Air compressors are versatile pieces of equipment used to power a huge array of tools. From pumping up a flat tire to running construction tools, to air impact tools, to spray painting and sandblasting, they make many jobs quicker, easier, and more efficient. And until recently, air compressors invariably made some of those jobs loud. Many manufacturers are now incorporating ‘Quiet’ into their compressors. Here are 11 of the quietest–divided into the most popular and usable tank sizes.
|Top 6 Quietest Air Compressors
|Why It's Best
|Makita MAC700 2 HP Air Compressor
|Solid, well-built, durable compressor. Oil lubrication and serious air filter. Outperforms expectations.
|California Air Tools Ultra Quiet Compressor
|Only 56 decibels and 34 lbs. Ideal for small air tool use around the house and garage.
|STEALTH Ultra Quiet Air Compressor
|64 decibels. 4.5 gallon dual tank. Maximum 150 PSI. Rubber wheels and telescoping handle.
|STEALTH 2 Gallon Ultra Quiet Compressor
|Ultra quiet 20 gallon air compressor produces only 68 decibels. Fast recovery time - empty tank to full tank in 70 seconds. Lifetime limited warranty.
|Quincy QT-54 sixty gallon air compressor
|60 gallon air compressor with 5 HP motor. Working pressure is 145 - 175 PSI. Pump life of 50,000+ hours. Manufactured in the USA.
Quiet Air Compressors – Choosing the Right Size
Just a little information on picking the correct air compressor for your needs. There is absolutely no benefit to choosing one gallon, inexpensive compressor for its low decibel rating, then hooking up a 100 feet of hose and a 3″ construction spiker to it. The poor thing will run constantly, trying to keep up (making noise constantly) until all the smoke comes out of it. And it quits.
Here are 4 of the more important considerations when choosing an air compressor.
Note: Please see the article ‘What Size Air Compressor Do I Need?’ including an Air Compressor tool Size Chart for more details.
Cubic Feet Per Minute (CFM)
CFM refers to the amount of air a tool requires to be delivered to it constantly–to ensure efficient operation. Framing nailers and impact wrenches use a lot of air each time the trigger is pulled. A small compressor may produce the amount of air required, but a small tank will not have the required amount of backup. So it will have to run constantly, trying to keep up.
Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI)
PSI refers to air pressure–how much force the delivered air has when it reaches the tool. To my knowledge, all air compressors are equipped with an output pressure adjustment knob and gauge. Adjusting the output pressure to your tool requirements allows the tool to work more efficiently, and the compressor will usually run less.
Note: Proper pressure adjustment quite often takes some experience with the tool, compressor, and material. For instance, I need to set the PSI on my compressor at 75 to brad nail pine or MDF trim. Anything higher will drive the brad right through the material. If I am installing 3/4″ solid oak architrave, the pressure needs to be close to 120 PSI to get a 2″ brad all the way through and countersunk. (At 75 PSI, the brad goes partway into the wood, jambs in the gun, and causes some really nasty words–because I am usually holding it above my head in the perfect position and have to take everything down to clear the jamb and adjust the pressure.)
Tank size refers to the container that stores compressed air ready for use. Generally speaking, the bigger the tank, the fewer times your compressor motor will have to kick in. Larger tanks should come with more powerful compressors to produce greater amounts of CFM and PSI. Unless you are using a heck of a lot of air constantly, larger compressors on larger tanks will run longer each cycle, but fewer times.
Quiet Air Compressors and Air Tools
Every air tool you own or plan to buy should provide both the operating CFM and operating PSI. When you factor in the amount you plan to use the thing, you will have a pretty good idea of the air compressor sizes you need to be looking at. Depending on tool size and use, you may also want a bigger diameter hose. Sometimes a 1/4″ (fairly standard quick-coupler size) is not quite enough.
Using a tool that overpowers your compressor can be frustrating. Lack of pressure will jamb nailers–even brad nailers–and standing around waiting while your compressor builds up enough pressure to allow you to pull the trigger again can result in something getting thrown across the job site. Likely meaning a needless repair bill.
Note: A suggestion gleaned from personal experience. Whatever size of air compressor you decide you need, add 50%. Unless you are absolutely certain, all you will ever do with it is use a brad nailer for a little trim work. Because once you have a compressor, I almost guarantee you will find an excuse to buy a framing spiker/stapler, an impact wrench, a bigger impact wrench, a roofing nailer, etc. They just work so well for so many applications–and give you the excuse to buy more tools.
5 Best Quiet Portable Air Compressors
For the purposes of this article, I am going to define portable as anything with a tank under 10 gallons. I know many of the larger tank designs come with wheels and handles, but if I can’t grab it and carry it 100 yards without grunting, portable may be false advertising.
And realistically, even the 80-gallon tank air compressors are portable–if you have a forklift and truck.
1) Makita Mac700 2.0 H.P. Air Compressor
The Makita Mac700 Big Bore 2.0 H.P. air compressor is not the quietest product in this list. But it is the one I use. For the last 10 years. It is rated at 80 decibels–about the noise of a garbage disposal or a dishwasher–, but it does not run continuously like a dishwasher, just short and sweet to get the tank full. A little heavy at 60 lbs. (probably partially due to a cast iron pump), but easy to carry. I have hauled it into and out of more houses than I can remember when casing windows and did not pant too much. It is also a little top-heavy so strap it down when transporting it.
The Big Bore cylinder and piston fills the tank quickly at a lower RPM (1750 RPM) while producing a lower decibel level (80 decibels). Shorter and fewer strokes per tank fill extend the life of the machine and uses less electricity. One of the largest motors available on a small-tank compressor enables it to refill quickly.
Delivers 3.3 CFM at 90 PSI and 3.8 CFM at 40 PSI. Maximum pressure in a 2.6-gallon tank is 130 lbs. 2.0 horsepower engine has never tripped the breaker on me, although it really appreciates being warmed up before starting at 20 below zero.
Overall, a solid, well-built, durable air compressor is well worth the investment. With oil lubrication and a serious air filter, you will have a long-lasting tool that performs better than expectations.
- One of the best, most durable air compressors I have ever owned.
- 80-decibel rating.
- Weighs 60 lbs. with convenient ‘roll-bar carry handle.
- Low 1750 RPM.
- Delivers 3.3 CFM @ 90 PSI/3.8 CFM @ 40 PSI.
- 2.0 HP motor.
- 2.6 gallon ‘hot dog’ tank.
- 1-year warranty.
The Not so Good
- Louder than some of the competition–although I do not find it obnoxious, and some reviews also mention how quiet it is. Think dishwasher noise.
- Fairly heavy at 60 lbs.
2) California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S Air Compressor
Although not as big or powerful as any of the other air compressors listed here, the California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S Light & Quiet Portable Air Compressor is a quiet DIY dream for small air requirements, like filling tires, blowing up beds, balls, and toys, blowing out computers, and doing trim work that only requires small intermittent air, such as a brad nailer. Producing an ultra-quiet 56 decibels of sound (less than normal conversation), it is ideal for in-house or garage use.
The relatively small .6 horsepower motor operates at 1680 RPM but works very quickly. Fills the one-gallon tank from empty to full in 50 seconds. Recovery time to refill tank from 90 PSI to 120 PSI is 15 seconds. Delivers 1.2 CFM @ 90 PSI. Weighs only 34 lbs. making it easy to move around. An oil-free single-piston pump is designed to have a ‘before wear’ lifecycle of over 3000 hours. Generally, oil-free pumps require less maintenance, cost less to operate, and will work better in colder weather.
Note #1: The manufacturer and/or Amazon state the weight at 20, 29, and 34 pounds. One review stated the ‘ship weight’ was 36 pounds. I chose 34 lbs. as a realistic weight.
Note #2: The manufacturer also states that the compressor will handle a nail gun. This is a little overly optimistic, in my opinion. My nailer requires a lot of air at 120 PSI. After about 4 shots, this poor little thing will run continuously trying to keep up–until it just gives up and burns out. I also suspect the fifth shot will jamb half in the wood and half in the nailer. (Make sure you disconnect the air hose before clearing the jamb. I have 2 friends who ignored that and have lived a lot of years with only one eye.)
- Inexpensive, quiet compressor for light use.
- Ultra-quiet 56 decibels.
- Very light at 34 lbs. Easy to transport.
- Low 1680 RPM.
- Delivers 1.2 CFM @ 90 PSI. 1.6 CFM @ 40 PSI.
- Powerful .6 HP (rated horsepower) motor fills tank quickly. (Peak horsepower is 1.2)
- 1-year warranty.
The Not so Good
- Small 1 gallon tank capacity limits versatility.
3) Makita Mac2400 2.5 HP Air Compressor
The Makita Mac2400 2.5 HP Air Compressor is a dual-stacked tank machine with a total capacity of 4.2 gallons. The design and power of the Big Bore motor will sustain an operating pressure of 130PSI. At 79 decibels, it is a quiet air compressor that delivers industrial power. More than enough to keep 2 nailers going at the same time. Solid, compact ‘roll cage’ design provides durability and protection for the components.
The Mac2400 delivers 4.8 CFM @ 40 PSI and 4.2 CFM @ 90 PSI while running on a standard 15 Amp plug. (Note: For best performance, use more hose–not more extension cord. Longer extension cords lose power; longer air hose does not lose PSI.) Comes with a carrying handle as part of roll cage. Fairly hefty at 77 lbs.
The Big Bore cast iron cylinder design reduces RPM to 1750, reduces recovery time, and produces less noise. (Shorter recovery times=less noise.) This is an oil-lubricated machine that, combined with copper finned discharge tube, reduces machine heat and water accumulation in the tank. Extra-large ball drain valve empties tanks quickly and efficiently.
- Solid mid-range portable compressor–powerful enough for job sites, quiet enough for home use.
- Quiet 79 decibels–same volume as garbage disposal or dishwasher.
- Low 1750 RPM.
- Delivers 4.8 CFM @ 40 PSI/4.2 CFM @ 90 PSI.
- Large automotive-style air filter for better air intake.
- 4.2 gallon capacity in 2 tanks.
- 1-year warranty.
The Not so Good
- A little heavy at 77 lbs.
4) California Air Tools 8 Gallon Electric Air Compressor
The California Air Tools 8 Gallon Electric Air Compressor is an ultra-quiet 8-gallon tank compressor. It comes with a 1.0 HP (rated) motor that peaks at 2.0 HP. It operates a 1680 RPM and is designed for 3000 hours plus before beginning to wear. The oil-free pump not only needs less maintenance, therefore lowering costs, but it also operates at a mere 60 decibels–the sound of normal conversation.
The maximum pressure is 120 PSI. It produces 3.1 CFM @40 PSI and 2.2 CFM @ 90 PSI. It requires 165 seconds to fill the 8-gallon tank from empty to 120 PSI. Recovery time from 90 PSI to 120 PSI is 60 seconds. Complete with wheels and handles for easy moving or lifting.
Note: The name on Amazon site says ‘aluminum’ tank, but the detail write-up calls it a ‘steel’ tank. The weight is given as 37 pounds. California Air Tools website states it is a steel tank and weighs 48 pounds. I admit to being a little confused but have more faith in the manufacturer’s website.
- Solid mid-range air compressor with large tank for plenty of air reserve.
- Ultra-quiet for an air compressor at 60 decibels–sound of normal conversation.
- Ideal for interior work where quiet is important.
- Low 1680 RPM.
- Delivers 3.1 CFM @ 40 PSI/2.2 CFM @ 90 PSI.
- 8-gallon tank.
- Weighs only 48 lbs. c/w wheels and handle.
- 1-year warranty.
The Not so Good
- A little confusion over tank material and product weight.
- Fairly slow recovery time–even for a big tank
5) Stealth Ultra-Quiet 4.5 Gallon Portable Air Compressor
The Stealth Ultra-Quiet 4.5 Gallon Portable Air Compressor produces only 64 decibels of sound (a little louder than normal conversation). At 61.7 lbs. it is a little heavier than most portables, but the full handle and 6″ rubber wheels make it easy to move around–even on job sites. An oil-free dual-piston pump provides long life and virtually no maintenance. Twin tank capacity is 4.5 gallons with a maximum PSI of 150. This is a very good quiet machine that can be used at home or on job sites with confidence.
The 1.3 HP motor produces 3 CFM @ 90 PSI and 4 CFM @ 40 PSI–enough for most tools if not used continuously. Runs on 120 volts/15 amp standard residential wiring. Just plug it into any outlet and turn it on. Quick fill time–empty to full in 70 seconds. Has very accessible controls on the top of the unit and a drain cock on the bottom tank to get rid of condensation.
Note: You may want to add a Y or T dual quick coupler. I usually use one tool at a time but hate dragging hose around if I don’t have to. Run a hose to each location and attach whatever tool you are using.
- A small but powerful portable compressor delivering lots of air for its size.
- 64 decibels of sound–slightly more than normal conversation.
- Delivers 3 CFM @ 90 PSI/4 CFM @ 40 PSI. Maximum pressure 150 PSI.
- 4.5-gallon tank.
- Weighs 61.7 lbs.
- Telescoping handle.
- Limited lifetime warranty provided by US company.
The Not so Good
- Single quick coupler.
2 Best Quiet 20 Gallon Air Compressors
I would classify 20-gallon air compressors as tweeners. They are portable, equipped with wheels and handles, but at over 100 pounds, you are not likely to pick one up and sling it into the back of your truck with ease. Although heavy, they are an excellent job site air compressor. They provide significant air at a decent working pressure, with plenty of tank capacity. If you have ever been around a good roofing or framing crew working flat out, you have some idea of how much air a couple of air guns go through every minute. Because of the bigger air tank, the motor is not running as much to refill it.
These are also great for your garage or workshop. Relatively inexpensive, very quiet compared to bigger compressors, but with enough capacity to handle most jobs. They will not take up a lot of space wherever they are positioned yet are still relatively easy to move across the shop, or yard, when and if necessary.
1) Stealth 20 Gallon Ultra Quiet Air Compressor
The Stealth 2 Gallon Ultra Quiet Air Compressor has a working noise level of only 68 decibels. The oil-free 1.8 HP dual piston system provides quiet, quick refills. The manufacturer claims a 70-second fill from empty to full and a lifespan 3 times longer than standard motors. Delivers 6 Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM) of air @40 PSI and 5 CFM @ 90 PSI. Peak Pounds per Square Foot is 150 PSI. This machine delivers enough air with enough pressure to run most air tools–including more than one at a time.
Oil-free induction motor reduces maintenance and cost. Plug into any 15 amp outlet.
Solid steel stand and ‘roll cage’ style motor cover c/w rubber wheels and handle make for a sturdy, safe piece of equipment for both construction sites and workshop. It is designed to stand vertically, so it takes up less space. (Note: Despite the sturdy base and widespread wheel location that provide good stability, make sure you strap it during transport. It is a little top-heavy.) Total weight of 121.4 lbs.
- Good, solid shop or job site air compressor with decent sized tank.
- Ultra-quiet air compressor at 68 decibels–about the noise of your shower, dishwasher, central air conditioning.
- 20-gallon tank
- Plenty of air delivery–6 CFM @40 PSI/5 CFM @ 90 PSI.
- Quick recovery time–70 seconds from empty to full tank.
- Weighs 121 lbs.
- Limited lifetime warranty provided by US company.
The Not so Good
2) North Star 8 Gallon Single Stage Air Compressor
The North Star 8 Gallon Single Stage Air Compressor is an oil-lubricated dual cast iron cylinder V-Twin pump with cast iron heads that helps with heat dissipation. Belt drive helps keep the noise level at 80 decibels–the sound of a garbage disposal or dishwasher. Delivers 6 CFM @ 40 PSI and 5 CFM @ 90 PSI. The 2 HP motor produces up to 135 PSI. Will run most any air tool very efficiently.
The manufacturer claims a pump life of 5000 hours, providing years of trouble-free operation. Comes wired for 115-volt operation but can be rewired for 230 volts. Will plug into any standard 15 amp outlet.
‘Portability Kit’ includes steel ball-bearing wheels and ‘no-flat tires for easy maneuverability. Vertical space-saving design with motor, pump, gauges, controls and quick coupler positioned on top of tank for easy access. Belt and pulleys covered by metal safety shroud. (Note: Make sure it is strapped down in the back of a truck. It is a little top-heavy.) Total weight of 205 lbs.
- Great air compressor for the serious DIY person and good enough for small automotive repair shops or construction job sites.
- Runs at 80 decibels–sound level of a garbage disposal or dishwasher.
- 20-gallon tank.
- 6 CFM @ 40 PSI/5 CFM @ 90 PSI.
- Quick recovery time–less than 2 minutes from empty to full tank.
- Weighs 205 lbs.
- Engineered, assembled, and tested in USA
- Warranty–up to 5 years.
The Not so Good
- Only 1 quick coupler. Will need to add a T or Y double-quick coupler to operate more than one tool.
- A little noisy. However, some reviews are impressed with low noise level.
- Little bit of a brute at 205 lbs.
2 Best Quietest 60 Gallon Air Compressors
Although these compressors are vertical designs, they are very stable and quiet. For a little extra soundproofing, give some consideration to setting them on anti-vibration pads or a sound suppressing mat, then bolting them to the floor to eliminate any chance of movement. (Make sure you position it to give access to the complete unit. Kind of depressing to have the drain valve facing the corner where only your cat can get to it.)
60-gallon air compressors–and bigger–are most often used on commercial premises, like tire shops, autobody shops, cabinet manufacturers, etc. Or by someone who has a serious hobby or works out of her/his garage or shop. These units are not meant to be portable. (No one even offers the option of wheels and a handle.) At well over 400 lbs. it is way easier to add another length of hose.
1) Quincy QT-54 Quiet 60 Gallon Air Compressor
The Quincy QT-54 Quiet 60 Gallon Air Compressor is made in the USA c/w a USA-made industrial-duty Baldor motor. The 5 HP, 230 Volt motor runs at 3450 RPM turning the pump at 1310 RPM producing a working pressure of 145 – 175 PSI. Weighing in at 475 lbs. it is pretty much a stationary air compressor. Position it to give access to power, quick couplers, drain cock, and you are ready to go.
The QT-54 is capable of delivering plenty of air continuously. It will refill the tank while you are working, so there is no waiting for recovery. You can expect 15.4 CFM @ 100 PSI and 15.2 CFM @ 175 PSI. Splash lubrication system helps give the pump an expected lifespan of over 50,000 hours.
Note: All information comes from the Quincy Compressor website. Amazon site differs. I just assumed that the guys who make them have a better handle on the product.
- Excellent quiet air compressor for light industrial and commercial use.
- 60-gallon tank.
- 15.4 CFM @ 100 PSI/15.2 CFM @ 175 CFM–almost no CFM drop-off at higher pressure requirements.
- Pump life 50,000+ hours.
- Weighs 475 lbs.
- Manufactured in the USA.
- Many reviews explicitly comment on the quietness of this compressor.
- One-year standard warranty. Extended warranty available at time of purchase.
The Not so Good
2) NorthStar Quiet High Flow 60 Gallon Air Compressor
The NorthStar High Flow 60 Gallon Air Compressor only puts out 80 decibels of sound (noise of your garbage disposal or dishwasher)–which is a fairly paltry amount for the production you will get. This oil-lubricated cast iron pump is a 3 cylinder design that helps keep it cool. The pump runs at only 920 RPM while the 4.7 HP motor runs at 3450 RPM, helping to keep it quiet. It runs on 230 Volts, so you will have to either have a plug and breaker set up or wire it directly. It weighs 287 lbs. so it is not going anywhere easily. Setting it on anti-vibration pads or an anti-vibration mat and bolting to the floor will help keep it even quieter. Make sure you position it to allow easy access to all couplers, drains, and motors.
It will put out a lot of air–14 CFM @ 90 PSI and 16.1 CFM @ 40 PSI with an operating range of 125 – 155 PSI. Will fill the tank from empty to full in 4.7 minutes.
- Very good, quiet air compressor for serious DIY users or light industrial and commercial use.
- 80 decibels of noise when running–sounds like a garbage disposal or dishwasher.
- 60-gallon tank.
- 14 CFM @ 90 PSI/16.1 CFM @ 40 PSI.
- Weighs 287 lbs.
- Large, silent air intake filters.
- Engineered, assembled, and tested in USA.
- Warranty up to 5 years.
The Not so Good
- Pump life is only 1500 hours.
2 Best Quietest 80 Gallon Air Compressors
80-gallon quiet air compressors are very popular in commercial or industrial settings, such as tire shops, autobody and paint shops, and industrial manufacturing shops where significant amounts of air is required regularly and on-demand. The large tanks store enough air to allow multiple tools to be used at the same time. The large tanks also make sure the compressor is not running near as often as smaller tank units–which is what creates the noise.
These things are heavy and mostly get placed in a shop and are never moved again. (I did not run across any that offered wheels and a handle.) Relocating an 800 lb. compressor sounds like a sling and forklift is required. When setting the compressor up, make sure you allow access to the complete unit to hook up hoses, drain water, change oil, or just to clean around it. Placing it on anti-vibration pads or mat will make it even quieter.
1)Metabo HPT Air Compressor
The Metabo HPT Air Compressor is manufactured to be ultra-quiet at just 59 decibels. It used to be owned by Hitachi Power Tools, but they changed the name recently. A steel roll cage with rubber grips protects all the critical components.
It’s so quiet you can continue to have a conversation while using the air compressor, and it uses an oil-free pump for high durability with low maintenance. It’s made for safety with an integrated control panel and accuracy. The whole thing weighs just 25.2 pounds making it very portable.
Overall, the device measures 14 x 14 x 13.5 and uses electricity to work. You get a one-year warranty with the purchase. Add in an ergonomically shaped rubber carrying handle, and you have a fantastic option.
- Quiet, industrial air compressor designed to last up to 50,000 hours (with proper maintenance).
- Super quiet for a big compressor (59 decibels)
- 1-gallon tank.
- 38 CFM @ 100 PSI.
- Weighs 2532 lbs.
- Automatic drain system.
- Warranty of one year
- Very affordable
- Starter Kit option available
- Ergonomic design
The Not so Good
- Can leak and have reliability issues
2) Dewalt DXCMLA4708065 Quiet 80 Gallon Air Compressor
The Dewalt DXCMLA4708065 80 Gallon Air Compressor only produces 83 decibels of noise–a little more than a garbage disposal or dishwasher. This is an industrial-grade air compressor that produces 16.1 CFM @ 40 PSI and 14 CFM @ 90 PSI from a 4.7 HP motor and a cast iron 3 cylinder oil-lubricated pump. Maximum pressure is 155 PSI making it capable of handling most any air tool requirements.
Motor is a heavy-duty 230-volt induction unit that should be wired into the electrical system. Integrated control panel provides pressure gauges, airflow regulator, relief valve, and 2 quick connect outlets all grouped together for convenience. For added quiet and stability, place the compressor on anti-vibration pads or mat and bolt it to the floor. This unit only weighs 345 lbs. so bolting it down is a good idea.
This is an excellent 80-gallon air compressor for DIY users and weekend mechanics. It is relatively inexpensive but still delivers sufficient air at a decent PSI. It may not be a long-term solution for commercial or industrial shops where lots of tools are used continually.
- Good, quiet, inexpensive 80-gallon air compressor.
- 83 decibel operating noise.
- 80-gallon tank.
- Weighs 345 lbs.
- Delivers 16.1 CFM @ 40 PSI/14 CFM @ 90 PSI.
- Integrated control panel with 2 quick connect outlets.
- Warranty–2-year pump, 1 year all other parts.
The Not so Good
- Not the best warranty available.
- Does not deliver as much air as other 80 gallon units–which may be an issue–depending on your needs.
How We Selected These Quiet Air Compressors
Our selection process took into consideration the following criteria:
- Decibel Levels. We tried to make sure all noise levels are below 80 decibels–the sound of a garbage disposal or dishwasher. See Perdue University chart.
- Personal Needs. We tried to provide choices of quiet air compressors in some of the more popular categories to suit your personal requirements.
- Cost. Most of the compressors listed provide good value for money spent and performance delivered. (One 80 gallon unit is a little pricey but is significantly quieter and delivers a tremendous amount of air at high pressure.)
- Warranty. A good warranty provided by a reputable company should be important to your choice.
- Personal Opinion. One compressor made the list because I own one. And love it.
Best of the Best Quiet Air Compressors
Here are my choices for the best air compressor in each listed category. You may be thinking, “What kind of idiot is this? He only has a couple of machines listed in some categories.” Please keep in mind that I looked at dozens of compressors from which I selected these units as my best quietest choices.
Best Quiet Portable Air Compressor
This is a no-brainer for me. And displays a certain amount of prejudice. Runs at 80 decibels. I have owned a Makita MAC700 Two HP Compressor for about 10 years. Starts every time. Has done everything asked of it. Zero repairs. The Big Bore cast iron compressor has one of the biggest motors available on a small tank portable. Short run times to re-fill the tank. 3.3 CFM @ 90PSI is usually more than enough.
Best Quiet 2 Gallon Air Compressor
The Stealth 2 Gallon Ultra Quiet Air Compressor produces less than 60 decibels of noise. The horizontal tank design comes with a rubber grip handle and a ‘roll cage’ design handle system that protects the operating parts. All gauges and controls on top of the tank for easy access. An oil-free pump, cord wrap, drain valve, along with rubber pads, make this a great bargain for a great price. Limited lifetime warranty.
Best Quiet 60 Gallon Air Compressor
The Quincy QT-54 Quiet 60 Gallon Air Compressor delivers 15.4 CFM @ 100 PSI. Pump has an expected lifespan of 50,000+ hours. 5 HP oil-lubricated motor. Runs on 230 volts. All made in the USA. One year standard warranty/extended warranty available at extra cost.
Best Best 80 Gallon Air Compressor
The Metabo HPT Air Compressor is probably the best quietest air compressor on the list–given the superior production and ‘Whisper Quiet’ 62-decibel noise level. But relatively few people need, or want, an 80-gallon compressor. 10 HP motor delivers 38 CFM @ 100 PSI. Compressor pump designed to last 50,000+ hours. Automatic drain system. Made in the USA. Warranty up to 5 years with extended lifetime warranty available at time of purchase.
FAQs About Quiet Air Compressors
What is the Quietest Portable Air Compressor?
About the quietest portable air compressor, you will find the California Air Tools CAT-1p1060s. It only produces 56 decibels of sound–quieter than normal conversation. But the next question needs to be ‘Will it fit my needs?’ It is a small compressor that is great for tire fills, blowing up toys and beds, and for powering the odd small air tool like a brad nailer.
Do Quiet Air Compressors Really Exist?
Yes. The 11 compressors listed in this article all produce 80 decibels or less–the sound of a garbage disposal or dishwasher. They will sound particularly quiet if you are replacing one that rattles the windows and upsets the neighbors. Even one of the big 80 gallon machines we listed only produces 62 decibels–slightly louder than normal conversation.
Is There a Quiet 20 Gallon Air Compressor?
The Stealth Ultra-Quiet 20 Gallon Air compressor is one of the quietest at 68 decibels of sound–about the noise produced by your shower or dishwasher.
What is the Quietest 80 Gallon Air Compressor?
The EMAX ESP10V080V1 ‘Whisper Series’ 80-gallon air compressor only makes 62 decibels of noise–just slightly louder than a normal conversation–without sacrificing performance (38 CFM @ 100PSI).
What Size Air Compressor do I Need?
The air compressor you need depends totally on what you plan to use it for. Make a list of your perceived needs, then add your potential wish list. Check out the Cubic Feet/Minute and Pounds/Square Inch requirements of the tools you own or want, then compare all of that information to our list of compressors. (There is not much point in buying a 20-gallon machine to blow up a few pool toys and pump up a low tire occasionally.)
What is a Quiet Vertical Air Compressor?
A vertical air compressor is simply designed in such a way that enables the tank to stand on end rather than a horizontal setup. Usually used for compressors that have tanks 20 gallons or bigger. 80-gallon air compressors are around 72″ tall. Much easier to stand the 20″ diameter tank in a corner than to design a horizontal unit that takes up as much floor space as a Smart Car. All of the 20, 60, and 80-gallon units listed above are quiet, vertical air compressors.
Which types of air compressors are the quietest?
Electric air compressors are quieter than gas-powered compressors. Likewise, compressors lubricated with oil are generally quieter than their oil-free counterparts, though it makes maintenance more frequent and time-consuming.
In addition, compressors that reduce vibrational noise help reduce the sound level of the entire unit. Features like rubber feet or rubber wheels are great at dampening vibrations that come from the motor.
Smaller tanks are also quieter than larger tanks, though this comes at the expense of being less powerful and efficient.
Positive displacement air compressors increase air pressure by gradually decreasing the volume.
They generally do not have an automatic shut-off feature, so you have to watch them to ensure they don’t over-pressurize.
Dynamic air compressors, on the other hand, use rotating impellers to pressurize the tank. They are designed to handle larger amounts of air than other types of compressors.
Another consideration is whether you want a gas or electric air compressor. Electric compressors typically use the current in your home, and they produce no fumes. This makes them ideal for indoor use.
Gas-powered compressors, on the other hand, are best for outdoor use due to their increased noise and fume emission.
What is the best indoor air compressor?
The best indoor air compressors for home projects are electric to reduce noise and oil free to minimize mess. A vertical shape is also nice, though not required, because it takes up less storage space.
Smaller tanks also naturally fit better in a limited-space environment than larger tanks.
It also becomes paramount that a compressor is whisper quiet when you are using it indoors. Look specifically for compressors that are under 60 decibels for a worry free experience.
One air compressor that is specifically designed for indoor use is the Timbertech 3 liter compressor.
What should I consider when purchasing an air compressor online?
You might be wary of buying an air compressor from an online vendor, but the process is safer and faster than ever. However, it’s important to keep in mind a few things when buying a piece of equipment online.
First off, think about the size tank you need. Anything over 20 gallons will be difficult to ship and may take longer, though there are some reliable online offerings for air compressors as large as 60 gallons.
If you need an incredibly powerful and large compressor for professional applications, such as use in a mechanic shop, you may be better off purchasing one in person. Yet there are a few commercial models that made this list, such as the 60 gallon California Tools air compressor.
However, if you’re a hobbyist or a layperson, you’ll find it easy to find the perfect compressor for you online. Just make sure to look at the online listing carefully.
Sometimes compressors will come without essential components like hoses and nozzles, so look carefully to make sure you’re buying everything you need.
If you’re looking to use air tools, you can save money by purchasing a package deal that comes with an air compressor and an air tool.
Also, it’s a good idea to buy a compressor that comes with a warranty in case your unit comes damaged or defective. Otherwise, you may have to end up paying at least partially to return the unit and receive a working one.
On that same note, make sure to look at seller ratings. If you see good reviews and buyers mentioning excellent customer service, then this is a solid indication that you can buy online from that company worry free.
What tank capacity do I need for air tools?
Virtually any air compressor can perform basic functions like inflating tires. Beyond the basics, some people need their air compressors to perform powerful jobs. If you are one of those people, then consider what jobs you need the air compressor to do.
For brad nailers and staplers, you will only need a tank size of about a gallon to operate. Larger tanks may make the job a bit easier since they do not have to cycle as often, but they are not a necessity.
Basic painting, too, does not require a large tank. An air compressor of only a gallon or more should be sufficient for basic painting.
However, if you are a serious airbrush artist, then consider purchasing a larger tank. 8 gallons is about the minimum for long, serious paint jobs.
This will make it easier to run the compressor continuously without overwhelming or overheating the unit. You can also try a compressor with an integrated fan to keep the unit cool.
For grinding, you should buy an air compressor with a minimum tank capacity of 20 gallons.
Sanding will put the most strain on an air compressor. It is recommended to have a tank with a 60 gallon capacity or higher to perform most sanding jobs.
However, you can’t just look at tank capacity to determine if a certain air compressor will perform the job or not. It is also important to consider PSI and CFM.
Higher PSI and CFM output generally mean that the unit is more powerful. Look for high values if you are looking to do a power-intensive project.
Things to Consider
It is imperative to consider why you’re purchasing an air compressor. Are you an airbrush artist, a mechanic, or a non-technical person just looking to inflate your car tires? Your intended use will greatly impact which model you decide to buy.
If you’re just looking to inflate tires and perhaps do some basic home maintenance, a compressor beyond a few gallons should not be necessary for you.
On the other hand, if you intend to power a wide array of air tools, including some that consume a lot of air, a large tank will be the best option for you. Large tanks do not cycle as often, so they will last long and don’t overheat as often as smaller tanks.
Another consideration is your physical abilities. If you are not as physically fit, consider purchasing a compressor that is designed to be carried in one hand. They are generally exceptionally lightweight and have a built-in handle for comfort.
The only downside to handheld compressors, of course, is that their abilities are limited compared to larger capacity compressors.
If you need a larger air compressor, look for one with large wheels, preferably made of a material like rubber. The wheels make it easy to transport the unit without having to lift it from the ground.
Form and Design
Certain features are great to look for in an air compressor because they maximize soundproofing. One example is rubber feet. The rubber acts as a dampener to reduce vibrations between the ground and the compressor, giving you a much less noisy and bothersome experience.
In addition, look for air compressors that have a noise rating of less than 70 decibels. These compressors will be much quieter than average, though any compressor under 60 decibels will be whisper quiet.
Another consideration is the shape of the air compressor. Some of the most common shapes include pancake, vertical, and horizontal. Pancake and horizontal shapes tend to be the most stable because they have four feet instead of two. However, they are harder to store because they take up more space.
Vertical tanks, on the other hand, make storage a breeze, but they may be more top-heavy and unstable than the other compressor shapes.
Also, look for air compressors with steel or cast iron bodies. These materials greatly increase durability and longevity, though they will also increase the weight. Higher quality materials will also generally increase the price.
If durability is not a huge concern of yours, or if you want the most lightweight option possible, then consider a compressor with a plastic casing. Plastic casings have the added bonus of being much cooler than metal casings, which increases safety.
Other considerations are important for ease of use. Look for air compressors with an easy valve to release water that builds up from repeatedly drawing in moisture from the air.
Larger tanks generally make use easier because they do not have to cycle as much as smaller tanks. This is important when you need to use air tools continuously, such as in airbrushing. However, the negative effects of smaller tanks can be mitigated with models that include a built-in fan, as they can run continuously without overheating.
Small air tools like brad nailers consume less air, so you can get away with having an air compressor with a smaller capacity. However, tools like sandblasters consume much more air, so you will need a large capacity air compressor.
Best Versus Quiet
If you read the whole article, you probably noticed that I seem a little conflicted between ‘Best’ and ‘Quiet.’ I could have just listed a bunch of air compressors that claim to operate under 60 decibels, but I do not believe that they all qualify as ‘Best.’ I also could have listed a bunch of gas-powered units that are great machines as long as windows rattling and babies (not to mention some adults) crying because of the noise volume is not a problem for you. So I tried to make a list of reasonably quiet, or very quiet, machines that worked well for people’s individual requirements. Hopefully, I was not too confusing.
I feel that listing ten 80 gallon air compressors is somewhat futile. When I am researching something for my own use, my teeth tend to start itching after the first 2 or 3 items. I prefer to provide useful information that is not boring or annoying.
Oil Lubricated Versus Oil-Free Air Compressors
I have listed both oil-lubricated air compressors and oil-free air compressors. Both types can be excellent machines. But I have to admit to personal prejudice. I used a Fini (very popular in Europe, but hard to find here–which is unfortunate because they are a great machine) oil-lubricated compressor for over 20 years. And the Makita Mac700 oil lubricated for the last 10 years. For 5 years in between, I went through 2 oil-free compressors (manufactured by a very well-known name). I would not take an oil-free air compressor as a gift–unless I needed a boat anchor.
I used all of them on construction sites, and all in the same manner. Brad nailers, soffit stapler, spiker occasionally, subfloor stapler, etc.–usually daily. The oil-lubricated cost less than $20 per year during their lifetime (because I expect at least another 10 years from the Makita) plus the odd bit of oil. The turtles, as we called the oil-free units, cost over $100 per year, plus the annoyance of having to replace them about 8 minutes after the warranty ran out.
I also admit to the possibility of being wrong. Oil-free air compressors have probably greatly improved in the last 10 years.