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Best Air Compressors for a Home Garage in 2020 – Ultimate Buying Guide

When you’re setting up a home garage, aside from clearing the space out, you’ll want to expand your toolkit. The right tools are just as important as expertise when it comes to working on vehicles.

Certain pieces of equipment are optional, whereas others are standard. You’ll have to invest in most of the tools that fall under the second category eventually.

One of the most common and widely used tools for car enthusiasts is an air compressor, for tire inflation, for powering air tools…and more besides.

In this article, we aim to showcase and recommend the best air compressors for a home garage.

Man working with air compressor from home garage inflating a tyre removed from car

Below, we’ll tell you how air compressors work and what they can be used for. We also cover the different types and how each functions.

We’ve included a buyer’s guide, so you know what to look for before you buy. And finally, we’ve reviewed our top recommendations.

By the end of this guide, you’ll have enough knowledge to be able to choose the model that best suits you and your needs.

Quick Links to our Recommendations for the Best Compressors for a Home Garage

Note: Clicking the above links will take you to further information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon.

What is an Air Compressor?

They are devices that work to increase the pressure of a given gas. Any gas with an industrial use can be compressed—e.g. oxygen, air, nitrogen, etc.

Compression is achieved by lowering the volume of the gas mechanically. The method

for decreasing volume will vary depending on the type of compressor.

There are three types of air compressor:

  1. Axial
  2. Centrifugal
  3. Reciprocating.

We’ll tell you more about how each one works a little further below.

In terms of size, weight, and appearance, you have a lot of options. You can find heavy, stationary models or lightweight, to portable air compressors, known as pancake compressors.

Air is one of the most common gases compressed. This readily available gas that’s all around us is used for a range of automotive and non-automotive applications.

How does a Compressor Work?

An engine is a driving force behind the compression process. The motor can be powered by either electricity or gasoline, determined by the model.

When the machine is on, the air is sucked in through the intake valve. It will then pass through the internal mechanisms where it will lose volume.

The high-pressure gas will then emerge through the outlet valve. The motor will run continuously or in stop-and-start intervals. This depends on the type.

You can regulate the pressure before you switch on the machine, dependent on intended use or the tool you’re powering.

The horsepower of the machine will hinge on the size of the motor. However, this is not the only measurement of power.

The intensity of the pressure is measured in PSI, or pounds per square inch.

The compression itself can occur in one or two stages. Two-stage machines are more powerful, as the gas is compressed twice before discharge.

The volume and rate at which air passes through the unit are determined according to the cubic feet per minute (CFM) measurement.

Compressors can have one or two cylinders (or tanks). Two-cylinder units have a greater capacity for storing air, translating to a higher CFM.

Unlike the PSI, the CFM can be affected by external conditions. For instance, if you’re working in a hot or humid environment, the CFM may decrease.

The same thing can happen if it’s windy outside, as this can impact gas intake. For this reason, most manufacturers use the standard CFM (SCFM).

The accurate CFM (ACFM) is more suited for scientific applications. The SCFM is a rating that’s for ideal operating conditions. That means no humidity, blowing winds, or intense temperatures.

If you’d like to see more details on the inner workings of various types of compressor, this comprehensive video does a fantastic job of explaining how different types work, with cutaway diagrams and detailed explanations of how these machines work.


What’s the Difference Between Oil-Less And Oil-Based Compressors?

Some of these machines require oil to lubricate and protect moving parts inside the unit. Others are treated with long-lasting lubrication during manufacture.

The former group is classed as oil-based. You have to add oil to these types periodically to keep them operating smoothly.

Oil-free units don’t need this sort of maintenance on your part. All the critical moving parts, such as the pistons, come pre-lubricated.

Be aware that this lubrication won’t last forever—it will degrade with repeated use. As you might expect, this will eventually affect performance.

What Uses Does an Air Compressor Have?

They have many practical applications. They can be used to power tools, spray paints, inflate tires and more.

Inflate Your Tires

You can ensure your tires are always inflated to the correct level. The average tire loses between one and three PSI worth of pressure per month, so need periodically refreshing with air.

Instead of heading to your mechanic or a garage, you can maintain inflation at home. Optimal inflation can also extend the lifespan of your tires and improve your fuel mileage.

Follow our guide for how to inflate car tires correctly.

Spray Painting

Using one of these machines can make a big detailing job quicker and easier. It can be used to power automotive spray or paint guns.

Automotive Tools

All sorts of tools we use on our vehicles can be powered with compressed air. A few examples are ratchets, impact wrenches, and grinders.

Other Tools

Those of you who are handy will find non-automotive uses for a compressor, it isn’t likely that the machine will be used exclusively for your vehicle.

Leaf blowers, pneumatic nail guns and staplers—you get the idea.

Types of Air Compressors

You already know there are three general types with automotive applications. They’re classed according to how they work to decrease volume and increase pressure.

Centrifugal Air Compressors

Centrifugal units operate using kinetic, or movement, energy. Air that enters the machine is circulated with an impeller that moves at high speeds.

The kinetic energy then passes through the diffuser, which is a form of outlet passage. Inside the diffuser is where it’s converted into a higher pressure before being discharged.

These types tend to have a higher CFM rate, as they can treat larger volumes of gas. The PSI rating is typically moderate.

Reciprocating Air Compressors

Most commercially available models are reciprocating. They operate in a similar way to how car engines work.

Pistons inside the machine are propelled by a connecting rod, wrist pin, and crankshaft inside cylinders. The number of cylinders will depend on the size of the machine.

First, the air is sucked into the piston. Next, the piston moves in the opposite direction, decreasing the volume of the suctioned gas.

The gas is then discharged once the PSI exceeds the outlet valve pressure. There are two subcategories of reciprocating compressors: single-acting and double-acting.


In these units, compression only occurs on one side of each piston. Engines on these types usually run in intervals to regulate pressure and avoid overheating.

Horsepower, PSI, and CFM are on the lower end of the scale. Most systems are not water-cooled, meaning they can overheat if run continuously.


There are chambers on either side of the piston for compression. The extra chamber allows for higher PSI and CFM.

Double-acting units are often equipped with a water-based coolant system. This enables the machine to run continuously without getting too hot.

Rotary Screw Air Compressors

As the name suggests, rotors are the driving mechanism here. The rotors mesh together at high speeds, sucking in gas just as quickly. The engines on these models can run continuously or in stop-and-go intervals.

The CFM and PSI of these types can range from minor to major; up to five figures. They’re ideal for powering pneumatic tools that are more complex or require high pressures.

How to Choose the Right Model for You

Compressors can come with hefty price tags. Rushing into a purchase you may later regret isn’t wise.

There are many factors to consider before you choose a model. Keep all of the below considerations in mind while you’re shopping.

Type of Air Compressor: Stationary or Portable

We mentioned earlier that these units can come in all shapes and sizes. Some are stationary—moving them around can be a hassle.

Portable models are either lightweight or equipped with wheels. You can move them around or transport them without much effort.

Stationary models are larger, meaning they’re more powerful. With lightweight units, the portability might come at the cost of a loss of power (CFM and PSI).

Think about what you’re planning to use the machine for. Will you be moving around your vehicle often? Do you have separate work areas for different vehicles?

You may have to compromise power for portability. Having said that, if you’re using specific high-performance tools, a stationary unit might be necessary.

One-Tank Vs. Two-Tank

Two-tank models are also known as twin-tank compressors. They can store greater quantities of gas than single-tank units. This makes for a higher CFM rating.

At the same time, twin-tanks are often more expensive. They’re suited to power tools or machines that are more complex.

Consider what you’ll be using the machine for. If the answer is simple applications (e.g., powering a ratchet), you may want to settle for a single-tank device.

One-Stage Vs. Two-Stage

Two-stage units will give you double the compression, resulting in a higher PSI. As with two-cylinder units, they’re on the higher end of the price scale.

As with the number of tanks, review your current collection of tools. Do they all have low PSI ratings? Do you plan on buying high-PSI tools in the future?

Power: Electric or Gasoline

Electricity is cheaper, less messy, and more convenient to use than gas. It’s also less dangerous—no fumes, and it’s non-flammable. You can use electric machines indoors safely.

Contrastingly, gas-powered machines can run independently. You don’t have to be near an outlet or get an extension cord to start working.

You will have to make sure you have a well-ventilated work area, though. There’s always a potential risk of carbon monoxide poisoning with small gasoline engines.

As with other points on this guide, fuel choice is a personal preference. Some of you may be uncomfortable handling gasoline or prefer the eco-friendly alternative.

What Rating do You Need? CFM and PSI

The cubic feet per minute (CFM) and pounds per square inch (PSI) are crucial. There is no right or wrong when it comes to these ratings.

You have to assess the tools you already have and want to buy in the future. The model you invest in should be compatible with everything in your toolkit.

A compressor must provide sufficient air output without overstressing the machine. Check the recommended CFM and PSI of all your air-powered tools.

Write down the highest CFM and PSI and keep these numbers close by when shopping. Pick a unit that has a higher rating to ensure maximum performance.

Tank Size

The bigger the tank, the greater the power the machine will produce. There’s more space for air storage, hence a higher CFM and possibly PSI.

Remember that larger tanks can impact portability. You have to find a balance between the two.

Oil-Based Or Oil-Less

Oil-less units might seem like the obvious choice here. But before you disqualify oil-based models entirely, take a moment.

Yes, oil-based machines do need to be maintained. Oil has to be changed and replaced, filters have to be kept clean, etc. Not to mention small traces of oil can escape with the air in oil-based units.

At the same time, with proper care, they’ll last you for a long time. Some power tools perform better if they’re lubricated.

The lubrication in oil-less models can wear down over time. As this happens, you may hear more noise from the machine while using it.

Despite these downsides, you might prefer to buy an oil-less model. There are tools that can be damaged if they’re contaminated by oil traces, such as sanders, so in these cases oil-less models are the better choice.

Certain projects can also be jeopardized by traces of lubricant. Imagine you’re painting your vehicle, you definitely don’t want oil mist collecting in the spray gun!

Usage—What Will You Run from It?

What tools or equipment will you be running from the machine? How often do you plan on using these tools? Is automotive maintenance your main focus or secondary to chores around the house?

Is there a particular project (e.g. car restoration) you’re buying the unit for? Or will you be buying it for regular upkeep and maintenance jobs?

Take the time to think about all these scenarios in detail. It can be a challenge to find a type that will suit every single item you have in your toolkit.

Nevertheless, you can choose a model that is compatible with most of the gadgets you have. These are not supposed to be single-use machines.

How Much Space Will it Need?

Take a quick mental tour of your home garage. If you’re already limited on space, storing a new piece of equipment might be tricky.

Be realistic about how much space you want to dedicate to your garage air compressor, but remember that compact units may not be as powerful as larger ones.

Noise Level

The engines of some models can run loud: pancake compressors are notorious for this. If you prefer to work in relative silence, noisy units are the wrong choice.

Those of you who don’t mind making a racket should think about your home situation. Do you have children or other family members who might be disturbed? Is your favorite time to work late at night or very early in the morning?

Cost and Warranty/Guarantee Offered

These aren’t screwdrivers—you’re going to want some form of warranty for something this expensive. In the event that anything goes wrong, you’ll be able to recoup your investment.

Best Air Compressor for a Home Garage—a Detailed Look at Our Top Recommendations

Below, we’ve come up with a list of 9 compressors we feel are some of the very best on the market. They are popular, have good sales, great feedback from current users, and there are options to suit all budgets and requirements.

Here they are in no particular order:

California Air Tools Twin Tank Portable Electric Air Compressor


This electric two-tank, single-stage unit is perfect for the casual mechanic.

Those of you with toolkits consisting of basic air-powered tools may want to try this model. It has a max PSI of 90. Operating at this level, you’ll get a maximum output of 5.3 CFM.

The device is oil-less, making for effortless maintenance. According to the manufacturer, the dual-pump pistons are built to last for over 3,000 hours. You won’t have to be concerned about friction-related wear and tear for a long time. The tanks are aluminum to lower the risk of corrosion.

Individuals who hate noisy equipment might also be interested. This gadget has a maximum outdoor decibel rating of approximately 70 dBA.

Features and Specifications

  • Electric.
  • Two-tank.
  • Single stage.
  • Portable (handle).
  • Aluminum tanks.
  • Horsepower: 2.0 HP.
  • Voltage: 220 volts.
  • Tank capacity: 4.6 gallons.
  • Maximum pressure: 90 PSI.
  • CFM: 6.4 CFM at 40 PSI; 5.3 CFM at 90 PSI.
  • Lubrication: oil-less.
  • Weight: 67.2 pounds.
  • Outdoor decibel rating: 70 dBA.
  • Warranty: one year.

What We Like

  • Rust-resistant tanks.
  • Compact.
  • Quiet operation.
  • Low maintenance.
  • Great for simple, low-powered tools.
  • Durable.

What We Don’t Like

  • No accessories included.
  • Not suitable for higher PSI and CFM devices.
  • A few users reported that the device is awkward to carry.

This Model is Best Suited to

This model will appeal to people who want to use a compressor sporadically. It doesn’t require substantial upkeep since it runs without oil. The maintenance that it does need is straightforward (e.g., wiping off dirt and debris).

Users with tools rated for lower PSI and CFM operation will appreciate this unit. It should be suitable for the majority of smaller ratchet drivers and impact wrenches.

This machine is ideal for complementing occasional car maintenance—e.g., changing oil filters. You can also use it with low-demand devices like blowguns and air hammers.


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Makita Big Bore 2.5 Hp Air Compressor

Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor

The Makita Big Bore 2.5 HP will attract users who are looking to simplify standard vehicle upkeep. This electric oil-based unit has a maximum pressure of 130 PSI, with an output of 4.2 CFM at 90 PSI. It’s suited to devices such as tire inflators, smaller ratchet drivers, and hydraulic riveters.

It has multiple non-automotive uses, which will attract crafty individuals. If you have a vast collection of air tools that you use around the house, this unit might work for you.

The PSI and CFM ratings are more than sufficient for most blowguns, speed saws, and similar tools.

This machine is also an option if you value consistent, long-term performance. Oil-based lubrication combined with cast-iron cylinders ensures the motor stays well-preserved.

The pump operates at lower rotations per minute (RPM) to reduce wear and tear. An added bonus is that fewer RPM means the motor isn’t as loud.

Features and Specifications

  • Electric.
  • Two-tank.
  • Portable (handle).
  • Cast-iron cylinders.
  • Oil-sight glass.
  • Horsepower: 2.5 HP.
  • Voltage: 120 volts.
  • Tank capacity: 4.2 gallons.
  • Maximum pressure: 130 PSI.
  • CFM: 4.8 CFM at 40 PSI; 4.2 CFM at 90 PSI.
  • Lubrication: oil-based.
  • Weight: 77 pounds.
  • Decibel rating: 79 dBA.
  • Includes 0.25-inch universal coupler and oil.
  • Warranty: one year.

What We Like

  • Quiet for indoor use.
  • Suits high-PSI, low-CFM tools (e.g. tire inflators).
  • Sight glass to check the oil level.
  • Compact build for convenient storage.
  • Comes with lubricant and universal coupler.
  • Cast-iron cylinders increase lifespan.
  • Can withstand extreme environments.
  • Great for home improvement projects.

What We Don’t Like

  • Some users may find the machine too heavy to carry.

This Model is Best Suited to

Individuals who don’t intend to collect high-performance automotive air tools. This unit is designed for high-PSI, low-CFM applications. Think non-automotive hardware and appliances like air hammers, framing nailers, etc.

If you want a compressor to use on home projects, this is the one for you. You’ll also be able to keep your tires inflated and use basic tools (e.g., small to mid-sized ratchet drivers). This is fitting for users who are satisfied with periodic, simple car maintenance.

The hardy build (roll-cage) allows it to function safely in extreme environments. For example, if you’re working on an exposed construction site. The oil-lubricated motor should last you for years as long as you take good care of it.


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Makita Big Bore 3.0 Hp Air Compressor

Makita MAC5200 Big Bore 3.0 HP Air Compressor

Individuals committed to expanding their home garage tool kits will want to consider this compressor. As with the Makita Big Bore 2.5, the construction is tough. It has cast-iron cylinders and a roll-cage build to protect the internal components. The oil-lubricated system is designed to run cool to improve the unit’s lifespan.

The difference between the two machines is in power. The motor of this model produces three HP at maximum output. It can produce as much as 140 PSI, with a CFM of 6.5 at 90 PSI. The pump and cylinders are made to recover faster for enhanced performance.

If you’re operating pneumatic hardware that doesn’t demand high pressures, you’ll get a substantial CFM output. At 40 PSI the CFM rating is 6.9. This makes the Makita Big Bore 3.0 H.P a versatile piece of equipment.

In spite of the hefty weight, the rugged all-terrain wheels make it easy to transport. The handle is foldable to make storage easier if you’re tight on space.

On the same note, this product is built with a storage compartment and hangers. You can keep all your accessories in one place and wheel the whole device around. It has a wrap for up to 50 feet of hose length as well.

Features and Specifications

  • Electric.
  • Single-tank.
  • Portable (wheels).
  • Cast-iron cylinders.
  • Oil-sight glass.
  • Includes storage compartment and tool hangers.
  • Horsepower: 3.0 HP.
  • Voltage: 120 volts.
  • Tank capacity: 5.2 gallons.
  • Maximum pressure: 140 PSI.
  • CFM: 6.9 CFM at 40 PSI; 6.5 CFM at 90 PSI.
  • Lubrication: oil-based.
  • Weight: 88 pounds.
  • Includes 0.25-inch universal coupler and oil.
  • Warranty: one year.

What We Like

  • Wheels for convenient transport.
  • High PSI and CFM rating.
  • Built-in storage compartment.
  • Wrap for up to 50 feet of air hose.
  • Includes hangers for tools.
  • Sold with universal coupler and oil.
  • Solid construction.
  • Easy to check the oil.

What We Don’t Like

  • A few users reported receiving units with bent wheels.

This Model is Best Suited to

This piece of equipment is for users who own a range of air-powered automotive equipment. It has a high enough PSI and CFR rating to work with specialty tools such as rim strippers, panel cutters, and spark plug cleaners. Those of you who like to get up close and personal with your cars regularly can take advantage of this.

The PSI and CFR rating means it has versatile uses outside of your garage too. It’s equipped for serious DIY enthusiasts with a storage compartment for accessories or tools. It’s also convenient to transport thanks to the built-in wheels.


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California Air Tools Ultra-Quiet Air Compressor

California Air Tools 10020C Ultra Quiet Oil-Free and Powerful Air Compressor, 2 HP

This 2.0 HP electric-run compressor lives up to the name. At 70 decibels, it’s quieter than you’d expect from a motor that isn’t oil-lubricated. This feature will entice readers who tend to be more active at night, or who have noise concerns. You can inflate tires and accomplish other jobs without disturbing family or neighbors.

One of the other benefits of this unit is the large 10 gallon capacity tank. Unlike similar sized models, it fills up fast. You’ll only have to wait two minutes for it to fill up from empty.

The recovery time if you change pressures is also quick: 25 seconds between 90 and 125 PSI. You can run the machine for up to 45 minutes without a break.

The oil-less motor means it’s low maintenance. If you’re concerned about the lack of lubrication leading to deterioration, you shouldn’t be. The dual piston pumps are designed to last for over 3,000 hours of use. The oil-less model also has the advantage of being immune to cold-start issues when the temperature drops.

Features and Specifications

  • Electric.
  • Single-tank.
  • Portable (wheels).
  • Steel tank.
  • Horsepower: 2.0 HP.
  • Voltage: 110 volts.
  • Tank capacity: 10 gallons.
  • Maximum pressure: 125 PSI.
  • CFM: 6.40 CFM at 40 PSI; 5.3 CFM at 90 PSI.
  • Lubrication: oil-less.
  • Weight: 82.5 pounds.
  • Warranty: one year.
  • Decibel rating: 70 dBA.

What We Like

  • 25-second recovery between 90 to 125 PSI.
  • Fills up rapidly.
  • Wheels for mobility.
  • Extremely quiet.
  • Low maintenance.
  • Large tank.
  • Great for night owls.
  • Can run for up to 45 minutes without a cool-off period.
  • Steel tank to discourage corrosion.

What We Don’t Like

  • Several users reported leaks occurring over time.

This Model is Best Suited to

Those of you who like to work uninterrupted will appreciate the 10-gallon tank. You won’t run out of stored air and can work for up to 45 minutes without a break. If you have a developed toolkit you want to make use of fairly often, this unit is for you.

The PSI and CFM ratings suit most moderately powered tools. You’ll be able to fill up your tires and use small to mid-sized ratchet drivers and impact wrenches. Non-automotive tools like Brad nailers and air hammers will work with this machine too.


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Senco One-Gallon Air Compressor

Senco PC1010 1-Horsepower Peak, 1/2 hp running 1-Gallon Compressor,Gray/Red

The Senco compressor is discreet in all aspects. At only 20 pounds, the majority of users shouldn’t have problems moving it around. Unless your garage is packed to the limit, storage will be a breeze.

The one-horsepower motor is oil-less for painless maintenance.

This unit is not made for powering large, complex apparatus and equipment. It’s designed for hardware with low PSI and CFM demands.

The one-gallon tank is sufficient for minor chores like sustaining the air level in your tires. You can also use it for basic jobs around the house, e.g., using pin nailers, staplers, etc.

If you’re not entirely sure about the future of your home garage, consider this model. There’s no need to invest in a large, high-capacity compressor right off the bat.

Features and Specifications

  • Electric.
  • Single-tank.
  • Portable (handle).
  • Horsepower: 1.0 HP (half when running).
  • Voltage: 115 volts.
  • Tank capacity: one gallon.
  • Maximum pressure: 135 PSI.
  • CFM: 1.0 CFM at 40 PSI; 0.7 at 90 PSI.
  • Lubrication: oil-less.
  • Weight: 20 pounds.
  • Warranty: one year.

What We Like

  • Lightweight.
  • Easy to store and transport.
  • Little maintenance required.
  • Quiet when running.
  • Ideal for intermittent-demand tools.
  • Useful for engine cleaning.

What We Don’t Like

  • Low power limits automotive applications.

This Model is Best Suited to

This small machine is a good fit for the novices out there. You can use it for light car maintenance, such as keeping your tires inflated. Or, you can attach the hose to a nozzle and clean out your engine, wheel wells, etc.

It’s also quiet enough to use at all hours, and won’t drag you down during transport.

The Senco compressor can also be used for artistic hobbies such as airbrush painting, and it’s compatible with low-demand pneumatic hardware (nail guns, chisels, etc).

If you’re not sure how far toward ‘professional equipment’ you’re willing to go with your home garage, this product might work for you.


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Porter-Cable Pancake Compressor With 13-Piece Accessory Kit

PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor with 13-Piece Accessory Kit

This inclusive kit by Porter-Cable comes with 13 accessories.

Users who are just beginning to establish their home garages will find this helpful. Rather than buying everything separately, you can get your starter accessories all at once. You’ll get a hose and components like a tire gauge and blow gun kit.

The electric, oil-free motor will also appeal to the beginners among you. Maintenance is minimal and uncomplicated.

Storage and transport are equally undemanding: the machine only weighs thirty pounds. This is also handy for jobs that require you to move the compressor around, like filling up four tires.

Although it’s loud (like most pancake units) stability won’t be an issue. The base is solidly built, and the feet are made from rubber. This reduces vibrations and prevents the unit from bouncing around while it’s running.

The six-gallon tank is big enough for you to complete minor chores without waiting for it to refill.

Features and Specifications

  • Electric.
  • Single-tank (pancake).
  • Portable (handle).
  • Built-in cord-wrap.
  • Includes 13 accessories.
  • Horsepower: 0.8 HP.
  • Voltage: 120 volts.
  • Tank capacity: six gallons.
  • Maximum pressure: 150 PSI.
  • CFM: 3.5 CFM at 40 PSI; 2.6 CFM at 90 PSI.
  • Lubrication: oil-less.
  • Weight: 30 pounds.
  • Warranty: one year.

What We Like

  • A generous quantity of accessories included.
  • Lightweight and easy to transport.
  • Stable base.
  • Generous tank capacity for a pancake compressor.
  • Rubber feet reduce vibrations.
  • Simple to maintain.

What We Don’t Like

  • Noisy.
  • Obligatory break-in period not specified in the user manual.
  • A few users experienced certain accessories failing.

This Model is Best Suited to

This pancake compressor is a good option for users with new home garages. You can expand a small pneumatic tool collection or start one from scratch. The lower CFM and PSI rating is fitting for basic tools (e.g., ?-inch ratchet drivers). You’ll be able to accomplish simple chores for your vehicle.


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Bostitch 6-Gallon 150 Psi Oil-Free Air Compressor

BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor, Oil-Free, 6 Gallon, 150 PSI (BTFP02012)

The Bostitch pancake compressor is oil-less and electric for trouble-free upkeep. Combined with the compact build, you have a machine that’s easy to maintain and store.

A standout feature of this unit is that it’s less noisy than other pancake models. With an 80-decibel rating, operating it indoors will be loud but not ear-shattering.

The six-gallon tank refills quickly so you won’t have to delay whatever you’re doing. The rubber feet will keep the unit stable while the engine is on. All in all, these qualities contribute to simplifying typical automotive maintenance.

As with other smaller models, it’s intended for less complex pneumatic equipment. If most of the tools in your current kit are low-demand, this compressor will be sufficient. It has a 2.6 CFM rating at 90 PSI. That makes it sufficient for quick tasks like blowing dirt out of the engine or maintaining optimal tire inflation.

Features and Specifications

  • Electric.
  • Single-tank (pancake).
  • Portable (handle).
  • Two universal couplers.
  • Horsepower: 0.9 HP.
  • Voltage: 120 volts.
  • Tank capacity: six gallons.
  • Maximum pressure: 150 PSI.
  • CFM: 2.6 CFM at 90 PSI.
  • Lubrication: oil-less.
  • Weight: 29 pounds.
  • Decibels: 78.5 to 80 dBA.
  • Warranty: one year.

What We Like

  • Easy to transport and store.
  • Quiet (for a pancake unit).
  • Decent tank capacity.
  • Fills up fast.
  • Suits low-demand tools.
  • Effortless upkeep.
  • Rubber feet for stability while running.

What We Don’t Like

  • A few users complained that the pressure adjustment knob is hard to adjust.

This Model is Best Suited to

This unit will satisfy people looking to stay on top of routine car maintenance. It’ll keep your tires filled and can be used with smaller pneumatic tools like grease guns.

Note that it’s best for jobs that done quickly (intermittent bursts of air). Keeping essential mechanisms lubricated, blowing away dust—those sorts of tasks.

The unsubstantial weight means it can be transported around without herculean strength. This feature is practical for the type of chores we mentioned above. The oil-free motor means it can be used occasionally without fear of oil-related troubles.


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Rolair Oil-Less Air Compressor

Rolair JC10 Plus 1 HP Oil-Less Compressor

If you’re wary of buying a small machine because it might be flimsy, this model may be of interest.

This single-tank electric compressor is sturdily built. The roll cage will keep the engine and other components protected during storage. As the tank is built from aluminum, it’s less susceptible to rusting in storage.

The roll-cage design also allows for easier storage. There isn’t an awkward handle sticking up. None of the parts protrude excessively. You can tuck it into a shelf or in a corner. The machine also comes with a cord wrap, allowing you to keep the unit and hose together.

The best part about this oil-less compressor is the sound levels. At only 60 decibels, it’s one of the quietest models on our list. Users who like to conduct vehicle upkeep at odd hours will appreciate this. It’s also an attractive pick for those of you who are sensitive to loud noises.

Features and Specifications

  • Electric.
  • Single-tank.
  • Single-stage.
  • Cast-aluminum tank.
  • Built-in cord-wrap.
  • Portable (handle).
  • Horsepower: 1.0 HP.
  • Voltage: 115 volts.
  • Tank capacity: 2.5 gallons.
  • CFM: 3.8 CFM at 40 PSI; 2.4 CFM at 90 PSI.
  • Lubrication: oil-less.
  • Weight: approximately 50 pounds.
  • Decibels: 60 dBA.
  • Warranty: one year.

What We Like

  • Rust-resistant tank.
  • Cord-wrap built in.
  • Sturdy construction.
  • Practically noiseless.
  • Easy to store in tight spaces.
  • Long-lasting.
  • Rubber feet for vibration-free operation.

What We Don’t Like

  • Some users reported receiving defective units, but only a very small few, and replacements were, of course, sent promptly.

This Model is Best Suited to

Anyone who wants to buy a small compressor that’s built to endure should consider this model. The roll cage will keep the motor protected while it’s in storage. You won’t have to worry about rust as the tank is made from cast aluminum. These features along with the lower power output, make it suitable for infrequent automotive tasks.

Think of low-impact devices like body polishers or small spray guns for occasional detail work. You should be able to use it for brief jobs (e.g., tire inflation or using a grease gun). The low-decibel operation makes it optimal for indoor home improvement too.


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Viair Portable Air Compressor

Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor

If your primary concern is tire maintenance, this lightweight compressor will suit you. The machine can run off your vehicle’s battery when the engine is on. It comes with two clamps for the purpose. At less than five pounds, you can store it anywhere in your garage or your car.

It has everything you need to inflate and check your tires simultaneously. A gauge is incorporated into the design. The build is user-friendly for individuals of all levels of expertise. It’s rated for use on tires that are up to 33 inches in diameter. This covers most passenger vehicles and light trucks.

Another benefit is the long duty cycle. At 30 PSI, it’ll keep running for up to 25 minutes. This is practical if you need your tires inflated to the right levels fast. You don’t want to spend any more time stranded on the road than necessary.

Features and Specifications

  • Electric.
  • Powered by your car battery.
  • Includes dual battery clamps.
  • Suitable for tires up to 33 inches.
  • Includes built-in tire gauge.
  • Single-tank.
  • Portable (handheld).
  • Voltage: 12 volts.
  • Maximum pressure: 120 PSI.
  • CFM: 1.15 at 40 PSI; 0.64 at 90 PSI.
  • Lubrication: oil-less.
  • Weight: 4.75 pounds.
  • Warranty: one year.

What We Like

  • Can be powered by car battery on the road.
  • The unit can be kept in your trunk for emergencies.
  • Gauge included for checking tire pressure.
  • Little maintenance required.
  • Design is sleek and user-friendly.

What We Don’t Like

  • A few users reported the unit failing within a year of purchase.

This Model is Best Suited to

This portable gadget is for those of you concerned about tire upkeep and not much else. The machine is built for inflating and checking tires.

You may be able to use it on certain low-demand pneumatic tools, but that isn’t what it’s for. Keep it in your trunk or your garage to check your tires regularly.


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We hope you’ve found in our guide the best air compressor for a home garage to meet your needs. Pneumatic tools have diverse applications for DIY enthusiasts of all levels of expertise, and a compressor is a must to drive them.

You can use them on your vehicle or for other projects throughout your home. Choosing a quality air compressor can make all the difference in how effective your tools are.

Do you have any questions or feedback for us? Please feel free to leave us a comment. We look forward to responding to each and every one.


Product image credits: © Amazon.com

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From childhood go karting and motocross, to collecting and obsessing over scalextric, matchbox and radio controlled cars, I've always had an obsession with cars. Learning through manuals, books, trial and error, and more knowledgeable family members, I've also enjoyed tinkering with the mechanics and electronics of any vehicles I've owned. Now, over 3 decades later, I've started this site as a place for me to share my knowledge, to teach others how to care for and maintain their vehicles themselves, at home, so they can get the most of their vehicles and save a pretty penny compared to always seeking out professional help.

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