Air compressors are recognized within many industries, such as auto repair, construction, and manufacturing, as highly efficient pieces of equipment that take time, effort, and often, expense, out of many tasks.
More recently, air compressors are being found in smaller businesses and around the home and garage. As a result, quiet air compressors are high in demand, particularly for long-term indoor/outdoor use where a quiet working environment is important.
The Quiet Air Compressors
1. California Air Tools Quiet Compressor
California Air Tools is synonymous with durable and reliable equipment. Their latest range features considerate quiet air compressors suited to use around the home, garage, and small business.
Portability is the main feature as this corded electric compressor weighs just 43lbs and has a sturdy carry handle. But don't let its compact size fool you into thinking it lacks any power; It operates at 1.0 HP with 1680rpm.
It has an oil-free, dual-piston pump/motor which allows for safe use in all temperature ranges. No oil makes storage of the compressor easier as it is safe to store on its side. Other safety features include rust-free steel construction of the tank and the rubberized feet that not only keep it sturdy on uneven ground, but they also absorb much of the airborne noise.
Whilst we're on the subject of noise, this model runs at a very impressive 65dB, which is quiet enough for the user to continue a normal level conversation while it is in operation.
The life span of an air compressor depends on how many hours of operation it is capable of before signs of wear appear and repair is required.
Many of the 4710SQ's competitors boast of 500+ hours before wear; this model has 1000-hours of usability before maintenance is required. Once this point is reached, the compressor and its components are repairable and rebuildable. If the issue is with the pump/motor, replacement parts are readily available from the dealer.
For its compact size, just 19.5” x 9.5” x 24”, the compressor produces plenty of power:
- 2.0 CFM at 90 PSI
- 3.0 CFM at 40 PSI
The steel air chamber holds 4.7 gallons of air which allows for additional air before the motor kicks in and has a maximum pressure of 120 PSI.
Overall we feel this is an impressive machine for the keen DIYer and auto enthusiast.
It is powerful enough to operate nail, staple, and finishing guns, and is the ideal compressor for those airbrushing or detailing jobs.
With no need for gasoline, this electric compressor is the perfect tool for inflating household items without creating any fumes.
2. Makita Quiet Series, Electric Air Compressor
If you're familiar with the Makita brand, you already know to expect a high-quality build.
The MAC210Q is a 1-HP, electric air compressor with reduced noise levels at its core. It boasts an impressive 60dB, for context, that is the same level as a regular conversation.
It is a very sturdy power tool; the motor and pump are both protected by a steel roll cage, ensuring their longevity when being transported around worksites. It weighs in at 44-pounds making it substantial yet portable.
Other safety features include low amp draw to virtually eliminate tripped breakers and a concealed coil wrap.
The air compressor consistently performs well, providing 2 CFM at 90 PSI, though the induction motor can supply a maximum of 135 PSI.
With a 2-gallon air storage capacity, the Makita compressor is perfect for regular DIYers that undertake a multitude of tasks. It is ideal for powering a framing gun with its fast pressure-build and recovery times.
It takes 10-15 seconds to achieve 50PSI and within a further 10-seconds to hit the 100PSI marker. It maintains pressure well which is clearly seen displayed on the large pressure gauges.
The motor and pump have a long life expectancy, and as they are oil-free, require little or no maintenance. This is aided by the lower RPM, just 750.
Airbrush sprayers may prefer the bigger brother, the Mac320Q; it's every bit as quiet but has a larger storage capacity for consistent, uninterrupted spraying.
The tank is quick and easy to drain using the lever on the underside of the tank to release the air, it's then easy to pack away and store.
The Makita air compressor is a great workhorse that is not just quiet for an air compressor, it is quiet for a power tool.
3. Metabo HPT Air Compressor
If you're looking for an air compressor to build a house from the ground up, then this isn't the model for you. HOWEVER, if you need a lightweight and portable air compressor that is more than a match for all of your household and garage light-duty needs, then this is the best option for you.
It's a small compressor with a 1-gallon steel tank that runs off 0.5 HP. It weighs just 29lbs and measures 14” x 14” x 13.5”; it is simple to carry around and to store. The steel roll cage keeps all of the vital internal components protected during use and transportation without adversely affecting the overall weight.
The Metabo will take care of all small demand jobs with gusto. Lift it from the box, connect it to the nearest power outlet and it's good to go. It is oil-free and low-maintenance; zero fumes make it ideal for upholstery work.
It has a maximum pressure of 125PSI, 135 CFM at 40 PSI, and 0.8 CFM at 90 PSI.
It might not be an industrial-scale air compressor, but it has many industrial quality features. The quick couple affords the user a fast, 1-handed connection, and the industrial regulator and gauges allow for easy reading and adjustment of pressure levels. The release lever is substantial and requires a 90° shift to operate.
The best feature of the Metabo has to be the noise level or lack thereof. At only 59dB when mid-cycle, it is the quietest tool reviewed thus far. It is possible for the user to hold a conversation whilst the compressor hums away in the background.
This is an excellent machine when used for its intended applications. It has vibration and shockproof feet to protect the compressor and to assist in its ultra-quiet operation.
4. Stealth Ultra Quiet Air Compressor
This slightly larger compressor is suitable for multiple household and garage applications and is also powerful enough for a job site, workshop, and auto shop applications.
The operating noise level for the Stealth air compressor is slightly under 70dB, very impressive for a machine of its capacity. Although not entirely ninja-esque in its stealth, it is exceptionally quieter than most standard compressors of its size.
It has a large storage tank that holds 12-gallons of air. It fills and builds pressure quickly and holds it for long periods. Unlike some other models, it suffers no loss or leakage, even with the hose and air nozzle attached.
Recovery from an empty air chamber takes approximately 75-seconds.
It has a maximum of 150 psi and rates 4cfm @ 90 psi. At a reduced 40 psi, expect 5 cfm.
This is the first vertical storage tank that has been featured, and although it weighs 95lbs, it is easy to transport. Thanks to the reinforced 7" rubber wheels and easy grab handle, maneuvering the compressor is a breeze. The handle folds down to give the unit an overall height of 28.5", ideal under bench storage height.
The huge tank capacity makes this the ideal piece of equipment to power a myriad of tools, whether they be continuous or intermittent demand. Connecting the hose to either one of the fast-fit couplers provides power for paint sprayers, drill hammers, angle grinders, sanders, nailers, and most other pneumatic tools.
This corded electric air compressor is perfect for use in a shop where it can easily be hauled from one job to the next. It runs on a dual pump induction motor that is oil-free, expects zero-maintenance and powerful, 1.5 HP performance for its superior life-span. Should any issues arise, Stealth provides unrivaled customer service, backed up by the limited lifetime warranty.
5. Campbell HausfeldQuiet Air Compressor
This air compressor is worthy of serious consideration if you want a super-quiet model that performs multiple DIY tasks very well.
It is a pancake compressor; the air tank is rounded and flattened. Although the unit is quite weighty at 69lbs, moving it from one job to the next is fairly easy with the sturdy handle.
It has a well-balanced design; it looks and feels substantial, heavy-duty, and that it will last for a very long time.
It is the ideal air compressor to use in low noise areas. It's half as loud as conventional models, it cycles at just 68dB. Inflation, finish nailing, stapling, and hobby painting are just a few of the tasks it can successfully undertake. In fact, it performs intermittent jobs very well, providing the cfm rating of the power tool is 3.2 or less.
It has no issues with pressure as its maximum rating is 125 psi. The gauge is easy to read and adjusting pressure utilizes a simple valve operation. Once empty, the tank has a very quick recovery time.
The Campbell Hausfeld air compressor is a powerful workhorse that runs from a standard 120v outlet. It has an oil-free, dual-piston pump that requires no maintenance which keeps costs down.
The generous 6-gallon tank ensures a consistent and reliable airflow until the task is complete.
We feel that this is a well-built and well-designed compressor, perfect for all of those everyday tasks that one might keep putting off.
Air Compressors Explained
An air compressor is a device that creates enough power to operate pneumatic tools by harnessing the potential energy in the air and storing it in a pressurized chamber.
They use an electric, gasoline, or diesel engine that forces increasing amounts of air into an onboard storage tank to increase the pressure within.
Air tools connect to the compressor via a hose attachment. Depending upon the size of the storage chamber, it supplies enough high-pressure airpower to operate large industrial equipment on a construction site, all the way down to a smaller model used for household applications.
Industrial-scale air compressors are notoriously loud. They employ a lubricated, belt-driven pump design to power their bigger and more powerful needs.
Lower-demand air compressors employ a small motor to convert electrical energy to kinetic energy. They rely on fewer internal components so there is less to fail, less to maintain, and usually create less noise.
What to Look for in a Quiet Air Compressor
There are several factors to consider when looking to purchase a "quiet" compressor.
Oil or Oil-Free
Motors have multiple moving parts and, to keep them running smoothly, require regular lubrication. When metal components grind together vibrations are created, resulting in unwanted noise.
Anything that uses oil requires regular maintenance and for oil levels to be topped up.
Many quiet air compressors sacrifice the slight noise difference in favor of an oil-free motor. With zero maintenance to perform, oil-free compressors are becoming increasingly popular.
Measured in gallons, the tank capacity determines how long the compressor can be operated between charges. Larger tanks allow for longer usage and are therefore more compatible with continuous use power tools such as jet washers, sanders, and paint sprayers.
Size and Weight
Small storage spaces have an impact on the size of the machine you choose. Corded electric compressors tend to be on the smaller size, enabling under-counter or workbench storage. They vary dramatically in weight, with some approaching 80lbs. If heavy-lifting is an issue, consider a model on wheels.
CFM and PSI Ratings
Explained in depth below, they are measurements of the strength and potency of an air compressor.
Air Compressor Ratings Explained
CFM – Cubic Feet per Minute
CFM is the standard measure of the flow rate forced out by an air compressor.
It is important as it relates to the suitability and efficacy of an air compressor in relation to a specific application.
Continuous-demand power tools such as saws, sanders, pressure washers, and airbrushes need a high cfm rating for successful performance.
A continually spinning saw might have a rating of 8 CFM.
Applications with an intermittent demand such as nail guns and staple guns need an air compressor with a lower cfm rating.
A brad nailer might have a rating of around 2 CFM.
Multiply the tools cfm requirement by 1.5 to discover the minimum CFM rating that an air compressor should possess.
PSI – Pounds per Square Inch
PSI is the standard measurement of pressure, in this instance, delivered by an air compressor.
It relates to the amount of force in a given area.
Force and area had an inverse relationship;
- when force increases, so do pressure
- when area increases, pressure decreases
Most pneumatic tools require a psi rating of between 70 and 90.
Most light-medium duty air compressors have pressures of 90 psi, often much more. The best performance is achieved when a compressor has more force than the tool requires.
However, it is a fine line; too little pressure prevents the tool from a correct operation. Too much pressure can result in it being damaged.
Always consider the psi rating when purchasing a new air compressor.
Features of Quiet Air Compressors
Using a compressor to power your air tools is a time and cost-effective solution to otherwise arduous tasks. Traditional air compressors are notoriously loud, enough to cause long-term hearing issues for regular users.
Quiet air compressors ensure decibel levels below 80dB; many of the better models operate at sub-70dB. To reiterate, this is quiet enough to stand next to and hold a normal conversation while the compressor is at full power.
Offices, businesses, and homes are just some of the places where nothing but a quiet air compressor will do. In situations where people have to continue their daily business, a quiet compressor enables a tradesperson to continue without causing too much disruption.
Air powered tools are easier and lighter to maneuver than equivalent battery options. They are more affordable, and importantly, air pressure lasts longer than a battery charge.
Reduce Health Concerns
Long-term exposure to high-decibel noise is detrimental to the operator, leaving them with ringing in the ears or even worse, hearing loss.
Although it is advisable to wear earplugs when operating a conventional air compressor, many people find them uncomfortable, distracting, and they often lead to recurring ear infections.
Switching to a quiet air compressor eradicates these issues and also keep neighbors and family members happy with the peace and quiet.
The speed of an air compressor motor is measured in RPMs or revolutions per minute. As it spins faster, it vibrates and creates more noise. Quiet models employ lower rpm motors to keep vibrations to a minimum.
Uneven and hard floor surfaces invite sound waves to vibrate and create additional noise. Quiet compressors have rubber matting or feet to level out surfaces and to absorb unwanted airborne and structure-borne sound.
Gas-powered compressors rely on a noisy engine to produce high-volume air-pressure.
Electric motor-powered compressors are naturally quieter and ideally suited to domestic jobs.
All of the machines featured in this article are corded electric models that are focused on the domestic market. As they are relatively smaller than the big, gas-powered, industrial compressors, they are automatically quieter.