I am looking for an affordable air compressor for my small home
shop. Uses include nail guns, perhaps some other air tools, blowing
out irrigation system, and inflating car and bicycle tires. I imagine
using it on average a couple of times a month.
Harbor Freight seems to offer about half a dozen models in the price
range of $90-150. Models vary in tank size and horsepower primarily.
- Any experience with Harbor Freight compressors? Any specific models
- Are they adequate for the usage I describe or does one really need
to invest a lot more to get a reasonable compressor for hobbyist use?
- While bigger may be better, what is a reasonable tank size and
horsepower if I want to have the option of wheeling the unit around?
- If not HarborFreight, what other models would you recommend?
The people who maintain my irrigation system always come around with a
super heavy duty diesel compressor they tow around behind a truck. I
believe it takes more air than ANY shop compressor can produce to blow
out an irrigation system. However, somwhere I recall having heard
that a system can be blown out by reversing an ordinary shop vac.
This sort of makes sense since it is a lot of volume that is required
rather than high pressure. Hope this helps.
I use a small compressor to blow out my water lines when I close my cottage
down for the winter. Works fine; water gushes right out. I can't picture a
shop vac doing much of anything; but haven't tried it.
I have a small HF compressor also. For light work it is okay, though it
will only power a small air hammer for a short while before you have to let
it catch its breath.
I tried using it at 35 degrees last week, which turned out to be serious
abuse, and survived.
"other air tools" opens up a can of worms as to size and capacity
requirements. You're going to have to be more specific than that to
get specific recommendations. If you're going to drive something like
an impact wrench or a paint sprayer, you're going to need a lot more
air than what a nail gun demands.
I have two compressors. One is a small HF unit. The other is a "largish"
Porter Cable unit.
The HF is portable. The PC is "luggable".
The HF is a 2 HP 6 gallon oiler unit.
It has two "hot dog" tanks stacked one on top of the other.
I bought it for portability and light duty use. It's pretty heavy to be
easily portable, but I just grunt, groan and ignore that part when I need to
lift it. Other than that, it does just fine for nail gun use, car tire
inflating and ... well, that's about it. And that's really about all one
can expect from a small capacity compressor but it delivers on that quite
nicely. I recall spending about 85$ for it on sale.
The Porter Cable is a 6 HP 25-gallon unit that will deliver about 6cfm at
90-pounds of pressure. It's a bit of a power house -- to do much better
you'd have to go to a 220-volt compressor.
The PC will drive a powerful 1/2" impact driver, chip hammer, ratchet driver
and other tools that the little HF hot dog couldn't even dream about. The
PC is the mainstay of my shop and gets daily use -- and a lot of it at that.
I bought it for about 345$ on sale about 4 years ago.
Both of my compressors are oilers. They'll outlast any "oil free"
compressor on the market. That they are all "oilers" is one big plus the HF
units have over most any other in that small unit category; the compressor
is lubricated with oil and they run quieter, cooler, and last longer.
i have a 29g vertical hf compressor, chicago electric. it broke. they
couldn't figure out the part to send me twice, and then finally gave up. the
parts have to come from europe, at about 2 months per trip. local shops
can't get the parts.
i'd recommend staying away from a non-brand name compressors from hf.
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