Buying Guide: How To Choose A Perfect Air Compressor

The best air compressor means something different from person to person according to their demand and usage. When shopping, it’s essential to take your time and compare various brands.

An air compressor operates by drawing air into its storage tank from the surrounding area, compressing the air, and holding it under pressure until the air is emitted in powerful bursts or a steady flow through a pneumatic device, a paint sprayer, or nail gun. They can vary in size from small, compact models to large, 60-gallon tanks.

The first thing you’ll discover while looking for an air compressor is that they’re coated with specs: horsepower,  cfm, psi, gallon, dB, etc. But don’t be misled by all those specifications. We’re going to tell you what they say, what matters & what doesn’t, and we will help you choose a compressor that meets your needs.

Take a few minutes to learn a few of the critical aspects to consider before purchasing a new air compressor and how your project or use defines the type of air compressor you choose.

You can visit to watch the reviews and prices of different air compressor models and find yours there.

What Your Environment Is Like?

Your climate is one of the most critical variables that will play a part in identifying the perfect air compressor. Your location and scope of the project will determine which air compressor is best for you, regardless of the type of job you perform. Will you be pushing the compressor daily? Do you work in an oversized garage, in your house or yard, outside, or the basement? Compressors of various types are available for such applications.

Electric Or Gas Compressor

You’ll find two main categories of air compressors based on power source: Electric & Gas.

Electric-powered air compressors:

Air compressors that are powered by electricity may either be plugged into a socket or run on batteries. The compressors run on electricity are smaller and more portable, provided an available electrical supply, such as a generator. Electric compressors are far quieter than air compressors operated by gas, but their power output is also smaller. Luckily, most electric air compressors can fulfill the HP, PSI, and CFM specifications for DIY tasks, including finishing the trim with a finish nailer.

Gas-powered air compressors:

Many of the advantages that most gas-powered machines have over their electric equivalents apply to air compressors. These air compressors can be significantly larger and have greater horsepower (HP), cubic feet per minute, and pounds per square inch (PSI) due to the extra power supplied by burning gasoline (CFM).

The choice between both the two forms is dependent on your needs. Most residences have electrical outlets accessible and don’t need the gas air compressor’s massive capacity. On the other hand, skilled framers and roofers profit from a gas-powered model’s mobility and production.


Consider where you’ll be using your air compressor before you buy. Can you attach a massive, 50-foot hose in a workshop or garage, or will it travel along with your vehicle’s back for emergencies? With high horsepower for constant use, air compressors can be bulky and cumbersome, or they can have a more compact design that you can bring from location to location or project to project. There will also be limited power on units with smaller sizes, so you will need to balance mobility needs against energy requirements.

Size of Tank

The size of your storage tank will play an enormous role in your chosen air compressor’s effectiveness for your specific task.  The storage capacity of an air compressor’s reservoir is typically measured in gallons, so you can quickly assess which air compressor is perfect for you by examining the tank’s storage space before making a purchase.

Higher air storage tanks can retain extra air at higher pressure levels, making them more efficient than small tanks. Larger tanks are often widely used for ventures that need constant airflow for extended periods.

PSI (Pounds Per Square Inch)

The amount of pressure an air compressor can generate when the tank is completely loaded is measured in pounds per square inch or PSI. For most DIY ventures, this calculation does not come into consideration, as the level of PSI needed is smaller than a low-end air compressor’s average maximum PSI.

That being said, the PSI is an accurate indication of the air compressor’s output power. A small 2-gallon tank that is tested for 150 PSI, for example, can carry as much air as a 3-gallon tank that is tested for 100 PSI. Therefore, the greater the max PSI rating on a unit, the more air the container can carry inside the tank without increasing tank size.

CFM (Cubic Feet Per Minute)

Cubic feet per minute, or CFM, is the most crucial concern for an air compressor. This calculation shows the amount of air a compressor can generate at a given PSI in one minute (usually 90-PSI). If a device needs more air than even the air compressor can produce, you’ll need to pause between nails or when painting to let the compressor keep pace.

As the container has time to recharge between staples or nails, nailing or stapling doesn’t demand a large CFM. Continuous airflow involves spray painting or sanding, which ensures that a high CFM requirement is much higher. You may go for a bigger tank to cover for some of the overlaps in supply and demand, or look at a larger CFM compressor if the compressor can not produce sufficient air for these ventures.


Your air compressor’s total power output will decide the amount of horsepower your chosen air compressor is classified for. Higher horsepower ratings will enable you to manage such big projects and harder material categories than with air compressors classified for lower horsepower.

The level of horsepower your chosen air compressor device has depends primarily on the type of design you select and the industry for which the air compressor was produced.

Air Compressors of Different Types

The following are among the most common portable air compressor models.

Wheelbarrow compressors: A wheelbarrow compressor has double tanks with grips and is designed to be wheeled across.

Pancake Compressors: These compressors are known for their plain, circular bases containing a tank of 4 to 6 gallons. These are some of the most lightweight designs out there.

Pontoon compressor: Pontoon compressors have a large, horizontally placed 2- to 3-gallon reservoir.

Static compressor: Static compressors, relying on your particular needs, can be a little more versatile.

Twin-stack compressors: Two cylinders horizontally layered on top of one another and are present in the twin-stack compressor.

You should have no trouble finding the right air compressor for your project if you follow all of the suggestions and details in this article.