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7 Best Air Compressors for Home Garage: Large, Small, Quiet and More (2024)

7 Best Air Compressors for Home Garage: Large, Small, Quiet and More (2024)

Having an air compressor in your garage is useful for a variety of around-the-house tasks, hobbies and pastimes, or just to keep your sports equipment or summertime-fun gear well inflated and ready to go. In this article, we present the seven best air compressors for a home garage, just like yours, with some tips and pointers for choosing an air compressor powerful enough for your purposes.

Our Top Picks

Here’s an overview of the air compressors we reviewed.

Makita MAC2400 2.5 HP Big Bore Air CompressorBest Overall: Makita Big Bore Air Compressor.
With a cast iron pump and Big Bore cylinder with piston, the MAC2400 is the the perfect, all-around compressor, based on feedback.
Schumacher Rechargable AGM Jump Starter w Air CompressorBest Portable: Schumacher Rechargable AGM Jump Starter w/Air Compressor.
For an air compressor and jump starter, we like the Schumacher SJ1331 — a real lifesaver, users say.
Craftsman Air Compressor 20-GallonBest 20-Gallon: Craftsman 20-Gallon Air Compressor.
For low-pressure jobs, the well-built Craftsman 20-gallons air compressor is a great buy, especially for the price.
Ingersoll Rand SS5, 5HP Single Stage Air CompressorBest 60-Gallon: Ingersoll Rand Single Stage Air Compressor.
Running quietly, the Ingersoll Rand SS5 is powerful, with a simple and straight-forward design.
Bostitch Air Compressor Combo KitBostitch Air Compressor Combo KitBostitch Air Compressor Combo KitBostitch Air Compressor Combo KitBest on a Budget: Bostitch Air Compressor Combo Kit.
A reasonably priced combo kit, Bostitch is a great choice for do it yourself home repair projects.
Porter-Cable 6-Gallon Pancake Air CompressorBest Pancake: Porter-Cable 6-Gallon Pancake Air Compressor.
Oil-free and requiring very little maintenance, PORTER-CABLE makes the best pancake air compressor to buy.
California Air Tools CompressorBest Quiet: California Air Tools.
Do the work without waking the neighbors; the best quiet air compressor is the California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S.

A Closer Look

Keep reading for a closer look at the air compressors we reviewed — including what we liked, didn’t like, and a few things consumers had to say about the products in our ranking.

1. Makita MAC2400 2.5 HP Big Bore Air Compressor

The best air compressor for a home garage.

Makita MAC2400 2.5 HP Big Bore Best Air Compressor for Home Garage

Brand: Makita | Type: Corded Electric | Capacity: 4.2 Gallons | Pressure: 4.2 CFM @90 PSI | Price: 💰360

The 4.2 gallon Makita MAC2400 is up first in our ranking of the best air compressors for a home garage. This corded electric unit features a cast iron pump, Big Bore cylinder, and piston. The 2.5 HP 4-Pole motor produces 4.2 CFM at 90 PSI. Feedback on the MAC2400 calls it the perfect all-around air compressor for projects large and small. Not only is it extremely quiet, users say, it’s light and easy to move, with a low amp draw minimizing the risk of tripping a breaker.

Otherwise, the pump is oil lubricated, with roll-cage construction for added durability. It easily handles most any kind of air tool, from nail guns to paint sprayers. The wheels on the cart could be higher quality, according to some, nor are there any brakes. As far as wheels, they’re easily replaced. Overall, this well-reviewed air compressor is an amazing, industrial-grade product that’s compact and affordable enough for around-the-house projects.

  • Quality parts
  • No tripped breakers, no leaks, no oil spots
  • Superior to competitors in class and price range
  • Too heavy, some say
  • Too weak for flooring one flooring job

2. Schumacher Rechargable AGM Jump Starter w/Air Compressor

The best portable air compressor and jump starter.

Schumacher Rechargable AGM Jump Starter w Air Compressor

Brand: Schumacher | Type: Battery | Capacity: 12V 800Amps | Pressure: 150 PSI | Price: 💰117

Prioritizing portability, the best air compressor and jump starter to buy is the Schumacher SJ1331 — the perfect choice for jump starting your truck, and filling the tires. Offering 12 volts, 800 amps, and a 6.0L gas and 3.0L diesel engine, the SJ1331 worked well on heavy duty trucks and other big engine vehicles. Conveniently, there’s an automatic internal switch, shutting down the unit to prevent overcharging. 

With a good capacity, this Schumacher product also offers a 12-volt DC outlet and 2A USB port, a 150 PSI air compressor, with a built-in LED light and spark-resistant clamps. Fans of the SJ1331 call it a life saver: jumping a car, easily filling automobile and bike tires, as well as an air mattress for camping. It can also handle more delicate devices like tablets and phones, based on feedback. It was even reliable during a power outage.

  • Huge capacity
  • Great multi-tasker
  • Great in emergencies
  • Isolated air hose durability issues
  • Needs “cool off” time in hot climates
  • Portable? That’s debatable, some say

3. Craftsman 20-Gallon Air Compressor

The best 20-gallon air compressor for home garages.

Craftsman Air Compressor 20-Gallon

Brand: Craftsman | Type: Corded Electric | Capacity: 20-Gallon | Pressure: 1.8 HP, 4 SCFM @90 PSI | Price: 💰 460

If a 20-gallon air compressor suits your needs, look no further than the next appliance in our ranking: the 20-gallon air compressor from Craftsman. With a maximum tank pressure of 75 PSI, this is a multifunctional unit, with quick compressor recovery time. It’s also durable, made from stainless steel and rubber feet. Notably, the oil-free pump helps keep it running for longer, with very little maintenance.

Also worth mentioning, the Craftsman 20-gallon four standard cubic feet per minute (SCFM) at 90 PSI — which is more than enough to operate typical air tools for DIY home projects. It does run a bit louder than comparable compressors from other brands, we learned, but for high-pressure output that’s easy to use, the Craftsman 20-gallon is a great choice for home improvement projects and even for small businesses.

  • Easy to move
  • Works well with air tools
  • Small, compact, powerful
  • Just too loud, some say
  • Warranty could be better
  • Shipping issues experienced

4. Ingersoll Rand SS5, 5HP Single Stage Air Compressor

The best 60-gallon air compressor for home garages.

Ingersoll Rand SS5, 5HP Single Stage Air Compressor

Brand: Ingersoll | Type: Corded Electric | Capacity: 60-Gallon | Pressure: 18.1 CFM @90 PSI | Price: 💰1400

Bigger projects and more powerful kinds of air tools sometimes require a 60-gallon air compressor. For tasks like these, we recommend the Ingersoll Rand SS5, just make sure you wire it to a 50 to 100 amp breaker! Otherwise, this corded-electric appliance is 230 volts, and 135 PSIG (gauge pressure). It arrives assembled and pre-wired, which is convenient, and we also like the automatic start and stop pressure switch control. There’s also safety features like manual thermal overload protection and an enclosed belt guard.

Those who’ve used the SS5 report that it’s a great product, and worth the added expense. It is very heavy so once in place, it’s unlikely you’ll move it. Otherwise, it’s extremely efficient, filling rapidly, and running continuously.  The design is simple and straightforward. One word of caution, however: Ingersoll recommends hard-wiring the appliance to a 60-amp circuit for best results. It does spike higher than 30 amps at start up which can blow your circuits.

  • Not too loud
  • Good for paint guns
  • Good Compressor for the home shop
  • No built-in air regulator
  • Manual drain valve difficult to reach
  • All-Season lubricant recommended for best results

5. Bostitch Air Compressor Combo Kit

The best air compressor on a budget.

Bostitch Air Compressor Combo KitBostitch Air Compressor Combo KitBostitch Air Compressor Combo KitBostitch Air Compressor Combo Kit

Brand: Bostitch | Type: Corded Electric | Capacity: 6-Gallon | Pressure: 3.7 CFM @40 PSI | Price: 💰210

A combo kit not only includes the powerful compressor you need for around-the-house projects, but the air tools necessary to get the job done. When it comes to an affordably priced combo kit — offering not just a 6-gallon compressor but also tools like a straight finish nailer and a 3/8-inch crown stapler, among others — we like the air compressor combo kit from Bostitch. It all runs quietly, and oil free, with a high-flow regulator and otherwise, requiring very little maintenance.

Overall, the tank fills fast and the tools included with the kit work well. Unlike other brands, this choice comes with its own hose, which consumers appreciate. Otherwise, the brad nailer is smooth, the finish nailer is powerful, and the stapler is a great choice for upholstery work, based on feedback. Compared to nailing by hand, this Bostitch air compressor combo kit truly is worth it, we learned. It also powered a framing nail gun for a fence installation project, and it held its pressure with very few problems.

  • Pressure easily set
  • Not as loud as many report
  • Gauges and regulator work well
  • No nails or staples included
  • Recommended Bostitch nails a little spendy
  • Compressor tends to spin (fixed with rubber mat)

6. Porter-Cable 6-Gallon Pancake Air Compressor

The best pancake air compressor for home garage.

Porter-Cable 6-Gallon Pancake Air Compressor

Brand: Porter-Cable | Type: Corded Electric | Capacity: 6-Gallon | Pressure: 2.6 CFM 90PSI | Price: 💰116

Lightweight and easy to use, pancake air compressors are just what you need for small tasks like bike tires, towable tubes for boating, or just a soccer ball. The best choice in our ranking is the 60-gallon pancake air compressor PORTER-CABLE. We like the 150 PSI maximum tank pressure, and quicker recovery time, thanks to 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI. RV’ers looking for an easy-to-store compressor especially like PORTER-CABLE — powerful enough for air guns and pneumatic impact wrenches, among many other tools.

Those experienced with the PORTER-CABLE 6-gallon call it a great little compressor, with quality components, and leak-tight fittings. Noise and vibration is about average for this type of compressor, but hearing protection is recommended. What’s more, it does bounce a bit on flat surfaces, so many recommend putting on some kind of mat before using it, despite the rubber feet. Overall, this pancake compressor offers unparalleled ease and convenience for the task at hand..

  • Easy to carry
  • General contractors like it
  • Good choice for finish nail guns
  • Stiff regulator knob
  • Plastic housing rattles
  • Drain valve could be better

7. California Air Tools Compressor

The best quiet air compressors.

California Air Tools Compressor

Brand: California Air Tools | Type: Corded Electric | Capacity: 1-Gallon | Pressure: 1.20 CFM @90 PSI | Price: 💰122

Need a powerful air compressor for your home garage that won’t disturb your family? The CAT-1P1060S from California Air Tools could be the tool you need. With a durable 1-gallon steel tank and a low-maintenance, oil-free pump, this product reaches noise levels of about 56 decibels (anything at or under 70 db is considered safe, per the CDC.) Additionally, we like that it’s only 29 lbs, making it easy to move, offering 1.20 CFM at 90 PSI, which is more than enough for basic DIY tasks around the house.

Those experienced with the CAT-1P1 call it good for air brushes, confirming that it’s quiet and easy to move. It’s also sufficient for small nailers and staplers. The fit and finish are also good, and the included plastic air filter is another popular feature. It also starts quickly once plugged in and turned on. One weak spot is the pressure regulator, based on feedback. Otherwise, though, the California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S is easy to mount on a shelf, and perfect for tires, soccer balls and other sports equipment, as well as miscellaneous blow-up toys or rafts.

  • It really is quiet
  • Good choice for brad nailing
  • Nuts and bolts snug on arrival
  • Good fit and finish? Debatable
  • Just not powerful enough for some
  • Air regulator diaphragm durability issues

How to Choose the Best Air Compressor for Your Garage

Don’t make your purchase without first consulting this quick guide to buying the perfect air compressor for your home garage.

  • Air compressor type. In this article, we focused on air compressors for home use, as opposed to a job site. For this reason, we recommend a pancake, or “hot dog” type — lightweight and easy to move, but generally stays put in your garage or workshop.
  • Airflow. Measured in CFM (cubic feet per minute) or SCFM (standard cubic feet per minute), anywhere from 0.3 to 13 CFM at 90 PSI will be sufficient to operate standard tools in the garage like small finish nailers,  or an air sander.
  • PSI (pounds per square inch). Average air tool pressure requirements are about 90 PSI, although some prefer PSI up to 120, depending on their needs.
  • Duty Cycle/Cycle Time. This spec refers to how quickly the tank of the air compressor fills while in use. Are the tools you use most commonly something like an air sander (continuous use) or a pneumatic nailer, used in short bursts? Short-burst tools handle a lower duty cycle, continuous use tools need something higher. 
  • Tank size. A serious garage-based woodworking studio needs a compressor upwards of 60 gallons. Less is fine, of course, depending on how you use the compressor. Primarily filling rafts or bike tires? Then your tank size could be much, much smaller than that.

Our Process

Looking for the latest and greatest for your garage setup? At Shelf we carefully curate our Top Picks lists with the best options from around the web. We’ve mastered online shopping, and are passing our knowledge on to you. To find the best air compressors for home garages, we scoured the marketplace and compared prices, quality, specs, and user reviews. All of these factors helped us narrow our list down to the 7 best air compressors for your home garage.

Further Reading

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