Air Compressor Upgrade Recommendations?

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Forum topic by Keith Kelly posted 11-18-2016 05:16 PM 1243 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Keith Kelly

276 posts in 1863 days

11-18-2016 05:16 PM

It’s time to upgrade my 4.5gal DeWalt air compressor [this one]. After much research, I still feel a bit overwhelmed with the options that exist and haven’t even narrowed down to a particular style yet. So, I wanted to get your thoughts if you have any.

Reasons for upgrading:
  • Longer air flow for using die grinder. I have a carving burr ball bit I really like for spoon making, and my current air compressor works fantastic! (for about 15 seconds).
  • More natural tank drain My current compressor has to be tilted at a certain angle to get it to drain properly. I likely don’t drain it near enough because of the hassle of draining it. So, I’d like something that’s a bit easier to maintain from that perspective.
Current considerations:
  • A stand-up tank would be good. I have locations that would work very well for a vertical setup.
  • 120/240v. Either works.
  • I like the idea of wheels, because I may change my mind about where to put it. But, wheels are not completely necessary.
  • Cost: locally, I see some 60 gallon ones for $500 sitting next to some 60 gallon ones for $1,700. Seeing this is what prompted me to post here.

Do any of you have any particular advice?

edit: My preference would be 120v so I can use it elsewhere when projects come up.

ok, edit 2: I’m tempted to just go get this one. Husky 30-gal $269. It has the features (wheels, 120v, vertical) The cost is low enough that if I use it for a year and decide I’d like something bigger or quieter, I can resell this without losing too much.

-- Keith - Bolivar, Missouri, ...

15 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5124 posts in 4160 days

#1 posted 11-18-2016 06:55 PM

Oil free means shorter life and more noise.
My comp. is 37 years old, has had all the needed oil changes, Leeson motor (have had the capacitor replaced, and bearings replaced), but the compressor is still running strong.
I do have an oil free comp. for use with nail guns, but that puppy is loud (and 15 yrs. old I might add).
Get the biggest you can place, use oiled compressor, change the oil, drain the tank.
Spend once, and be done.


View fivecodys's profile


1224 posts in 1836 days

#2 posted 11-18-2016 07:06 PM

I just bought a ‘California Air’ air compressor for my shop at work.
It’s an oil-less unit and is 10x quieter the the unit we had before. The guys like it.
Might be worth a look.

-- I always knew I would grow old, But I expected it to take longer!

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2831 posts in 3637 days

#3 posted 11-18-2016 07:17 PM

I’ve had, and have a bunch of them, different sizes. Even small ones are made with oil in some cases. Get the ones with oil. They last so much longer.

I’ve got an upright (very old) 80 gallon, a wheeled 10 gallon, and interestingly my first one was that little single tank 3 gallon one that Sears sells for about $125. I’ve put more miles on it than all my others I’ve owned combined. It’s still going strong. I’ve used it roofing, framing nails, finish, etc. 5 yrs old now. I usually shop other brands like bocsh, millwaukee, delta, etc. But I’ve got to admit. I’ve gotten some amazing life out of Craftsman tools over the years.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Keith Kelly's profile

Keith Kelly

276 posts in 1863 days

#4 posted 11-18-2016 07:25 PM

Ok, so certainly you’re right about an oiled air compressor rather than oil-less.

I suppose that oiled doesn’t necessarily mean crazy more expensive than oil-free.

Do you think 30 gallons would be appropriate for things like spray finishing (surely because my current one is decent with that) and some of the bigger tools, like the die grinder for spoon carving? I’m having trouble comparing/relating numbers, because my current DeWalt is a “200psi” tank, which means it can store more air than a 150psi tank, so perhaps my 4.5gal 200psi tank is more like a 6.0gal 150psi tank (roughly). (not talking air flow, but I’m trying to get a grip on tank capacity.) So in this case, a 30gal tank that holds air at 150psi would still be a pretty significant improvement and sounds about right.

-- Keith - Bolivar, Missouri, ...

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Keith Kelly

276 posts in 1863 days

#5 posted 11-18-2016 07:38 PM

I never expected I’d be looking into Husky air compressors. But, they seem to have the features I’m interested in, at a very decent price point. And, with Home Depot being the seller, if something is wrong from the start, I can return it easily.

Here's one for $399. The tank PSI is less (155) but it’s oil-lubed. I like that.

Would you advise against this one? I know there are much nicer compressors out there, but I don’t think I’m ready to spend $1k on a compressor when I’m still unsure of the size/capacity/motor/etc that will suit my needs (ok, wants) best. So, this $400 Husky seems pretty lucrative at the moment. Surely it will last 2 years, and if I can sell it for $250 in 2 years, that’s only a $75/year rental fee.

-- Keith - Bolivar, Missouri, ...

View JoeinGa's profile


7739 posts in 2206 days

#6 posted 11-18-2016 07:46 PM

Using a 30gal tank with most any type of air tool will have the compressor running quite a bit. If you were using an air brush it would probably be fine, but most likely wont keep up with a full size paint gun if you tried to paint a car.

Rather then have to buy a new (bigger) compressor I added an extra tank for the capacity on mine. I have painted cars with this setup and I regularly use air impact tools with it. Here’s my current setup.


-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Keith Kelly's profile

Keith Kelly

276 posts in 1863 days

#7 posted 11-18-2016 08:05 PM

With the HVLP guns I have had no problem spraying dyes / finishes on my projects (using the 4.5g DeWalt). Or at least, the wait time to refill was minimal enough to not bother me. But I haven’t done a full car or used anything other than HVLP. In fact, I stained my basement floor with it. On that DW compressor, the motor was very quick to refill the tank (leaps and bounds faster than typical pancake style compressors).

Does anyone have reasons I should not go with the oil-lubed Husky mentioned in my last post? I’m hoping to act fast in order to use it for a spoons project. But, I hope to not act stupid in the process.

Or, does anyone have recommendations in the <$600 range?

-- Keith - Bolivar, Missouri, ...

View Lee's profile


128 posts in 1077 days

#8 posted 11-18-2016 11:41 PM

Ive had a PUMA 60 gallon 230 volt vertical compressor now for awhile and its been a real work horse, air compressor direct has them for 699 with free shipping and free lift gate truck. and mine says built in USA, don’t know if they still are or not.

-- Colombia Custom Woodworking

View Keith Kelly's profile

Keith Kelly

276 posts in 1863 days

#9 posted 11-19-2016 02:03 AM

So tell me honestly… will I get shunned or lose my LumberJocks association if I do something totally lame and get that oil free husky?

I really like the oil lubed ones, and the more I research them, the higher the price tag becomes. So, as I evaluate my reasons for upgrade, they are only for a better positioned drain and larger capacity. Therefore, if the long term social consequences are minimal, I am leaning towards the $270 one which suits my initial needs, and over the next couple years, plan out a bigger, badder one.

-- Keith - Bolivar, Missouri, ...

View OldCoach's profile


48 posts in 1074 days

#10 posted 11-23-2016 04:37 AM

I bought the Porter Cable 20 gallon oil compressor at Tractor Supply. It was on sale for 299 and I had a 10% off coupon. It replaced an 8 gallon Harbor Freight that was a great little compressor for the abuse I put it through. Haven’t really put it through its paces yet other than small jobs in the shop but I am certain it will keep up with everything I do with a compressor, including HVLP paint gun

-- Play cowboy on weekends and make sawdust in between when not watching football

View Woodbum's profile


834 posts in 3265 days

#11 posted 11-23-2016 11:48 AM

Try California Air Tools. I have a twin cylinder 2 hp twin stack that is really quiet. I know it would be too small for what you need, but they also make bigger ones. I bought mine through Home Depot on line and had it delivered to the store and I picked it up there. Just my humble opinion. Good Luck, Work Safely and Have Fun!

-- "Now I'm just another old guy wearing funny clothes"

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 2646 days

#12 posted 11-23-2016 03:14 PM

My only suggestion is ,when looking to buy an air compressor,don’t be fooled by the advertised horsepower, or the size of the tank, if you are running air tools like grinders,polishers, etc.the higher the CFM (at 90 PSI), the better .
any oil lubricated compressor that provides 12 or higher cfm @ 90 psi is suitable for medium duty use.

I don’t use air tools in my shop,bought a Makita MAc2400,it is alright for my small shop,very compact but powerful enough,the California Air is another decent one to look at so is Rolair.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View CharleyL's profile


223 posts in 3564 days

#13 posted 11-23-2016 03:38 PM

Die grinders, sanders, and sand blasters use a lot of compressed air at 90+ PSI. For the most economy and life of your air compressor you need one that can handle about 2X the cfm that you will be using at their max rated pressure requirements, so the air compressor gets a chance to rest between cycles when using these tools. I couldn’t afford to buy one that big for my shop, but did go with one about 40% bigger than my highest tool cfm need. I bought a 14.8 cfm Ingersol Rand with 80 gal tank and 125 psi max pressure for my shop because I’m not a heavy user of any of these tools. I do occasionally use them, and In 15 years I have not needed more than this, but again, I don’t use these tools very often and never need to run more than one tool at a time.

Look at the cfm and air pressure requirements for your tools and then make a decision on the size and type of air compressor that you need based on this, but pick a size that is large enough to allow the compressor to rest between cycles. Always buy large enough to allow this rest between cycles, maintain it well, and your air compressor will last you a very long time.


View Keith Kelly's profile

Keith Kelly

276 posts in 1863 days

#14 posted 11-23-2016 04:30 PM

You guys have very high standards, and I like them.

I ended up going for the $270 husky for now. As I got into oil-lubed models, $400 became closer to some 240v models, and things kept looking nicer and nicer and pricier and pricier. This Husky is actually a bit quieter than my DeWalt, and turns out to have plenty of air flow for my spoon shaping. I’m able to shape entire spoons without needing to let it build back up. (of course, spoons are small so that doesn’t say much.)

It seems that CFM, tank refill time, etc get much better with 240v (makes sense). So, this $270 one seems to fit the bill/need/want quite well for now. In a couple of years (around the time the warranty expires), I will more than likely sell this and get a nice 240v oil-lubed compressor and pair it with a little portable compressor for odd jobs.

-- Keith - Bolivar, Missouri, ...

View Robin1's profile


137 posts in 1690 days

#15 posted 11-23-2016 04:48 PM

Any of the California Air Ultra Quiet Compressors are excellent units and are VERY quiet. I just bought this one:

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