Air Compressor Buying Guide 2017

There are different types of air compressors with different specifications, portability, durability and price points. There are also a few key dimensions which you should consider before choose an air compressor.

This video describes the process of selecting an air compressor for your particular application. Choosing the right compressor for your job is a decision that can save you time and money so be sure to choose a compressor that will suit your needs.

If you are in need of an air compressor, you have just landed on the best buying guide to air compressor. Here in this article, you will find the most valuable information to help you make the most appropriate and well learnt decision.
If you are entirely unknown to the air compressor, you must make yourself well informed about the basics of an air compressor.

How To Buy The Right Air Compressor?

Here we present 7 points that you must consider before buying an best air compressor:

1. Know yourself and your specific needs

The air compressors come in 3 variants, based upon the category of its usage.

  • Consumer
  • Contractor
  • Commercial

The consumer category: (less powerful) is mainly focused to be used in the households for small task like inflating the sports tools, toys etc and even in household equipments like brad guns or staplers.

The contractor category: is designed by keeping in mind the professional requirements of industry. These are generally large sized, medium powered devices used for various applications like nail guns or repairing tools on the job sites.

The commercial category: is high-powered compressor unit when the industry need is to have the more continuous compressed air supply required for applications like roller coasters etc.

In order to buy the best suitable air compressor for yourself, you need to understand the following:

  • What is your need from the air compressor?
  • Do you need it for a household task, industrial need or for heavy duty commercial usage?
  • What is the specific requirement of your tool for which you need the air compressor?

Understand the need of pressure and volume for your particular tool. If your tool is for the heavy duty purpose, you will need the high pressure from your air compressor. If your tool is a light duty one, you shall need a tank less, portable air compressor.

Once you have made the selection of the category of the air compressor, then you move further to narrow down your options.

2. Choose between piston-type and portable compressors

Piston type: The compressors which have an internal motor to make up air pressure and store this compressed air in the tank.

Portable compressors: The compressors which do not have any storage tank but work to give instant supply of the compressed air

The piston air compressors can be further categorized into:

A. Single Stage:

  • Single piston stroke for withdrawing the air and compressing it
  • Capable of compressing pressure of up to 150 PSI
  • Has high CFM rating
  • More efficient at low pressures

B. Double Stage:

  • Withdraw air in 1st stroke & compress it in the 2nd stroke
  • Capable of compressing pressure of up to 200 PSI
  • Has lower CFM rating
  • More efficient at high pressure

Choose between piston-type and portable compressors

Single stage air compressor should be your choice if your requirement is of low pressure wok. Double stage air compressors are best suitable for the industrial usage where you need to work at high pressures.

So it is advisable to choose portable single compressor for light duty needs : guns, spray guns, glue guns, as well as for inflating small tires and rafts. And piston type are recommended for the heavy duty on job applications.

3. Understand the technical specifications of air compressor

A. CFM Rating: It is the unit to measure the volumetric flow of air.

  • DFCM: Displaced CFM is used for calculating the bore, stroke and rpm.
  • SCFM: Standard CFM is used for the measurement of flow of free air (reference: 14.5 PSIA, 68 F,0% relative humidity)
  • AFCM: Actual CFM is CFM taking after consideration of atmospheric factors like temperature, height, humidity etc.

It is advisable to use SCFM to compare different options of air compressors. Check the SCFM of your tool for which you wish to use your air compressor and shortlist the most compatible match for your specific tool.


Single tool use: If a 1/2 impact wrench requires 5.0 CFM @ 90 PSI, then the compressor should deliver between 6.25 7.5 CFM @ 90 PSI.

Powermate Air Tools Approximate CFM Requirements

B. Look at the horsepower (HP) of the air compressor:

This decides the power of your air compressor (generally ranging from 1.5 HP to 6.5HP). If you need an air compressor for light duty work, you will need a small horsepower whereas high horsepower specifications must be looked for, if your need is of heavy scale industry application. However, you should buy a air compressor based on CFM rating, not on horsepower rating.

C. Power Source:

This point is depend on you have electricity supply for all times or you have environment without electricity. An electric compressor is always best unless you will be working is a place without electricity. Most electric compressors will run on 110V and some larger compressors run on 240V. Find out which best for you.

4. Select the ideal size of tank for your piston type of air compressor

Again, the size of the tank of piston type is to be chosen carefully. A larger tank size reduces the motor strain and thus increases the working life of the motor. A smaller tank stores less air and thus frequently supplies the hot air, which produces condensation in the pipes and hoses and thus reduces the working life of such accessories. These are the two factors that will make you chose the larger tank size instead of the smaller one.

But as the size of tank increases, the weight, bulk and accommodating area of your equipment and thus makes it difficult to be used in smaller job areas or locomotive requirements.

Select the ideal size of tank for your piston type of air compressor

So chose the size of the tank as per your particular needs and feasibilities.

5. Oil lubricated or Oil-free air compressor

Oil free air compressor:

  • This type does not use any oil lubricant
  • This makes the unit more of soundless
  • Easy maintenance
  • Shorter span of life because of no lubricant
  • Compact size and easy to port

Oil- lubricated air compressor:

  • This type uses the oil for lubrication
  • This type of units produce sound
  • Need regular maintenance and check
  • The lubricant keeps each part working for long time
  • Bulky size which makes is too heavy to move often

6. Portable or Stationary

Air compressors can be larger and more powerful fixable or small and portable. Usually, portable models have a wheel or handle to easier transportation. This type of compressors often has small tanks usually less than five gallons.A stationary compressor is usually large and often has larger tanks and a more powerful motor. The tanks can be vertically or horizontally oriented . Simply choice the type which will best fit for you

7. Seek professional guidance from air compressor experts

The experts or technical advisor can understand your technical requirements better and shall guide you the most appropriate options which shall cater to all your custom requirements from the air compressor.

The persons in the same industry or the experienced users of air compressors can be best sourced for gaining information on the performance of various air compressors in practical working conditions.

A List of Air Compressor Brands:

Air compressors are an important part of many mechanical processes including pump sets and ball mills. Hence they are a very common commodity that is required to purchase for large and small manufacturing and industrial units. The market however is saturated with various brands providing their own speciality. Thus a clear analysis is required about the brands and what they offer. Also note that the purpose you are buying for.

A List of Air Compressor Brands

For example if you are going to buy a compressor which you will use only sporadically, there is no need to get the top-of-the-line product. A simple reciprocating piston compressor would suffice for such cases. However if you are purchasing for manufacturing needs, you may need to take a harder look at the brands and the type.

A. Ingersoll Rand Air Compressors

Ingersoll Rand is a big brand manufacturer and a public company of not just air compressors but many other related tools such as blowers, electric tools, lifting tools, etc. They are well known in the business for their quality products and great support. Ingersoll Rand is the best bet if you are purchasing for industrial needs and you don’t want to settle on something less. Apart from compressors they also provide solutions regarding residence, climate control and security along with specialization in refrigeration technologies.

B. Campbell Hausfeld Air Compressors

It is a house hold name in the United States of America and are well known for their DIY and suitabe for home products. You will fnd the perfect for-home tools and don’t cost a fortune and are perfect for your home or any kind of workshop. The oldest company from Ohio also manufactures and sells winches, generators, pressure washers and spary guns.

C. Dewalt Air Compressors

A part of Black & Decker, they manufacture compact air compressor units that use both of either diesel or electric motors. They provide compressors for contractor market which are portable in nature and thus are the perfect company from where you can hire compressors in case you need temporary access or have problems maintaining your own fleet of compressors.

D. Porter-Cable Air Compressors

An a merican company, they are known to introduce many new power tools in the domain such as helical-drive circular saw. Primarily being a manufacturer of power tools and under Black & Decker, you will get some quality products for your manufacturing units or workshops alike. Basically they are the manufacturing/industrial domain counterpart of Dewalt under the same parents.

E. Makita Air Compressors

Makita is a top manufacturer of both professional and consumer power tools and based in Japan. They are famous for their line of high power generators of extreme robustness. Their air compressors are expected to feature extreme performance, reliability and efficiency is a hallmark of all their products in general.

F. California Air Tools Air Compressors

They specialize in a particular set of air compressors i.e. oil-free, ultra quiet and lightweight compressors which are great for home and workshops as well. However they also do have a line of oil lubricated compressor in case of need. Apart from this, they also sell all kinds of air tools and accessories are something which many big manufacturers skip in general.

In addition, there are many famous compressor brands such as: BOSTITCH, Craftsman, Senco, Husky, Hitachi, Industrial Air.

From the above analysis, if you have large scale needs and need the absolute best where cost is not the concern, Ingersoll Rand is probably the best bet. For anything else, weigh in your budgetary allocations and your exact needs. Read on various types of air compressors and where to use what. You can also go through numerous reviews and ratings that you will find on several legitimate websites before deciding on the one. This will give you a clearer idea from where to buy your compressors!


To conclude this discussion about air compressor reviews, you are advised to do a complete research about the product before choosing and buying. Different customers have different needs and thus their reviews are varying from each other for the same product.

The most important step of any purchase decision is choosing and buying through looking and feeling the product. So, you should try to the product out in the shop. Purchasing a product in online is also fine but before purchase you should tested with your own hands. We hope that, this article would be a useful buying guide for you in your best air compressor selection.

To make this task easier, we’ve compiled a list of the best air compressors for the consumer today => here.

We’ve compiled a list of the best air compressors for the contractor today => here.