Air compressors are extremely useful tools for construction professionals, mechanics, and homeowners alike. They come in many shapes, sizes, and prices. Here, we look at some of the best options for under $1000, plus the must-have features to look for when picking a model.
What features do the best air compressors have, and where should your priorities lie? We already have a rough price range decided, so we can skip the obvious. Here are a few other things to take into consideration when shopping for a new model.
The air tank capacity determines how big a job you can do in one go. You want a large enough tank that you don’t have to stop and refill halfway through a task.
If you mainly use your air compressor for inflating your motorbike tires or powering small pneumatic power tools, you don’t need more than 10 gallons. On the other hand, if you run a building site or garage doing a lot of work every day, anything less than 30 gallons may be counterproductive.
This blog about the best 60-gallon air compressors is great for anyone in need of a big tank.
PSI (Maximum Pressure) and Horsepower
Pressure and power go hand in hand. The horsepower of an air compressor motor tells you how much juice you can get out of it, and the max pressure gauge (PSI- pounds per square inch) controls how concentrated the air output is.
You need to have PSI max pressure if you are inflating large tires or operating heavy-duty power tools. A high HP is always good if you want a powerful air compressor.
Oil-Free VS Oil Lubricated Pump
There is debate whether oil-free or oil lubricated is better for an air compressor, and there are valid arguments for both sides. Oil pumps tend to last longer because of the regular maintenance they require, but those without are far more convenient and less messy. Non-oil machines also tend to run cooler and have a more quiet operation.
Single Stage VS Two Stage Compressor
Two-stage air compressors compress the air twice for double the pressure output, making them the more efficient choice for large-scale jobs. Where a one-stage unit comes in handy is the reduced energy use. If you mainly do small tasks for short periods, it is more than enough power.
Depending on the place and purpose when using an air compressor, you may need to move it around. Heavy, bulky compressors are not ideal in this case- especially if they don’t have wheels. Some models have handles and transport carts that make them much easier for transporting.
Portable units tend to have smaller tanks, which are mostly used for powering simple tools and inflating normal tires.
Noise is a big factor, especially if you are in a residential area. Many new designs boast low decibel ratings- some more than others. Look for an air compressor that is advertising quiet operation and compare it to other interesting options to find the best one.
Some manufacturers and brands have a reputation for producing top-grade equipment that you can rely on. Choosing a well-known company such as DEWALT, Makita, or several others on this list is a smart place to start. They tend to have better warranties, more customer reviews, and superior customer support for buyers.
The Six Best Air Compressors Under $1000
Makita MAC5200 3.0 Big Bore Air Compressor
Makita puts meaning behind the phrase, “big power in a small package.” Despite having a tank capacity of a little more than five gallons, it packs an incredible three-horsepower electric motor.
You get all the performance of a much bigger tank with the added convenience of easy mobility and lifting. It weighs around 75 pounds and comes with built-in wheels and an adjustable handle.
This little powerhouse has enough juice to run multiple tools, including nail guns and industrial pneumatics. It is oil-lubricated which, combined with cast iron durability, leaves little doubt that this can last for years without losing efficiency.
Pros and Cons
Pro: The durable cast iron cylinder body has an extended life cycle and keeps your pump at peak performance for longer.
Con: Because of the limited tank capacity, you need to refill more often.
California Air Tools 10020C Ultra-Quiet 10 Gallon Tank with Portable 1 Gallon Compressor
The 10020c single-stage air compressor by California Air Tools is an excellent product on its own, but it becomes even better value when you buy it together with the one-gallon portable tank. This combination allows you to tackle every task, from spray guns to tire inflation, flexibly, and on the go.
Let us first talk about the 10-gallon standard single cylinder pump tank. It features stainless steel reed valves, a dual valve plate design, and an ultra-fast refill time from empty to full in just 120 seconds. At 70 decibels, it is only one of the quietest compressors on our list.
Moving onto the second piece in the set: the mini compressor is ideal for paint sprayers and small tire inflation. You get the same industrial performance and durability but on a much smaller scale. If you buy the two together, you save some cash and increase your working flexibility.
Pros and Cons
Pro: There is overheating protection built into the main cylinder.
- Pro: You can store the smaller tank in the trunk of your car for on-the-road emergencies.
Con: Neither tank has a high capacity for big tasks.
Stealth 12-Gallon Tank Air Compressor
If noise is your primary concern, this mid-size oil-free air compressor by Stealth is one of the quietest on the market today. At less than 70 decibels, it is perfect for use at home or on a residential job site.
Quiet operation is not the only plus side- there is plenty to love about it. Connect to a wide variety of pneumatic tools for flexible use and application and enjoy roughly 1000 hours of work under a limited lifetime warranty.
The 1.5 HP electric motor connects via cord to mains power, producing 150 peak PSI. Easy pressure control helps you maintain excellent performance and safety throughout any task.
Pros and Cons
Pro: Very easy weight to carry around the site by the reinforced handle.
Pro: Impressive features list for flexible use and long-term quality.
Con: Some users say they experienced trouble with the quality of the wheels.
DEWALT Hand-Carry 4.5 Gallon Air Compressor with Wheels
Are you looking for maximum power that takes up minimal space? DEWALT has done it again with this top-grade portable air compressor. It weighs 80 lbs. and is easy to manage. The oil and maintenance-free pump are ultra-convenient, as are the pneumatic wheels and extendable handle.
In true DEWALT fashion, this great air compressor- manufactured in the USA- has all the bases covered. A handy pressure switch and dual display gauge make it easy to monitor the output and adjust it to specific tasks.
There is little doubt that this brand is an industry leader in quality and is known for producing reliable, durable, and powerful machines. You know you are getting top service and a huge community of other users when you buy a DEWALT product, and this is no exception.
In our opinion, this is one of the best air compressors for optimum performance and efficiency.
Pros and Cons
Pro: Incredible air pressure capabilities, with 225 PSI for more air use than most other air compressors.
Pro: Quiet operation of around 78 decibels.
Con: It is a bit pricy for such a small tank.
Industrial Air ILA1683066 30 Gallon Cast Iron Compressor
Industrial Air compressors are some of the top air compressors on the market, and the ILA1683066 is one of the best. High performance and trouble-free, the patented pump design delivers cast iron durability.
A heavy-duty induction motor powers the twin-cylinder pump, while the built-in pressure regulator keeps things running smoothly.
The oil-lubricated air compressor features a cast iron pump and cylinder with thermal overload protection, 155 Max PSI, and a quick-connect airflow outlet. All in all, it is an extremely impressive, durable, and reliable air compressor.
Pros and Cons
Pro: It comes shipped with synthetic oil included as an eco-friendly alternative.
Pro: Wheels and handles allow easy portability.
Con: This model is near the top of our budget range.
Campbell Hausfeld 60 Gallon Air Compressor
This two-stage air compressor by Campbell Hausfeld is the best 60-gallon air compressor under $1000. It is tough to find a tank this big at this price, but the famous brand has nailed it, coming in right on the budget. With an oil-lubricated pump, this heavy-duty air compressor means business.
Designed for use in a garage or worksite where there are plenty of hefty tasks to be done, the Campbell Hausfeld 60 gallon air compressor is capable of almost anything. The large capacity, impressive 175 PSI maximum performance, and 3.7 horsepower induction motor work with multiple air tools at their best.
Pros and Cons
Pro: Longer running time of up to 5000 hours.
Pro: No power cord to worry about for health and safety reasons.
Con: It is heavy and does not have wheels, despite being advertised as a portable unit.
- Con: This air compressor is very noisy.
As you can see, there are plenty of excellent air compressors under $1000. Think about what your purpose for purchasing one is and tailor your search accordingly.