I need a new air compressor. (UPDATED)

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Forum topic by MrRon posted 10-21-2013 07:12 PM 5467 views 1 time favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4718 posts in 3210 days

10-21-2013 07:12 PM

I need a new air compressor. NO oil-less compressors need apply. I know there are hundreds of air compressors out there, but the main requirement; it has to be QUIET. I have a belt driven Ingersol Rand that fits the QUIET requirement, but I gave it to my son. I don’t need the capacity. My requirements are: adequate for pin, brad and staple guns; somewhere in the 2-3 CFM range. I looked at some of the direct drive compressors; the ones that have the pump attached to the end of the motor and run at high speed. They are cheaper than the belt driven pumps, but are much more noisey. What is the quietiest air compressor around? I’ve scanned catalogs on-line, but few state decibel level. This will be a very useful topic. One of the major concerns for most people is noise. Thank you.

18 replies so far

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1519 posts in 4091 days

#1 posted 10-21-2013 08:04 PM

I have a super loud Thomas AirPac that I got off of craigslist, but at some point one of the tubing fittings developed a stress fracture and I was trying to use that as an excuse to buy a new compressor. I ended up just fixing it for $5, but in the mean-time I started lusting after the Rolair Systems JC-10. Allegedly 60dB when it’s running.

Here’s a video review of it.

Apparently the diaphragms can go bad and need replacing, and it’s relatively low volume, but for running pin nailers in a home shop, man that sucker looks sweet.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View redSLED's profile


790 posts in 1859 days

#2 posted 10-21-2013 08:11 PM

I’m waiting for my annoyingly loud oil-less bargain compressor to die before buying a better one. In the under 5 gallon range of oil-lubed compressors, I’ve read often the Makita models are reasonably quiet by small compressor standards – that’s what I will be getting.

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5620 posts in 2779 days

#3 posted 10-21-2013 08:21 PM

I have an old Speed-Aire that is still going strong after 23 years. I think I have changed the oil a half dozen times, and that is it. It just keeps on going.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View jscottc's profile


2 posts in 1705 days

#4 posted 10-21-2013 11:09 PM

I believe California Air Tools has an oil lubricated model that is very quiet. They also have oil free models that are also quiet. Amazon has videos with most of the models showing them run side by side with other units.

View AandCstyle's profile


3027 posts in 2223 days

#5 posted 10-22-2013 12:52 AM

Mr Ron, I know that you don’t want an oil-less compressor, but take a look at this one. At 60 decibels it is comparable to conversational speech. I don’t think you can do any better than the Rolair brand. HTH

-- Art

View Garry's profile


103 posts in 1682 days

#6 posted 10-22-2013 01:29 AM

I have the Makita MAC700 in redSLED’s second photo and I’m very happy with it. It’s very quiet and has plenty or air for my needs. Small and tucks out of the way. Added a hose and fittings from HD and it was reasonably priced. I think it would fit your needs nicely.

-- Garry, North Carolina woodworker and engineer - The journey you're preparing for has already begun.

View PaulDoug's profile


1511 posts in 1670 days

#7 posted 10-22-2013 02:34 AM

There was another thread here about this. One that was listed, that really impressed me, because it was so quiet. Review of it here:

-- “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk

View JayT's profile


5588 posts in 2177 days

#8 posted 10-22-2013 02:44 AM

The quietest compressor I’ve ever been around is a MAC700, unfortunately it wasn’t mine :-( It was being used by a contractor and I was amazed at the low sound levels. Definitely at the top of the list for when I replace my loud pancake compressor.

To be fair, I know the Rolair’s have a great reputation, I just haven’t been around one in person yet.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 3513 days

#9 posted 10-22-2013 02:46 AM

I have the Rolair VT25BIG and have heard nothing but good about Rolair myself. We paid just short of 400.00 for it, mostly based on specs and name brand. I have a feeling that the stated 6.5 CFM output was exaggerated. It has left a bad taste for me concerning the Rolair brand, however your needs for nail guns are much less than what we require so a nice Rolair might be just fine.

I looked at the California Air Tools web site mentioned above and they look good. But never know.

-- .

View NiteWalker's profile


2736 posts in 2543 days

#10 posted 10-22-2013 04:25 AM

Rolair JC10.
It exceeds all your needs.
High points include 69db (even quieter than the makita compressors, which I have one of), portability and 70% duty cycle. It’s a winner.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View kizerpea's profile


774 posts in 2334 days

#11 posted 10-22-2013 01:00 PM

emglo em-810-4m 83 db noise rating


View MrRon's profile (online now)


4718 posts in 3210 days

#12 posted 10-24-2013 09:55 PM

I researched all the air compressors on the net and came up conclusively with the Rolair JC-10. It is an oil-free compressor, but it’s design is totally different from the pancake and direct drive oil-free compressors, like PC, CH, HF, Sears, Ridgid, Senco, etc. It uses two compressor heads that use a diaphram instead of a piston. The motor is an induction type that runs at around 1600 rpm that results in a very quiet (60 db) sound level The pancake compressors are about 90-95 db, so there is quiet a difference. I watched the demos on U-tube and that was enough to convince me the Rolair JC-10 is the right one for me. There are several “quiet” compressors on the market that use the same system as Rolair and sell for anywhere from 20 to 40 dollars less. Rolair is considered the top-of-the-line in this type of compressor. I will be getting one and after I’ve used it a while, I will post a review. Thanks all for moving me in the right direction.

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2937 days

#13 posted 10-25-2013 02:47 AM

+1 on the Rolair. I posted about it on here a few months ago.
The low speed really makes it quiet, and the double head makes up for the low capacity of the low speed.

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 2039 days

#14 posted 10-25-2013 05:41 PM

I have 4 of the MAC’s my vote will always be makita on this one.. and they also have a huge piston for high fill pressure.

-- Who is John Galt?

View Oosik's profile


126 posts in 1649 days

#15 posted 10-25-2013 07:37 PM

What makes Rolair better than California air tools that you can get a bigger compressor for the same price as the JC10?

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