Since their invention, air compressors have been vital to home or garage shops. This is mainly due to the convenience they offer. Before these were invented, small tasks such as pumping air into your tire can become a chore and can sometimes require heavy machinery, which is not viable for home shops.
Since they take advantage of compressed air, tasks like power-washing and yard work have become possible at home, encouraging people to set up home shops around town. Today’s topic of discussion is determining what makes an air compressor good and what the best air compressor for home shops can be.
What to Look Out for
You can find plenty of air compressors in the market, but what qualities should a suitable air compressor have to be considered good or the best?
Portable or Piston?
When choosing a suitable air compressor for your home shop, you first need to decide what type of air compressor best suits you. Although an air compressor has four types, two types may be viable for a home shop: Portable and Piston.
Piston air compressors have two additional subtypes: single and dual-stage compressors. The difference between these two, as the name suggests, is that a single-stage piston compressor only contains one piston and can achieve a maximum air pressure of up to 150PSI. However, a dual-stage compressor contains two pistons that can achieve a maximum air pressure of up to 200PSI.
Piston compressors come with a few benefits, one of which is that they are incredibly durable, and it is fairly simple to control these compressors. Additionally, piston compressors offer lower maintenance costs and are usually a cheaper purchase.
However, these also come with some serious drawbacks as well. One of which is that it emits a high level of noise when in operation. Additionally, the longer you use it the more air pressure builds up, which means it requires a cooldown period after a certain time.
Compared to piston compressors, portable compressors are much more compact due to the absence of a tank, which makes them a lot easier to move around. Many small-scale home shops and garage workshops prefer using it for its portability. Thanks to their portability, these air compressors can be helpful for various tasks, such as tyre inflating, power washing, carpentry, etc.
Like the piston compressor, however, the portable compressor also has its cons. As you might have imagined, the absence of a tank results in reduced air capacity and overall power. Additionally, high-powered portable air compressors tend to be more expensive and heavier, defeating the purpose of opting for portable compressors in the first place.
CFM, also known as cubic feet per minute, is a very important factor that you need to consider when searching for a good air compressor. CFM measure determines how much air pressure you will get from your air compressor per minute.
Naturally, a higher CFM rating is a sign of a good air compressor and is especially useful when operating many pieces of equipment simultaneously. Suppose you own a multipurpose home shop with a power-washing station and an inflating tyre service. You will need an air compressor with a considerably high CFM rating so that both of those services can run at maximum efficiency.
Direct drive or Belt drive?
Some air compressors come in a direct drive version or a belt-drive version. The main difference is that the belt-drive compressor features a belt connected to the pump motor. However, in the direct-drive version, the crankshaft connects directly to the compressor’s motor.
Both of these versions have their pros and cons, so you need to consider the nature of services you provide in your home shop to determine the best version for you.
If you are working with power tools that require constant adjustments, then the belt drive is optimal for you. Otherwise, the direct drive version should be best for you, since it requires less maintenance. It’s more robust and is much more resilient to wear and tear, perfect for those harsh temperatures.
Our Top Picks
Considering these crucial factors when choosing the best air compressor for your situation, here are some air compressors that work especially well:
Boasting a spacious air tank, capable of storing up to 4.2 gallons, and a powerful 2.5 HP motor, the Makita MAK2400 is truly the jack of all trades of portable air compressors.
Additionally, this compressor is designed to house a rather sizeable piston to ensure efficient air compression and a high rate of CFM. This portable compressor is for you if you’re looking for high power and capacity.
The Grex AC1810-A has many features that make it one of the best piston compressors on the market. This compressor is perfect if you are looking for a piston compressor for home shop use especially because it operates fairly silently. Additionally, its oil-less piston design significantly reduces maintenance costs.
The WEN 2202T is for you if you want an air compressor with a considerably large air tank. This compressor offers a tank with a massive 20-gallon capacity. Additionally, the 135PSI air pressure capabilities are enough for your basic power tool needs.
The purpose of this guide is to help you find essentials to look out for when in the market for an air compressor. Remember that every compressor has its pros and cons, and the best compressor would be the one that would be optimal for your home shop needs.