Which Air Compressor Is Right For You?

All of the Air Compressors we’ve collected are the highest rated in their own category. Each compressor has features that differentiate them from each other. We’re here to help you find exactly what you need by breaking down the pros and cons of each. It’s important to set a budget when looking for air compressors, as entry-level air compressors may be significantly cheaper, but don’t offer all of the features that other more expensive high-end air compressors have to offer. We’ve created this chart to analyze these top five air compressors so that you can make an informed decision. You can compare them to each other below, as well as read detailed reviews on each individual product. Hopefully by the end of reading this page you’ll be able to make an educated, smart decision!


Top Five Air Compressors Of 2015 — Tested by Experts

1 year1 year1 year1 year1 year
Name California Air Tools CAT-6310

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Porter Cable PCFP02003

Porter Cable PCFP02003

Porter Cable CMB 15

Porter Cable CMB 15
Read Reviewreadreview
Rating Rates & Reviews
Amazon Rating
Availability In StockIn StockIn StockIn StockIn Stock
General Information
Maximum Pressure120 PSI125 PSI135 PSI150 PSI150 PSI
Horse Power
1 HP1 HP0.8 HP1.1 HP0.8 HP
Voltage110 Volts115 Volts120 Volts12 (DC) Volts120 Volts
Dimensions (in inches)
23.6 x 13.3 x 24
14 x 13 x 10 
18.1 x 17.2 x 18.5
13.3 x 8.9 x 7.2
15.5 x 13.2 x 20.5 
Weight (in pounds)
49 pounds
20 pounds
28.8 pounds
11 pounds
20 pounds


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Top Features of Our Top Picks

We’ve broken down our review so that you can make an informed decision about which air compressor offers the features that are most important to you.

 California Air Tools CAT-6310 – Best Portable Air Compressor 

  • It comes installed with 2.0HP motor.
  • It’s a quiet unit with noise levels around 60dB.
  • It requires little maintenance.
  • It’s lightweight with only 49 pounds.
  • Its airflow capacity is 3.8cfm.
  • Its amperage capacity is 8A and maximum pressure is 120PSI.
  • It comes with two separate gauges to check tank and tool pressure.
  • It makes it easy to replace tools.
  • It comes installed with a ball drain valve that makes it more effective.
  • It has a water trap feature to remove moisture from the air.
  • It comes with an oil-free dual pump and works well for 3,000 hours in cold weather.
  • Click here to read Reviews, Ratings & Rates

SENCO PC1010 – Best Air Compressor For Small Tasks

  • It’s a 1HP compressor with 1-gallon of tank.
  • It’s capable of delivering 20-40 drives per minute.
  • It has an oil-free pump that delivers outstanding performance.
  • It saves users from dealing with spills and leakages.
  • It can move from 0-120psi in almost two minutes.
  • Click here to read Reviews, Ratings & Rates

Porter Cable PCFP02003 – Best Budget Air Compressor 

  • It’s an electric-powered stationary compressor.
  • It offers 2.0SCFM at the rate of 90PSI
  • It’s a 3.5-gallon compressor with 135PSI for longer run.
  • It uses a low AMP 120V motor.
  • It is a compact compressor with 18in length, 17in width, and almost 18in of height.
  • It is quite lightweight and weighs only 26 pounds.
  • It has rubber feet for added stability.
  • It is compatible with various air tools and works well due to its 12v motor.
  • Click here to read Reviews, Ratings & Rates

VIAIR 45040 450C – Best Tire Air Compressor

  • It generates pressure at 150 PSI with 20 AMP draw.
  • It has oil-less design and uses a gear less direct drive magnetic motor.
  • It comes installed with a powerful PTFE piston ring.
  • It has precision durable bearings for better motor life.
  • It works amazingly well in different environments from -40° F to 158° F.
  • It comes with thermal overload protection that prevents damage from overheating.
  • It comes with a high quality stainless steel braided hose.
  • It comes equipped with heavy-duty mounting feet.
  • It is easy to use it without a tank.
  • Click here to read Reviews, Ratings & Rates

Porter Cable CMB 15 – Best Oil Free Air Compressor 

  • It’s a stationary gas-powered compressor.
  • It delivers 2.0SCFM at 90 PSI and offers quick recovery time.
  • It comes with a 1.5-gallon tank for more power.
  • It uses water drain valve and has rubber feet as well.
  • It has 150-PSI max tank pressure that offers longer tool run time.
  • It uses oil-free pump for little maintenance.
  • Its sound level is around 79dB.
  • Click here to read Reviews, Ratings & Rates


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Identify what features you’re looking for when purchasing an Air Compressor

There’s so much that goes into make an informed decision when purchasing an air compressor. The list of features seems endless, and there’s an extremely wide variety to choose from. With so many features such as type, RPM, PSI, horsepower, the list goes on and on.  Luckily we’re here to help, it’s first important to identify if you’re looking for a portable or stationary air compressor. It’s also important to figure out if you need a mounted compressor– a VIAIR air compressor 400 series is perfect for fitting this need as it comes with mounting plates. These compressors can prove very useful for short-term job sites, and are typically cheaper to upgrade with filters and in-line lubricants.


Top 21 Different Types of Air Compressors. Click here to Check it Out

When mobility is an important factor, the clear solution is to purchase a portable compressor such as the California Air Tools 6310 or Senco Air Compressor. These are second to none when mobility is your number one priority. The only downsides lies with the cost, as these typically cost more than mounted compressors of the same quality. However, companies like SENCO and California Air Tools offer very affordable entry level portable air compressors. If mobility isn’t a priority, it’s essential to purchase a mounted compressor as these are great benefits at very reasonable prices, they can also be put on walls in situations where there is a limited amount of space.

Watch this Video to Learn what the Most Important Factors are when Selecting an Air Compressor


What Else You Need to Know When Buying Air Compressors

Usually when purchasing an air compressor, people look at the wrong features. There are a few specific things you need to be paying extra attention to. Firstly, the type of compressor is the biggest decision to make. The most known types are positive displacement compressors, and rotary screw compressors. Positive displacement compressors are solely used in the industrial market, and there are two different kinds of compressors: single stage and two stage. Single stage compressors work the quickest, but typically have a lower maximum PSI of 150. This is because they work by drawing in air and then compressing it to it’s final pressure in a single piston stroke. Most two stage compressors have a maximum PSI of 200. This is because of the two stoke process, on the first stroke air is drawn in and compressed to an immediate pressure. On the second stroke, air is sent down an intercooler where the air is cooled out. Two stage reciprocating compressors are more efficient at higher pressures because the air is cooled.

The best cheap one stage air compressor is the California Air Tools Aluminum Tank Air Compressor


The other important feature is the horsepower. There’s two different ways that horsepower is recorded. Running horsepower is the amount of horsepower once the machine is running at the RPM designated by the manufacturers design. This is the true indication of horsepower because it’s calculated while it’s running, unlike peak horsepower. Peak horsepower calculated by recording the maximum output of a motor when the start windings are on.  That start windings only engage during startup, so it’s a very misleading way to gage what the horsepower actually is. If the start windings were left on, the machine would overheat or even break.


Check Your Compressor’s Ratings before Making a Purchase

It is equally important to check a compressor’s SCFM, DCFM, and ACFM ratings. Displaced CFM (DCFM) is a mathematical formula, which helps us to calculate the stroke, bore and rpm into a CFM figure. You need to note that the gained figure will always be the highest because DCFM doesn’t take into consideration different variables like atmosphere, temperature, humidity, pressure, heat dissipation or friction. Make sure you take note of this before making your purchase.

Another CFM commonly used by people is Standard, or SCFM. It helps us to define the exact amount of free air flow, and is converted into a standard set of reference conditions. Next up, you will find the CFM rating. Actual CFM (ACFM) takes into account all the variables like atmosphere, temperature, pressure, humidity to give a true output of the pump. Occasionally, CFM numbers are indicated at different pressures and these numbers are very significant because they help us to evaluate whether the CFM produced is enough for desired application or not.

Our top picks all come with impressive CFM ratings, but you have to bear in mind that they are all entry-level compressors not designed for tough tasks. They can be the best home air compressor, but they may not work fine when you’re undertaking tougher tasks. For instance, the PORTER-CABLE CMB15 produces an airflow of up to 2.0CFM at 150 PSI, but the Viair 45040 450C has maximum PSI of 150, and the total airflow is around 1.66CFM. This makes the Porter Cable a better option if you require stronger airflow for your tasks.

California Air Tools 6310 is a better choice if airflow is your preference – it comes with an air flow capacity of 3.8CFM.


The Motor’s Power is Important

You can’t just rely on the airflow ratings to make a purchase; you also need to check the motor power to get the best value for your money. Compressors are typically rated by their horsepower. Checking horsepower will help you pick the best industrial air compressor. This may look simple to you but there are many differences in Horsepower. Compressor makers rate their air compressors by the HP they produce. This HP is called Peak Horsepower – it is the maximum output given by any motor. Peak Horsepower has to be measured on the basis of 5 to 7 times the run of a compressor.

Other factors such as the Duty Cycle and Service Factor should also be considered when checking the motor. Duty Cycle is usually rated as continuous and intermittent and this rating is the rating of time under full load, which means that the motor either can run intermittently or continuously. The other factor worth noted is the Service Factor i.e. the rating of the motor. It is the actual percentage of rated HP at which the motor operates safely. For example: 1.15 SF = 115% of rated HP). If the Service Factor is higher it will allow the motor to operate with safety and at varied conditions. This only helps the motor to runs without being overheated or failing.

Okay, enough of the technical details. Let’s tell you about the horsepower our top picks are capable of producing.

If you need the best air compressor for car tires, bike tires and inflation, you can definitely put your money on Porter Cable PCFP02003 that comes with 1-stage motor of 0.8HP.

The SENCO PC1010 is yet another choice if you need portability and want a relatively powerful motor – it comes with a motor capable of producing 1.0HP. You can also keep it in the list of the best car air compressor brands.


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Finding the Best Portable Air Compressor

You have to determine whether the machine should be portable or needs to be moved around your facility. Here, you have to consider other factors like the size and weight of the compressor. Units with high pressure and volumes will be heavier in weight and big in sizes according to their horsepower requirement, pumping system, chassis construction, electrical components, and more.

The Porter Cable CMB15 is a suitable choice for those who are after portability because it weighs only 20 pounds, which is actually 39.4% less than average compressors available on the market. The SENCO PC1010 is another popular option in this category because it weighs only 20 pounds and comes with 1HP and one-gallon capacity for pumping anything up that you need. The California Air Tools 6310 is also known for its portability but it is heavier than the alternative – it weighs an overwhelming 49 pounds.

Consider The Drive System to Find The Best Air Compressor

You need to determine what kind of system is needed according to your environment. If you live in an area where electricity is constantly available you can go for an electric motor because they are very cheap to buy and require very little maintenance. On the other hand, if electricity is not available all the time or you need to take your compressor to different places where there is no electric outlet available, you may invest your money in a gas powered or other form of portable compressor.

The Porter Cable CMB15 is a recommended option for those looking for a gas-powered unit. But you also need to consider that it is a stationary compressor and comes with 25-foot hose. You can go for the Porter Cable PCFP02003 if you require an electric-powered stationary compressor. It also produces 135PSI, which makes it the best electric air compressor to perform various tasks. However, the SENCO PC1010 is a reasonably nice choice for those interested in an electric-powered compressor that is extremely portable as well. Choosing between these compressors is very hard, and is mostly left up to personal preference.


Consider the Tank Size

The size of the compressor tank is measured by gallons. It should also be measured according to your need. If you need it for quick concentrated bursts, you can go for a small sized tank. But if you need the unit for huge jobs, you need a large sized tank. The California Air Tools 6310 is a good option to operate larger tools, such as an impact wrench because it comes with a tank size of 6.3 gallons. However, the Porter Cable PCFP02003is a better choice if you need strong, short bursts because it comes with a reasonably small tank of 3.5 gallons. As you can see, with a smaller tank, you get quicker, stronger bursts. With the larger tanks, you get a long, less powerful burst.

VIAIR 450C is an excellent option because it comes without a tank, it’s by our standards the best tire air compressor.


 Checking the Noise Levels

Something you need to consider at the time of buying a compressor is its noise level. Whether you’re opting for a stationary compressor or you’re interested in buying a portable compressor, you will have a hard time using it indoors if the noise levels are on the higher side. The compressor can get very annoying, very quickly.

Our top picks deliver strong performance and don’t annoy you when it comes to overall noise. However, the best brand of air compressor in terms of noise levels is  California Air Tools because the noise level is around 60dB. You may also consider going for the Porter Cable CMB15 if you want a reasonably quiet stationary compressor – it produces noise up to 79db.


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Finding the Best Cheap Air Compressor

With so many air compressors to chose from, you would think it would be easy to find a high quality air compressor that isn’t prone to break down for cheap. That’s not the case, we’ve scoured the internet and analyzed hundreds of air compressors just to compile and test a small amount of top notch air compressors that we feel comfortable showcasing for you.  If you’re looking for an affordable air compressor, look no further. From the second we came across the Porter Cable PCFP02003 air compressor, we knew it was promising. This is one of the highest quality cheap stationary air compressors you’ll find on the market. For $99 you this truly can’t be beat, the only competitors offer very low quality products that are subpar to Porter’s air compressor. If you’re looking for a gas powered portable air compressor that’s perfect for short term outdoor projects, the SENCO PC1010 has exactly what you need. It’s only $109 and is lightweight, produces 1HP, and holds 1 gallon of gasoline. If you’re looking for an affordable and portable gas powered air compressor, look no further.


Special Features Affecting Your Buying Decision

Due to the wide variety of air compressors on the market, we’ve been able to review and suggest the best and most affordable air compressor to fit your exact needs. Whether you’re looking for a mobile and lightweight air compressor like the VIAIR 45040 450C, or a powerful heavy duty air compressor like the Ingersoll-Rand SS3F2-GM Garage Mate, we’ve got you covered. Make sure that you know what PSI you’re looking for in an air compressor, as there’s a huge amount of variance amongst different products. Mobility is also a huge factor, as some air compressors are meant to be mounted for long term projects, others are meant to be carried from job site to job site. The VIAIR 45040 450C is the perfect lightweight affordable air compressor. It can even be easily mounted at temporary job sites to offer even more flexibility. It also uses an electric system, this means it’s perfect for jobs that are inside, as no gas or oil need to be used. It’s also been tested to work in temperatures as low as -40° F, and as high as 158° F.



Finding the right air compressor can be a very difficult process, and unless you know exactly what you’re looking for you’ll often purchase one that doesn’t fit all your needs. Due to the variance in size, type, horsepower, features, and prices, it’s can be very tricky to find the right air compressor to fit all of your needs. We’re here to make finding your air compressor simple, and affordable. Make sure to read a few of our detailed reviews to find the air compress that will work best for you.