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air compressor recommendations?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by blacktail, Apr 21, 2013.

  1. blacktail

    blacktail Feeling the Heat

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    I'm thinking about buying one. My needs don't require anything heavy duty and I'd prefer that it take up minimal garage space. Use would be light stuff and I've been told a 6 gallon unit would be more than enough. Any advice on brands/designs to look for or avoid?

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  2. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Just to fill tires or to run air tools as well?
    I would avoid most oil-less compressors because they are deafening loud. Like should wear double ear pro when near it.
  3. blacktail

    blacktail Feeling the Heat

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    I don't really need it for tools. More for things like tires or blowing out filters, spark plug holes etc. Small grinding and cutting tools would be handy now and then but not enough to justify a big compressor.
  4. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    I have a Craftsman Pro 20 some-odd gallon compressor for my home shop. Runs air tools intermittently but no long sessions with a die grinder or air drill. Impact gun, you could bang away all day. I wouldn't want less. New they were about $400.

    It's the exception to the rule regarding oil-less compressors and noise. It's much more pleasant than most to listen to. But oil-less is no good for constant duty tasks like HVLP painting. They have a limited duty-cycle.
  5. maverick06

    maverick06 Minister of Fire

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    I have the older version of this:
    http://www.harborfreight.com/2-hp-8-gallon-125-psi-portable-air-compressor-67501.html

    I got it with a 10% coupon, think i got it for less than 100 about 5 years ago. For just home use, i preobably have beat it way more than most!, did the roof on my shed with it, lots of nail gun, and impact gun use. Works great. The check valve on it got gummed up, so for about a year it would only be able to start the compressor if there was no pressure in the tank. Thats since resolved its self, not that it was a big deal. The auto-off pressure switch started leaking a few weeks ago. Easy enough to tighten it down. The auto off pressure is a bit higher than before, but still below the rated tank pressure, and there is a blowoff anyways.

    Good compressor for the guy who wants one in the garage.
  6. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    I'm no expert, but I bought a Makita . . . Mac700 I think . . . a few years back for just the use you are describing -- filling tires, cleaning items, the occasional nail gun, etc.

    So far it has run like a champ . . . and a plus side is that it's relatively quiet.
  7. Guyerst

    Guyerst New Member

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    Bought a Dewalt compressor a couple weeks ago that I'm pretty happy with. 4 gallon, 5.something cfm, and 200 psi. Has 2 wheels in the back to make it easy to move around. Can store laying down or standing up.

    Bought it for running a couple trim nailers and a flooring nailer. I shoot around 20 nails before it cycles. Maybe a 10 second cycle. Worked pretty well blowing all the wood droppings that have accumulated over the winter in our enclosed porch. It runs significantly quieter than a pancake style.
  8. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    I've been researching this too. I've strongly considered the IR garage mate. Not cheap but will last decades.

    Only concern is I know at some point I might want to run impact guns or paint sprayer and for that you really need a 2 stage 240v setup to deliver the CFM. Big $$$
  9. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    Air compressors vary quite a bit, but I found it (after a LONG time looking for the "perfect" solution) comes down to two things: Portable vs stationary.

    If you're going to bring the air to the job, get something light. I bought a big portable and I regretted it every time I had to drag it out. Wheels may help but it would still be a pain up stairs, in a vehicle etc. A nice 2 gallon oil-lubed pancake style compressor is enough to run any air gun, and will last any homeowner a lifetime. Nice and light. Even a cheap one will last for years and years. Nothing you can carry around with you is going to put out more than 4-5 cfm @ 90psi, so air tools like grinders/sanders/sprayers are out. Even impact guns will be hard-pressed to keep up. Even getting close to this amount of output will add weight and make it a bear to carry the thing around so I wouldn't bother. 2-3 cfm @ 90psi is more than enough to run any nail gun (unless you're Quick Draw McGraw), and you won't have to worry about tripping breakers. The larger portables will often be too much draw if the circuit is 15a or shares a circuit with another motor. I found this out myself.

    If it's only going to stay in one place (doubt it) then you can start thinking about a larger stationary model, at which point you want to think about how much air you need, and the old adage is you can never have enough. CFMs and horsepower aside, a line is drawn at what voltage you're going to be using: 220V vs 110V. There's only so much air you can get from a 15-20 amp circuit, and that's about 5-6 CFM @ 90psi. Anything over this you either need a large tank to buffer (and you wait) or more juice. Probably enough for impact guns and intermittent tools but grinders, cut-off tools, sprayers (LVLP don't use much) and the like will take a lot more so you will only have a few moments (minutes at most) before you exhaust the buffer in the tank. A two-stage (higher pressure) can up you storage, but it will take longer to recover. When you get into the nitty gritty of "how much" you start to notice that a compressor may be rated for a specific output, but not for continuous duty. Horsepower ratings are even more misleading. Once again, your output inevitably is determined by available current. I burned up my oilless compressor (thank God) pushing too hard. Now I've got a 60 gallon vertical tank with an output of around 12cfm @ 90psi. Bought it used and cheap.

    My long-winded recommendation is to buy a good quality portable you wouldn't mind carrying around. Don't abuse it and it will last you a lifetime. If you need more plan on a 240v large tank stationary (60 gallons plus) There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to air compressors.
  10. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    You don't need much of a compressor to run impacts. I run both of mine from a pancake compressor when I travel. Impacts typically use air in short bursts. Things with motors that run for long durations like drills, grinders, air ratchets even, all require much more compressor than an impact. I have run HVLP from my compressor but I wouldn't want to do it regularly.
  11. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I have a big CH twin cylinder industrial jobbie that is a pain in the butt to wait on and overkill for virtually every thing I need. A year ago I bought a little 100 psi pancake at HF on sale for forty bucks and love the light little sucker. The big boy hasn't been turned on since I bought it.
  12. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast Minister of Fire

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    8 Gals seems a little on the large side for what you intend to use it for. If you're sure you won't ever have a need for running a framing nailer I'd be looking for a small pancake style.
    A while back I was about to build a deck & privacy fence & found one of these With a framing nailer for $120. It has done its job well. http://www.homedepot.com/p/Husky-Fa...or-H1504ST-R/202516601?N=87lZ87l#.UX3fD4y9KSM
    At over 40 lbs its about all I care to lug up & down stairs.
  13. blacktail

    blacktail Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks for all the ideas. I've talked to a couple of people who've had different compressors over the years. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes. I looked at compressors at Lowe's and it's hard to find one that isn't made in china.
  14. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    For what you describe, a small torpedo or pancake compressor would be fine. My BIL has had really good luck with his trusty old Bostitch pancake. I wouldn't tie up a lot of $ for an occasional homeowner. The only caveat to these is it can take a lot longer than it feels like it should to inflate several vehicle tires in a row...just not enough volume.

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