to is the CFM (cubic feet per minute) rating, which explains the amount of air a tool requires from the compressor to function. Every tool has a specific CFM rating, which should be easy to find either on the tool itself, the packaging, or website description. Choosing a compressor that can supply the CFM needed to operate the tools you wish to use is crucial.

A few other important factors to consider when choosing the right model are what power the motor itself runs on, how much horsepower is available for refilling the tank with air, the PSI rating, single-stage or two-stage compression, and tank size. All of these specs and features will determine what tools you can use with the compressor, how long you can use them, and how often the motor must turn on to replenish the air tank. If you’re still unsure of what your exact requirements may be, you can learn more about compressor features directly from a manufacturer, here. If you’re ready to find the best stationary air compressor for you, use this buyer’s guide to get started and buy with confidence!

Best Air Compressors – Comparison

PictureNameVoltsCFM at 90 PSIPrice
Industrial Air IV5076055 60 gallon 5 hp Two Stage Air Compressor Industrial Air IV507605523013.5Check Latest Price
Ingersoll Rand Type-30 Reciprocating Air Compressor (Fully Packaged) - 7.5 HP, 230 Volt 1 Phase, Model Number 2475N7.5-P Ingersoll Rand Type-3023024.3Check Latest Price
Ingersoll Rand Rotary Screw Compressor - 230 Volts, Single Phase, 7.5 HP, 28 CFM, Model Number UP6-7.5-125 Ingersoll Rand UP6-7.5-12523028Check Latest Price
DeWalt DXCMV5076055 60 gallon 5 hp Two Stage Air Compressor DeWalt 80-Gallon Two-Stage23013.5Check Latest Price
Quincy QT-54 Splash Lubricated Reciprocating Air Compressor - 5 HP, 230 Volt, 1 Phase, 60-Gallon Vertical, Model Number 2V41C60VC Quincy QT-54 Splash-Lubricated23015.4Check Latest Price
5 HP Quiet Air Compressor, 1PH, 2-Stage, 80-Gallon, Vertical, EMAX Yellow, Industrial Series, Model ES05V080I1 by EMAX Compressor EMAX Industrial Series 80-Gallon230Check Latest Price
Powermate Vx PLA4708065 80-Gallon Electric Air Compressor Powermate VX PLA4708065 24014Check Latest Price
NorthStar Portable Gas Powered Air Compressor - Honda GX390 OHV Engine, 30-Gallon Horizontal Tank, 24.4 CFM at 90 PSI Northstar 30-Gallon Mountable24.4Check Latest Price
California Air Tools CAT-60040CAD Ultra Quiet 60 Gal Compressor California Air Tools CAT60040-CAD22010.60Check Latest Price
- Campbell Hausfeld Fully Packaged Air Compressor - 7.5 HP, 24.3 CFM @ 175 PSI, 230 Volt Single Phase, Model# CE7000FP Campbell Hausfeld CE7000FP 23025Check Latest Price

 

Best Stationary Air Compressors for Heavy-Duty Jobs – Our Top 10 Selections

When you need strong, constant, and reliable air power in your workspace, these are 10 of the best stationary air compressors you can turn to.

1. Industrial Air IV5076055 Two-Stage

This 60-gallon, two-stage air compressor by Industrial Air is built for true heavy-duty operation in a professional setting. With up to 15.3 available CFM and a patented pump that’s designed to stay cool even during times of extended operation, you’ll have no trouble running multiple tools at the same time with this compressor. It’s oil-lubricated and belt driven, allowing for smoother operation, less wear on internal components, and decreased vibration when compared to oil-free and chain-driven alternatives. With proper care, you can expect a very long lifespan.

Two of my favorite features on this compressor are rather simple but extremely helpful in terms of maintenance; the oil-level sight glass and 4” extension for the oil drain. Anyone with experience using and maintaining pneumatic equipment could probably tell you just how crucial periodic maintenance of an oil-lubricated compressor really is, and the sight glass makes keeping an eye on your oil level easy. This can help you avoid machine failure caused by low oil, which is especially helpful on this compressor as there is no automatic low-oil shutoff feature. The 4” drain extension just means you can easily change the oil without spilling oil all over your floor and compressor, and who would argue that’s not a plus?

The two-stage, low-RPM pump is another welcome addition to this compressor, keeping a steady air supply ready for multiple tools and continuous use. Other useful features include a strong metal cage that protects the belt from damage on all sides, and thermal overload protection to keep the motor safe from overheating.

What we liked:

  • ASME certified tank
  • 2-stage pump
  • Low-RPM pump to minimize heat
  • Oil-level sight glass
  • 4” oil drain extension
  • Belt-driven

What we didn’t like:

  • No automatic low-oil shutoff

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2. Ingersoll Rand Type-30 Two-Stage

The Ingersoll Rand Type-30 compressor has been in service for over 75 years now, with only a few upgrades ever needed. It is a legend in the pneumatic industry. Not only has it set the standard for air compressor quality, but it has maintained that standard year after year. For a reliable and extremely powerful air compressor with premium features and support, look no further.

One of the most powerful compressors available today, the Type-30 can supply a whopping 24 CFM @ 175 PSI. That’s nearly double the CFM available from many reciprocating compressors in the 60-80-gallon category. With airflow like that, you can rest assured every tool in your pneumatic arsenal will have all the power it needs to work at full capacity— and you can run two of them at the same time if you want.

There is more than one configuration available from the factory with this unit, but for this review, I chose the Premium package. This includes an electric drain for keeping moisture under control, an air-cooled aftercooler, and a low oil level switch for low-oil. All Type-30 units come with a 7.5 horsepower ODP motor, cast-iron two-stage pump, and automatic stop and start control. If it’s within your budget, you can’t go wrong with this Ingersoll Rand compressor.

What we liked:

  • ASME certified tank
  • 24 CFM @ 175 PSI
  • 100% cast-iron 2-stage pump
  • Automatic start/stop control
  • Low-oil switch
  • Finned copper intercooler
  • Air-cooled aftercooler
  • 100% duty cycle

What we didn’t like:

  • Must contact for complete warranty details
  • Extended warranty on pump requires the purchase of maintenance kit

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3. Ingersoll Rand UP6-7.5-125 Rotary

No “best stationary compressor” buyer’s guide would be complete without at least one rotary screw compressor, and choosing another machine from legendary Ingersoll Rand’s catalog seemed like an obvious choice. Rotary screw compressors are typically pricier when compared to reciprocating models (which make up the rest of the compressors in this guide), but you can generally expect increased longevity, much quieter operation, and a lower operating temperature from this compressor design. This unit is no exception.

Rotary screw compressors accomplish these improvements by utilizing a compression mechanism called a rotary screw. This does away with things like piston rings, which are found in most motors and all reciprocating compressors. These piston rings are in constant contact with each other whenever the motor is in operation, meaning these components will wear out over time and are prone to heat buildup. In contrast, the rotary screw achieves pressurization by passing air through a set of sealed and self-contained rotors, which prevents these parts from wearing out.

Additional benefits of the Ingersoll Rand UP6-7.5-125 compressor include an air-cooled aftercooler, integrated compressor, and dryer controls, a single point condensate electric drain system, EnergyStar™ refrigerated air-dryer, and a dew-point indicator.

What we liked:

  • ASME certified tank
  • 28 CFM @ 90 PSI
  • Sheet metal motor-housing for quiet operation
  • Low-oil transfer great for painting applications
  • Air-cooled aftercooler

What we didn’t like:

  • Very large unit (54x29x61”)
  • Expensive
  • Must contact for complete warranty details

Check Latest Price

Also Read: The Best Portable Air Compressors to Choose

4. DeWalt 80-Gallon Two-Stage

This is a simple and well-built unit from a well-known brand. Fans of DeWalt and first-time customers alike will find this compressor to be an excellent choice for work at home, or on the job. The patented two-stage pump design runs at a low RPM for cool, constant operation during even the most demanding of workdays. A robust wire cage provides solid protection for the motor and is large enough to cover the entirety of the 12” cast-iron flywheel, a useful addition that helps to maintain low temperatures.

The DeWalt is one of my favorite units in terms of layout. The gauges, hose-connection ports, and pressure regulator are all located in the motor bracket itself, front-and-center for easy access. It really makes great use of space and keeps all the important equipment safe and out of the way. Additional features worth noting are stainless steel reed valves, an oil-level sight glass, aluminum head and valve plate, and an integrated control panel with air flow regulator.

What we liked:

  • ASME certified tank
  • 2-stage pump
  • Low-RPM pump to minimize heat
  • Oil-level sight glass
  • Shipped with oil in the motor
  • Belt-driven

What we didn’t like:

  • Only 13.5 CFM @ 175 PSI
  • limited warranty on all other parts

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5. Quincy QT-54 Splash-Lubricated

The Quincy QT-54 air compressor is another great choice for painting professionals, and for use in other applications when a low oil blow-by rating is needed. Oil blow-by refers to the amount of oil transferred into the air supply from the motor during operation, and this rating is illustrated by a measurement called PPM, or particles per million. The 5 PPM rating on this compressor is outstanding.

As the name indicates, the U.S.-made Baldor motor is splash lubricated. This helps to keep entry costs low, but keep in mind that this also means maintenance must be performed more often than with alternative lubrication systems. Provided you take good care of your Quincy air compressor and stick to a periodic maintenance schedule this should not be an issue, though it is something to consider if maintenance is not your strong suit.

The remaining features and important specs are not very impressive overall, but far from underwhelming. The reason the QT-54 made this list was not impressive specs, but a proven design that has withstood the test of time. All the technology you get with this package has been around for a very long time, and you can often find compressors exactly like this still running strong after 75 years. If your primary interests in a compressor are reliability, support, and simplicity, this Quincy compressor is a great choice.

What we liked:

  • 2-stage pump
  • Cast-iron flywheel
  • 4-cylinder pump design
  • Aluminum head for better heat dissipation
  • Basic motor and pump assembly easy to repair/replace when needed
  • <5 PPM oil blow-by rating
  • 100% duty cycle

What we didn’t like:

  •  Limited warranty without the purchase of an extended warranty kit
  • Splash-lubrication requires more maintenance
  • High RPM for a “low-RPM” pump (1,310 RPM)
  • Small wire cage only protects one side of the belt

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6. EMAX Industrial Series 80-Gallon

One of the quietest air compressors available today, this Industrial-grade EMAX is ideal for small areas and shared-space operations. The manufacturer claims on their website that the proprietary noise baffling system on this model – The Whisper™ – can reduce dBA (noise rating) by as much as 25%. I have worked in an environment where the offices of receptionists have directly linked the machine shop, and I couldn’t tell you how many times I had to twiddle my thumbs after being asked to stop working during an important phone call. If that situation sounds familiar, I imagine you would benefit greatly from this ultra-quiet compressor.

In addition to the silencing technology, the EMAX compressor also boasts the title of “coolest air compressor in [the] industry”. Claiming to reduce heat by up to 35% when compared to similar industry-leading models, the super-cooling effect is accomplished via a robust intercooler and after-cooler; one of which doubles as a strong protective backing for the motor and pump. This dual-use of the cooling system helps to conserve space and provide further reasoning to equip your small (or shared) workshop with this quiet and compact unit.

You can expect outstanding support for the EMAX compressor, which comes standard with a few-year warranty. That’s almost unheard-of when it comes to air compressors, and I’d say that a warranty of that length indicates a manufacturer who truly stands behind their product. This is one of the most expensive models on this list, but if you need a quiet, compact, and long-lasting stationary air compressor it may be your best option.

What we liked:

  • ASME certified tank
  • 19 CFM @ 100 PSI
  • Low-RPM pump to minimize heat
  • The Whisper™ noise reduction system (up to -25% dBA)
  • Intercooler and after-cooler
  • 2-stage pump
  • Tank drain-pipe for easy oil changes
  • 100% duty-cycle

What we didn’t like:

  • Expensive
  • Wide motor assembly (39” across)

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7. Powermate VX PLA4708065 80-Gallon

The Powermate VX is a bare-bones, but extremely reliable compressor from a manufacturer who has been making quality pneumatic tools since 1965. The single-stage pump may be an unattractive feature at first glance, but a three-cylinder design in place of the more-common two-cylinder assembly helps to produce a competitive 155 max. PSI. This is more than enough to run any of your favorite tools at full capacity, though you may need to wait for pressure when using multiple tools with high air-supply demand.

Features that help to make this otherwise quite humble air compressor shine are an aluminum valve head and valve plate for better heat dissipation, a heavily-reinforced wire cage that protects the belt on all sides, 12” cast-iron flywheel, oil-level sight glass, and an easy-access oil fill location.

It should be noted that this is the only unit to make this buyer’s guide which does not come equipped with an ASME certified tank. ASME stands for American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and their seal of approval is required for true industrial-grade air pneumatic tools. While the steel tank found on the Powermate VX may not be ASME certified, don’t let that be a deal-breaker if this unit fulfills all your other requirements for a home workshop compressor. If you are equipping your place of business with a new compressor, however; I recommend choosing an ASME certified compressor from this list.

What we liked:

  • Lightweight for easy installation (354 lbs.)
  • Belt-driven
  • 3-cylinder pump
  • 12” flywheel
  • Oil-level sight glass
  • Limited year warranty

What we didn’t like:

  • Only 16.1 CFM @ 40 PSI
  • Single-stage pump
  • Not ASME certified

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Also Read: Best Pancake Air Compressor Reviews – Choose the Right One

8. Northstar 30-Gallon Mountable

If you’re looking for a stationary compressor to mount on the outside of your service vehicle, this top-of-the-line Northstar machine should be one of your first considerations. The compact design, low-vibration technology (LVT), and gas power-supply make this a truly versatile compressor, able to be used as a mounted or portable unit, depending on your requirements for the day.

Even with a tank capacity of only 30 gallons, you can expect a strong, steady air-supply from this unit. The two-stage cast-iron pump and powerful Honda GX motor provide an astounding 24.4 CFM @ 90 PSI and a max. PSI of 175. That’s quite impressive considering this compressor is (at most) only half the size of any other unit on this list.

It probably goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway), the gas motor on this air compressor means you won’t be placing this inside your shop for use indoors. You can, however, put it just about anywhere else. Mounted or free-standing, on an ATV or your pickup, the Northstar portable/stationary air compressor is up to any challenge.

What we liked:

  • ASME certified tank
  • 2-stage pump
  • 24.4 CFM @ 90 PSI
  • Both portable and mountable
  • Full metal belt-drive enclosure
  • V-style cylinder design for superior cooling
  • Dual crankshaft bearings for decreased vibration
  • 100% duty cycle
  • Limited warranty (on all parts except motor)

What we didn’t like:

  • Only 30-gallon capacity
  • Hard-to-reach drain valve
  • Expensive

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9. California Air Tools CAT60040-CAD

If you want to install an air compressor and forget that it’s there until you need it, the California Air Tools Ultra Quiet compressor is probably your safest bet. Not only does the motor produce a mere 75 decibels (about as loud as a household vacuum cleaner), but it also comes equipped with an oil-free pump for virtually maintenance-free operation. It’s quiet, it’s easy to maintain, it’s slim, and it comes in a nice neutral-gray color. This is the air compressor you get you when you don’t want an air compressor taking up space in your shop and drowning out conversations, but you really need an air compressor in your shop.

With only 10.6 CFM @ 90 PSI, there does appear to be somewhat of a tradeoff between available power and comfort features, like quieter and oil-free operation. Luckily, a tank-recovery time of just under 7 minutes helps ensure that you won’t waste too much time waiting for air— and when it’s only as loud as a vacuum cleaner you might even be able to enjoy a small break next to the compressor when waiting for air. Additional features worth mentioning are dual pressure gauges, the EZ-1 automatic drain system, and a condor pressure switch.

What we liked:

  • ASME certified tank
  • Lightweight for easy installation (213 lbs.)
  • Super quiet motor (only 75 dB)
  • Oil-free pump for low-maintenance
  • EZ-1 automatic drain valve

What we didn’t like:

  • Only 10.6 CFM @ 90 PSI
  • Limited warranty
  • Less than 100% duty cycle

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10. Campbell Hausfeld CE7000FP

This Campbell Hausfeld compressor is one of the most well-rounded stationary models available today. With up to 24.5 CFM @ 175 PSI, there are very few (if any) tasks too large for this machine, and you will have no trouble operating multiple tools at once and at full capacity. This is a true commercial-grade air compressor, with all the features and power you would expect from a machine labeled as such.

Other standard equipment includes an automatic drain-valve, a belt-guard-mounted after-cooler for reduced condensation and wear from high temperatures, and special isolation pads designed to minimize vibration and improve durability. Even with the added longevity that’s practically guaranteed with these additional features, this unit also comes with a three-year limited warranty, just in case you’re on the fence. If you are in the market for a top-of-the-line compressor and you want to ensure you’re buying from a real pneumatic authority, this Campbell Hausfeld is sure to satisfy.

What we liked:

  • ASME certified tank
  • Automatic drain-valve
  • 24.5 CFM @ 175 PSI
  • 2-stage pump
  • After-cooler for heat dissipation and reduced condensation
  • Limited warranty

What we didn’t like:

  • Expensive
  • Less than 100% duty cycle

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Final Verdict – Choosing the Best Stationary Air Compressor for Your Project

There are many different types of stationary compressor, and each has its own strengths and limitations. Within each category, you will find numerous configurations from a wide variety of manufacturers, which can make finding the best option for your workspace seems like a daunting task. It doesn’t need to be. The process you use to decide what you need should be straightforward, and this buyer’s guide should help you get started down the right path.

The first steps you take when setting up your first pneumatic system should include determining what power source you have available, finding the CFM ratings for each of the pneumatic tools you will use with your compressor, checking how much space you have available, and perhaps doing a quick search to see if any of the tools you will be using require a specific style of air compressor. Once you have that information, head to the product page for the first compressor in this buyer’s guide and start matching specs to your personal requirements. If it’s not the compressor for you, move on down to number two, and repeat the process until you’ve found your match

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Sean J. Stone
 

Sean has been a woodworking enthusiast for 8 years, and in that time has written huge resources on woodworking and tools.

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