When searching for the best air compressor brands or units online, you’re going to be met with tens, if not hundreds of options to choose from. Even before you start narrowing down individual units, you will probably have some questions about the air compressor brands or manufacturers, and which of these you can trust for your purchase.
After all, a compressor is a workhorse tool. Even if you will only be using your air compressor intermittently, you need to make sure that it is ready to go every time, and also that it is durable for the long run.
How Can the ‘Best’ Air Compressor Brand be Defined?
Having tested many of the leading brands, some of which are made right here in the USA, we can say with certainty that there ARE brands that outperform the others, even at different price points.
We’ve put together this list of the best brands based on feedback, performance, quality, and price. Because air compressors are suited to numerous tasks, it’s impossible that a single unit, or indeed a single brand can please every consumer. This report will give you an idea of the brands to look for when you’re purchasing a new compressor, but as always you should take in to account your unique needs while you browse brands that you can trust.
Porter Cable’s air compressors lean heavily towards the home users and ‘prosumers’, the second group being those who may do some professional level work, although not on a day to day basis.
Why is Porter Cable one of our leading picks? Well, the choice was easy. Porter Cable is a trusted brand, and this is obvious when you look at aggregate review websites, and even feedback from big box retailers like Home Depot. Porter Cable does a good job of balancing affordability with quality.
You could purchase a smaller porter cable pancake compressor for less than $100, so if it’s only lightweight tasks like tire inflation, and brad nailing or stapling that you need, then these economical compressors could do the job for you. For those needing continuous flow for heavy duty tasks, Porter Cable even offers portable units up to 30 gallons in capacity.
California Air Tools
California Air Tools has long been regarded as one of the best air compressor brands for home DIY use. These products are known for rugged design, long lasting durability, and of course powerful compressors to take care of home and near-industrial tasks. For portable home use, you only need to take a look at a unit like the 6.3 Gallon CAT-6310 compressor. It’s a unit that has an almost perfect 5 star rating on two of the largest online tool sites, and this was even reflected in our own review on Power Tools Ninja.
Unlike some similarly priced compressors, California Air Tools models are able to maintain strong and efficient flow for fast tire inflation, use of heavier duty tools like impact wrenches, and even a 6.3 gallon unit could handle airbrushing on moderately sized jobs.
Makita are well known as a power tools manufacturer, and they also produce some high quality air compressors. The difference with Makita compressors are the proprietary ‘Big Bore’ pump cylinders used. These cylinders allow even smaller units like the Makita MAC2400 to produce almost 5 CFM at 40PSI, and 4.2 CFM at 90PSI. Makita models offer compelling features like dual outputs, and standard automotive couplers.
Although they’re not always the first choice for American consumers, Makita air compressors are often amongst the best in their class, and are easily on par with leading brands like DeWalt.
Like Porter Cable, Senco is a popular choice in the portable segment of the market. Senco units are popular because they’re lightweight, quiet to operate, require very little maintenance, and because they can perform impressively for home tasks.
Senco provides one of the best air compressors for light home DIY in the form of the Senco PC1010. On paper some might write off the small tank, the low recovery rate, and the relatively low CFM figures. However, this product excels in the non-power user niche.
Because this compressor is so quiet it is perfect for smaller projects around the home. It will run smaller nailers and staplers with ease, and can be used for detailing work with a paint gun. An oil-less pump makes the PC1010 maintenance free, and for hobby/enthusiast users this is a huge bonus. All of Senco’s smaller units tell a similar story, and that’s why they’re amongst the best air compressors on the market.
Are ‘American’ Brands still made in the USA?
Many home users and professionals want to purchase products that are made in the USA. This is not just because of quality, but also because doing so can help to support local industries. Three of the four best compressor brands that we have mentioned above have their origins in the USA, however that’s not to say that every component that ends up on a compressor was made in the USA.
Take for example the California Air Tools compressors. These originate from Andorra, a small country in Europe. Then you have Makita. The majority of Makita’s compressors originate from Japan, but they also have factories in the US, UK, Mexico, and China. Senco and Porter Cable are two brands on our list that provide compressors that are designed and manufactured in the USA, although individual parts may be sourced from external markets.
The bottom line is this: ‘Made in The USA’ is not an immediate guarantee of quality, but it is an indicator.
Japanese made tools are just as sought after as American ones, and the same goes for other engineering powerhouses like Germany, and Scandinavia. At the end of the day, trust comes from reputation. If quality controls are met there is no reason why a Makita compressor made in another country should not be as good as one made in the USA or Japan. The same goes for any other manufacturer.
Choosing the Best Air Compressor Brands or Manufacturers is Subjective to your Needs
Our round up of four of the best air compressor brands is in no way comprehensive. Manufacturers like DeWalt and Ingersroll Rand are other quality brands that we simply didn’t have the space to go in to detail with.
When shopping for a compressor, consider your needs first. A smaller compressor like a Senco PC1010 may be the best for your needs, but if you’re doing tasks like sanding, sawing, or even painting a whole car, then it’s inevitable that you would need a larger compressor.
Use these brands as a reference point, and remember to always check professional and consumer reviews for any product that you’re considering. These will tell you about real world application testing to help you make the right decisions. If you’re looking for a place to start, Power Tools Ninja is an excellent first step.
If you would lik eto do some research on which air compressor will best fit your needs, then you can check out my comprehensive list of feature reviews here.