An air compressor is an essential garage tool that is required to operate various automotive air tools and other equipment. The additional power gained from using a compressor makes using pneumatic tools far more efficient.
The best air compressor is the Bostitch BTFP02012, which has a maximum pressure of 150 PSI and is highly portable at just 29 LBS in weight.
Choosing an air compressor for a home garage must be able to operate at low noise levels and be easily portable. Luckily, many brands have recognized this requirement and there is a broad range of options available.
Table of Contents
Best Air Compressor For Home Garage
|Air Compressor||Max Pressure||Noise Level|
|Bostitch BTFP02012||150 PSI||78.5 dBA|
|California Air Tools 1P1060S||120 PSI||56.0 dBA|
|Makita MAC2400 Big Bore||130 PSI||79.0 dBA|
|DEWALT DWFP55126||165 PSI||75.5 dBA|
|PORTER-CABLE C2002||150 PSI||80.0 dBA|
Although an air compressor can be used as a powerful tire inflator, all the recommendations further excel when used with air tools. Whether it is a spray gun or a wrench, all of the units have sufficient performance to operate these tools.
Thanks to the technological advances in the motors used, the noise levels have significantly reduced. This will allow you to work quietly within your home garage or shop without causing any disruption.
Below is a list of the best air compressors that are ideal for a home garage and will power up a wide range of air tools.
Bostitch BTFP02012 Pancake Air Compressor
The most popular air compressor for a home garage is the Bostitch BTFP02012. It delivers a maximum pressure of 150 PSI whilst running at a noise level of just 78.5 dBA, which is ideal for the home garage environment.
In terms of the longevity, it is an oil-free unit with a maintenance-free pump and high-flow regulator for optimum air tool performance.
Features of the Bostitch BTFP02012 include:
- 150 max PSI
- 78.5 dBA noise level
- 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI
- 6.0 gallon tank
- Two universal couplers
- 29 LBS in weight
- 17 x 17 x 19.2 inches in size
The highly efficient motor is able to deliver 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI regardless of the outside temperature. It is an excellent all-round air compressor that ticks every box and offers great value for the money too.
California Air Tools Small Air Compressor
California Air Tools specialize in air compressor with units suitable for home garage or industrial use. The CAT-1P1060S in particular is the most popular model the brand produce due to the lightness and ultra-quiet operation.
It has a maximum pressure of 120 PSI and operates at a noise level of 56 dBA.
Other features of the California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S include:
- Oil and maintenance-free
- Ultra-quiet at just 56 dBA
- 1.20 CFM at 90 PSI
- 1 gallon steel tank
- Lightweight at just 29.5 LBS
- Dimensions of 12.5 x 14.7 x 14.8 inches
The CAT-1P1060S by California Air Tools is the best quiet air compressor that is ideal for environments where low sounds levels are essential. Running a noisy compressor can be disruptive but not this unit.
Makita Big Bore Portable Air Compressor
Makita are a reputable brand within the tool and automotive industry and known for their build quality. The Big Bore model follows that reputation with a cast iron cylinder and heavy duty roll cage to reduce impact damage.
To further improve the efficiency of the motor, the Big Bore model uses an automotive style air filter for greater air intake.
Other features of the Makita MAC2400 Big Bore include:
- Maximum pressure of 130 PSI
- Operates at 79 dBA
- 4.2 CFM at 90 PSI
- 4.2 gallon tank
- Oil lubricated pump for reduced wear
- Built-in thermal overload protector
- Low amp draw
- Easy to grip handle
If you require a heavy duty but portable air compressor that is easy to move around, the Makita Big Bore is the best option. It has a great design and excellent performance but it is one of the most expensive within this article.
Dewalt DWFP55126 Pancake Air Compressor
Dewalt is one of the most recognized brands within the tool industry and produce a wide variety of air compressors. This pancake unit in particular is the most powerful within this article with a maximum pressure output of 165 PSI.
The DWFP55126 also operates fairly quietly at just 75.5 dBA, which has been tested to ISO 3744 standards.
Other features of the Dewalt DWFP55126 Pancake Compressor include:
- Made in the USA
- 6 gallon tank
- 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI
- High flow regulator
- 2 universal couplers
- Weighs 30 LBS
- Ergonomic grip for portability
- Includes a 1 year warranty
It is a highly rated pancake air compressor that comes with the reputable backing of the Dewalt brand. The easy to carry handle and lightweight design makes it truly portable for taking from job to job.
Porter Cable C2002 Portable Air Compressor
The Porter Cable is another pancake air compressor that is highly portable and has excellent performance. Along with the C2002 unit, the brand also offer the choice of various accessories and air tools so you can begin using it straightaway.
In terms of the performance, it has a maximum pressure of 150 PSI and operates at 80 dBA, which is fairly noisy compared to the alternatives.
Other features of the Porter Cable C2002 include:
- Maintenance and oil-free
- 6 gallon tank
- Low amp 120V motor
- 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI
- Includes a water drain valve
- Rubber feet for stability
Overall, the Porter Cable C2002 is a great portable air compressor but compared to the alternatives, it is slightly expensive and more noisier.
Air Compressor Buying Guide
An air compressor is an essential piece of equipment that is required for operating air tools such as an air impact wrench and much more.
They were once only really used for industrial applications but they are much quieter and portable, which is perfect for a home garage.
Not to be confused with a regular tire inflator, an air compressor is far more powerful. This means they are more desirable for large truck or RV tires that need additional pressure. However, most people purchase an air compressor for use with air tools.
To help you make an informed buying guide, we have produced the below guide regarding air compressors.
Maximum Pressure Rating
The pounds per square inch (PSI) rating of an air compressor is a defining feature with most ranging between 110 and 170 PSI. Depending upon the air tools that you intend on using, you will want to ensure the compressor exceed the minimum rating.
If you plan to use the air compressor in a home garage or other quiet environments, the noise output is very important. Due to technological advances, most modern compressors are far quieter than they once were.
The majority range between 70 to 80 dBA but there are some exceptions such as the California Air Tools unit that runs ultra quiet.
All of the recommendations have been tested by the ISO 3744 standards for noise. If you purchase an alternative, you will want to check for independent testing to avoid disappointment.
Size of the Tank
Common tank sizes for most portable air compressors range from as small as 1 gallon to 8 gallons. Any larger units may be too large for those that want a truly portable air compressor. The larger tanks will be able to operate for longer before needing to “recover”.
Depending upon the application you intend to use the compressor for will determine the required tank size. For example, if you are using a grease gun, you will want to be able to spray for long periods of time without any pauses. However, if you were inflating your RV tires, there will be adequate pauses whilst moving between tires.
SCFM and CFM
In order for an air compressor to work with various air tools, it must supply the correct amount of air to the tool. All manufacturers will provide a CFM or SCFM rating (Cubic or Standard Cubic Feet Per Minute) rating, which is usually at 90 PSI.
This rating will state the mass of air flow at a specified PSI, which you can check to determine if your air tools are compatible.
Weight and Portability
As we are discussing compressors for a home garage, the weight and portability are important factors. The last thing you want is a unit that you must use all your strength to drag around the garage when you want to use it.
All of our recommendations are fairly lightweight and include an ergonomic handle to allow for easy carrying.
Types of Compressors
When choosing between the different units, there are four different design that you can choose from that offer various benefits.
By far the most popular design is the pancake air compressor, which is as shown by the Bostich, Dewalt and Porter Cable units above. They have a round tank that is attached to rubber feet for excellent stability on the floor.
Rather than a round tank, a hot dog style compressor makes use of a horizontal cylindrical tank. An example of this design is the California Air Tools 1P1060S unit. They offer similar performance to the pancake alternative and are great for storing against a wall due to the long but thin design.
The most expensive compressor design are twin stack units that have two cylindrical tanks on top of each other. The Makita MAC2400 Big Bore model is an example of this design. The clever styling offers additional power from the motor and make the unit more compact too.
The wheelbarrow style is very similar to the hot dog alternative but have wheels for extra mobility. They often come with bigger tanks but are still portable due to the desirable wheels. However, they are often more expensive compared to other types.
Unless you plan on wrapping the unit in bubble wrap, you will want it to be durable. Some compressors such as the Makita MAC2400 Big Bore include a roll cage, which makes it perfect for heavy duty applications.
Some manufacturers may also use clever pumps that use materials such as cast-iron to improve the durability.
Setting Up The Compressor
Assuming that the air compressor is already assembled, setting up the unit ready for air tools is fairly straightforward. You will firstly want to attach the hose to a regulator valve, which will then allow you to connect various tools.
Once you have attached your tool, you can then switch on the compressor from the power source. You will then need to allow time for the compressor to pressurize the tank, which you will be able to see raising on the dials. Once the pressurized air has reached the specification of your tool, you are ready to begin using it.
Ease of Use
The design of most compressors has improved over the years with user friendly gauges and easier operation. Other design features to check out include an ergonomic carrying handle, multiple couplers that are universal as well as any automatic functionality.
As with most tools, you will occasional be required to perform checks and maintenance. If you have an oiled compressor, this will require checking of the oil level and topping up when required.
Regardless to whether the compressor is an oil or oil-less unit, you will need to drain the air tank. The purpose of this is to ensure that water vapor doesn’t collect inside the tank because this can cause corrosion.
Oil vs Oil-less
In order to produce the best portable air compressor designs, most manufacturers have moved away from oil-based lubrication. Instead of using oil, the oil-less alternatives are permanently lubricated during production. This provides the major benefit of being maintenance-free compared to the oil-based units.
However, the oil-based units are the best option for industrial applications as they will produce less heat and last far longer. The lubrication may be permanent in the oil-less alternative but it will eventually become worn and not lubricate the motor as well as it did when it was new.
All of the recommendations and the comprehensive guide should provide you with everything you need to make an informed buying decision.
You should ensure that you check the requirements of your air tools and choose a compressor that exceeds the ratings. Failing to perform this check may result in poor performance from the tools.
We advise that you stick with the major brands as this will ensure that you have spare parts available for any repairs.