Air Compressor Buying Guide: How to select the best air compressor?

Air Compressor Buying Guide: How to select the best air compressor?
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Air compressors are a big help in the automotive, farming, and industrial sectors because it powers a variety of pneumatic tools for different applications.

These tools are faster, lighter and more powerful than traditional power tools.

Air compressors are safe, clean, and convenient and come in a variety of types and sizes depending on the extent of workload.

In this air compressor buying guide, the mantra would be to choose the ideal compressor to match the unit to the job demands. Go portable if you’re going to use it lightly, for filling up tires and whatnot, or go stationary if you’re going to use it heavily.

We will tackle more of this in this buying guide; to be sure that you have weighed your options and considered all that there is to think about before making your decision.

Remember, buying a compressor that is too small will waste valuable time while buying a compressor that is way too large will waste valuable resources.

Save yourself the time and money by reading through this air compressor buying guide.

How to select the best air compressor?

Below you will find a series of Q&As that will help you decide which air compressor to purchase. The price of a compressor is something that should be taken lightly, so you need to make sure that you’ll have the right one from the get-go. 

What are you going to use your compressor for?

Maintenance around the house, craft projects, and car repairs would generally need only a little bit of power because it’s not as if you’ll be doing this on a daily basis.

For this you’ll be using any of the following pneumatic tools: Nail guns, hammers, spray guns, wrenches, drills, sprayers, sanders, saws, tire inflators, and many other air tools. Meanwhile, you can also use it for heavy work such as in big textile, farming, and industrial companies. 

How frequent will you use your compressor?

Pay attention to the cycle of work; if you are going to use it on a non-stop basis to power up machineries, you’ll have to get a heavy-duty one designed for this purpose.

But if you’re going to use it occasionally for repairs, maintenance, a bit of house work, get something small yet powerful so you’ll finish work in a jiffy. A compressor capable for this yet is considered powerful is the: 

Makita MAC700 2.0 HP Air Compressor

Knowing the extent of use can give you an idea of which one to buy, this can have a big impact in the future as it can save you both time and money.

How much pressure do you need?

Pressure is measured in pounds per square (psi) and it is the one responsible for powering up your tools. To know how much psi you’ll need, take time to look at the tools that you will use and determine the one that will use the most pressure – the right compressor should be able to provide enough power for that.

Identifying this will enable you to pick between a single-stage and two-stage compressor. To give you a clue, Light-duty compressors generally have 90 psi while powerful compressor may have at least 150 psi or higher. A type of compressor with high psi is the: 

​Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallon 150 PSI Oil-Free Compressor

​Where will you place your compressor?

This is when you’ll have to determine if you need a portable or stationary air compressor. Are you going to have your air compressor fixed in one place? Do you need to move it around your workstation?

This will aid in determining other factors such as size and weight. Higher pressures and volumes will require the unit to be larger in size and heavier in weight. In return, this will need a larger area for permanent installation.

However, if you’re not going to use it 24/7 and you need it for some basic repairs and maintenance, it is suggested to get a portable air compressor as you can easily move it around where the tools need it. Only big industrial companies choose to have their compressor in one stationary location. A good portable air compressor is the: 

VIAIR 85P Portable Air Compressor 

​What power source will you use?

Air compressors are powered by either electricity or gasoline. Electric compressors run on standard voltage of about 110-120V. If your compressor exceeds two running horsepower, it will require a 220–240V outlet. Electric compressors don’t emit fumes, so this is the best choice if you’re going to use or store it indoors.

Gas-powered compressors are used by industrial companies and builders because of its high power output and convenience at the job site. However, this is required to be operated outdoors or in covered areas that have good ventilation because of its exhaust emissions. 

What compressor grade should you buy?

Choose from consumer-grade, contractor-grade, or commercial-grade. Each grade speaks for itself. Consumer-grade is for light use around the house such as inflating tires and sporting goods. Contractor-grade is able to withstand the pressure needs in a typical job-site.

It has a lot of purposes but is generally used for tools for building, construction, and repair.  A recommended consumer-grade or contractor-grade air compressor is the: 

BOSTITCH CAP1512 Oil-free High Output Trim Compressor

Commercial-grade is heavy duty and provides non-stop supply of compressed air. This grade of air compressor is found in manufacturing facilities and machineries.


Picking the right air compressor may be a bit tricky if you don’t have immediate know-how on compressors. But if you have used it well enough in the past, then you’ll know exactly what your needs are. This air compressor buying guide is for those who have very little knowledge on the world of compressors.

It guides would-be owners of air compressors on their purchase as not to waste time and money. Air compressors don’t come cheap and usage is also a bit complicated so make sure that you know what you’re buying from its inner components to the outer overall look and feel.

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