Even though it is possible for you to be confused when buying a small air compressor, the right one can easily be selected by looking out for a few key features. Before you start reading the article, you can check out our review on the best portable air compressors of 2018.
After reading this handy guide for choosing a small air compressor, you will no longer be confused by the specs and you will know exactly what they mean and what will suit you the best.
After some trials run by the experts, we handpicked a few that we deem would be the most convenient for our users. Small to midsize models were most preferable on account of their affordability and mobility, as well as their ability to take care of all the common Do-It-Yourself projects.
Here are a few pointers you will need to remember when shopping for a small air compressor
- Look out for the CFM value: CFM or cubic feet per minute is a very important number to look out for. It discloses to you how quick the small air compressor can supply air. Each operator checks its compressors at 90 psi, which is the mean setting for a nail gun so you can be sure that you’re contrasting one type with its logical counterpart when you are looking at cfm numbers. Be sure to notice if your tool is using up air faster than the air compressor can provide it. If not, it would be wise to wait for the air compressor to meet the demand before continuing with your work.
- Power: While most air compressors supply enough pressure and volume for trim nailers, analysis was required to determine the suitability with framing nailers. Air compressors with a specification of around 2 cfm or more are compatible with framing nailer provided you are operating at moderate speed. A lower cfm rating Apart from one compressor- Central Pneumatic 95275, all compressors are adequate for framing nailers. You will have to be patient with a compressor with lower cfm rating than 2 as you will have to wait for the compressor to reach your speed.
- Tank size: A bigger tank naturally holds more air and will enable you to utilize more air before the pressure falls and you have to wait for the engine to refill the tank. This can prevent you from stopping your work while the engine is refilling the tank. The compressors our experts picked have tanks extending from 1 to 6 gallons. Be that as it may, note that when you need sufficient air volume, a substantial tank cannot be a compromise for the competent cfm value.
- Mobility: In our analysis, we tested the best and worst equipment and found that the main factor in deciding whether your compressor would be mobile is not only the weight of the machine but also the shape. While wide ones are hard to maneuver, a slender, small air compressor is the easiest.
- Loudness: Small air compressors normally range from 60 to 87 decibels, which may not seem very significant but you’d be surprised. The noise level doubles as you increase 10 decibels. Therefore, a 70 decibel equipment would be two times as loud as a 60 decibel equipment and four times as loud as an 80 decibel equipment and so on and so forth. So if you want to keep the noise pollution at bay, choosing a low decibel machine would be very beneficial.
- Oil-free is ideal: Even though an oil-free small air compressor drains out quicker compared to a lubricated air compressor that is unlikely to be a problem for a small air compressor for normal DIY use. Furthermore, checking or changing oil will not be a problem you will face if you are using small air compressors that are oil-free.
- Machine protection: While mobility is a big advantage for small air compressors, the disadvantage is that they are more prone to wear and tear. Care should be taken more towards the gauges and outlets, lest they are unprotected but the tank requires less attention. Some of the machines we analyzed come equipped with a protective casing surrounding the entire machine while some machines leave a few parts out in the open, making them vulnerable. Thus, careful handling is recommended.
- Small Air Compressors are not compatible with heavy-duty tools: Tools that require a lot of power such as pneumatic wrenches, sanders or paint sprayers cannot be paired with a small air compressor unfortunately and will require a much larger air compressor.
Minor features to keep an eye on
- Two outlets: Even though most compressors come with one outlet to connect an air hose, some have two which allows you and a friend to work at the same time.
- Ball valve drain: To prevent issues such as rusting and pinhole leaks resulting from water condensing into the tank, the tank should be drained on a daily basis. When buying a small air compressor, look out for the two different types of drains- one is the drain clock, which is simple but awkward to use and might require pliers, and another is a ball valve drain which is preferable as it functions like a tap.
- Kits and accessories: Compressors that come with a hose or inflation accessories are of more value. Nail guns and hoses are fitted into some of the models.
- Cord wrap: This will be needed to wrap up the power cord, making it simpler and more convenient to carry.
Factors that are less important when choosing a small air compressor
- PSI: The pound per square inch is not something you should be worrying about as compressors usually supply the adequate amount of pressure for DIY tools and jobs. However, a high PSI does allow a small tank does increase the air holding capacity and enables it to function like a larger tank. For instance, the air holding capacity of a 2 gallon tank at 150 psi and a 3 gallon tank at 100 psi are the same.
- Horsepower: CFM values are much more informative than horsepower. It is the CFM values that determine the amount of air pressure that a small air compressor can supply.