There’s no better way to simplify the use of pneumatic items around the home than to have the best air compressor by your side.
With the right unit by your side, inflating things is a whole lot easier. Whether it’s your car tires, paint tools or whatever it is that needs filling up, an efficient compressor system can make all the difference.
The power in 120v compressors is easily noticed in their speed and efficiency. However, not every unit is meant for a particular application.
In order to find the best 120v air compressors for your home needs, you need to look beyond price and actually consider the features that matter most to you.
Hopefully, this review will point you in the right direction so you can choose a product that will produce the best value for your money.
In a Hurry? – Check out the Top 3 Picks for the 120v Air Compressor
120v Air Compressor vs. Inflator – Which One to Choose?
Inflators and compressors are commonly regarded by many people to mean the same thing. As a result, it’s usually hard to tell the difference between both tools as well as the better choice among them.
Both tools almost do the same thing – getting air into your car tire or some other item that needs filling up. The difference mainly arises in their size and power as well as the pressure they can deliver.
The major advantage an inflator offers over the air compressor is that it doesn’t come with set-up pieces. This makes it simpler and a whole lot easier to use. It also requires less space and is basically designed for inflating tires and nothing else.
A 120v compressor usually comes with an extension cord, a hose, and a tank. Due to these small pieces, it could take up more space. For the same reason, it is not as portable as an inflator.
However, an air compressor is generally better because of its versatility and power. In addition, it is much faster than an inflator.
Thus if your tires are the only things that need filling up, an inflator would certainly make a great choice. In this case, an air compressor would be unnecessary.
However, in a situation where you need to inflate other air tools like toys or nailers, a compressor would be your best bet.
Best 120v Air Compressor Reviews
After sorting through the top performing brands in the market, we were able to come up with a list of the best 120v air compressors for the money.
1. Porter-Cable – C2002 Oil-free UMC Pancake Compressor
If you’re in the market for an air compressor you can use for completing light jobs around the home and workshop, then the C2OO2 Oil-free UMC Pancake Compressor would make a great bargain.
It is not only one of the best oil-free compressors out there, but also one of the most affordable units you can find. This makes it an ideal choice for budget buyers who are looking for a compressor unit designed for everyday use.
For a long time, Porter-Cable has been a major player in the power tool industry, so it should come as no surprise that they’ve masterminded such a wonderful budget-friendly pump.
As the name suggests, the C2OO2 uses no oil which makes it very convenient. In addition, it operates at a pressure of 150 PSI which provides just enough gas to power many small air tools like a stapler or nail gun.
Compared to the 135 PSI supplied by most traditional air compressors, you would agree that this is a takeaway, especially when you consider the fact that the C2OO2 is offered at a lower price. It does not matter the length of the period you put the machine to use, it will continue to deliver as expected.
The unit uses an induction motor that is rated 120 volts and 10 amps (which is one of the lowest). This is what makes it best suited for light inflating and blowing tasks. You have the option to start the pump using an extension cord or in cold weather.
In terms of aesthetics, the C2OO2 features a pancake design which makes it easier and more convenient to transport. It comes with a carry handle and weighs 30 pounds. As a result, this is one of the most portable units you can get.
The compressor doesn’t take up much space which makes it also easy to store. Body construction of the pump is made of steel which provides great strength while a rubber foot is added for greater stability.
In addition, the compressor is made for high-quality material which ensures its durability. In other words, you can expect the unit to last you for years as long as you use it properly.
Overall, this is an incredible air compressor unit from a reputable company. For its price, you might not find a better alternative.
2. Hitachi KNT50AB Pancake Air Compressor
If you need a compressor that is specifically designed for different kinds of cabinetry jobs, then the KNT50AB Pancake is your brand. This incredible 6-gallon tank pump delivers a pressure of 90 PSI, which obviously doesn’t sound like too much, but definitely enough for a good number of small applications.
Apart from its role in cabinetry operations, you can also use it for finishing tasks, as well as other applications such as tire inflation, pressure evaluation, and so on.
Like the previous unit we discussed, the Hitachi KNT50AB is oil-free, so it doesn’t require any kind of oil lubrication. This doesn’t only make it more convenient but also very easy to use.
The huge number of positive rating the device has received so far is an indicator of its high quality and superior performance even though it’s best suited for light applications.
The product kit includes a 6-gallon compressor, an air hose, and a brad nailer. In other words, you have everything you need to start using the unit. The compressor is powered through a 120v 12 amp motor. It delivers up to 150 PSI pressure which is pretty impressive especially when you consider its price.
The equipment weighs about 36.5 pounds which is not a lot especially if you plan to use it on a job site. Its body construction is made of aluminum which largely contributes to its lightweight.
At 73 dBA, the NT50AB might not be the quietest air compressors in the market, but it definitely sounds better than many models. The noise is low and thus manageable; so it’s not something you should be concerned about.
The 18 gauge brad nailer that is included with the compressor weighs only 2.2 pounds. This makes it super light and thus convenient to use. The tool affords you a lot of maneuverability.
3. Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallon 150 PSI Oil-Free Compressor
Finding a cheap air compressor that you can always rely on to deliver can be a daunting task. If you’re operating on a tight budget but still want to get one of the best models out there, then the Bostitch BTFP02012 might just be what you need.
It is one of the cheapest 120v air compressors you will find in the 6-gallon league that rates highly in terms of quality and performance.
Given its capacity and power, the pump is best suited for light items such as air spray guns, pinners, and even tires. To be more exact, the device delivers a pressure of 90 PSI which produces around 2.6 SCFM of air. However, the pressure can run up to 150 PSI max.
Thus the compressor is basically designed for small applications making it a good choice for home use. The machine also boasts of long run time as well as quick recovery. As a result, you will be able to get things done in a very short time.
Like other items on the list, the BTFP02012 is completely oil free. This saves you the stress of greasing the device frequently. In other words, this unit requires very little to no maintenance.
The high efficiency of the 10.5 amp motor makes it suitable for use anytime, even during winter. So you have absolutely nothing to worry about.
It will interest you to know that the entire equipment weighs 29 pounds which is less than what you get with most 6 gallon models. As a result, the unit is highly portable and convenient to use.
According to Bostitch, the BTFP02012 has an average lifespan of 450 hours, which translates to 5 years use assuming you decide to use the unit for 2 hours each week. Overall, this is a wonderful product with great pricing. You will not be disappointed if you decided to purchase the product.
4. PORTER-CABLE CMB15 Oil-Free Fully Shrouded Compressor
Another wonderful offering from Porter-Cable that is designed for budget buyers is the CMB15 1.5 Gallon Hand Carry Compressor. This is without doubts one of the top performing models in the league of small air compressors.
Given its small gallon size, this unit is great for minor household applications such as filling up children toys, small boats, and other lightweight items.
The compressor offers a pressure of 90 PSI which provides air at a rate of 2.0 SCFM. It also switches really quickly from 0 to the maximum pressure of 150 PSI. In addition, the recovery time is less which makes it even more attractive for minor tasks.
Another aspect of the Porter-Cable CMB15 that endears it to customers is its pricing. This is without doubts one of the most affordable models you will find in its category.
So if you’re looking for a budget-friendly compressor that will deliver excellent performance, then you will not go wrong with this unit.
With a tank size of 1.5 gallons, one would naturally expect that the CMB15 would weigh less, and this is exactly the case. At 20 pounds weight, this unit is one of lightest compressors you can find in the market. This makes it highly portable and thus a great companion for the mobile worker.
The unit also has a drain valve that is easily accessible while the rubber feet adds to its stability as well as appearance. It will interest you to know that it works great even in the cold winter.
However, the compressor operates at 79 dBA which is definitely not quite enough but still tolerable. It could disturb the people around, so you need to be mindful where you use it. Wearing a headphone to protect your ears won’t be a bad idea.
5. Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV 3 Gallon Portable Air Compressor
Another wonderful air compressor that is built with performance and durability in mind is the Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV.
The unit is mainly designed for accomplishing most hobby projects. Its lightweight makes it very easy to carry around which makes it perfect if you need a compressor to tow on the go.
The unit comes with a 3-gallon tank and delivers up to 90 PSI pressure which is basically enough to run a lot of power tools. A good example is your paint gun and staple. Given its CFM at 0.36, the unit also works great for inflating balls and tires, as well as powering airbrushes.
Of course, the small tank size is largely responsible for the lightweight of the compressor. To be more exact, the device weighs only 21 pounds, which is one of the least you can get. But mind you, it still manages to deliver enough power that is required for most DIY projects.
The use of an oil-free pump also makes it convenient and very easy to use. No need for frequent oil changes and you will save your floor from stains. In fact, you may not even need to carry out any maintenance at all except for wiping off dust on the body (this can also be avoided with proper storage).
It will also interest you to know that the compressor comes with a 10-piece accessory kit which basically covers everything that has to do with attachment. This includes attachments for tires, inflation needles, and other air tools.
Overall, this is a wonderful product that comes at a great price. We highly recommend it for your small projects.
6. DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon Pancake Compressor
Irrespective of your skill level, if you want an air compressor that you can rely upon to get the job done, then you will not go wrong with the DeWalt DWFP55126 6-gallon Pancake Air Compressor.
And just to prove this, you can look up the huge number of positive reviews the product has already received online.
Although the unit boasts of a 6-gallon capacity, it is a great fit for home use given the huge convenience it offers.
The compressor basically operates at a pressure of 90 PSI producing air at a rate of 2.6 CFM. However, the pressure can get up to 165 PSI which is really impressive. The best part is that it doesn’t take long to make the 0 to the maximum pressure.
AT 75 dBA, the DeWalt DWFP55126 might not be the quietest compressors out there, but it’s definitely far better than many models in its category. In other words, it doesn’t create a lot of noise while in operation.
As expected, the unit is equipped with an oil-free motor which saves you from the headache of frequent oil changes as common with most gas-powered compressors. This also means that the compressor requires little-to-no maintenance which makes it even more attractive and convenient to use.
The unit weighs only 32.5 pounds, which doesn’t sound like a lot. Thus you can easily transport the compressor remotely without wearing out your muscles.
A ball drain valve is included with the unit to allow for complete training of the tank. Overall, this is a quality product that is worth every penny paid for it.
7. Senco PC1010 1-Horsepower Peak, 1/2 hp running 1-Gallon Compressor
Another inexpensive compressor that has received a lot of positive reviews is the Senco PC1010. The unit is basically designed for light blowing and inflating jobs, which makes it an ideal choice for DIYers enthusiasts.
With a weight of only 20 pounds, this unit is one of the lightest compressors you will find out there. You can easily carry it around the workspace. In addition to its portability, the device also has a quiet operation at 73 dBA.
Like the other units we have discussed so far, the Senco PC1010 is oil free which saves you the stress of lubrication. No need for frequent oil changes; this saves you money and time and affords you more convenience.
The pump can deliver up to 125 PSI pressure, which provides just enough power for small jobs.
Another fascinating aspect of the PC1010 is its ability to increase from 0 to 120 PSI pressure in as little as 128 seconds. Of course, this makes it one of the fastest small air compressors available at the moment.
In terms of maintenance, this unit doesn’t require much, and it’s very easy to use. This makes it a perfect fit for homes. The only routine maintenance you may ever need to carry out is cleaning the exterior surface of the machine.
And you don’t need to do this more than once a week. The safety relief valve also needs to be checked at least once in a month to ensure the device is in a safe working condition. The small compact size of the compressor makes it ideal for a user with limited space.
It would also interest you to know that the unit is equipped with a ball drain valve which makes it quick and easy to drain the tank even after use. The addition of a high flow regulator also helps to greatly improve the overall performance of the compressor.
Like most models, the Senco PC1010 has a long runtime which makes it suitable for undertaking serious projects. In addition, it also has a quick recovery which makes it even more attractive.
8. DEWALT DWFP55130 Heavy Duty 200 PSI Quiet Trim Compressor
If you’re looking for an air compressor that is portable and doesn’t require a lot of storage space, then you might want to consider the DeWalt DWFP55130 Heavy Duty Quit Trim Compressor.
Built with convenience in mind, this unit is specially designed to help you accomplish almost any trimming work. Being extremely lightweight makes it the ideal carry-compressor for people who are always on the go.
The unit is defined by a lot of interesting features that makes it a hallmark in the industry. And given the fact it’s a product from DeWalt, there’s little wonder it has achieved such a status.
DeWalt is a well-known brand in the world of power tools that has managed to maintain a high level of consistency in the quality of products they deliver to the public.
The DeWalt DWFP55130 delivers a pressure of 90 PSI producing 3 SCFM of air. With a weight of 36 pounds, you can easily transport the unit from one place to another. This is also complemented by the small size of the compressor.
It will also interest you to know that the unit doesn’t create a lot of noise while in operation. To be more exact, it operates below 72 decibels which is quite manageable. In other words, you can use it around the home without worrying about disturbing the neighbors.
The small size of the unit also makes it very easy to store. The use of a roll cage for protection helps to greatly improve the durability of the compressor. And the good part is that you can use the device with other attachments provided it’s something by DeWalt.
However, given the small size of the compressor, you should not expect a lot of power from it. That said, the unit is great for small jobs.
9. Campbell Hausfeld DC080500 Portable Quiet Air Compressor
Most of the time, it can be difficult to find a compressor that provides a balance between noise and power.
If you want a unit that offers excellent power yet doesn’t produce a lot of noise, then the Campbell Hausfeld DC080500 will make a great choice. In fact, this product has been described by many as the quietest air compressor in the industry. And it was able to achieve this feat despite the incredible power it delivers.
The unit is equipped with an efficient engine that doesn’t produce more than 68 dBA while in operation. This is one of the lowest you can get in the market, which means you can freely use it in a residential area without fear of disturbing those around you.
Like all the models on this list, it uses an oil-less pump. This makes it both durable and easy to maintain. In fact, the unit requires little-to-no maintenance which makes it far more preferable to its oil counterparts which will likely stain your floors.
The compressor comes with an 8-gallon capacity tank which makes it best suited for more demanding jobs. This is complemented by the use of a dual pump system which helps to enhance the durability of the machine as well as its overall performance.
In fact, when compared to models in the same price category, the Hausfeld DC080500 delivers over 20 -25 % more air – another reason it is geared towards the pros.
Interestingly, despite the large tank of the unit, it is still portable, which makes it suitable for remote work. It works great for tire inflation, nailing operation, as well as hobby projects like painting.
10. Makita AC001 Compact Air Compressor
If you’re a professional, then power is likely going to be your major concern when shopping for an air compressor. However, most of the time, such compressors are usually massive making them difficult to tow when you’re on the go.
If you are looking for a compressor that is powerful yet compact, then the Makita AC001 will make a great choice. This unit is specially designed for professionals who need a compressor they can easily carry about.
But even more, it is built to last long and requires very little maintenance just like the other models we have discussed so far – thanks to its oil-free motor.
As an industrial air compressor, the Makita AC001 is best suited for remodeling projects, cabinet, and furniture work, installation of cases and bases, trimming and similar jobs.
Even though it delivers a lot of power, it still operates with a low noise which makes it suitable for both industrial and residential environments. The compact size of the compressor coupled with its efficient electric motor ensures you get a consistent performance.
At 23.1 pounds weight, you will agree that this is one of the most portable models out there. Thus, you can easily transport it from one place to another.
Another aspect of this machine that makes it stand out from the crowd is its quality. The compressor comes along with a roll cage which helps to protect the pump and motor, and thus makes it last longer.
As earlier indicated, the noise level is manageable as it doesn’t operate beyond 72 decibels. So it is great for indoor use.
Features To Consider Before Buy
Although we’ve considered some of the best 120v air compressors in the market, it’s still important to look into the finer details in order to make a more informed decision. Although your specific needs are important, there are other factors you need to keep in mind while shopping.
Let’s consider each one of them;
Pressure is probably the most important thing to look out for in a compressor as it goes a long way to determine how much power you are likely going to get from the device.
The pressure of an air compressor is commonly expressed in PSI (short for pounds per square inch). Given the correlation between power and pressure, it wouldn’t be surprising to say that a higher PSI avails more power.
Thus if a compressor that has a higher PSI require less time when refilling their tank. They are generally faster and usually more suitable for heavy-duty jobs.
However, the PSI isn’t all that defines the power a compressor delivers, especially when the size of the tank is also in view. A high PSI and a small tank would probably need recharging before you’re through with the job. In such a situation, a lot of energy is more likely to be wasted.
Thus it’s advisable to go for a compressor with a high PSI and a large tank when you need to work on a big job. However, for a smaller application, a low PSI and small tank capacity will be sufficient.
Another issue that should be of concern to you when choosing an air compressor is the size of the tank. Just like pressure, a larger tank size translates to more efficiency and speed.
So an air compressor with a larger tank capacity is more likely going to be faster than one with a smaller one. In other words, the higher the tank capacity, the higher the pressure output as well as the amount of air it can contain.
The tank size is usually measured in gallons. So make sure you check out the number of gallons before purchasing any model.
Another factor you must not overlook when purchasing an air compressor is the level of noise it produces. This is usually expressed in dBA, so you should be on the lookout for the dBA value of the unit you have in mind.
Whether you’re buying the compressor for commercial purpose or you want to use it for small projects around the home, you should be concerned about how loud the unit is.
Apart from dBA, another thing that can contribute to the loudness of the machine is the body construction. Compressors that are poorly built will likely produce a lot of noise even if they have a low dBA.
It is not uncommon to find a unit with 75 dBA sounding just as loud as one with 90 dBA, all because the latter was poorly built. So pay attention to the dBA of the device as well as its build quality.
If you plan to use the air compressor anywhere in the home (which is most likely going to be the case), then you would need a model that has a low dBA in other not disturb the people around. Apart from this, using a loud unit can affect your ears over time.
As earlier indicated, to check how loud a unit is, make sure you check the dBA rating.
Weight is another important factor to consider when shopping for an air compressor. It is more likely that this will depend on your preference and where you plan to use the air compressor.
If you plan to use the device for minor tasks around the home or some other personal use, you will likely need a unit that is easy to carry around. Dragging a 90-pound air compressor around the house, even if it’s wheeled, doesn’t sound cool.
So except you have a big project to work on, a lighter unit would be preferable. But if not, you would definitely need some extra muscles for a larger unit.
Larger air compressors are designed to provide more power and utility. They usually come with additional features including higher PSI values and larger tank sizes. Their large tanks are one of the major contributors to their increased weight. However, their performance is unparalleled to the smaller units.
Whether you go for a lightweight model or one that is quite heavy largely depends on your preference as well as what you want to accomplish with the device.
For most commercial applications, it is usually advisable to go for larger compressors as they usually have larger tank capacity and deliver more PSI. They also tend to be more durable than smaller models.
However, such units are usually louder, so you may need to wear ear protection.
Types of Air Compressors
There are various designs of air compressors, and they range from hot dog to pancake to wheelbarrow. However, when it comes to the types, it is very common to classify them based on their power source.
With this in mind, there are basically two types of air compressors you will find in the market – electric powered and gas powered. Both types of compressor have their upsides and downsides, as well as the kind of application they are best suited for.
Electric Air Compressors
As the name indicates, electric air compressors are powered by electricity through the agency of a motor.
The major advantage they offer especially when compared to the gas-powered models, is that they are more affordable and user-friendly. They usually weigh lesser and have a compact design. This makes them generally easier to carry about.
Another advantage of electrically powered compressors is that they don’t produce a lot of noise like the gas-powered units.
However, they usually come with an automatic START/STOP mechanism which makes them generally unsuitable for heavy-duty projects.
Another important setback they have is that they are usually corded and thus need to be connected to an electric power outlet before you can use them. This may not be feasible on a worksite as these outlets may not be available.
Notwithstanding, electric air compressors are convenient and very easy to operate. They are mostly used for hobby projects and some DIY tasks.
Gas Air Compressors
Another type of air compressor you are likely to come across in the market is the gas-powered models.
As the name suggests, a gas powered compressor is simply one that relies on gas to work. In other words, gas is the power source. As a result, such compressors don’t usually come with a power cord, and thus you don’t need to connect them to an electrical power outlet. This makes more practical in places where there are no power grids.
Unlike their electric powered counterparts, they don’t have automatic START/STOP, and so you can use them continuously. This makes them more suitable for serious jobs such. It is no surprise, they are mostly used in the industries.
We do not recommend using this kind of compressors in the home as they produce a lot of noise and smoke when in operation. This is why we’ve not reviewed any gas powered air compressor on the list above.
The units are also heavy and bulky; thus it’s usually very hard to move them from one place to another.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is HP and what connection does it have with the compressor PSI?
HP simply means horsepower, and it refers to the motor (engine) power of the compressor. Thus the HP of a unit determines the level of pressure it delivers. In other words, with a higher HP compressor, you get more pressure.
What does CFM mean?
When going through the specifications of any product, you are likely to come across something about CFM or SCFM. CFM is the short form of cubic feet per minute, and it’s a unit for expressing the volume of air produced by a particular compressor at a given pressure (or PSI).
Higher CFM simply means the compressor will produce more air. Usually, the CFM of a unit increases as you lower the pressure. By the way, SCFM means standard cubic per minute.
What tank size should I go for?
This depends on what you intend to use the air compressor for. If you intend to use the unit for small to medium jobs like powering nail guns or filling up some inflatables in the home, then you would likely need something with 4 – 6 gallon tank.
A compressor with 1 – 2 gallon tank might even be sufficient for minor tasks like inflating a balloon or toy. However, for bigger projects, you will need something larger. Such air compressors are usually designed for heavy duty application like running pneumatic wrenches.
Where can I get these products?
You can purchase any compressor of your choice by simply following the corresponding product link provided to view the price and make payment.
Is it advisable to use a compressor inside my apartment?
Absolutely. Electrically powered compressors like the ones we’ve described above are basically designed for home use, unlike their gas-powered counterparts. They don’t produce smoke like the latter, and their noise is manageable.
In fact, most of the models we reviewed above are some of the quietest units out there. So you have absolutely nothing to worry about.
At this point, we’ve come to the end of the review. All the items here represent some of the best 120v air compressors currently in the market. They are all designed with quality and performance in mind. And even if you’ve budget concerns, you will still find a good fit for your needs.
In order to ensure you make an informed decision in choosing a model that is suitable for your particular needs, we’ve also included a buying guide. This way, you can be sure you’re making the right investment.