The Best Air Compressor

Best Air Compressor Reviews

Our Top Pick is the DEWALT Pancake Compressor

An air compressor is a piece of equipment that uses a motor which can be electric, gasoline or diesel to take power and turn it into potential energy that is stored in pressurized air.

The air compressor runs, filling the tank with air until the tank reaches its capacity and then the compressor shuts off.  All of that compressed air is held until it is needed to run pneumatic tools in some way such as filling tires, pools, leaf blowers, etc.

There are many things that the energy that is in the compressed air can be used for.  When the kinetic energy from that compressed air is used, the tank depressurizes.

Once it reaches the lower limit, the air compressor once again turns on and forces more and more air into the tank until it is full again.  This process is repeated indefinitely.

Some examples of tasks that can be done using an air compressor include filling car or truck tires, filling inflatable pools of all sizes, powering pneumatic tools such as nail and staple guns, impact wrenches, paint sprayers, rotary tools and grinders, ratchets, air hammers,   filling air tanks for divers, and much more.

The air compressor is a very useful tool to have around the home, workshop or work site. To find the best air compressor we executed and completed extensive research and tested the top 25 air compressors.  After this testing was complete, the DEWALT DWFP55126 6 Gal 165 PSI Pancake Compressor rose above the rest.

This air compressor ranked at the top of the list in every category including durability, performance, customer satisfaction, and value among others.  Some features include a 6 gallon tank, 120v, .9 horse power and is oil free and portable as well.  It is easy to carry from place to place, wherever you need it.  The high efficiency motor makes it easy to start even in cold weather or when using an extension cord.

Who Should Buy This

Air compressors are very helpful for professionals and home owners who often work with pneumatic hand tools and need a compressor to run those tools. It is used in many different ways by contractors, mechanics, DIY-ers, home owners, painters, roofers, carpenters, metal workers, dive shops, wood workers, flooring installers, campers, and construction crews.  They are very valuable to have around when there is a need to fill tires, dive tanks, inflatable pools, and other inflatables, and power any number of air powered tools.

What Makes a Good Air Compressor?

There are several features that are present in a good quality air compressor.   The power an air compressor has is an important feature to concentrate on because that will make a difference in the particular tasks that compressor can handle.

Air CompressorWhat the intended use of the air compressor is, determines the power you need.  An air compressor’s power is measured by the CFM rating. CFM stands for cubic feet per minute.  It may also be listed as SCFM.  If the compressor is being used for regular household tools you would only need a CFM between 0-5.  If you are using tools that perform heavier tasks like polishing and sanding, look for a CFM of 10 or above.

You also want to look at the horsepower the compressor has.  If you are using the air compressor in an industrial capacity or commercial industry, you will want to get an air compressor with a high horse power.

The next important feature to look at in finding the best air compressor is the tank size. This is another factor that determines the types of jobs or tasks the air compressor can handle. Heavy duty jobs need a larger tank than a job like airbrushing requires.

There are two types of engines that air compressors can have: gas or electric.  Many people like the gas powered engines because they are considered more reliable than electric. Electric, however, is much better in smaller enclosed places. Electric powered air compressors are more expensive to buy and maintain but because they csn be used anywhere, they hold their own in terms of popularity.

Another consideration that will affect the longevity of the air compressor is whether it is an oil free compressor or one that is lubricated with oil.   Oil lubricated air compressors are long lasting, durable and much quieter which is very favorable in residential areas where noisy power tools can cause problems with the neighbors.

dewalt-pancake-compressor-review

How We Tested

Our research began with a generalized search for air compressors.  By doing this, we were able to put together a core grouping of the best qualities and features that made up the best air compressor.  These features and qualities included durability, overall power (CFM) tank size, horse power, portability, type of engine (gas or electric) and noise level.

After getting this together, we looked over tool blogs, tool magazine, tool forums and talked to experts in the industry who use air compressors on a daily basis. By doing this, we were able to refine this search to the top brands and types on the market.  The last thing we did, but equally important, was reviewed customer feedback and comments as well as Amazon reviews to end up with the best of the best based on real world performance.

Our Pick

Specifications

  

Horsepower .9HP
Drive Belt
Tank Size 6 gal
Power Supply 120v, 60Hz, 10 amps universal motor
SCF M@ 40 PSI 3.7 scfm
SCFM @ 90 PSI 2.6 scfm
Tool Height 17.5”
Tool Length 16.0”
Tool Width 16.0”
Tool Weight 30 lbs
Shipping Weight 30 lbs
Noise Level 75 dB
Warranty 3 year limited warranty
Service Contract 1 year free service
Guarantee 90 day money back guarantee

The DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor has a 6 gallon tank, 165 PSI tank. The high efficiency motor starts easily no matter how cold it is, even if it is on an extension cord.  The CFM rating is 2.6 SCFM which is delivered via 90 PSI pump.  This means that it will run for a long time and then have a very quick recovery period.

Both the couplers and high flow regular are responsible for maximizing the air compressor’s performance.  It has an oil free pump that provides maintenance free operation for the user.  The db level of this model is 75.5 dB making it much quieter than some other air compressors on the market.

The tank can be drained quickly and thoroughly with the ball drain valve and 2 universal couplers that can easily support two users.

The protective rubber leg coverings prevent scratches and nicks and the console cover adds even more protection over the controls of the compressor.  If needed, this cover can be removed easily to allow for any repairs should they become necessary.  The light, 30 pound weight makes this the ideal model to carry around from place to place.  The convenient cord wrap makes for easy storage as well when it is not in use. Make sure that the drain valve is completely closed before using the DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor.

Who Else Likes It

The Toolbarn.com wrote “DEWALT gives you impressive performance in a conveniently compact design with this Heavy Duty 165 PSI Pancake Compressor (DWFP55126). The 165 max PSI 6.0 gallon tank (22.7 L) and 2.6 SCFM* delivered @ 90 PSI pump enable long tool run time with quick recovery.”

Acmetools.com says “Noise level is kept to a minimum at 75.5 decibels, and the cord wrap and light weight of 30 pounds make it easy to carry and store on jobsites. Quick and thorough tank draining is achieved for this heavy duty compressor through the ball drain valve. An oil-free pump helps to keep maintenance to a minimum. Console covers keep dust away from the controls, but are easily removable in case the DEWALT pancake compressor needs repairs. The efficient motor gives easy start up even in cold weather.”

Amazon customers gave the DEWALT air compressor 4.7 out of 5 from 239 reviews. This is what one 5-star reviewer had to say “Very very quiet, compared to other compressors. It achieves the advertised 165 psi pressure in a fairly short time. For this size and volume compressor this is the one that will make you glad you chose it.”   Another reports “For my home this is perfect. I can run tools from it. Just don’t expect to do some heavy duty constant work. I can run an impact wrench no problem. Actually this little guy has saved me so much time already and I have only had it a short time.”

The Step Up

If you need an industrial quality air compressor, you can upgrade to the Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP air compressor. This model is designed for low noise, high input and less maintenance and delivers the industrial power you need along with professional quality results and durability even under tough job site conditions.

The Makita MAC2400 big Bore 2.5 HP has an oil lubricated pump that keeps it running longer than many oil free models will. Its efficiency and increased air intake comes from the large automotive sized filter.

This model runs cooler than other air compressors and at less Rpm as well which results in longer life for the motor and pump, without compensating for the increased power and longevity by being super loud.  It comes with a 1 year warranty and a 30 day money back guarantee so you can see how you like it.

Top Air Compressor Comparison

Position
Visual
Tool
Tank Size (Inches)
Max Pressure (PSI)
Warranty (Months)
1Dewalt6.00
165
36
2Campbell Hausfeld3.00
110
12
3Ingersoll Rand4.00
135
12
4Senco1.00
125
12
5Porter-Cable3.50
135
12
6Hyundai6.00
125
12
7Rockford1.00
100
12
8Bosch4.00
150
12
9All Power America6.00
115
12
10Central Pneumatic8.00
125
3

Care Use & Maintenance

An air compressor will last much longer and work better if you take the time to keep up with h e care and maintenance it requires.  The following tips are recommended to keep your DEWALT air compressor on track.

Safety Tips

Below are some safety tips for users to follow to ensure the safest experience you can have whenever you use your air compressor. Part of preparing yourself for operating your air compressor is reading the instructions and warnings in the manual.

  • Familiarize yourself with the operation and controls
  • Keep operating area clear of all people, pets and obstacles
  • Keep children away from the air compressor at all times
  • Never operate the compressor when you are tired, under the influence or alcohol, drugs or medications
  • Stay alert at all times
  • Always have a fire extinguisher close and in the area you are using the compressor in
  • Never operate the machine with missing, broken or unauthorized parts
  • Never remove any of the safety features that the air compressor has
  • Never stand on the compressor
  • Never use an electric air compressor outside in wet/damp conditions
  • Wear safety goggles when using an air compressor
  • If you will be using the compressor for an extended amount of time in an enclosed space, use ear protection.

Maintenance Tips

  • Check safety value before EVERY use
  • Drain the tank after each use or at least once every day
  • Drain tank thoroughly before storing air compressor away

Wrapping It Up

The air compressor is a valuable power tool to have in your garage or workshop. It is not excessively difficult to learn to use and covers a lot of different jobs and tasks from filling flat car tires to blowing debris and leaves off the driveway.

Depending on the size tank and the amount of power the compressor has, it can run a slew of air powered tools, making life much easier for many professionals and hobbyists who use compressors on a regular basis.  If you get the right one, you will find them very useful, easy to carry around from job to job and not overly loud.  They are a great power tool to add to your tool sets.

Sources