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Old 03-18-2013, 01:57 PM   #1
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Budget air compressor for the shop?

I'm poor as a church mouse right now but need an air compressor for use around the shop and farm. I'm thinking...

- 115VAC since I don't have a 220 outlet available
- enough flow/pressure to run a nail gun or impact wrench
- big enough to air up a vehicle tire in reasonable time
- able to be left on all the time
- budget of, say, $300

Anyone recommend anything in particular
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Old 03-18-2013, 02:24 PM   #2
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Maybe one of the Sears 30gal units. The CFM will be borderline for impact wrench work, but it will do it with some waiting every now and then for the tank to fill.

Don't be tempted by the oil-less compressors, they are garbage.
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Old 03-18-2013, 02:40 PM   #3
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I have had one of these for years. http://www.homedepot.com/p/DEWALT-4-...7#.UUeJSBycdqI GH
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Old 03-18-2013, 04:40 PM   #4
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buy used
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Old 03-18-2013, 04:57 PM   #5
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if you can live with low demand tools the compressor can be pretty small & a 30 gal is fine, maybe even overkill. I think going 120v is the real limiter... power is power. depends on your needs, with a smaller compressor, running a nail gun is no problem. an impact gun will work but you may have to wait for the compressor to catch up from time to time even with a 30 gal. tank. an air driven sander or die grinder.... not going to be happy.

one thing you can do is look for a compressor with the highest pressure... that can help take the place of the high volume to an extent. you can run longer but will also have to wait longer for the pressure to come back up

and ya, check Craiglist... there must be a ton of decent used out there
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Old 03-18-2013, 05:00 PM   #6
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+1 on LuciferMutts advice on staying away from the oil less compressors. I saw one taken apart for a rebuild at work the other day and I was amazed how cheaply it was constructed. Absolute junk. I have been running a 5 gallon Ridgid oil type compressor in the garage for 5+ years and I have found it to be reliable and able to run various air tools if you are willing to wait for it to catch up on occasion.

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Old 03-18-2013, 05:22 PM   #7
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I know a few people that have had good luck with the Kobalt compressor's as well. They will last a long time for you if it's not running for long spurts like if your running an angle grinder or doing automotive painting.
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Old 03-18-2013, 05:30 PM   #8
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Thanks for the advice, keep it coming please. Looking at craigslist and Lowes (Kobalt). Never knew there were so many brands I've never heard of.
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Old 03-18-2013, 06:00 PM   #9
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Just a caution about leaving any compressor "on" all the time. It's somewhat a dangerous thing to do. If there is a failure to hold air, say a hose breaks or something fails and the compressor runs constantly, there is danger of over heating and fire could result. I personally know of one woodworking shop that burned to the ground and one I was working in came close when the compressor caught fire.
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Old 03-18-2013, 07:10 PM   #10
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I try to plan ahead for the future with tool purchases so you don't end up throwing something out when you want an upgrade. As others have said, no 220v is killer for shop use with paint guns, die grinders, cutoff wheels, dual action sanders, sand blasters etc. Once you buy a compressor, you can pick up a ton of very useful tools for $20-$100. If you are able to add a 220v circuit where you live, it is worth doing. I just put one in the house we are renting for the year for about $100.

If you plan to have a shop sometime in the future with a permanent compressor, I would lean towards the small, light end of things right now. 8-10 gallon compressors are great for construction, and can be used as an air tank to fill up a couple tires out in a field without power. If you buy a big compressor someday it will still be useful. Harbor Freight has a 2hp 8gal compressor on sale for $100 now with a coupon, buy the replacement plan for it and use it.

If you don't think you will ever end up with a shop and 220v power, then the 30 gallon compressors are a better idea, but more of a pain when you want to use it somewhere else, and still not powerful enough for serious work. Harbor Freight has one for $280 now that is a "big style" compressor with a belt driven cast iron pump on it.

Before people knock Harbor Freight compressors, I have the 60 gallon unit that I use in a professional shop every day and is over 3 years old with no issues. The motor is a Baldor that is used on most any name brand compressor, and it has a full twin cylinder cast iron pump on it. The only "cheap Chinese steel" on it is the tank, which holds up fine and will not rust out in my lifetime.
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Old 03-18-2013, 07:20 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boatman View Post
Just a caution about leaving any compressor "on" all the time. It's somewhat a dangerous thing to do. If there is a failure to hold air, say a hose breaks or something fails and the compressor runs constantly, there is danger of over heating and fire could result.
My plan was to install a valve right at the outlet and just close that every time I walk away from it. Hopefully it is a lot less likely to spring a serious leak within the compressor itself. The "fill" time when starting a compressor from empty is an aggravation when I just need to top off a tire or something quick. Thanks for the good advice, I hadn't thought about it that far.
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Old 03-18-2013, 07:33 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gatorgrizz27 View Post
I try to plan ahead for the future with tool purchases so you don't end up throwing something out when you want an upgrade. As others have said, no 220v is killer for shop use with paint guns, die grinders, cutoff wheels, dual action sanders, sand blasters etc. Once you buy a compressor, you can pick up a ton of very useful tools for $20-$100. If you are able to add a 220v circuit where you live, it is worth doing. I just put one in the house we are renting for the year for about $100.

If you plan to have a shop sometime in the future with a permanent compressor, I would lean towards the small, light end of things right now. 8-10 gallon compressors are great for construction, and can be used as an air tank to fill up a couple tires out in a field without power. If you buy a big compressor someday it will still be useful. Harbor Freight has a 2hp 8gal compressor on sale for $100 now with a coupon, buy the replacement plan for it and use it.

If you don't think you will ever end up with a shop and 220v power, then the 30 gallon compressors are a better idea, but more of a pain when you want to use it somewhere else, and still not powerful enough for serious work. Harbor Freight has one for $280 now that is a "big style" compressor with a belt driven cast iron pump on it.

Before people knock Harbor Freight compressors, I have the 60 gallon unit that I use in a professional shop every day and is over 3 years old with no issues. The motor is a Baldor that is used on most any name brand compressor, and it has a full twin cylinder cast iron pump on it. The only "cheap Chinese steel" on it is the tank, which holds up fine and will not rust out in my lifetime.
After spending a good part of the afternoon looking at compressors, it seems like my $300 price point is an anti-sweet-spot. There's plenty of small, light, cheap stuff available for <$200 and plenty of "serious" compressors available for $500+ but the stuff in between seems like the worst of both worlds.

So I might go the cheap & light route for now. But I just don't want to spend lots of time waiting for the compressor to catch up when I'm trying to inflate a front tractor tire from stone flat.
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Old 03-19-2013, 05:58 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rottweiler View Post
My plan was to install a valve right at the outlet and just close that every time I walk away from it. Hopefully it is a lot less likely to spring a serious leak within the compressor itself. The "fill" time when starting a compressor from empty is an aggravation when I just need to top off a tire or something quick. Thanks for the good advice, I hadn't thought about it that far.
All you need to do is just switch the compressor off or unplug it. You can leave the tank pressurized, but don't forget to drain the tank to get the water out once in a while.
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Old 03-19-2013, 06:11 AM   #14
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I agree about not leaving the compressors on all the time. Especially non-commercial grade. I'd go cheap and small like a pancake compressor right now. They have a dual purpose and can run nail guns and are portable. Get a real compressor when you have 220 and the cash.
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Old 03-19-2013, 07:05 AM   #15
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constantly turning the compressor on and off, cost me a $40 switch once ( it was cold and brittle)

so now i leave it ON all the time, and unplug it ( between cycles) when I wont be needing it.

also a suggestion, I was in in your same predicament, went to an air compressor repair shop.

got a 20 gallon with 5hp ( not reallly) cambell hausfield "professional series" about 18 years ago for $150

it still works just fine, it was brought in to replace a burned up motor, shop replaced motor and upsold the custom a newer larger model, so this one was for sale.

identical to this, but tank is silver instead of blue

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