10 gallon air compressors are perfect for executing small air tool tasks. Their compact sizes and light weight make them perfect for storing in household spaces like a garage. Additionally, they are affordable enough for the average DIY enthusiast.
While having multiple options to choose from can be thrilling, it can also backfire and lead to poor choices. So in this review article, we have shortlisted the four best 10 gallon air compressors for you, narrowing down your choice significantly. To arrive at this products on this list, we went through a large number of 10 gallon air compressors, filtering by features, specifications, and even aesthetics. Our rigorous process has churned out these four winners and we believe they deserve your attention.
The four compressors are different enough to appeal to various individual needs, but good enough to be worth the purchase. Let’s get into each of them.
Table of Contents
Best 10 Gallon Air Compressors 2020
California Air Tools 10020C Ultra Quiet Oil-Free and Powerful Air Compressor, 2 HP
WEN 2289 10-Gallon Oil-Free Vertical Air Compressor, 150 PSI
Stark Portable Quiet Air Compressor 10-Gallon Tank 3.5HP Air Compressor Ultra Quiet Compressor w/Wheel
2 HP Quiet Portable Air Compressor, 125 PSI, 10 Gallon, HULK Silent Series, Model HP02P010SS by EMAX Compressor
The California Air Tools 10020C 10 gallon air compressor comes with adequate features, enough power, and surprisingly quiet operations. The operating noise is so quiet that the manufacturers have dubbed it ‘ultra quiet.’ You can also expect a high duty cycle, which translates to longer run time.
If your interests lie in compressor with sufficient power, the California Air Tools 10020C is what you need. The flow rate is excellent, and the maximum pressure is high enough for most of your air tools. Even the heat given off by the compressor is minimal, giving you better working conditions when using the compressor.
Considering its features, you can use this compressor inside your home or workshop without any problems. The compressor weighs around 80 pounds, a normal weight for a 10 gallon air compressor. It also has wheels and supporting handles for easy mobility and transportation.
· Ultra quiet operation
The California Air Tools 10020C air compressor’s maximum operating sound is 70 decibels. It’s difficult to know how loud that is, but you can believe that it’s one of the quietest sounds available. Many air compressors are so loud that you’d need to yell across the room to get your partner to understand what you’re trying to say. You won’t have that problem with the California Air Tools 10020C.
This compressor is also quiet for another reason — it’s modern design motor. Operating at only 1680 RPM, it’s as quiet as they come.
· Easy start valve
The easy start valve is another solid feature in the California Air Tools 10020C air compressor. What this technology does is it allows for an easier, softer start by drawing less power. The valve releases a some air from the pump during startup, producing a no-load condition and kickstarting the motors.
The no-load feature also uses less power and prevents short circuits. Once the motor reaches operating speed, the valve closes and pressure builds up in the compressor. This way, this 10 gallon compressor can function more efficiently than most compressors on the market.
· More power
The California Air Tools 10020C air compressor operates at a maximum pressure of 125 PSI and can deliver 5.3 CFM at 90 PSI and 6.40 CFM at 40 PSI. This 5.3 CFM at 90 PSI makes this compressor quite powerful for its class. It’s so powerful that it can sustain two air tools at one go. So for example, you could use it for a air gun nozzle, powder coating, laser cutting air assist, air brushing, and spray guns.
· Overall performance
This oil-free California Air Tools 10020C air compressor has a durable double piston pump for high performance. It is also sturdy enough to be used in extreme weather conditions without any trouble. This is a huge plus because most compressors’ performance differ with extreme weather conditions.
Finally, the compressor has a thermal overload protector that keeps it from overheating during work.
Excellent manufacturing quality
Goes from empty to full in 2 minutes
Low amp draw (14A)
Phenomenal life cycle of 3000+ hours between servicing
This oil-free vertical compressor is another favorite when it comes to reliable 10 gallon air compressors. WEN, the manufacturer, has been manufacturing power tools since 1951, and they’ve only gotten better at it. They have also built a reputation for manufacturing reliable and efficient tools. All this history translates to a highly functional compressor.
The WEN 2289 10 gallon air compressor is suitable for nailers, staplers, spray guns, and other air tools. If your tools require about 2 to 3 CFM at 90 PSI, this is the perfect compressor for you. It may not be as powerful as California Air Tools 10020C, but it packs a serious punch.
The WEN 2289 is incredibly user friendly, which is another reason for it’s popularity and stellar user reviews. At only 71 pounds, it is lightweight with 7-inch never-flat wheels. These, plus it’s small size make it portable and mobile.
· Superior safety with auto shutdown feature
The WEN 2289 air compressor features an automatic shutdown feature that triggers once the compressor reaches the maximum PSI. Besides the obvious reasons, the feature is also important because it allows for reliable and safe compression of air. Conversely, when the tank loses pressure, the motor restarts and builds pressure again.
In this way, you can maintain optimal working conditions while also preserving the compressor’s overall lifespan.
· Easy portability
For storage, a vertical 10 gallon air compressor is better than a horizontal compressor. The vertical WEN 2289 10 gallon air compressor is by design, very easy to store. It also comes with non-pneumatic tires that will never go flat. Along with the resilient tires, the compressor also has handlebars with non-slip rubber grips to make mobility easier. Portability is one of the most alluring things about small air compressors, and it’s great to know that the WEN 2289 10 gallon air compressor fits this criteria.
· Solid CFM and PSI
The WEN 2289 10 gallon air compressor delivers a decent flow rate of 4.0 CFM at 90 PSI and 5.0 CFM at 40 PSI. It can generate a maximum pressure of 150 PSI, which immediately puts any user’s power concerns to rest. With a power output like that, you can handle the two most common jobs —metal and wood working — simultaneously. Depending on the how it’s used, even professionals can successfully use this compressor for good work.
· Overall performance
The oil-free WEN 2289 10 gallon air compressor requires no lubrication. However, maintenance involves checking the lubrication every 12 months or so. It uses a Teflon lubricator and it tends to go dry after a while.
The drain valves are easily accessible, unlike most compressors of the same size and power rating. An accessible drain valve translates to easy condensation and dispersion of air.
The WEN 2289 10 gallon air compressor comes with two pressure gauges. You can monitor the pressure inside the tank through one gauge and regulate the air flow rate through the other.
You can also quickly change the hose in the WEN 2289 10 gallon air compressor through the ¼” NPT air outlet.
Though not as powerful as the previous compressors, the Stark 3.5 HP 10 gallon air compressor beats them in portability. It’s excellent for DIYers and weekend warriors who love to tinker. It’s also a great purchase because it’s oil-lubricated. If you know anything about machines with moving parts, you’ll know that those with moving parts tend to last much longer.
You can easily tackle tasks like inflation, hobby painting, fastening, stapling, bolting, and nailing with this compressor. As mentioned earlier, it is also lightweight. If you combine it’s light weight, large wheels and noiseless operation, you’ll find that it’s a DIYer’s best friend.
Some users may shrink at the idea of having to lubricate their compressor from time to time. But which would you rather have; a oil-lubricated compressor that lasts years or one that has a 18 month maximum life span? If you want the most value for your money, oil-lubricated compressors may be the way to go, and the Start 3.5 HP 10 gallon air compressor is an excellent choice. Here’s one more reason to buy: it’s very affordable.
Let’s get into its features one after the other
· Fast tank fill-up motor
The Stark 3.5 HP 10 gallon air compressor features a 3.5 HP motor with cold start twin capacitor induction. This high HP compensates for the low CFM in the compressor. The high HP also means that the tank can rapidly build up pressure, much faster than any unit on this list. Besides these, the motor also features the critical thermal overload protector. This shuts down the compressor, protecting it from overheating and a very short lifespan.
· 50% quieter than most other compressors in its class
The Stark 3.5 HP 10 gallon air compressor runs on oil lubrication. This is partially responsible for why it can run with such minimal operating noises. The compressor also has a belt drive that comes with it’s own full enclosure — one more reason why it can work so quietly. It’s quiet enough to run around the house or workshop without alarming any neighbors.
· Compressor with oil lubrication
The piston in the compressor determines the operating efficiency. Lubricate it properly and you have a smooth delivery of pressurized air. If it’s not properly lubricated, you’ll run into some trouble with a very short while after purchase. You’ll be glad to know that this air compressor is oil lubricated, and with minimal maintenance, it will serve you for a long time.
Oil compressors generally weigh more than oil-free compressors. That been said, the Stark 3.5 HP is the lightest of all the compressors on this list, and that’s saying a lot. It is also the coolest in terms of operating temperatures. It is greatly suited for long, continuous hours of operation.
· What about the CFM?
Admittedly, the Stark 3.5 HP 10 gallon air compressor does not have a high CFM. The maximum pressure in this compressor is 125 PSI, which is just above par. Additionally, the CFM at 90 PSI only has a 3.5 rating while the CFM at 40 PSI has a 7.2 rating, a relatively low rate of air flow.
However, not every air compressor needs ridiculously high power. This unit appeals to a group of customers who are fine with it’s average air flow. Plus, considering it’s other features, it’s clear that the Stark 3.5 HP is a fantastic compressor.
· Overall performance
The Stark 3.5 HP 10 gallon air compressor operates with a low Amp draw. That minimizes the risk of the breakers tripping during start-up, which is great.
This compressor also features large air filters with an automotive style for increasing the air intake and improving efficiency. Besides efficient function, you also get durability thanks to the cast iron cylinders. They are able to resist wear and tear, and increase the pump’s life.
The cast iron pump features big bore cylinders that enable fast recovery time, an improvement in the the operating pattern of compressors.
Low operating noise
Pressure build up in less than two minutes
Excellent for weekend warriors
Handle and other components made of inferior plastic
This compressor is both the most silent and and possesses the CFM at 90 PSI of all the compressors in this review . This EMAX HULK HP02P010SS 10 gallon air compressor is a beast and worth consideration any day. If you have enough room to store it, you should definitely consider adding it to your list of tools. It’s that good.
EMAX has over thirty-eight years of experience in the field of manufacturing, and they’ve constantly upped the ante in their tools. They currently use the latest technology, driven by the most complex systems for their air compressors. With this wealth of experience, EMAX’s objective ensures that their air compressors meet any demanding environment.
With the aim to provide high air output power with the least noise, this HULK compressor succeeds in doing so, using several mechanisms. We’ll discuss these one by one in the next section. But if you’re looking for a 10 gallon air compressor that can power tools in a range of 4 to 5 CFM at 90 PSI, this is your unit.
· Super quiet operation
The first thing that’ll strike anyone operating the EMAX HULK HP02P010SS 10 gallon air compressor is the silence! The engineering of the dual intake filtration designed the unit to dampen the noise as much as possible. This results in an 80% quieter operation than other compressors with the same 2 HP motor engine. It’s no surprise that the noise decibel of this compressor is a shocking 41 dBA at three feet.
· Impressive power
The EMAX HULK HP02P010SS 10 gallon air compressor produces a maximum pressure of 125 PSI. The powerful twin cylinders can provide 5.77 CFM at 90 PSI and 8.39 CFM at 40 PSI. For a 10 gallon air compressor, that’s as powerful as they come.
· Maximum durability and reliability
The EMAX HULK HP02P010SS 10 gallon air compressor features a low amp draw that can work with most outlets, so there’s no need for an adapter of any kind. The solid copper winding in the compressor also serves to reduce the normal decay and prolongs the life of the compressor.
For reliability, this compressor comes with heavy-gauge steel cylinders, valves, and cylinder head. It also sports big wheels for easy mobility. Couple that with it’s light weight and small size, and you have a durable and compact air compressor.
Quick recovery time
Resilient in extreme weather
Oil-free with minimal maintenance
Easy to store and transport
Two year warranty
Handle often comes loose
Buyer’s Guide – How to choose the best 10 gallon air compressor
There are factors that you need to consider first before you choose to buy the best 10 gallon air compressor. These can keep you from a bad purchase and help identify the best products for your needs. Let’s get to it.
· Rate of air flow: This simply refers to the CFM (cubic feet per meter) rating. The standard measurement of CFM is at 90 PSI. So, the first step is to see how your tools are rated and whether or not they are compatible with the compressor you’re looking to buy. Tools in the same grade usually have similar ratings. Unless you’re using heavy duty air tools, a 10 gallon air compressor should be able to power your tools. But you need to doublecheck.
In this review , the compressor with the highest CFM at 90 PSI is the EMAX HULK HP02P010SS 10 gallon air compressor. It can crunch a 5.77 CFM at 90 PSI. So, if a high CFM is what you want, the HULK is perfect for you.
· Portability: This is another crucial factor. Air compressors have varying weights as you can tell from the units we already reviewed. But besides the weight, other factors contribute to the portability of the compressor, like the size, shape, presence of wheels, and even vertical or horizontal orientation.
The Stark 3.5 HP 10 gallon air compressor is the lightest on this list, weighing only 62 pounds. If you’re looking for a light 10 gallon air compressor, now you have your unit.
· Shape of the tank: All the compressors on this list have a vertical orientation. That’s great because they take up less space and are easier to store. If you have more room and favor a horizontal orientation, there are also compressors in that category. But generally speaking, a vertical orientation is better for home/garage storage.
· Power source: Most modern air compressors use an electric power source because it’s more easily accessible for users, as well as being cost efficient. However, some compressors use a gas power source, and this has its perks. For one, the gas-powered compressors have more power. But when you’re dealing with 10 gallon compressors, the electric-powered varieties are more than sufficient to power your tools. Plus, you don’t want a gas powered compressor indoors because of the fumes.
· Horsepower: The horsepower (HP) essentially determines how fast your tank can refill. A higher HP will refill faster than a lower HP. Naturally, you want your tank to refill as quickly as possible. In that case, the Stark 3.5 HP 10 gallon air compressor will serve you perfectly.
· Sound level: If you’re working from home, the level of noise your air compressor produces becomes important. In this article, the EMAX HULK HP02P010SS 10 gallon air compressor takes the cake when it comes to compressors with the least noise emissions.
· Usage: You’ll also have to consider your purpose for using the compressor. Start by looking at the tasks you want to accomplish, and the tools you currently possess. You should only consider items that fit within the limit of 4-5 CFM. If you require more, consider getting a larger tank.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What amount of pressure do I require?
In order to answer this, you’ll have to first check your tools. Inspect how much volume of air your devices require. Once you are done with that, check which tool requires the most amount of pressure. After you get the highest pressure in your tools, choose a compressor with a maximum PSI that exceeds the requirement of that tool.
What other features should I look for in an air compressor?
Other features like a cast iron body and oil lubrication are important. A cast iron body is crucial because it increases the durability of the unit. This is even more pronounced if you’re working in extreme weather conditions like snow, heavy rain, and high humidity.
How do I protect my air compressor?
Corrosion is one of the enemies of air compressors because the tank is constantly exposed to moisture. And the cast iron build doesn’t help. To protect your compressor, seek out a unit with stainless steel valves. Stainless steel is corrosion-resistant.
Thermal protection is another feature that your compressor should possess. It cuts the motor during any overload to protect the machine from damage, thus protecting it and stretching out the life.
What amount of electrical output do I require for a 10 gallon air compressor?
For a 10 gallon air compressor, a standard household 110V will do. But do note that this voltage can only support up to 4 HP. Luckily, all the products we’ve reviewed are within this range.
Where should I store my compressor?
If you’re planning to store the compressor outdoors, find a place away from water and moisture. For indoor storage, ensure there’s adequate ventialtion around the unit during use.
We hope this review of the best 10 gallon air compressor has been helpful. Even though the air compressor is a simple tool, a lot of thought and consideration should go into its purchase. You never want to make mistake when purchasing pricey units like these.
When it comes to choosing the best 10 gallon air compressor, it’s hard not to settle for EMAX HULK HP02P010SS air compressor. This compressor has an all round excellent feature that you’d want in a 10 gallon air compressor. It is our top pick, even though the other three products are excellent choices.