The average resident at a home will find themselves in need of car repair/maintenance or some other household chore that involves the use of a drill. While there are numerous ways to go about this, some of the most reliable tools attach to air compressors.
Fortunately, no longer are such compressors built specifically for vehicle repair shops. Below are the best air compressors for home garages, each with a range of features that make them ideal for all types of DIY projects that can be accomplished from the comfort of your home. The specifics of these are discussed further in our comprehensive Buyer’s Guide so be sure to read the useful tips provided there once you’re done with the reviews. Let’s begin!
Top 7 Best Air Compressors (For Home Garage)
1. Best Overall: Craftsman Pancake Air Compressor
The Craftsman Air Compressor is a durable pancake compressor with enough power to pump tires, change them, and even pump out water (provided you have the right attachments). The possibilities are endless, and the body is made to last for years without the need for a replacement.
Aside from your attachments, don’t worry about buying additional parts for the compressor itself. Everything that’s required for it to run is provided by the company. While this might seem like an issue one wouldn’t need to worry about, it’s quite common for consumers to add their parts to machines (such as better screws).
As for how it runs, the mechanism is smooth. Although you will definitely hear the compressor when it runs, the decibel level should stay relatively low. You may want to close your garage when working late in the afternoon, but nothing more.
As mentioned, use it for car and home repairs/ building projects of all kinds. Although the instruction manual could be laid out better, it’s nothing that an online video tutorial won’t clear up. Overall, this Craftsman product is one of the best pancake compressors you’ll find online. Highly recommended.
2. Runner-up: Bostitch Pancake Air Compressor
Second is the Bostitch Air compressor. Having a pancake design, it has features that put it near the line of an industrial compressor, while being small in dimensions. This means that you’ll get more for less volume, and a strong PSI to boot.
Speaking of which, PSI is gauged at 150. The compressor holds up to six gallons of air. Looking at the top of the machine, there’s a strong handle for you to carry it around to your desired workstation. It weighs about 31 pounds and is padded at the bottom to keep it in a stationary position.
Once you’re done with your work, finding a place to store the Bostitch is easy to do. Its height is approximately 19 inches, just the right size for getting into a small holding slot in your garage. When you turn it on for the first time, don’t be alarmed if the regulator is slow to gain in PSI. You might have to wait a moment for this to happen, but it’s smooth sailing after that.
3. Premium Pick: Makita MAC2400
The Makita MAC2400 is another compact compressor with more power than it appears to have. The dimensions are tiny, giving users lots of freedom for quick and easy storage. Maybe surprising to some, the compressor is capable of running smoothly all the time, regardless of the conditions of your garage.
Granted, keeping it free from moisture and temperature extremes is still suggested, but the PSI will keep flowing as intended if exposed in such conditions for a day or two.
The noise level of the MAC2400 is very low. In fact, your neighbors will likely not hear it running, even during the evening hours. After you’re done, you can move the machine around immediately; it doesn’t get too hot to the touch. As for improvements, there aren’t many, which is a good thing.
Some might find the compressor a bit heavy to pick up since it weighs 80 pounds. Besides this, there’s nothing controversial about the MAC2400. Give it a try if you want something that’s low in volume and high in dependability.
4. Porter-Cable Air Compressor
The Porter-Cable is a red-painted compressor with a strong PSI and even better portability. Its motor sits on the top, with a handle attached above. It holds six-gallon total, outputting a maximum PSI of 150.
A drain valve for water is located at the center, placed in a perfect position for you to drain without water touching the compressor’s body. The tank pressure is strong, more than capable of attaching to various tools in your garage. This isn’t a compressor for pumping your tires alone. You’ll be able to do lots of work with any tools that are compatible with it.
Be sure to drain water from the valve whenever you’re finished using the Porter-Cable. If you don’t, rust could develop on the inside. If that’s manageable, you’ll find that this compressor works well for any job you throw at it.
5. California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S
The California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S resembles your standard shop compressor, yet on a smaller scale. Weigh is about 30 pounds, much lighter than a lot of pancake compressors. There’s a large handle with a large rubber grip attached. It runs entirely on electricity; you won’t need to break out the motor oil for it to run. Filling time is fast with no seepage from the regulator. Corrosion won’t occur, even when stored in humid conditions.
The compressor lugs, or the pieces that attach to the hose, could be better in quality but should last long enough for you to use the compress for a couple of months. Have some backup lugs at the ready and everything should run fine.
6. DeWalt Pancake Air Compressor
The Dewalt Pancake Air Compressor has the company’s traditional yellow paint along the tank. Most of its positives are found in the body itself. For starters, it will level leak air, either from the lugs or the regulator. You should have no issue with picking this one up with one hand since it is only 29 pounds. Try it out with your nail guns, drills, and air pumps; the possibilities are endless.
Feel free to hook up your extension cable to the product to increase the distance. For large two-car garages, this compressor is extremely useful. Take note that this device has a high decibel level, and will be easily heard by anyone nearby. It’s a compressor to use if your work takes place during the day. If this is possible, you’ll love how well built and strong the Dewalt works with your pressure-fueled tools.
7. Campbell Hausfeld DC080500
At first glance, the Campbell Hausfeld DC080500 might look like a shop heater, due to its shape. But it’s included on the list based on its outstanding portability and variety of potential uses. You can get it filled quickly, a process that takes less than five minutes. And like the other compressors shown, no oil or gas is needed. Instead, you can use a plug to hook it up in the garage.
It hooks up to a standard 120-volt outlet, there is no need for you to install outlets of a higher voltage. Operation and maintenance are about the same as the other compressors listed, though having additional parts for it is suggested. Some of the screws provided by DeWalt could rust easily or strip over time; use some of higher quality if you can.
Home Garage Air Compressor Buyer’s Guide
How to Choose the Best Home Garage Air Compressor
To ensure that you end up with a compressor that you won’t have to immediately return, it’s important to do your homework before buying. This means knowing as much about not only your product of interest but of compressors themselves. How do you plan on using one? What’s the range quality that you’re looking for? And what are your expectations?
Answering these questions will determine which compressor is suitable for your garage and the tools in your possession (or those you plan to anticipate buying).
Know what You’ll Use the Compressor For
Some people make the mistake of getting a compressor that isn’t suitable for the type of work they want to do. The average home uses a compressor for low input tasks, such as cutting, drilling, nailing, doing automotive repairs, etc… If these are the types of tasks you’re hoping to tackle with an air compressor, selecting an air compressor with a low PSI rating should suffice. We had these types of tasks in mind when putting together this list of the best air compressors for your home garage.
If you’re doing heavy-duty work, like sanding down the body of your car, you’ll be consuming a lot more air and in turn will need a much larger tank, more horsepower, etc… Knowing this, you will want to settle for something with a high PSI if your primary objective is to do more than the tasks mentioned.
Consider the Noise Level
All air compressors make some noise. It’s something that you won’t be able to get completely around. The sound is about the same in every device, though the decibels could be higher or lower. It sounds somewhere in between the noise of a lawnmower and a jackhammer. If noise is an important consideration we recommend looking into the California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S. California Air Tools makes some of the quietest air compressors in the industry and this model is especially quiet at only 56 decibels. The noise level is about as loud as a normal conversation.
Most compressors sold are recommended to be used during the daylight hours. However, they are sold with a noise level that’s low enough for evening use. These are sometimes fitted with coverings that muffle the sound a bit. If your garage completely closes and is insulated, this could also help to dampen the noise.
Size and Portability
Sizes for air compressors vary. Most with high PSI ratings are big, while the pancakes are much smaller in power. Many pancake compressors have their own handles, which are usually located at the top of the machine, for fast transport. Some may also contain wheels.
Weight might be an issue, so check that the product you like is suitable for you to carry without causing strain on your arms, particularly if you’re disabled. The compressors listed are all portable, with the heaviest weighing about 80 pounds. Weights get much smaller than this, so don’t court that weight as an average for most in the category.
Get the Correct Voltage
Take a look to see what voltage each compressor requires to run. This is the plug that requires a compatible outlet. Some compressors are 230 and 240 volts while others could meet the standard 120. Since most homes carry 120-volt outlets, a compressor of this type might be suitable for you. Yet there are exceptions.
Many garages carry 230 or 240 connections, which are oftentimes used by washers for cleaning laundry. If you have a free outlet of this type and don’t need it for anything, 230/240 is totally acceptable. Knowing where you’re going to plug your compressor is the most important thing.
Gas vs Electric Compressors
Gas compressors, while having their advantages, aren’t as popular as they used to be. Any motor that requires gas will likely require oil, two items that you wouldn’t have to stress over getting with an electric compressor.
Gas compressors also tend to make more noise than their electric counterparts, and not in the best interest of maintaining a friendly relationship with your neighbors. Sure, you might not be able to carry it around like a gas-powered compressor but that can be solved with an extension cable, especially if you’re using one with a 120-volt plug.
Storage and Maintenance
When you’re done with your work, you’re going to need a secure location to store your garage compressor. Don’t just leave it in any spot, some models have problems with rusting. If your garage gets moist in the early morning, cover up your compressor and place it in an area that is away from direct exposure to the humidity source.
But if your garage is closed off and insulated, this shouldn’t be an issue. To keep your compressor clean, always drain water from the tank as soon as you’re done using it, to prevent interior corrosion on the inside.
No product is perfect, and this also applies to garage compressors. While most users should have too many issues when using a compressor correctly, you might find the noise level a bit too much to bear, more so if your ears are sensitive. In this case, ear protection could help. Some models will perform better with hoses that have a diameter larger than what’s provided by the company.
Always have a spare around, one that isn’t the same size as what’s given to you by the company (if they include it). Cleaning the outside should be done with a soft damp cloth; there’s no need to hose it down. Remember, this is run by electricity alone; you don’t want any of the electrical components to get wet.
The 7 air compressors we’ve reviewed are some of the best on the market. They have excellent features that will make working on your car or DIY projects much more enjoyable and in general, make your life easier. Choosing the best one for you just depends on your specific needs.
Our favorite “jack of all trades” choice is the Craftsman Air Compressor. It can handle car repairs with impact guns, pressure hoses, and also help with household jobs. It also seems to win out when it comes to durability, noise level, and ease of maintenance.