Rolair is a specialty manufacturer of air compressors. As such, you can be sure that they put a lot into their products; more so than a manufacturer that does a little bit of everything. This pancake compressor shows that. While it isn’t configured like a “typical” pancake compressor, it’s a real powerhouse. This compressor delivers 5.4 CFM at 40 PSI or 4.1 CFM at 90 PSI, which is a lot for a portable compressor. The tank has a respectable 4.5 gallon capacity, which is pretty large for a portable compressor as well. All this is powered by a 2 HP motor, running at 3400 RPM.
The name says it all with this air compressor. It’s considerably quieter than most compressors, producing only 60 decibels of sound pressure. It’s also oil-free, which is rather rare in an air compressor; even so, you don’t lose any performance. The 1 HP motor fills a 3-gallon pancake air tank, which provides as much as 3.8 CFM at 40 PSI or 2.35 CFM at 90 PSI. In fact, it only takes 120 seconds for the compressor to fill the tank, meaning that you’ll have a lot of time that the compressor isn't running. That’s good for the compressor and helps add to its long life.
California Air Tools probably makes the quietist line of air compressors on the market. The motor on this 1 HP unit runs at only 1680 RPM, contributing to the low noise level of only 60 dB. Oh, and the pump is oil-free, eliminating one of the biggest maintenance hassles for most compressors. The 1.6 gallon tank is made of aluminum, helping to keep the overall weight down to 35 pounds. Although small, this compressor packs a wallop, filling the tank in under a minute. The compressor put out 3.80 CFM at 40 PSI and 2.35 CFM at 90 PSI.
This compressor from Bostitch comes is an incredibly small package, weighing in at only 23.5 pounds. The hotdog tank is rather small, but that’s part of what makes it so portable. Even so, it will still deliver 2.8 CFM of air at 90 PSI, which is more than enough to run any air nailer. This compressor also has an oil-free pump, reducing maintenance and worry. The design of the compressor allows it to double as a roll cage, protecting it from potential damage on the job site. All the controls are located on a nicely designed control panel, making it very easy to work with. This model even has a place to wrap up the cord and hose for taking it with you.
Makita makes more than one portable air compressor, but this little one is a jewel. This hotdog compressor only has a 2.6 gallon tank, but that doesn’t seem to hold it back. It can deliver 3.8 CFM of air at 40 PSI or 3.3 CFM at 90 PSI. That’s almost the same as the GMC Syclone, but in a smaller package. The secret is the cast iron pump, with a “big bore” cylinder, increasing the amount of air that this compressor can deliver.
Rolair #6820K17, 2 HP Wheelbarrow Air Compressor
Rolair makes some excellent air compressors, including this single stage one. For a portable, it’s rather large, with a 9 gallon tank capacity and delivering 8.8 CFM at 90 PSI. That makes it one of the largest wheel mounted compressors around. Watch your back though as it weighs a hefty 175 pounds. The pump itself is cast iron and has twin cylinders, which explains its high output volume and it also uses ball bearings for longer life; in fact, all the components of this unit are high quality so it has a very long service life.
California Air Tools is a little-known company out of, you guessed it, California. This companies line of compressors that this particlaur one comes from boast oil-free pumps and an ultra quiet design. In fact, this model only produces about 60 decibels of sound pressure, about the same level as a typical conversation. It has a 15 gallon tank which is large for a compressor with a 2.0 HP motor and it also provides 6.40 CFM at 40 PSI or 5.30 CFM at 90 PSI. Although this is an oil-free design, it has been independently tested to provide over 3000 hours of use before needing servicing.
Ingersoll Rand has an extensive line of air compressors, including this 30 gallon model for contractors as well as use in a small shop. The 30 gallon tank provides a lot of air usage, before the motor has to kick on; that’s great for people who need a lot of air quickly. This compressor is designed to provide 5.7 CFM at 90 PSI. It’s also built for 100 percent continuous duty, so you don’t have to give it a cooling-off period. If you’re in need of a rugged compressor, this one’s for you.
DeWalt’s premium compressor offers a convenient vertical design, making it great for individuals that have limited work area space. The 200 PSI max pressure means that the 15 gallon tank will actually hold more air, which converts to more run time before the motor has to kick on. This air compressor provides 5.0 CFM of air at 90 PSI and the pump on this one is also oil-free, which is a nice feature, especially if you’re moving the unit around a lot.
Campbell Hausfeld HU500000DI, 8 Gallon Oil-Free Compressor
Campbell Hausfeld is another one of those companies that offers a lot of compressors to pick from. This 8 gallon model is a convenient size for home use and it will produce 3.8 CFM of air at 90 PSI, storing it in its compact tank. The really great thing about it is that it’s another oil-free compressor. This cuts down on maintenance and making it easier to transport the compressor from one jobsite to another.
BelAire 338VE Two Stage, 5 HP Air Compressor
This is a two stage compressor with a 5 HP motor that runs off of 3 phase 230 volt AC current. The two stage compressors produce a higher maximum pressure than single stage compressors can – in this case, a maximum of 175 PSI. They also last longer because the work is spread out between the two stages. The tank is 80 gallons with a vertical orientation. It produces a maximum of 18.5 CFM at 90 PSI and 16.6 CFM at 175 PSI. An automatic electric tank drain and an oil level sight glass are included in this model.
Campbell Hausfield has one of the most extensive lines of air compressors on the market, with an excellent selection in both industrial and consumer models. This is one of their smaller industrial models, sporting a 5 HP motor and an 80 gallon tank. The pump itself is two-stage, providing the higher compression expected of a two-stage compressor, and not being affected as much by the output pressure. This one will deliver 16.60 CFM at 175 PSI and 17.20 CFM at 90 PSI. The compressor is rated at over 17,000 of useful life, which works out to over 4-1/2 years of 12 hour days. They used Viton o-rings for the pumps pressure seals, instead of gaskets, because of their superior sealing and longer life. This unit requires a 230 volt, three phase connection. The same compressor comes in a horizontal configuration as well.
Rolair V5160PT03X, 60 Gallon, One Stage Air Compressor
Dropping down to something a little more affordable in price, we find this unit from Rolair. Once again, they have a number of models, but I have chosen this 5 HP, 60 gallon model because it would be a good, general shop compressor. Even though it's only a single stage compressor, it will still deliver 175 PSI of air pressure. The maximum volume delivered at 175 PSI is 16.0 CFM and it can deliver 21.1 CFM at 100 PSI. This unit has a 60 gallon tank, so it's a little smaller than the first couple we've looked at, but it is rated for continuous duty, not a 60% duty cycle.
Ingersoll Rand has a great reputation as a compressor and air tool manufacturer, being a favorite for industrial applications. This 5 HP compressor is also rated for 100% continuous operation, like the Rolair we just looked at. It won't provide 175 PSI of air pressure, but let's face it, that much air pressure would ruin most air tools. Instead, it will produce 135 PSI, which is still more than most air tools are rated for. At 135 PSI, it will provide 15.5 CFM of air and at 90 PSI it will provide 18.1. It comes with a 60 gallon tank and needs 230 volts of single phase power to operate.
This is another one of those cases where there were many to choose from. I selected this model for the combination of motor size, voltage requirements, and output. This compressor comes with a 60 gallon vertical tank. It will deliver 15.3 CFM of air at 100 PSI (the manufacturer doesnt provide a rating at a higher PSI). There's an automatic drain to remove moisture condensate from the bottom of the tank, a common feature on all of these compressors.