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Which air compressor is best for home use?

Having an air compressor at the ready comes in handy in many ways.

Handle a range of tasks

If you regularly fix or improve things around your home, you've likely considered buying an air compressor. These handy machines can help with various tasks and power a range of impressive tools. When purchasing an air compressor, there are numerous things to consider, such as its size, noise level and power.

Shop this article: Craftsman Pancake Air CompressorCalifornia Air Tools Steel-Tank Air Compressor and DeWalt DXCM271 Portable Air Compressor

Air compressor considerations

  • Size: The tank’s capacity typically influences the compressor’s size and weight. Compressors with larger tanks hold more air, meaning you can use them for longer periods before the pressure drops. These large compressors can be heavy and take up a lot of space, but they typically have wheels that make them easier to maneuver. If you’re looking for a compressor you can carry by hand, consider one with about a 6-gallon capacity.
  • Power: The compressor’s power is measured in pounds per square inch and cubic feet per minute. PSI measures the force a compressor delivers, whereas CFM measures the machine’s air output. Machines with about 2 to 5 CFM offer more than enough power for most jobs you’ll do around your house.
  • Noise level: Air compressors are noisy machines; many have a noise output of around 80-100 decibels. For reference, lawnmowers operate around 95 dB. Smaller units generally produce less noise, so you may want a compact compressor if you plan to use it in a residential area. Since they can be relatively loud, it’s a good idea to wear ear protection when using them.

Air compressor uses

  • Pneumatic tools: Nail guns powered by air compressors are ideal for hanging crown molding or baseboard trim. Compressors can also be used to power impact wrenches, sanders and a range of other pneumatic tools.
  • Inflating tires: Air compressors are an effective way to inflate flat tires. To fill your tires using an air compressor, you’ll need a tire chuck and an understanding of your tires’ recommended PSI.
  • Painting: You can use your air compressor to power a paint sprayer, letting you quickly paint large surfaces, such as walls and ceilings.

Air compressor FAQ

Q. How much PSI do you need for a nail gun?

A. In most cases, a compressor with around 70 PSI is more than enough for a nail gun. Still, most require around 2.4 CFM, so you’ll likely want a compressor with at least 90 PSI to make your job go more smoothly.

Q. Do air compressors require regular maintenance?

A. You’ll need to do several things to keep your compressor in proper working order. Many have air filters you must replace regularly, and most will need their oil refilled now and then. Many also have a drain valve to empty the moisture that accumulates; regularly draining your tank will help extend your air compressor’s life span.

Q. Do you need an air compressor for nail guns?

A. There is a range of handy cordless nail guns you can use for hanging crown molding and baseboard trim. Still, you’ll need a pneumatic nail gun and an air compressor for tougher jobs like roof repairs or building a deck.

Best air compressor

Craftsman Pancake Air Compressor

This has a convenient oil-free pump, a 150-PSI maximum tank pressure and a 6-gallon capacity. The included accessory kit has a tire chuck, tire gauge, two blow guns and three adapters. It's an excellent choice for pneumatic tools.

Sold by Amazon

California Air Tools Steel Tank Air Compressor

This features a low-maintenance pump, a 120-PSI maximum tank pressure and an 8-gallon capacity. It's about as loud as a lawnmower; many said it was the quietest air compressor they've ever used. The built-in wheels make it easier to maneuver around your house.

Sold by Amazon 

DeWalt Pancake Air Compressor

This features a 6-gallon tank and a 165-PSI maximum tank pressure. It's relatively lightweight and has two universal couplers. It's backed by a one-year limited warranty.

Sold by Amazon


Porter-Cable Air Compressor

This features a 6-gallon capacity and a 150-PSI maximum tank pressure. It's durable and relatively easy to carry around. It has an oil-free tank and rubber stoppers on the legs to keep it from scratching your floor.

Sold by Amazon 

California Air Tools 10020C Air Compressor

This has a 10-gallon capacity and a 125-PSI maximum tank pressure. It runs at around 70 dBA, making it much quieter than most portable air compressors. It has wheels for easy maneuvering.

Sold by Amazon 

DeWalt DXCM271 Portable Air Compressor

This features a 27-gallon capacity and a 200-PSI maximum tank pressure. It runs at around 78 dB, which is surprisingly quiet for a unit this size. It's pretty heavy, but the built-in wheels make it easier to move around.

Sold by Amazon 

Makita MAC100Q Electric Air Compressor

This has a 1-gallon capacity and a 135-PSI maximum tank pressure. It's about as loud as a lawnmower and weighs less than 30 pounds. It's easy to use and has a built-in cord wrap.

Sold by Amazon 


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Cody Stewart writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.​​​

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