best air compressor for under 500

Best Air Compressor Under 500

Best Air Compressor Under $500

If you’re shopping for an air compressor, know that you don’t necessarily have to break the bank to get what you need! There are some great air compressor options on the market that are below $500. Take a look at the roundup of models in the article below.

What Is an Air Compressor?

An air compressor is a pneumatic device, which uses a device like an engine or motor to convert power into potential energy that is stored in pressurized air. It forces pressurized air into a storage tank and increases the pressure– once the tank is full, it will shut off. The compressed air can be stored in the tank until it is called into use for various applications, such as powering tools like jackhammers or filling gas cylinders.

Best Air Compressors Under $500

There are lots of great options for inexpensive air compressors– these are typically best for home use, as most have smaller tanks and other such features. However, these air compressors are perfect if you would like to test the waters, or do not need a unit with industrial capacities. Take a look at the different options that we have curated for the below list. 

Makita MAC2400Big Bore Air Compressor

This particular brand is well known for making tools and machinery that are high quality while still being low in price. This air compressor fits the bill perfectly. It features an oil-lubricated pump, meaning that it runs pretty cool and does not wear down quickly. It also has a roll cage construction that is designed to prevent unnecessary damage from being dropped, for example. 

This model has a high-quality air filter, which allows the machine to increase its air intake and improves the total efficiency of the machine. Though it is one of the smaller options, with a 4.2-gallon tank, this air compressor is fit for both home and industrial situations. It also puts out 130 PSI, which is more than enough for a pair of nail guns, for instance.

Some of the pros and cons of this model are as follows:

  • Roll cage
  • Low power draw
  • Cast iron pump
  • Oil lubricated 
  • Quality air filter
  • Small capacity

Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV Air Compressor

The Campbell Hausfeld air compressor model is one of the best values on this list. It has a very small tank, at just 3 gallons, but this tank size should still be able to do everything that you need. Its max is 100 PSI, and it provides plenty of power if you are just in need of something that will help you to take on small projects around the house. In a professional setting, however, it would be best to go with a model that has a higher capacity.

Unlike the model we discussed previously, this one has an oilless pump. What this means for the air compressor is that it will wear down faster than other air compressor options. That being said, this one is maintenance-free and has a motor output that can be relied on. When you are deciding between oil and oil-less pumps, this is truly a matter of your own personal preference. 

Some of the pros and cons for this air compressor can be found in the list below:

  • Inexpensive
  • Oil less pump
  • Decently powerful
  • Ten different accessories included in the kit
  • Small 

Craftsman CMEC6150K Air Compressor

The Craftsman CMEC6150K air compressor is one of the cheapest on this list, so it is a great choice for the homeowner on a very tight budget. That being said, it does not necessarily mean that it is the best option out on the market. It is pancake-shaped, which makes it easier to move around and store. The model has a 6-gallon tank capacity and a 150 max PSI.

However, though it is said to have a max of 150 PSI, it typically does not reach quite as high as it says that it does. This air compressor also works in standard outlets and offers a limited one-year warranty.

Some of this model’s features are as follows:

  • 6 gallon capacity
  • 1 year limited warranty
  • Pancake shaped
  • 13 accessories included in the kit
  • Not a reliable PSI

Industrial Air IL1682066.MN Belt Driven Air Compressor

In contrast to many of the models on this list, this air compressor is more expensive, while still being under $500. However, if you can spring for this slightly more expensive model, it is considered to be the best available within this price range. It features a 1.6 HP induction motor that can either be used in a standard 120-volt outlet or can be converted to work in a 240-volt outlet. The model delivers 135 max PSI, which is higher than the max output of most of the other options on this list.

This model is also one of the larger options on this list. It has a 20-gallon capacity tank and is made of cast iron, so it will last for a long time without suffering any sort of damage. Additionally, it has an oil-lubricated pump that also helps it to last longer. While it is large, it has pneumatic tires so that you can easily move it around your shop if need be.

Some of this model’s features are outlined below:

  • Oil lubricated pump
  • 20 gallon capacity
  • 135 max PSI
  • Compatible with 120 volt and 240 volt outlets
  • Expensive

BOSTITCH BTFPO2012 Pancake Air Compressor

Like the Craftsman air compressor model that we discussed previously on this list, this model is pancake-shaped. The shape makes storage easy, and also ensures that the air compressor fits in many different spaces and can easily stay out of the way while you are working. This model is about average for air compressors in this price range. It has a 6-gallon tank and can reach around 150 PSI. Again, like the Craftsman air compressor, it typically does not reach 150 PSI as it says it will.

This model in particular runs fairly quietly and has a high-efficiency motor, which is easy to start even in cold weather. It is an oil-free air compressor, so will not last as long as the models that do use oil, but on the other hand, it also requires less maintenance.

Some of this model’s key characteristics are as follows:

  • High efficiency motor
  • 150 max PSI
  • Oil free 
  • Unreliable max PSI

Senco PC1010 Air Compressor

The Senco PC1010 is a great air compressor option, as it is very lightweight and portable. However, on the flip side, it is very small, with only a 1-gallon tank. This is the tradeoff for it being so lightweight. Because of its size, this model is not suited for all home projects like many of the others on this list. Instead, it will only be useful for smaller projects, such as filing up balls, for instance, and is, therefore, better for homeowners who simply want an air compressor for hobbies or crafts.

The model does come with a one-year warranty and is fairly durable. Some users have complained about the location of the switch, which is placed under the handle and therefore a bit difficult to reach. 

The pros and cons of this model are below:

  • One year warranty
  • Very portable and lightweight
  • Strange and inconvenient location for switch

California Air Tools 10020C Air Compressor 

This particular model has a 10-gallon tank and is also situated on wheels, so it is easier to move around than some of the other options on this list. In addition, it is fairly quiet when it is being run. However, the run time for this air compressor is only around an hour, so it is best for homeowners who do not need to use it for long projects. 

This model is not the most durable on the list, though. It is oil-free, so it will deteriorate faster than oil pump models, and some of its components are of lower quality, so they may not stand the test of time. 

The qualities of this model are as follows:

  • Quiet
  • 10 gallon capacity
  • Decent motor
  • Low quality components

Frequently Asked Questions

Which brand of air compressor is best?

Some of the top air compressor brands are California Air Tools, Craftsman, and Bostitch. 

What size air compressor is best for home use?

If you are using an air compressor for your home, a compressor with a capacity of 5-6 CFM is best. A 10-gallon tank is great for home use as well because it prevents you from having to wait for the compressor to refill every couple of minutes.

What are the top 5 air compressors?

Some of the top 5 air compressor brands are Industrial Air, Briggs & Stratton, Quincy, California Air Tools, and Craftsman. 

What is the best psi for an air compressor?

Air compressors that are light-duty typically have 90 psi. This is usually enough for pneumatic tools which are suited for simple household tasks, like nailers.