You want a smaller air compressor for home, and maybe light professional use, but you want something that still has the capability to stand up to some serious work.
It’s a dilemma faced by many when they’re in the market for a new compressor, but there are solutions.
California Air Tools have produced what is in many ways a stand out product with the CAT 6310 Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free 1.0 hp 6.3 gallon Air Compressor, and in our CAT 6310 review we’re going to tell you everything that you need to decide if this is the compressor for you.
Application – Who Is the California Air Tools CAT 6310 Best Suited For?
With a 6.3 gallon tank, it’s important that you understand this is not an industrial grade compressor. Where this compressor will excel is in home DIY, some light automotive work, and even for less intensive tasks on a professional job site.
We recently reviewed a DeWalt Pancake Compressor, and it revealed itself to be extremely capable for home and light professional use. The CAT 6310 does better in some respects, helped in part by a more capable pump. This allows you to make use of framing nailers, pneumatic nailers for flooring and roofing, staplers, and even less intensive air sprayers, impact wrenches, and of course air inflators. We have prepared specific examples of where this compressor is most capable in our performance section.
This compressor has a larger footprint than more compact pancake compressors, but it’s still easily portable for home use.
Frequency of Use
The manufacturer doesn’t specify running times for this compressor, but if you had to, you could run one of these all day. It has been tested running staplers and nailers (up to 10,000 shots) for an 8 hour workday without any failure or drop in performance from the unit.
The compressor pump has a durability rating of 3000 hours, so you’re likely to receive years of trouble free operation.
How Portable is This Compressor?
Some of the compressors we’ve reviewed previously, such as smaller pancake compressors from Senco and Porter-Cable, have proved extremely portable, although their performance is not on par with this unit.
Although the unit we’re reviewing today is smaller than an industrial compressor, it’s not suited for storage in a truck, RV, or boat. It’s portable in the sense that you can move it around on wheels, but at 50lbs it’s obviously suited to home based tasks.
What Kind of Power Source Is Required?
This compressor is electrically powered, and can be run from any standard 110V power source. It draws a total of 7.5amp, so it’s important that it is not run on the same circuit as other large appliances.
Performance – How Does the Compressor Stand up to Real World Tasks?
This California Air Tools compressor produces 3.8CFM @ 40PSI, and 2.35CFM @ 90PSI.
The DeWalt DWFP55126 that we previously reviewed produced slightly higher CFM and featured a comparable tank size, but there’s something that makes the CAT a more capable unit.
It features a two piston pump which is able to rapidly build pressure in the tank, making it possible to complete light automotive tasks using an impact gun. This is something that hasn’t been possible with the majority of the portable units we’ve reviewed. The unit was tested using a 100 ft-lb impact wrench running at 90psi. The wrench was used to remove and reseat vehicle tires without problem.
Inflating tires has also been a task that other smaller compressors struggle with. Often you would be left waiting for pressure to rebuild, even as you are inflating a single tire. This compressor has no trouble inflating a standard vehicle tire from 0 to 35psi without interruption. The compressor will kick in and ensure that there is steady airflow, even while it continues to fill the tank.
Airbrushing for detailing or smaller projects is also possible with this compressor. Running an airbrush at 40psi would allow you continuous flow for painting or staining furniture, detailing a vehicle, or even for use on solid wood instruments.
Any tool requiring up to 3.8CFM will work well with this compressor, just ensure that you match PSI requirements to guarantee an acceptable level of performance.
Is the 6 Gallon Tank Sufficient?
6 gallons should be enough for any home or light professional user. The tank takes 130 seconds to go from empty to 120PSI, and it can get from 90PSI back to capacity in less than a minute. The fact that the dual piston pump can replace air so quickly makes this a capable compressor.
Is the Pump Noisy?
This is one of the quietest compressors on the market when running under ideal conditions, producing only 60db. This is normal conversation volume and it means you can use it during the day, and even in the evenings without causing a disturbance.
However, if you’re running the unit continuously to maintain maximum pressure, noise may increase due to vibration.
Here’s a nice video in which you can actually listen for yourself how the CAT 6310 stacks up in terms of noise against other popular compressor with similar tank capacity.
What Kind of Pump Is Installed?
The pump used is a 2 piston, direct drive, oil-free design. This means that there are no external moving parts to be damaged, and it also means that the pump itself doesn’t require maintenance.
What Maintenance Is Required?
The oil-free pump means that the entire unit requires almost no user maintenance. Besides emptying the unit from the release valve after use (this will prolong the life of the tank and all parts under pressure), users should ensure that connectors, the motor, gauges, and all parts are dust and moisture free.
How Easy Is to Use Is This Compressor?
Reading gauges, making adjustments, draining the tank, and turning the compressor on or off are all simple tasks that will become second nature.
Owners will however need to attach the wheels, the front end bumper, and the air filter before operating the unit. Everything simply bolts or screws in to place, but it’s something you need to be aware of if you’re expecting the unit to come fully functioning out of the box.
Some units have reportedly been shipped with wheels that are wobbly even when properly attached to their brackets. Owners can call CAT for additional washers, or add additional flat washers to stabilize wheel movement.
Here’s an informative video in which you can watch how to unbox and assemble the unit when you receive it.
How many Hose Outlets are There?
This unit is provided with a single universal ¼ inch quick connector. This is a standard fitting, and you’ll only need an additional adaptor if you’re using different sized automotive tools or hoses.
What Is Construction Quality Like?
Overall, this is a consumer/semi-professional grade product. It’s made to last in home and moderate-use situations.
All connections are of high quality solid copper or steel braid. There are no rubber or plastic components used on high wear parts, which is essential for increasing durability. The cylinder tank itself is made from steel, which improves long life durability. There is Teflon used in the internals which also increases the quality.
Overall craftsmanship is excellent with a few disappointing aspects. The poorly fitted plastic wheels are a disappointing oversight, as is the cheap and unsecured grip on the front handle.
Are there Accessories in the Box?
There are no additional accessories included with this compressor.
Recommended accessories include a high quality hose, such as those produced by Goodyear, a coupler set (Tekton produces inexpensive, high quality sets), and a tire inflator with pressure gauge for home use. High quality hose and coupler accessories will allow you to get the best performance from your pneumatic tools.
- Ensure your accessories use ¼” industrial quick connects.
- The connector on the hose outlet is a ¼” ‘M’ connector.
- Common 1/8” airbrush accessories will require an adapter to interface with this unit.
What are the product Dimensions?
The unit is 23.6×13.3×24.0 inch. At under 50lb it is considered a portable unit, although unlike a pancake compressor it will need to be stored on floor space in your workshop or garage, rather than in a cupboard or on a shelf.
Is the Documentation Useful and Clear?
The documentation included is one of the low points of the package. The user guide covers multiple units, so you’ll have to sift through information to find that which is relevant to the CAT 6310. You will rely on pictures at times, rather than clear instruction. Owners would benefit from a more concise safety manual and quick start guide.
What Tips are there for New Owners?
- If the tank is not building pressure, check all connections and then ensure that the drain valve is closed.
- Ensure the muffler/filter for the air intake has been installed if the unit is noisier than expected.
- Some of the vibration noise when running at high PSI can be avoided by installing wooden shims between the plastic cylinder guards and the cylinder head (foam pads would also work).
- Don’t store compressed air when you’re finished using the compressor. ALWAYS drain the tank at low PSI and ensure that all air and moisture is released. This will vastly prolong the life of the tank.
- The wheels included with the unit are not symmetrical, so ensure that they are installed the correct way around or else they can rub on the tank itself. The protruding plastic hub should be facing towards the compressor to avoid this problem.
- If your unit suffers from wobbly wheels, install additional flat washers to reduce camber and keep wheels aligned vertically.
What do Consumers think of this Compressor?
This compressor is highly regarded by both professional, and home reviewers. On two of the leading review sites this compressor holds a 4.7 out of 5 star rating. It also has a 94% recommendation rating from one of America’s leading home improvement specialists.
How Much Does it Cost?
The compressor retails in the range of $150 – $200, although you may find specials or even bundled packages with accessories.
Even at the base price, it’s a worthwhile investment, considering the quality and tank size that you’re getting with this unit.
The Verdict – Is the California Air Tools CAT 6310 Compressor Worth It?
Even at $199, the CAT 6310 is a bargain. Why? Because there is a lot of value included in the package that goes beyond the price.
Despite the oddly fitting wheels and the poor instruction manual, California Air Tools have managed to produce a compressor that outdoes most of the competition with similar tank sizes. The dual piston, 1hp pump is able to replenish air quickly, meaning that it’s suitable for some continuous flow accessories. Being able to use it for light airbrushing and detailing work, as well as using a tool like an impact wrench could make it the perfect solution for many. The fact that it performs effortlessly with nailers, staplers, and inflation accessories make it a capable and versatile home compressor.
As long as you don’t have problems with the lack of portability compared to a lighter pancake compressor, then the California Air Tools CAT 6310 could be the unit that you’ve been looking for.
California Air Tools CAT 6310 Summary Review
|IMPORTANT FEATURES||PROS & CONS|
|-3 gallon tank|
-Single ¼” hose attachment
-Fast recharge pump
-Low amp power draw
-Quiet in operation, good for residential and indoor use
-The tank fills quickly, and it can keep up with continuous work on light to moderate air tools
-Sufficient for hobby and light airbrush work
-The tank keeps up with framing nailers for continuous use
-You can run the compressor all day
-Can fill tyres without waiting for the tank to refill
-High quality construction and connectors are used throughout
-Poor wheel design without necessary washers included in the package
-The regulator can sometimes take time to stabilize
-The unit is made in china, not in the USA as advertised on some sites
-Some users have reported an unpleasant smell during first time use
-This is likely a result of excess sealants and lubricants left over from assembly
Full Tech Specs from California Air Tools
- Output @ 40 PSI – 3.8 CFM
- Output @ 90 PSI – 2.35 CFM
- Max Pressure – 120 PSI
- Tank Fill – 130 Seconds
- Motor – 7.6 Amps Electric
- Horsepower – 1.0hp
- Voltage – 110V
- Pump – Oil Free
- Noise Produced – 60db (optimal)
- Tank – 6.3 Gallon Steel
- Quick Connector – 1x 1/4″ Industrial Connector
- Model – California Air Tools CAT 6310 Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free 1.0 hp 6.3-Gallon Steel Tank Air Compressor