Best Air Compressors Under $500 (Updated 2021 Guide)

Cody
| Last Updated: January 30, 2021

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Working on a budget can sometimes be tricky, especially when you don't understand if you're getting value for your money.

In the following review, we'll help answer your questions, worries, and recommend some air compressors priced under $500. 

Hoping to cut right to the chase? Below are the best air compressors under $500:

  1. California Air Tools 10020C
  2. Crafstman CMXECXA0232043
  3. Bostitch BTFP3KIT

Comparison of the Best Air Compressors Under $500

Product

Our Rating

Price

California Air Tools 10020C

  • 125 PSI
  • 10 Gallons
  • 110V

Crafstman CMXECXA0232043

  • 175 PSI
  • 20 Gallons
  • 120V

Bostitch BTFP3KIT

  • 150 PSI
  • 6 Gallons
  • 110V

Makita MAC320Q

  • 135 PSI
  • 3 Gallons
  • 110V

DeWalt DWFP55130

  • 200 PSI
  • 2.5 Gallons
  • 120V

Can You Find a Quality Air Compressor Under $500? 

Yes. The products we've featured below are what we believe to be some of the best on the market. Most work with standard tools, from an air hammer, all the way up to a tire inflator. It's always great to find a bargain; Thankfully, we've featured five of these bargains below. 

How to Choose an Air Compressor 

You could easily just purchase an air compressor that we’ve featured. However, it’s always important to know what you’re buying, the section below will explain the key features to look out for before buying. 

PSI Capabilities 

High PSI capacity allows tools to be used with your compressor. The majority of tools require between the ranges of 90 - 150 PSI to operate effectively.  

How Many Gallons? 

If you're using the compressor for small jobs around the home or DIY work, you're better off getting a standard 6 - 8-gallon tank as they'll be more budget-friendly. Larger tanks are better suited in larger projects. 

Decibel Rating

If you live in a residential neighborhood, you'll probably want something on the quieter side around 60 decibels; this can sometimes affect the quality of the model. Larger industrial compressors are at around 80 - 90 decibels.

Review of the Best Air Compressors Under $500 

It's easy to say that these Air Compressors under $500 are out there; it's another thing to actually source them. Thankfully, we've done the hard part for you. Below are some of the best currently available.

Best Overall:
California Air Tools 10020C

PROS

  • Can be easily wheeled around
  • Operates for up to 60 minutes
  • 125 PSI allows use of almost any tool
  • Relatively quiet for an oil-free pump

CONS

  • Overheats quite regularly
  • Is a struggle to lift upstairs weighing 82lbs

Our Review

The oil-free pump ensures that you have minimal maintenance requirements. It's also relatively quiet for a compressor that utilizes an oil-free pump. It operates at only 70 decibels, which is a similar noise to your standard office environment. The 10-gallon tank allows you to operate tools for up to 60 minutes continuously. 

The 125 PSI can accommodate most construction tools' operation, making it a useful asset on a construction site. The wheels allow you to easily transport the 82lb compressor around the construction site. However, the weight really hinders you when trying to take it up slopes or stairs. 

What Makes This Product Stand Out? 

This product by California Air Tools is one of the quietest air compressors that can be used on a construction site without sacrificing quality in terms of what tools can be used. At only 70 decibels, you'd be able to comfortably use this compressor in residential neighborhoods. 

Runner-up:
Crafstman CMXECXA0232043

PROS

  • Little maintenance as it's oil-free
  • Rubber wheels make easier transport
  • Allows for long, continuous operating times
  • Compatible with standard and industrial tools

CONS

  • Operates at 80 decibels, which is relatively loud
  • Awkward to lift upstairs or slopes due to the weight

Our Review

The Craftsman compressor sports a 20-gallon tank with a maximum PSI of 175; you'll be able to use this compressor with various tools like a paint sprayer, drill, wrench, and much more. At 80 decibels, you'll be emitting a sound similar to that of heavy traffic. 

Despite the 82lb weight, the rubber wheels will make transporting the compressor easier. The only issue will be if you're having to carry it up flights of stairs. The oil-free pump means the compressor will require less maintenance than it's an oiled counterpart. 

What Makes This Product Stand Out? 

The selling point of the Craftsman compressor is the 175 PSI capacity. The larger capacity allows users to operate more industrial tools for a more extended period. Despite it being perfect for almost any construction site, the compressor's loud nature is what limits it from taking the top spot. 

Best for the Money:
Bostitch BTFP3KIT

PROS

  • Hose and fittings are included
  • Operates many standard tools
  • You can easily store this compressor
  • Better value for money as you receive extra tools

CONS

  • The weight is on the heavier side
  • Fairly loud for a pancake air compressor

Our Review

This pancake air compressor is easily stored due to its narrow 6-gallon tank. The 150 PSI and dual coupler allow two users to operate standard construction tools. You would mainly use this compressor for DIY projects or chores. It's not a tool that would have a long continuous runtime; therefore, only smaller tasks would suit. 

Considering the compact size, the 42lb weight is what limits this Bostitch compressor. You could find pancake air compressors that weigh less, but they tend to sacrifice quality, which is why we consider this our best value for money compressor.

What Makes This Product Stand Out? 

An essential part of this purchase would be the 3 tool kit that comes with the compressor; receiving these tools saves you a lot of hassle finding compatible tools and money. Once it arrives, you'll be free to go start work with your brad nailer, straight finish nailer, and a heavy-duty crown stapler. 

Honorable Mention:
Makita MAC320Q

PROS

  • The quietest compressor on this list
  • An excellent tool for household chores
  • Roll cage keeps inside components safe
  • Very minimum maintenance with an oil-free pump

CONS

  • 53lbs is massive for a 3-gallon tank

Our Review

The small 3-gallon tank will suit households' day-to-day chores or DIY. A great for small garage workshops or residential areas as the operating noise level is only 60 decibels, the same level as a casual conversation. The oil-free pump allows for little maintenance, meaning you can store and forget about it.

If you are transporting it, the roll cage keeps all inside components safe in an accident. The only downside we found for this compressor is that it weighs 53lbs, which is a lot heavier than you'd expect for such a small tank. 

What Makes This Product Stand Out? 

A 60-decibel compressor is a valuable tool for anyone working in a quiet residential area. It can be used at all times of the day in someone's garage or outdoors without irritating neighbors. Although it has a small tank, it can operate at 135 PSI, allowing you to run many standard tools. 

Editor's Pick:
DeWalt DWFP55130

PROS

  • Easy start-up function
  • Suitable for small construction tasks
  • Lightweight for a horizontal compressor
  • Can be easily stored as it's small and compact

CONS

  • Overheats regularly due to Teflon lubrication

Our Review

The 2.5-gallon tank makes quick work of small construction tasks like nailing or wrenching, operating at a 200 Max PSI, you'll be able to get the job done in no time. The small frame makes for easy storage in most garages or workshops. 

Considering the horizontal design, the 34lb compressor is lightweight for it's kind. What let this product down was that after a few uses, you might soon notice that it can overheat if used continuously, this is due to the Teflon lubrication drying out. Considering all these features, it’s best used for household chores or DIY projects. 

What Makes This Product Stand Out? 

The compressor's weight is it's most vital asset. At only 34lbs, this horizontal tank can provide you with the same high-quality pressure of larger tanks, admittedly without the same runtime. Still, you can count on this lightweight compressor to get the job done on any DIY tasks, or chores. 

Oil vs Oilless Air Compressor - Comparison Overview 

It’s easy to overlook this small difference. However, there are a few advantages and disadvantages to both Oil and Oil-Free air compressors that are important to understand before buying. 

Oil

For the compressor to run effectively, the piston chamber requires oil as the lubrication. Oil air compressors require regular maintenance. The oil air compressors tend to be more durable and last longer. Oil air compressors are also less noisy than their counterparts as they're better lubricated. 

Oil-less 

The piston chamber of this type of compressor is lubricated with Teflon, which removes the need for oil changes, saving on the unnecessary mess. The oil-less compressor tends to be louder as the Teflon eventually dries out, meaning the lifespan on the oil-less compressor is less than its counterpart. 

Air Compressor Safety

Before and during operation, safety should be your number one priority. We’ve outlined a few things to keep in mind in order to prevent accidents and injuries. 

Storage 

To keep your compressor safe to use, you should store it somewhere clean and dry. If it's stored outside or in damp conditions, it can cause electrical problems when in use. 

Routine Check

You should regularly check any fittings, attachments, oil, and power supplies before using your air compressor as one missed safety check can cause damage to both you and your compressor. 

Safety First

When operating your air compressor, regardless of how small or low powered it is, you should be wearing safety glasses and ear protection. Anything as low as 15 PSI can cause severe damage, and any noise over 75 decibels can damage your ears. 

Conclusion 

The key takeaway should be that you can get quality air compressors for under $500. No matter if you're looking for something to run high-powered tools for longer, inflating some bicycle tires or some DIY. As long as you have the patience and knowledge detailed today, you'll be able to find something to suit you. 

People Also Ask

We aim to provide you with all of the information needed to make an informed decision. We understand that a few people might have some additional questions. We've compiled and answered some of the most commonly asked questions. 

How Loud Are Air Compressors?

Oil-less compressors are far louder than their oiled counterparts due to the lubrication method used. You'll notice a range between 60 decibels, similar to an office conversation, and 90 decibels, which is identical to your standard tractor. 

How Long Do Air Compressors Last?

Oiled compressors last longer than oil-less models as their oil is regularly changed. It also depends on how you'll be using your compressor; if you're using it frequently on a construction site, it'll quickly run through its life cycle. Whereas, if you're using it occasionally, it can last up to 20 years. 

What Size Air Compressor Do I Need?

Your tank's size determines how long you can run your tools without the tank needing to refill. The larger the tank, the longer you can use your tools. The compressor will also need to match the minimum CFM of the tool. 

What is a Two-Stage Air Compressor?

A two-stage air compressor provides double the pressure. The second time, the air is sent to a smaller piston, which increases the pressure to around 175 PSI. This allows you to operate more industrial tools that require more PSI

Cody

My name is Cody and I've been a writer for Tool Tango for quite some time now. I've always had a knack for building things with my hands and creative writing, so being able to combine the two has been great. I love being able to give back to the DIY-community, while also learning a thing or two along the way. When I'm not writing, I enjoy watching Netflix with my girlfriend, fishing, and working in the shop.