Small compressors are great for getting all of your smaller air jobs and trim work done, and as long as you are willing to compromise on power you will find that they are adequate for most home DIY tasks.
In this air compressor review we are taking a look at a unit that is becoming quite popular, the Rolair JC10 1 HP Oil-Less Compressor.
This compressor comes with some modest specs, and an extremely modest sound signature. In fact, it’s one of the quietest compressors you could own. Does that mean it is the perfect compressor for small tasks?
Let’s take a closer look with our Rolair JC10 review and find out.
Want to skip the review and go straight to the product page on Amazon? Click the button below!
Features Quick Overview
- 1 hp Motor
- 39 lbs. Standing Weight
- Roll Cage Enclosed Design
- Oil-Less Pump for Zero Maintenance
- Aluminum Air Tank
- Ultra-Quiet Operation
- 2.35 CFM @ 90PSI
- 115 PSI Max Pressure Stored
- Overload Protection
What Are You Looking for in an Air Compressor?
You would be hard pressed to find an air compressor that suits every conceivable job. You could find the perfect air compressor for small tasks, the perfect compressor for inflating tires, or even the perfect unit to perform heavy duty grinding, but rarely will you find one that suits all tasks equally. The problem is that large compressors end up being inefficient for smaller tools, so if your tasks are going to be lightweight, then a smaller compressor will best suit your needs.
In the case of the Rolair JC10, it is a small compressor, so naturally it’s going to be suited to lightweight tasks. For the home DIY user, this is the kind of compressor that’s going to get a lot of use.
Finishing guns will run perfectly with this compressor, however larger devices (think anything that is shooting 3” nails and up) will not be adequately powered by such a small compressor. Relatively low CFM figures and a small tank mean that the compressor is limited, but good at what it does.
If you need to occasionally put air in vehicle tires, pump up inflatables, do some finishing work, or even if you want to use air for cleaning, then this compressor will be more than enough for your needs. Throughout the JC10 review we will look at the performance specifics, and all the different aspects of the compressor that could make it the right one for your needs.
This is a nice video to watch, showing the Rolair in action!
What Is the Duty Cycle on the JC10?
It’s a strange thing when a manufacturer doesn’t indicate the duty cycle of a unit either in the product description or the user manual. This can mean one of two things. Either the compressor has an embarrassingly low duty cycle, or the duty cycle is so high that the manufacturer neglected to mention it.
In the case of this Rolair compressor, the duty cycle is a productive 70%. This number has been confirmed by technicians at Rolair. This means that out of every hour, you can run the motor on the compressor for around 40 minutes. This is in excess of even more expensive DIY compressors, which usually have a duty cycle of only 50%.
How Portable is the Rolair JC10?
Being a compressor that is quite clearly aimed at home users and professionals who need a backup or light-duty unit, you would expect the Rolair to be portable without the assistance of a dolly.
The unit isn’t mounted on wheels, but considering it is barely over 40 lbs. this is not a problem. It can easily be moved around the home, a jobsite, and can be transported on the back of a truck or in a car without problems.
Is This a Power Thirsty Compressor?
This Rolair compressor has only a 1 hp motor. The designers have managed to make sure that the small motor only draws 8 amps on startup.
This means that you can use the compressor on any 110-120v 15A home circuit without tripping a breaker. As with any power tool, it’s best to run it on a circuit that doesn’t serve any large appliances such as washing machines, fridges, or other power tools.
How Well Can It Perform
You now know who this compressor is aimed at, but what about the tools that can be used with it? The performance of a compressor is one of the most important aspects to consider when making a purchase decision. If you haven’t already, take a look at our CFM rating guide and also our guide to choosing a home compressor. These articles will give you a good basis of understanding on how we determine performance in our air compressor reviews.
The most obvious question for many will be, “what can I do with this compressor?” Let’s consider the specifications first;
- 2.35 CFM @ 90 PSI / 3.8 CFM @ 40 PSI
- 1.0 hp Motor
- 2.3 Gallon Tank
None of these figures are particularly record breaking, and in fact they’re right in line with what you would expect from a compressor this size.
However, the Rolair JC10 has one crucial trick up its sleeve, and that is the recycle time. Generally in a compressor this size, the small tank would be a problem. With this unit, recovery time is only 11 seconds. This means that it will go from 115 PSI, down to 85, and then charge back up in in less than a quarter of a minute.
This is excellent for those who will be doing nailing and stapling, which is primarily what a compressor like this should be used for.
The tools that you can realistically expect to use with this compressor are;
- Brad Nailer
- Finishing Nailer
- Inflation Device
- Air Gun
The list seems short, but that’s the reality with a compressor of this size. Nailing is its core task. Like the DeWalt DWFP55130, this unit is essentially a trim compressor. You can expect to get up to 20 shots out of a Brad Nailer before having to wait for pressure to build again, and between 11 – 15 shots from a finishing nailer using 2.5” nails. Stapling should be even less intensive, and the unit will be able to keep up with however fast you can work.
When it comes to inflating tires, the motor will run almost continuously, so remember to take note of the duty cycle and keep it within 70%. Topping up tires will be less intensive.
Paint sprayers are a possibility, but they’re not ideal. Depending on your gun you may be able to perform high volume / low pressure airbrushing, but it is not recommended considering the size of the unit.
An air gun can be used to clean off tools, work surfaces, and even electronic equipment. Short high pressure bursts will take care of your cleaning requirements easily, and the Rolair won’t even break a sweat.
While some other small compressors can use devices like air hammers and impact wrenches in a pinch, the Rolair simply won’t be up to it. This is an important consideration if you’re thinking about using this for the odd bit of automotive work at home.
Is the Tank Big Enough?
As we mentioned, the tank is only 2.3 gallon, however the recharge time is so fast that it shouldn’t be a problem, providing you stick to the tools that are suited to this unit.
How Quiet Is the Rolair JC10?
Because this will likely be used around the home or in a home workshop, noise level will be an important factor for most users. The JC10 ties with the California Air Tools CAT6310, producing only 60dB. This makes it (jointly) the quietest air compressor that we have reviewed. 60dB is quiet enough that you could use the compressor at night time, and still easily hold a conversation next to it.
Gauges, Pump Type, and Hose Outlet
The Rolair JC10 uses an electronic, oil-free pump, with an aluminum cylinder. The pump is small, but as we have mentioned, it is fast enough to rebuild pressure in 11 seconds, or build pressure from empty in just 45 seconds.
There’s a single hose outlet on the JC10, which may be a disappointment for some, considering that other models in this class feature two outlets. At the end of the day, running two tools simultaneously is not ideal, so a single ¼ inch quick connect outlet should be enough for most users.
When it comes to gauges, this is an area of design where this compressor misses the mark. The gauges are clear and easy enough to read, but they’re forward facing. This means if you’re running the compressor you can’t easily reference the gauges without bending or kneeling. This is an odd design choice that could have easily been avoided by facing the gauges upwards, or even on a slight upward angle.
Does this Air Compressor Require Maintenance?
Oil-less compressors are maintenance free as far as the pump goes. Owners should regularly check seals, the tightness of bolts and connectors, and the storage tank should be drained after every use. General preventative maintenance can be performed without any prior experience, and tips are detailed in the user manual.
What is the Construction Quality Like?
The Rolair JC10 is not without faults. When it comes to construction, inconsistencies have been noted by consumers in some reviews. We will first talk about what a good JC10 unit looks like, before following up with cases where problems have surfaced.
The compressor is built using aluminum, plastic, and steel components. Like many small non-pancake compressors, there’s a roll cage surrounding the tank and the other components. This cage also doubles as a handle, making it easy to carry the unit around. The rubber feet absorb vibrations, and mean that this unit doesn’t move around when placed on a hard surface.
Some areas where the Rolair doesn’t impress include,
- Welding joints that definitely aren’t on par with units from DeWalt, Makita, and other name brands.
- Poor quality release valve and on/off switch.
- Some users will find the lack of any housing on the components is uncharacteristic for a compressor of this price.
- Some users have found out-of-box leaks, damaged components, and components that have failed early in to the product’s life. (Rectifiable under warranty).
- One user review reported leftover metal from the welding process was trapped inside the air tank of their unit.
These problems indicate that there could be issues with quality control, even though Rolair advertises that all units are inspected after arriving in the US.
What Accessories Come with the JC10?
There are no accessories included with this Rolair compressor, so you’ll need to bring your own tools, attachments and other accessories. Three accessories that can help you to make the most of this unit include;
- This high quality air hose;
- A multi quick connect coupler set;
- It’s possible to replace the drain valve with this high quality ball joint valve
How Good Is the Included Documentation, and the Support from Rolair?
The documentation is concise and to the point, however it has no information on attaching/reattaching parts for maintenance and general disassembly/assembly.
It’s very fortunate then that Rolair operates a well-staffed support line. Queries may take a day to be responded to (in most cases you will leave a message), but the staff are knowledgeable about the products and will be able to provide more assistance than the paperwork can.
Are There Any Tips? What’s the Break in Procedure?
Rolair doesn’t specify a break-in procedure, but it is an essential tip that won’t just help to get your compressor ready for long use, but it will also reveal any defects out of the box.
When you first get your compressor, ensure all attachments are connected, and check all valves and components. Next, open the release valve and leave it open before turning on the compressor. Leave the compressor running for 15 to 20 minutes before closing the release valve and building up pressure. Once pressure is built and the motor disengages, check around the unit for any leaks, and keep an eye on the pressure gauge. If there are no problems, you’re good to go with the tools of your choice.
Other helpful tips to get the most out of your compressor include;
- Make sure your unit is kept free of dust and debris, especially considering there is no housing on the main components.
- Be careful of the intake muffler which protrudes outside of the roll cage.
- Never store air overnight. Release all pressure when you’re done working with the compressor.
- The compressor features an overload circuit which can be tripped if you exceed the 70% duty cycle. This can be disengaged by resting the compressor (see user manual).
- Use 12 gauge electrical extension cables to prevent overloading, however it is always better to use an air hose extension instead.
- The unit is equipped with an unloading valve which releases pressure from the head after the pressure is built in the tank. This can result in a slight shift of the pressure gauge. This is not a fault, but is intended to prolong the life of the compressor.
- Extremely quiet to run.
- Performs unexpectedly well with nailers and staplers
- Quick to build and recharge pressure.
- The majority of the units on the market are well made with quality components.
- Easy to move around.
- Vibrations aren’t transferred through the rubber feet, which helps to prevent any floor movement.
- No accessories in the box.
- Lack of any protective housing on the components.
- Release valve failures have been reported.
- Construction not up to par with some name brand units.
- Comparable performance to less expensive units.
- Inconvenient gauge placement.
What Do Rolair’s Customers Say About This Compressor?
Despite some experiences where customers felt let down, the majority consensus is of a well-made and well-designed product. The world’s largest online retailer has an average consumer rating of 4.6 / 5 from over 100 reviews. This indicates that quality control issues aside, the majority of owners are happy with their Rolair JC10.
Taking the problems and the price into account, at Power Tools Ninja we award the Rolair with 4.4 / 5.
How Much Does It Cost?
Generally, this compressor costs significantly more than the competition. The Makita MAC700 is a cheaper compressor that can be picked up for less. The Makita has better performance figures and sturdier construction. The tradeoff is in the noise produced. The CAT 6310 is also cheaper, has essentially the same power output, and equals the Rolair in terms of quiet operation. However, the CAT is larger, and may therefore not be as practical for some owners.
Even though it is approaching the higher end of the scale, the Rolair JC10 is still fairly priced, and its value will ultimately come down to your particular needs.
Origin / Packaging
Rolair compressors are designed in the USA and manufactured in China. All units are inspected by Rolair in the US, and are then repackaged before being distributed. Packaging is typical reinforced cardboard, with the compressor itself in a separate housing inside the main cardboard box. There should be no risk of your compressor being damaged in transit, unless it is mishandled.
Our Rolair JC10 Review: Final Thoughts
Aside from some reported construction issues, our Rolair JC10 Air Compressor Review revealed a quality unit that will help you to take care of home trim work, light DIY, and light carpentry. It will also work well for inflation, and for some instances of airbrushing where low pressure equipment is being used. The fact that this is one of the quietest compressors on the market makes it even more compelling for those who want to do work around the home, or anywhere that disturbance should be kept to a minimum.
We have mentioned alternatives to the JC10, however not all units are directly comparable. Despite a relatively high price, there’s not really anything on the market that is simultaneously this portable, and this quiet, meaning that it will no doubt suit the needs of many home users in the market for a new air compressor.
If you want to learn more about air compressor technical features and what to consider when buying, check out our air compressor buying advice.
Also, if you want to have a look at other air compressors, check out our air compressor reviews list.
Full Specifications and Dimensions
- MODEL: JC10
- Horsepower: 1.0
- Voltage: 120 V
- Hertz: 60
- Motor RPM: 1680
- Weight: 39 lb.
- Tank Size: 2.3 gallons
- Thermal Protection: Automatic
- Dimensions (L x W x H – inches): 15-5/8 x 16-3/4 x 14-3/4
- Ft. Delivered @ 40 PSI: 3.8 CFM
- Ft. Delivered @ 90 PSI: 2.35 CFM
- Decibels: 60 dBA
- Pump-Up Time (0-115 PSI): 45 seconds
- Recovery Time (85-115 PSI): 11 seconds