4 Best Air Compressors for Your Home Garage

Having the right tools makes a huge difference when you want to work on your vehicle at home. From tightening nuts and bolts to changing spark plugs, tools greatly help with car maintenance. And in the case of pneumatic tools, air compressors are a must. They’re also great for inflating tires and even painting your car.

Air compressors come in various shapes, sizes, and price ranges. Here are four of the best models for your home garage.

How to decide which model you should buy based on your needs

A man turns on a battery-powered air compressor whose hose is attached to his SUV's right front tire
Air compressors are handy for inflating tires and other tasks | Taylor Weidman/Bloomberg via Getty Images

As the name implies, an air compressor increases the pressure of the air it picks up from the atmosphere, then conveys the pressurized air to the attached tool via a pipe. It has an on and off switch, regulator or output pressure adjustment button, and output ports. Most air tools also feature a safety valve to allow you to remove air that’s left inside after you are done with your work. You should always remove the air to prevent the tank from rusting.

The following are some tools you can use with an air compressor in your garage: 

  • Air hammer
  • Socket wrench or ratchet
  • Grease gun
  • Hydraulic riveter
  • Impact wrench
  • Tire inflator
  • Blower 
  • Paint sprayer 

As you shop for an air compressor, consider the type of work you will be doing with it and the experience other people have had with the type you choose. You should consider the cubic feet per minute and pounds per square inch to know a particular model’s total power.

“As far as what PSI is right for you, it depends on the tools you’ll be using,” Roadshow by CNET explains. “For example, a smaller framing nailer may require 70 to 90 PSI, but shears and air sanders could take from 100 to 120 PSI to function properly.”

The following are four air compressors that Roadshow by CNET recommends.

Industrial Air IL1682066.MN 20-gallon electric air compressor

When you need both power and reliability, the IL1682066.MN 20-gallon electric air compressor from Industrial Air is an excellent pick. It’s a 159-pound unit that comes with wheels and handles to make it more mobile. In terms of power, it can deliver up to 135 PSI. 

This air compressor has a U.S.-made tank featuring rugged cast iron for maximum durability. The oil-lubricated pump keeps this unit quiet. There’s also an option to convert its 120-volt motor to 240-volt when necessary. Plus, you don’t have to ravage your bank account to buy one. It goes for $689 on Amazon.   

Craftsman CMXECXA0232043 20-gallon vertical air compressor

When you don’t want to spend a fortune but still need a high-quality, reliable pneumatic power source, consider the Craftsman CMXECXA0232043 20-gallon vertical air compressor. With a large tank to supply power to all your tools, this unit has a maximum output of 175 PSI. You will have no problem moving it around your work areas — it has eight-inch wheels and a handle. You can find it for $399.97 on Amazon.  

Craftsman CMEC6150K 6-gallon pancake unit with 13-piece accessory kit

The popularity of pancake models is thanks to their small size, which makes them highly portable. One such model is the Craftsman CMEC6150K six-gallon pancake air compressor with a 13-piece accessory kit. It is the second-best-selling portable model on Amazon with over 10,000 customer reviews and a 4.8-star rating.

With a capability to supply up to 150 PSI, this model comes with 13 accessories for seamless use and maximum efficiency when working on small tasks. Its total weight is 32.5 pounds, and its tank has a total capacity of six gallons. It costs $149.02 on Amazon as of this writing.  

California Air Tools 2010A 2-gallon aluminum tank model

Hot dog models sometimes have larger tanks than pancake models, but not always. According to Roadshow by CNET, choosing between a hot dog and a pancake is just a matter of taste.

Regardless, the California Air Tools 2010A two-gallon aluminum tank air compressor is an excellent choice. It is ultra-quiet, running at 60 decibels. You will also have no problems moving it from your garage to other parts of your home when working on various projects because it weighs about 35 pounds. Its total output is 120 PSI, meaning you can still use it for most of your automotive tasks. This air compressor costs $199.40 on Amazon

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