Here at Air Compressor Geeks we carry out in-depth air compressor reviews to help you find the best air compressor for the best possible price. In the table below we have created a comparison table comparing our best compressors for 2016.  Factors include dBA (voulme), Tank size (in gallons), PSI (Pressure), weight (in pounds) and links to the latest price online.

Our Best Air Compressors For 2016!

ImageModeldBA
Tank Size
(Gallons)
PSI
More Info
PORTER-CABLE PCFP02003Porter Cable
PCFP02003
823.5 135blue review button
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PORTER-CABLE C2002-WKPorter Cable
C2002 WK
826150blue review button
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DEWALT DWFP55126 Dewalt
DWFP55126
756165blue review button
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DEWALT D55168 200 Dewalt
D55168 200
7815200blue review button
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dewalt d55146 reviewDewalt
D55146
784.5200blue review button
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sencoSenco
PC1010
681125blue review button
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cat reviewCalifornia Air Tools
CAT-10020
7010125blue review button
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The Complete Guide to Buying a New Air Compressor

Different types of air compressors are used for different things. Many people keep small ones around the house or in the car, and they are mostly good for inflating tires, toys, or sporting goods. However, good compressors can do a lot more than simply “blow things up.” Powerful units are capable of producing enough air pressure to power pneumatic tools.

air compressor toolsAir Compressors for Pneumatic Tools

Pneumatic, or “air” tools, could be large or small. Smaller examples are staplers and brad stapling guns. Larger and more powerful examples of pneumatic tools run the gamut from powerful and rapid nail guns to drills to road repair tools.

If you work with tools as a professional or advanced amateur, you will probably want to buy a commercial-quality model to make sure that it delivers plenty of power for a long enough time to help you get your job done.

Air powered tools are usually more rapid, lighter, and powerful, and this gives them an advantage over traditional tools.

Of course, for best results, you will need to match it to the tools you need it to power. There are two kinds of compressors that you might want to consider for purchase:

Portable: These are great to keep around your office, in your vehicle, or on the job site. They are handy to store and easy to move around from place to place.

Stationary: Only a stationary air compressor will be able to deliver a sufficient quality and quantity of high-volume air pressure for the most powerful production environment or automotive tools.

Stationary Air Compressors
These are usually made to get bolted to an area and hard-wired into the electrical supply of a building. They may come with tanks that vary in size from 60 to 80 gallons, and the motors generally range from four to ten horsepower. These are a good choice for a compressor that you intend to keep on your plant floor, garage, or workshop because they can be used to power a vast range of different kinds of tools.

staionary air compressor

staionary air compressor

Because the tools do not need their own power, they are generally cheaper and more powerful than typical tools. A good stationary compressor should also have settings, so you can also use them to do smaller tasks. You can power your drill and inflate an air mattress with a stationary air compressor. Just make sure you don’t have it set to overpower the task you need, or you may literally “blow up” your air mattress.

Gasoline vs. Electric Air Compressors
Most of the models that you see on the market run off regular electric power that you can get from a wall outlet. However, any compressor that exceeds two horsepower may require a 220 / 240 volt outlet. Because electric-powered compressors do not emit any fumes, they are the preferred choice for indoor use.

However, gas-powered compressors are favoured by builders. They are usually very powerful, and it may be more convenient to bring along fuel than find an electric outlet at a job site. These do emit fumes, and they should only be used outside or in a ventilated indoor space. For example, if you buy one for your garage, you should probably leave the garage door open to the outside when you operate your gas-powered compressor.

Matching  Compressors to Pneumatic Tools
The first thing to learn about air compressor power is the standard of measuring the quantity of air that the device can deliver to your tool. This is measured in the standard of cubic feet/ minute, also called SCFM. Besides delivery speed, there will also be a measure of the air pressure. This is stated like pounds per square inch, or PSI. For example, you might see SCFM at 100 PSI.

When you buy air tools, you will find that they also have ratings for SCFM. Since your tools and your air compressor are both rated, it should be fairly simple to figure out the right power for the most demanding jobs that you need to do.

To help you understand this, consider some examples of differently sized tools:
* Small tools may need between zero to five SCFM.
* Big tools might require over 10 SCFM.

To buy the best air compressor for your needs, decide which tools are the most powerful ones that you are likely to need. Many experts suggest multiplying this highest pressure rating by 1.5 to make sure your air compressor will satisfy you if you ever decide that you need a tool that sucks up even more air power. This way, you have a bit of a buffer.

air tools

Operating Multiple Air Tools At Once
It is possible that your compressor might need to power more than one tool at a time. This is surely true of most job sites or busy workshops. If so, you’ll need even more power. To figure out the minimum rating that you need, you can simply add the requirements for each tool that is likely to get used.

If you purchase a home compressor, it is probably only meant to supply air to one tool at a time. However, professional products have been designed that can easily power more than one tool at a time. If you don’t plan to work alone, this is a feature that you will want to explore.

Air Tank Size
The final thing to consider is the size of the air tank. It takes some time to fill and pressurize air to supply it to tools. If you plan to use large tools, you will certainly want to consider one of the larger tanks, but if you just need to power a staple gun, you will probably be satisfied with one of the smaller tanks. Of course, the number of tools that need to get powered off of one compressor will also factor into your choice.

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Air Compressors: How They Work and Their Uses
An air compressor is used to increase the pressure contained within a particular space. A compressor packs in as much air as possible which increases the air pressure. These products are used for a variety of purposes, including commercial, manufacturing, industrial and even home or personal.

Uses
There are a variety of ways to use these machines. It is used in industrial plants or on a production line in a manufacturing facility. One of the most popular uses for air compressors is to operate pneumatic tools like air powered sanders, staplers, nail guns, ratchet wrenches, and spray guns. Air compressors can also help remove debris, leaves, or other loose articles.

Types
When we take a deep breath, the pressure in the lungs increases, which in effect, turns our lungs into small compressors. There are two types of man-made compressors, dynamic or positive displacement. Each is defined by its mode of operation. Dynamic air compressors use a device which rotates to accelerate the air and then decelerate it. The dynamic process uses the velocity or the speed of the air to raise the air’s pressure in the contained space.

Dewalt air compressor

Dewalt air compressor

The second type is the one mostly used, is the positive displacement model. This design works by filling an air chamber with air and then emptying it. There are three types of the positive displacement air compressors. These are the reciprocating, the rotary screw, and the rotary sliding vane. Positive displacement increases the pressure by reducing the size of the space containing the air. This is typically done with a reciprocating piston. This type of air compressor is also called a conventional piston compressor.  connecting rod and piston, a connecting rod, a valve head, and a cylinder.

Either an electric motor or a gas engine drives the crankshaft. There are smaller models which consist of just a motor and pump, but most portable  compressors contain a tank which holds a quantity of air and keeps it within a pre-set range of pressure. The pressurized air in the tank operates the air tools. The motor automatically turns on and off as it maintains the tank pressure. A valve head located at the top of the cylinder holds the discharge and inlet valve. These are both simple metal flaps. One flap is mounted on top of the valve plate and one is mounted underneath.

As this piston moves up and down, it creates a vacuum above. The vacuum lets outside air which is at atmospheric pressure open the inlet valve and enter the area above the piston, filling the space. When the piston moves upward, the air above it is compressed and holds shut the inlet valve, pushing open the discharge valve. As the discharge valve opens, air moves to the tank from the discharge port. Every stroke allows more air to enter the tank, increasing the pressure.

A portable air compressor will typically have a pressure switch which will stop the motor when the air pressure in a tank reaches a certain limit. This is usually about 125 psi. Most models of single-stage air compressors will set their limit at 125 psi, although that much pressure usually is not required. There will usually be a regulator on the air line which will be set to match the pressure required by the tool being powered. A gauge placed before the regulator will monitor the pressure in the tank. A gauge placed after the regulator will monitor the pressure in the air line.

red air

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A tank will typically have a safety valve which will open if the pressure switch malfunctions. There may also be an unloader valve incorporated into the pressure switch. This will also reduce tank pressure when the compressor is not operating. Articulated piston compressors are usually oil lubricated. The pistons in these air compressors have rings which help maintain the compressed air on the top of the piston. They also help keep the air free of lubricating oil. Even these rings are not always effective, allowing some oil in aerosol form to enter the compressed air. The air compressor may then be releasing oil in the air. This is not usually a problem, but may be a bit messy. Since many air tools need oiling, inline oilers can be added, increasing uniform oil supplied to the tools.

The primary problem with these models is that they require periodic oil changes and regular oil checks to ensure they are operating properly. These types must also be on a level surface when they are operated. Airborne oil may be solved using a filter in the air line or an oil separator, however it is recommended to use portable compressor which does not need oil and instead, has bearings which are permanently lubricated. Different models of air compressors have different numbers of stages. The uses for the air compressor vary depending their number of stages.

A two stage compressor offers a higher level of compression and is typically used for heavy duty types of projects. These types store air for use in the future and are much more energy efficient than single state compressors. The two-stage air compressor produces more air per horsepower unit than single-stage compressors. This reduces the amount of air on the unit, helping prolong the operational life. There are also portable electric air compressors. These are better for light-duty jobs requiring less air pressure or power.

Commercial compressors

Models
Most models  are typically powered by natural gas or electricity. There are air some powered by hand, but these tend to provide less power. The models powered by natural gas tend to be more cost effective.

If the work area is small or enclosed, an electric powered model may be a better choice. Natural gas may give off gas fumes, so it is safer to use an air compressor powered by electricity in small or enclosed spaces.

Air compressors are useful in a variety of ways and in many different industries. Some are better for certain jobs, so it is a good idea to identify the use before selecting the best air compressor  for the job required. Also make sure to read plenty of air compressor reviews before buying.