Whether you’re a professional handyman or a passionate DIY-er, you might agree:
Air compressors are a godsend. They allow you to work with different kinds of tools and also provide all-day lasting power.
The only issue?
They are usually annoyingly loud.
My husband is a garage warrior, and I distinctly recall how our old air compressor made our little girl irritable. Finally, we took the plunge and replaced it with an ultra-quiet air compressor.
Are you looking for a low-decibel air compressor too?
You’re in luck.
We’re sharing everything we have discovered in the process to help find the best quiet air compressor for you.
Let’s dive straight into it, shall we?
Note: We also have a monstrous piece of research on helping you buy a quiet shop vac. These are more powerful than regular vacs, and great for your garage, porch, or commercial places.
1. Makita 2.5 HP Air Compressor
Looking for a premium air compressor with fast recovery time for enhanced performance? Makita 2.5 HP might be worth a look.
It produces only 79 decibels of noise at its peak. It’s a little bit on the higher end on my list—but it is still perfectly acceptable.
The tank has a capacity of 4.2 gallons which is almost double when compared to the Rolair JC10 Plus (#4 on this list). It can sustain a pressure of 130 PSI.
It features a big bore cylinder of cast iron that helps boost performance. It can also be removed easily for maintenance purposes.
The tank supplies 40 PSI (4.8 CFM) which is almost 6 times more than Senco PC1010 (#5 on this list) and 90 PSI (4.2 CFM) to the two nailers.
However, I’d recommend you lubricate the pump with oil to prevent damage due to wear and tear. It’s also helpful when you need to run it at lower temperatures.
I especially like the built-in thermal overload. It helps protects the 4-pole motor. The roll cage construction protects the device from the rough and tough conditions of the job site.
The automotive-style industrial air filter is large to increase the air intake. It starts off by drawing low on AMPs.
It comes with a warranty of 1 year.
It’s not all fairytales, though.
The paint chips might peel off slightly from some parts of the air compressor—due to normal wear and tear. Also, the weight seems to be a bit on the heavier side—making it slightly challenging to move around.
Nevertheless, the powerful motor and heavy-duty construction make it an excellent choice for most people.
- Large tank size (4.2 gallons)
- 130 PSI pressure
- 40 PSI (4.8 CFM) and 90 PSI (4.2 CFM)
- Can tolerate job site conditions very well due to the roll cage construction
- Powerful 2.5 HP motor
- Slightly bulky
- Paint chips might peel
2. California Air Tools 4620AC
If you are hunting for a high-quality air compressor for domestic use with an oil-free design, consider having a look at California Air Tools 4620AC.
It generates about 70 dB of noise which slightly lower than Makita’s offering.
The 4620AC comes with a 4.6-gallon aluminum tank.
It has 6.40 CFM at 40 PSI and 5.30 CFM at 90 PSI. This is about 20% higher than the Makita 2.5 HP Air Compressor.
It comes with a powerful 2 HP motor that runs at a rate of 1680 revolutions per minute. I find the run time and duty cycle to be pretty improved over the previous model.
It comes with an oil-free piston pump and can work perfectly without much wear and tear for over 3000 hours. Being oil-free gives you the benefit of using it even in extremely low temperatures and in any terrain.
You can configure it to shut down when the temperature reaches a certain point during continuous operation. It takes a smooth start due to the Easy Start Valve feature.
The machine comes with a limited warranty of 1 year.
My major gripe with it is that the faceplate has been constructed with a light gauge sheet material. Hence, you should be extremely careful while plugging it in.
Despite this, I still think it’s a great choice for domestic use, thanks to its powerful dual-piston system, oil-free design, and a large rust-free tank.
- The dual-piston system produces up to 6.4 CFM at 40 PSI
- Large 4.6-gallon tank
- 125 PSI maximum pressure
- Tanks are rust-free due to aluminum
- Oil-free pump
- Faceplate needs to be strengthened
- Price needs to be lowered
3. California Air Tools CAT-4710SQ Air Compressor
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly air compressor for home use, California Air Tools CAT-4710SQ might do the trick.
At its peak, the noise levels are around 60 decibels. To put that into perspective, normal conversations are around the same noise level—which makes it an ideal choice for domestic purposes.
You can choose between a steel or aluminum tank of 4.7 gallons which is about twice that of Rolair JC10 Plus 1 HP Oil-less Compressor. The powerful 1. 0 HP motor operates at only 1680 RPM creating less noise and less wear. The well-shielded dual-piston motor also helps minimize the noise levels further.
It’s lightweight and resists corrosion, thanks to the aluminum construction.
The pressure release button lets you start the compressor without any pressure which is much-needed, especially during cold winter mornings.
It uses an oil-free pump for its operations. This allows for use in a variety of temperatures and uneven terrains.
It comes with a limited warranty of 1 year.
If you opt for a steel tank, you might get a sturdy tank, but it will get corroded with time. The aluminum tank might sound like a good substitute, but then again, it’s not as sturdy as steel. Ultimately, it’s you need to weigh both the side and select the trade-off you can deal with.
- Produces only 60 dB of noise
- 1 horsepower motor with up to 120 PSI pressure
- Large 4.7-gallon tank
- Delivers up to 3.1 CFM
- Both steel and aluminum tank choices
- The steel tank is subject to corrosion
- The aluminum tank is not structurally so strong
4. Rolair JC10 Plus 1 HP Oil-less Compressor
Are you looking for an air compressor with an incredible oil-free design? Consider having a look at this.
This is one of the best choices in terms of rugged build quality and protection for the compressor components.
At its peak, it produces a noise of around 60 dB. It comes with an integrated muffler in the air grilles which helps muffle the noise—giving it an extra edge over competitors. Also, there are rubber insulator pieces installed between the compressor and the frame, and on the ends of all the feet.
It comes with a 2.5-gallon tank which is about 2.5 times larger than Senco PC1010.
It produces 2.35 CFM at the standard 90 PSI. If you’re looking for an air-compressor with higher CFM values then you may check out California Air Tools 4620AC which is about 20% greater CFM at 90 PSI.
The Rolair uses a low-RPM 1 HP motor which further reduces the noise and adds to its durability. It runs at 1720 RPM. It weighs about 40 pounds. The all-around roll-bar cage helps with portability.
The cylinder is made from cast aluminum for lightweight but industrial-quality strength. Aluminum also makes it rust-free and corrosion-resistant.
One minor issue is that the muffler protrudes from the frame.
- Ultra-quiet operation (60 dB)
- Integrated muffler installed in the air grills
- Roll-cage construction
- 2.5-gallon tank
- 1 HP motor
- 2.35 CFM at the standard 90 PSI
- Muffler protrudes from the frame
5. Senco PC1010
This small but efficient compressor is one of the best choices for small jobs like renovation and home improvement.
At the peak, it produces only 73 decibels of noise.
The 1 HP direct drive induction motor is sufficient for conducting small tasks. It delivers 20 to 44 drives per minute. It works fine with airbrush and acts as effective support for the nailers or pinners.
This is a CSA approved oil-free compressor and provides 120 psi max output, which is one of the highest in our list. CSA denotes that a product has been independently tested and guaranteed to meet recognized standards for safety or performance.
It comes with a 1-gallon aluminum tank. It gives .7 CFM output at standard 90 PSI. For about 25% higher CFM, you might want to check out Rolair JC10 Plus 1 HP Oil-less Compressor.
Its compact size and light weight facilitate easy storage and portability.
The machine is backed by a limited warranty of 1 year.
The downside is that it takes slightly more time to recharge the tank compared to other products of its type. The design is also a bit bland—but that’s hardly a deal-breaker.
- Low-decibel operation (73 dB)
- 1-gallon aluminum tank
- .7 CFM output at standard 90 PSI
- 1 HP direct drive induction motor
- CSA approved oil-free compressor
- Long tank recharge times
- Bland design
6. DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor DWFP55126
The Dewalt DWFP55126 is my top pick for a quiet pancake air compressor.
At its peak, the noise levels are around 75.5 dB.
It comes with a 6-gallon tank which is sufficient for carrying out day-to-day heavy job-site work. In fact, it has the largest tank capacity of any product on our list.
At its peak, the machine delivers a pressure of 165 PSI which is about 20% more compared to the Makita 2.5 HP Air Compressor. It gives 2.6 SCFM of air at 90 PSI of pressure.
It offers optimum power and pressure to work with nailers. Its light-weight nature (30 pounds) facilitates easy storage and portability.
Have you ever had issues starting the air-compressor at low-temperature conditions?
Well, you’re not alone.
Thankfully, it comes with a cold-start mechanism to deal with this issue.
The stain-free surface ensures it does not require maintenance often. The rear exhaust also helps keep the surface free of any contaminant.
However, I do think that the design of the enclosed pump area could use some improvement to help prevent any leakage of air.
- Large 6-gallon tank
- Delivers a pressure of 165 PSI
- 2.6SCFM of air at 90 PSI of pressure
- Cold start mechanism
- Mediocre enclosed pump area design
7. BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor
This model from BOSTITCH is another great pancake compressor.
It generates about 78.5 dB at its peak, which is slightly higher than the competing pancake compressor—the Dewalt DWFP55126.
It comes with a 6-gallon tank. It provides a maximum PSI of 150 which is 30% more compared to Makita 2.5 HP Air Compressor. 2.6 SCFM is delivered at 90 PSI pumps.
The cold start mechanism makes it easy to initiate the operations of the motor even at extremely low temperatures.
High flow regulators and couplers are also included to maximize the overall performance of the air tools. The two universal couplers can easily support two users.
It features an oil-free pump that doesn’t require constant maintenance.
It has its own downsides, though.
The regulators could use a little bit more precision. While depressurizing the tank, it produces a bit of a noise—which, in all honesty—is quite deafening.
- Large 6-gallon tank
- 150 PSI and delivers 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI
- Cold start mechanism
- High flow regulators and couplers
- Oil-free pump
- Imprecise regulator
- A little noisy while depressurizing the tank
The Buying Guide: Factors to Consider Before Buying
1. What Do You Need an Air Compressor for?
First and foremost, I recommend you to gauge the power output you would require.
You can go for smaller units in case you are planning to do minor tasks like renovating your house.
If you are looking for a powerful machine for work at a job site, then you may go for more potent machines like DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor DWFP55126.
The air compressors with larger tanks are ideal for professional use while the smaller ones are ideal for domestic purposes.
If you fancy portability, you might want to look for features that facilitate easy portability like tank size.
2. Noise level
Different air compressors produce different levels of noise during their operations. You would certainly want to choose one that creates a minimum sound so that your quality of living is not hampered.
Some of the quietest air compressors of the list are Rolair JC10 Plus 1 HP Oil-less Compressor, California Air Tools 4620AC, and Senco PC1010. The noise produced by all these machines is below 75 dBA.
3. Tank size
The main purpose of the tank is to facilitate the easy movement of air. The tank size actually denotes how often the compressor will need to kick on.
You can get about 12 to 15 shots with the same nailer with a 4 to 6-gallon tank. Also, with bigger tanks, you can run two or more tools simultaneously. Automotive shops that require more air go for air compressors tank size of 20 gallons or more.
DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor DWFP55126 is really a perfect blend of compact size and high performance due to its 4-gallon tank.
4. CFM vs. SCFM
CFM stands for cubic feet per minute (cu ft/min). It denotes the force with which air flows in and out of space. Typically air compressors that have higher CFM ratings are able to provide more air, which makes them perfect for larger applications.
SCFM, on the other hand, is an acronym for Standard Cubic Feet / (per) Minute. It denotes the gas volume flow rate at standard temperature, pressure, and relative humidity. CFM values are lower than SCFM as the latter is calculated after expanding the air to a standard condition.
Mathematically, we can express the relation between the two as
CFM= SCFM* compressibility * PressureBase / (GasPressure + LocalAtmosphericPressure) * (GasTemperature + 459.67) / (TemperatureBase + 459.67)
Higher the values of CFM and SCFM, greater is the capability of the air compressor.
5. Oil-free or Oil-lubricated Pumps
There are two varieties of pumps: oil-lubricated and oil-free.
Lubrication of the parts with oil helps in reducing the noise better. Oil-lubricated pumps often produce lower decibels of noise compared to the oil-free ones.
But, it also has its downsides. They need constant maintenance so that the oil does not drip through the tank. The valves also need to be looked after.
Oil-free pumps, on the other hand, makes the air-compressor function optimally at different temperature conditions and terrain. They also do not require constant maintenance.
If you choose the oil-lubricated pump, I would suggest you go for Makita 2.5 HP Air Compressor.
In case, you choose oil-free air compressors then Rolair JC10 Plus 1 HP Oil-less Compressor is one of the best choices.
6. PSI Count
PSI stands for pounds per square inch. It denotes the amount of power created by the compressor.
Though CFM rating is more than enough for selecting your product, if you wish to go the extra mile to choose the absolute best, it’s worth considering the PSI count too.
Generally, all machines supply 90 PSI which is sufficient for a job site.
DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor DWFP55126 delivers 165 PSI, which is incredible.
7. Other Small Things
Besides all these factors, there are two more things that you can look for.
As already discussed, some air-compressors have oil-free pumps while others need to be lubricated with oil on a regular basis for smooth functioning.
If you do not wish to put much effort into maintenance, then you might prefer going for the oil-free ones.
In the case of oil-lubricated pumps, you need to monitor the parts from time to time to ensure that the oil does not dip withing and hamper its overall performance. Rolair JC10 Plus 1 HP Oil-less Compressor is one of the best oil-free pumps which require no maintenance at all.
You can check the warranty period of the product to ensure that your money will not go in vain due to unforeseen technical issues anytime soon.
Fortunately, all the products mentioned in this site are backed by a warranty period of 1 year.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why is My Compressor So Loud?
The main cause of loud noise is often the friction between different parts. An effective solution is using an oil-lubricated air compressor which is usually quieter than the oil-free compressors.
Another factor adding to the level of noise is the area where the machine has been installed. Generally, hard surfaces will amplify the vibrations produced by the machine and create an earsplitting noise.
Also, if the air compressor is made using high-quality and dense materials it is likely to produce less noise. The exhaust could be another reason behind the loud noise produced by your air compressors.
2. Can You Make an Air Compressor Quieter?
Here are a few ways to help you quieten your air-compressor:
- Insulate vibrating portions with rubber
- Move to a location with a soft material base to prevent amplification of vibrations
- Modify the exhaust
- Replace it with a quieter air compressor from this list
3. How Do Silent Air Compressors Work?
Silent air compressors are the ones that have precise machining to prevent friction between them which is a major reason for the noise.
The quietest air compressors generally have oil-lubricated pumps. Oiling greatest reduces the friction between the moving parts and increases the life and overall performance of the machine besides cutting off lots of noise.
The extra thermal insulation makes them further quiet and provides you with a peaceful working condition.
4. How Do You Soundproof a Compressor?
Soundproofing the air compressor is not a big deal. By following a few simple tricks you can significantly reduce the level of noise being produced by your machine.
Due to prolonged use, air compressors start creating noise. This can be eliminated by either relocating the machine to a region away from your location so that you get only a small fraction of the sound.
Another idea is to place it on the softer ground so that the vibrations are absorbed and not further amplified.
You may also place the machine in a soundproof enclosure that will further baffle the noise. Sound blankets can also be used to further cut off the noise.
5. What’s the Difference Between Single-stage and Dual-stage Air Compressors?
The number of times that air gets compressed between the inlet valve and the tool nozzle indicates the stage of the air compressor.
In the case of single-stage air compressors, the air gets compressed only once and for the dual-stage air compressors, it gets compressed twice.
In single-stage air compressors, after the air has been compressed, it is then sent to the storage tank. But this is not the case in dual-stage compressors.
In the dual-stage compressors, the air after getting compressed once is sent to a smaller piston for a second compression. After this, the cooled air is then sent to the storage tank.
6. Are Belt Drive Compressors Quieter?
Belt drive compressors are generally better than direct drive compressors in practically every regard.
Belt drive air compressors are more powerful for their size and have fewer revolutions per unit time. Thus, they operate at lower temperatures compared to direct drive air compressors. It increases their lifespan too.
The Bottom Line
Makita 2.5 HP Air Compressor has a fast recovery time and is the best air compressor for most people. It is competent to tolerate all the diverse conditions of job sites. It comes with a 4.2-gallon tank and delivers 40 PSI (4.8 CFM) and 90 PSI (4.2 CFM).
DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor DWFP55126 is a great pancake air compressor. The cold start mechanism greatly benefits during the cold winter days when it becomes difficult to start the compressor. It delivers a pressure of 165 PSI and gives 2.6SCFM of air at 90 PSI of pressure. The tank size is 6-gallon which is the largest on my list.
Senco PC1010 is another of my favorites. This oil-free compressor can be used at different temperature conditions and terrain. It doesn’t require much maintenance. It can be used for doing small jobs like renovation and home improvement. It has a 1-gallon tank and gives .7 CFM output at standard 90 PSI.