10 Best Air Compressors under $200 of 2021 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide
Getting an air compressor for your workshop is a wise decision if you want to increase your efficiency and reduce the time spent on your projects. You won’t miss your electrical tools when you make the switch, either. However, buying one requires some homework. Compatibility is a vital factor that can determine if a product is a dealmaker or dealbreaker.
Our guide will walk you through the specs and features of making an informed choice on which air compressor you should buy. We’ll discuss the latest technology and advances in these products that will affect your satisfaction with using this essential unit. We’ve also included detailed reviews that highlight the most important things to consider.
Air compressors aren’t cheap. That makes learning about them essential. Luckily, you’ll find many high-quality products at this price point. Let’s cut the talk and get down to business.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||CRAFTSMAN CMEC6150K Air Compressor||
|PORTER-CABLE C2002 Air Compressor||
|Premium Choice||Campbell Hausfeld Air Compressor w/Shroud||
|BOSTITCH BTFP02012 Pancake Air Compressor||
|Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV Air Compressor||
The 10 Best Air Compressors under $200 – Reviews 2021
1. CRAFTSMAN CMEC6150K Air Compressor – Best Overall
The CRAFTSMAN CMEC6150K Air Compressor is an excellent value on several fronts. It is an oil-free unit, which means it’s maintenance-free, too. It has a 6-gallon tank that is more than adequate for most projects. The setup is easy-peasy. It doesn’t take up a lot of space. The compressor measures 16.5”L x 16.5”W x 17.9”H and weighs 30 pounds, making it portable for some individuals.
The unit is suitable for most small tools, with an output of 2.6 cubic foot per minute (CFM) at 90 pounds per square inch (PSI). The maximum PSI is 150, or at least pretty close to it. You can plug it into a 120-volt outlet. The package includes several useful accessories, such as the PVC air hose and a tire gauge. The manufacturer offers a 1-year limited warranty that only covers defects.
2. PORTER-CABLE C2002 Air Compressor
The PORTER-CABLE C2002 Air Compressor is an excellent choice if you only need the unit and not any accessories. It runs on electricity at 2.6 CFM at 90 PSI. It is quite stable with the attached rubber feet. It also has a drain valve to make emptying it easier. The dimensions are 19”L x 19”W x 18”H with a weight of 30 pounds. It’s portability but bulkier to move, even with the top handle.
The price is right, but that’s because it doesn’t include accessories. They are available but spendy. The compressor is oil-free but relatively loud for what it is. However, two people can use it at the same time to make completing your projects faster. However, it does have a relatively short duty cycle, which isn’t unusual for units with these specs. It has a six-gallon tank.
3. Campbell Hausfeld Air Compressor w/Shroud – Premium Choice
The Campbell Hausfeld Air Compressor w/Shroud gets high marks for its versatility. It operates at both 2 CFM at 90 PSI and 3.2 CFM at 40 PSI. While it’s electric, it’s also portable with the wheel-and-handle design. The tank is 8 gallons, which is more than we typically see at this price range. The unit is large at 25.5”L x 20”W x 11”H. It weighs in at a whopping 54.9 pounds.
The compressor has an oil-free pump, which makes it quiet to operate indoors. The 90 PSI is a tad low for some pneumatic tools. While we loved the wheels, the size of the unit makes it a bit unwieldy to maneuver. Overall, the product is well-made and built to last. It comes with a 1-year limited warranty. Unfortunately, making a claim isn’t the easiest thing to do.
4. BOSTITCH BTFP02012 Pancake Air Compressor
The BOSTITCH BTFP02012 Pancake Air Compressor is another corded electric model that you can use indoors with no worries of fumes. Its size is decent for smaller areas at 17”L x 17”W x 19.25”H. The 6-gallon unit comes in at 31 pounds. The specs are inline for smaller jobs using less powerful tools at 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI. It is also oil-free.
The noise level is a bit higher at 80 dBA for a product of its type. Most that we reviewed hovered around 70 dBA. However, it’s not outrageous by any means. Two people can use it at the same time, which is always a plus. We didn’t like the fact that it was louder than comparable models of this type. It’s something that can put it in the dealbreaker category for some uses.
5. Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV Air Compressor
The Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV Air Compressor is a product designed for smaller tools where you don’t need a lot of muscle. That’s evident with the maximum PSI and CFM. It’s fine for inflating tires, but not a lot more. That makes it an expensive tool in terms of versatility. On the positive side, it includes some useful accessories, such as the air hoses. It also has a small footprint.
The compressor is lightweight, weighing only 21 pounds. Its dimensions are 15.7”L x 7.9”W x 19.6”H. However, it has a decent duty cycle of 75%, which suits its use. At that rate, you can get a lot of work done. While it’s oil-less, it’s louder than we would prefer. Nevertheless, it’s a reasonable option for someone who is new to these products. It comes with a 1-year limited warranty.
6. DEWALT DWFP55126 Pancake Air Compressor
The DEWALT DWFP55126 Pancake Air Compressor is another versatile product that runs at 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI and 3.7 at 40 PSI. You can do a lot of things with this product. It is oil-free, which cuts down on your maintenance. It has a drain valve to make emptying it easier. There are also larger rubber feet on the bottom, which improves its stability.
The unit is a decent size at 17.2”L x 16.6”W x 20.1”H, weighing 32 pounds. The noise level is a little higher than comparable products. Unfortunately, there are the occasional quality control issues. It makes it worse because the customer service is less than stellar. It comes with a 1-year limited warranty.
7. California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S Air Compressor
The California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S Air Compressor is a decent product for small jobs but falls short for larger ones, given the cost. After all, it only has a 1-gallon tank. On the other hand, it’s portable, with dimensions of 12.5”L x 14.7”W x 14.8”H. While you’d expect it to weigh less, it comes in a 20 pounds. However, it’s especially quiet and only as loud as your fridge at 56 dBA.
The compressor delivers 1.2 CFM at 90 PSI, making it appropriate for smaller tools only. However, it’s a decent option if you need one for tasks like inflating and brad nails. It has a small footprint and won’t take up a lot of space. It doesn’t include any accessories, making it an expensive purchase.
8. Senco PC1010 Air Compressor
The Senco PC1010 Air Compressor is another compact model that tries to be more user-friendly with a cushioned handle for portability. It is a corded electric model, coming in at 14”L x 13”W x 10”H. This one weighs only 20 pounds. It’s also quiet, which is always a desirable feature in these products. This unit is appropriate only for small jobs with a 1-HP motor.
As expected, the compressor is oil-less for maintenance-free usage. That makes it an excellent choice for the hobbyist who doesn’t need a beast to power his tools. It comes with a 1-year warranty.
9. WEN 2202 Portable Vertical Air Compressor
The WEN 2202 Portable Vertical Air Compressor is the only oil-lubricated product on our list. This one is a beast at 19.5”L x 17.5”W x 42”H. While large, it is also portable with wheels and a handle to move it wherever you need power. That’s a good thing because it’s heavy at 86 pounds. The airflow rates are respectable at 3.8 CFM at 90 PSI and 5.0 CFM at 40 PSI. You’ll get a lot of use with this product.
Unlike the other compressors we reviewed, this one comes with a 2-year warranty instead of the usual 1-year one. The learning curve is higher with this product but not unusual, given its type. It’s also loud, which is another downside of these compressors. However, it’s versatile with its wide CFM/PSI ranges. It’s a better choice if you use pneumatic tools for a variety of projects.
10. Makita MAC210Q Electric Air Compressor
The Makita MAC210Q Electric Air Compressor stands out as an expensive option, given its specs. It has only a 2-gallon tank with a maximum of 135 PSI. It’s larger for what it is at 17.5”L x 18.3”W x 14.8”H. It is a corded electric model that is oil-free. It’s maintenance-free, but it’s also heavy at 44 lbs. It’s a bit of a disconnect, considering the size of the tank.
On the positive side, it’s quiet, which we’d expect from an oil-free compressor. It’s well-made, but we have to balance that fact with its weight and portability. It misses the mark on both scores. We have to factor in the cost, given the lower versatility of this model. We don’t see it as a value purchase when you think about its use, and the time it’ll save.
Getting an air compressor is an excellent investment for those who want to take their DIY to the next level. Tools that you can use with this device are more powerful and efficient than ones you plug into an outlet. However, there are several things to consider before you take the plunge. The best place to start is with the type of projects you do and what tools you use.
Terms to Know
We’ll start with some specs. Two that you need to know are cubic feet per minute (CFM) and pounds per square inch (PSI). The first term describes the amount of air that the compressor provides at a given PSI. The two have an inverse relationship. When one goes up, the other goes down. It’s essential to know the specifications of the tools you typically use to choose a product that can operate them properly.
For example, a small impact wrench will run between 2.5–3.5 CFM at 90 PSI. On the other hand, a rotational sander can require up to 12.5 CFM. The other thing to consider is the duty cycle of the compressor. This figure tells you how long you can run it in a 10-minute period. If it’s 25% then, you can go 2.5 minutes at a stretch.
You may also see the spec, standard cubic feet per minute (SCFM). CFM is a general measurement of airflow. On the other hand, SCFM provides a more accurate estimate because it’s determined under controlled conditions. It is often higher than CFM as a result.
Think about the types of tools you use. This duty cycle is suitable for the stuff you’ll use intermittently, such as a nail gun. However, it can be problematic for something you’ll operate longer times, like a grinder. We suggest using the specs of the one with the highest CFM and adding 50%. If you anticipate adding to your workshop, consider the figures for anything else you might get, too.
Other things to take into account include:
Kinds of Air Compressors
We can approach this topic from several angles. You’ll find models that are either horizontal or vertical. This feature is often critical if space is a consideration. A vertical unit will take up less real estate. A stacked horizontal one is also a space saver. Another option is a pancake air compressor. The name refers to the shape of the tank, which sits on the bottom.
You must also think about portability. If you have a dedicated workspace, it may not be a dealbreaker. However, size and weight are essential if you’re going to take it to a job site. A wheelbarrow air compressor offers an excellent compromise between size and portability. It’s worth considering if you need a more powerful unit.
Gas or Electric
The choice between gas and electricity often rests on two factors: the availability of electricity and noise level. If you work in the house, the former is a non-issue—as long as you have the right outlet. A 120-volt one can handle compressors with about 2 horsepower (HP). A 220-volt outlet can go up to 5 HP. The difference determines the maximum PSI that the compressor can deliver.
Again, it goes back to the tools you’re running.
If you do mainly indoor work, an electric compressor offers a game-changing advantage. It’s much quieter with the gasoline fumes. The choice between the two power supplies also plays a role in maintenance. Electric has the edge on this score. On the downside, you must have the juice to run it. The place you’re working at must also be dry.
Several factors come into play when discussing the type of drive for a compressor. Noise is one valid consideration, depending on where you work. You must also think about portability and cost. We’ll also include lifespan since this tool is a significant investment. The direct-drive models are on the low-end of the spectrum.
They are affordable. If you get one with a low rotations per minute (RPM), they are also less noisy. On the downside, ones with a higher RPM won’t last as long. Air compressors generate a lot of heat, anyway. Ramping up the RPMs is going to take a toll quicker. A belt-drive compressor doesn’t hook up to the engine’s shaft like the previous type. It also runs quieter because it doesn’t spin as fast.
Oil or Oil-Free
Compressors that use oil are often less loud, which gives them a solid advantage over oil-free models. However, there is more maintenance with this type. That can, in turn, affect its lifespan if you’re not diligent about checking the oil level often. They are also messy to use, as the name suggests.
It’s essential to understand that the function of the tank is the storage of the compressed air. As long as the unit is running, you’ll have a reliable supply. That may take this feature off of the dealbreaker table for some buyers. Bear in mind that many products are cast-iron. Therefore, it’s vital to weigh all these factors with how you plan on using this tool.
Moisture is often an issue with air compressors simply because of its functionality. To get the most out of your purchase, choose one that has some system for dealing with the condensation, whether it’s a drain valve, desiccant, or moisture trap.
Many manufacturers beef up the desirability of their products with accessories. However, it is the proverbial double-edged sword. It’s a good thing if they include stuff you’ll use. It’s also imperative that they are well-made. We like that you’ll know everything fits and works together correctly. Nonetheless, it’s essential that they don’t detract from the quality of the air compressor.
At the very least, look for products that have the air hoses. It’ll save you a lot of hassle and money in the long run.
A money-back guarantee is a must-have in our book. Things happen, such as the infamous quality-control issue. A reputable manufacturer will stand behind their products with this feature. We prefer air compressors that include some type of warranty. Our advice is to read the fine print. Make sure that return shipping is covered, too. Even a portable compressor is quite heavy.
Other air-compressor related guides:
The CRAFTSMAN CMEC6150K Air Compressor took the top spot in our reviews as the best overall product. It is easy to put together, so you can get to work right away. It is well-designed with quality materials. We also liked the fact that it came with useful accessories for some of the most common tasks.
The PORTER-CABLE C2002 Air Compressor was the best value for our money. The pancake body shape and rubber feet give it the stability it needs. The oil-free pump and drain valve make maintenance a piece of cake, too. It’s an excellent choice for the DIYer.
Air compressors have revolutionized DIY projects by bringing more power to the table with more efficient tools. Products in this price range offer a lot of value once you know the features that make a difference in performance. The models on our roundup can make your jobs easier and reduce your work time. That makes the investment worth considering.
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 10 Best Air Compressors under $200 – Reviews 2021
- 1. CRAFTSMAN CMEC6150K Air Compressor – Best Overall
- 2. PORTER-CABLE C2002 Air Compressor
- 3. Campbell Hausfeld Air Compressor w/Shroud – Premium Choice
- 4. BOSTITCH BTFP02012 Pancake Air Compressor
- 5. Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV Air Compressor
- 6. DEWALT DWFP55126 Pancake Air Compressor
- 7. California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S Air Compressor
- 8. Senco PC1010 Air Compressor
- 9. WEN 2202 Portable Vertical Air Compressor
- 10. Makita MAC210Q Electric Air Compressor
- Buyer’s Guide