I second what Frank said plus I'll add. The kits you see at the big box
stores, amazon and other places are fine for the average DIYer for most
things plus they are a good deal. Senco, Bostich, Porter Cable, Hitachi,
Dewalt are all fine for a DIYer. I'm sure there are others.
Most economy kit is direct drive dry running type. Must get a lubricated
one. I have a belt driven quite large Campbell Hauser Extreme duty.
I need this to blow my sprinkler system in the fall plus lot of other
things, working on cars, using various tools, etc.
You ain't gonna find it for that price unless it is used, and in that case,
it is entirely possible. Unless you are going to blow up basketballs and
inflatable girlfriends. The small ones won't run many air tools. They
won't pressure up much air. One good shot from an air tool, and they are
back on. And the smaller ones have obnoxiously loud noisy oil less
compressors. An undersized air compressor has to work harder and stay on
longer. It doesn't last long, and you will be back at the store before long
buying what you should have bought in the first place. Spend some bucks and
buy slightly more than you need. You'll be grateful for it later. Or shop
for a used one.
Ok, here's the poop from someone who learned the hard way! I bought a
Craftsman Vertical for 329.00 (don't remember the model#) I had it for two
days believing that this would work for a home shop. Well I was wrong, I had
enough power to inflate things like tires and balls and such. I was able to
run a die grinder, but not for long, the compressor would cycle so many
times and this thing was super noisy, THere is no way that you could have
this in the same space and you are working. I tried using a DA sander there
was not enough air to complete the job I would have to wait for the
compressor to build pressure before I could continue sanding a table. Well,
I got fed up with it because it was more frustrating then it was good. I
took the compressor back. Now, this part of the story will most likely NOT
happen to you. I just happened to be in the right place at the VERY right
time. Walking around a local Tractor supply I saw an Ingersol Rand
compressor sitting on a pallet with a tag on it that said trash! I thought I
had better ask about this, I called for the manager and was told that indeed
it was marked for destruction and to be put in the steel recycle bin. I
asked if he could sell it, he told me that It had a hole in the tank. I said
how much? he told me 40.00 DONE AND DONE!!!!! I took it home plug it in and
found the hole a small pin hole in the factory weld. I touched my MIG to it
and BAM I had an 850.00 compressor for 40 bucks and low and behold the
warranty was still available for it. Anyway, I used this compressor for
about 10 min and realized what I had been missing. It can run my die grinder
and my impact gun at the same time. It is well worth getting a better
compressor then dealing with the frustration of a cheapy. I can even have
this in my work area without being botherd by the noise it produces, which
is not as much as the Sears.
Spend more money and get an oil lubricated, belt drive model. The
cheaper, direct drives are incredibily noisy and don't last long. Once
you have a compressor, it's amazing the things you can do with it. For
instance, an auto detailer told me the compressor is a detailer's secret
weapon. He uses it to blow dirt and dust out of all those little nooks
That's why I say get more compressor than you think you need. You'll
thank yourself for it later on.
Interestingly, there are also direct-drive oil-lubricated ditties, got one
(Alton) at Sam's club a while back--$99, 11-gal. So-so unit--but not bad,
all things considered. Noisey, of course. But then, I'm cursed w/
super-sensitive hearing. :(
Home Despot was carrying the Husky line of oil-lubricated compressors, and I
got a 26 gal vertical floor model for $150--normally about $280 or so.
It shines in one particular aspect: It is *very quiet*, as far as air
A fellow had two SpeedAires, a big 2-stage vertical, and a smaller
single-stage horizontal, and I noted how quiet the smaller unit was--much
quieter than his big 2-stage.
I then noticed, at HD, that the compressor head on the Husky was almost
identical to that of the small SpeedAire, and bought it on the spot.
Cast iron head, belt drive, oil, 110/220V motor, quiet, really not bad,
except for the crappy controls.
In fact, Husky (actually Campbell Hausfield, iirc) claims they make
Speedaires compressor heads, as well as for a few other brands.
I recommend taking off the belt guard on the Husky (if possible/safe), as
the spokes on the pulley will move some air around the head.
Also, I put a relay on the pressure cutout, so the crappy control contacts
don't have to bear the brunt of the motor current, just the coil current of
Also lowered the cutout pressure (was 145 psi, too high for single stage and
most shop needs), and moved the controls off the tank, and run the motor on
220 instead of 110.
I think the Husky, in the below-$300 range, is one of the better values. I
searched for a while, and don't think you can get much for under $200.
Unless you luck out at a HD or Lowes, like I did.
Altho my $99 11-gal Alton may be right up your alley, depending on your
Saw something similar for $79 on sale, and mebbe Harbor Freight has these.
If direct drive, at least let the compressor be oil lubricated.
The Alton doesn't start well in the cold, however. :)
The folks on rec.crafts.metalworking are air-compressor junkies, and you
will get add'l good info/advice from them. Many over there say to avoid
Sears compressors like the plague.
formerly Droll Troll
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.