In this article, we will discuss the nine best 20 gallon air compressors currently on the market. We left many other products off this list because they are a few functionalities shy of “the best”.
The choice for a single best 20 gallon air compressor is, however, subjective. What works for you will not work for another user because you have different needs and projects. Read on to find out which 20 gallon air compressor is perfect for you.
Best 20 Gallon Air Compressors 2020
Industrial Air IL1682066.MN 20-Gallon Belt Driven Air Compressor with V-Twin Cylinder
California Air Tools 20040DC Ultra Quiet & Oil-Free 4.0 hp, 20.0 gallon Steel Tank Air Compressor with Air Drying System, White
DeWalt DXCMPA1982054 20-Gallon Portable Air Compressor
NorthStar Single-Stage Portable Electric Air Compressor - 2 HP, 20-Gallon Vertical, 5.0 CFM
P1.5IU-A9 2hp 20 gal Single-Stage Compressor (115/1)
NorthStar Portable Gas-Powered Air Compressor - Honda 163cc OHV Engine, 20-Gallon Horizontal Tank, 13.7 CFM at 90 PSI
The Industrial Air IL 1682066 MN 20 gallon air compressor is currently one of the most popular compressors. Even on Amazon, this air compressor has an impressive overall rating of 4.8 stars! 85% of customers gave a 5-star rating and the remaining 15% of the customers gave a 4-star rating. Read on to find out what makes this air compressor stand out.
The Industrial air compressor features an oil lubrication pump, and a twin cylinder pump that both supply sufficient power.
The heavy-duty induction motor comes with dual voltage capacity. So you can use the compressor with a 120 V socket or convert it to a 240 V socket; either ways, it works great!
With a maximum pressure of 135 PSI, the Industrial Air IL 1682066 MN air compressor delivers a solid performance. This compressor can deliver a 5.3 CFM at 90 PSI and 6.2 CFM at 40 PSI. It’s capable of operating various air tools, including a wrench, ratchet, nailer, plasma cutter, impact gun, powder coating gun, chisel, and so much more. The heavy-duty induction motor also enhances the overall performance and efficiency of this compressor.
· Strength and durability
The single stage Industrial air compressor comprises of a cast iron crank shaft, twin cylinders, and cast iron valve plate. Being highly durable themselves, these components add strength and resilience to the compressor.
· Cooling efficiency
The aluminum head and valve plate disperse heat quickly, allowing the Industrial Air IL 1682066 MN air compressor to remain cool for extended periods. The efficient cooling system also ensures the compressor’s longevity.
· Super fluid portability
Portability is another area where the Industrial Air IL 1682066 MN air compressor excels. Due to its vertical structure, the compressor occupies a small space. It also features front handles with an ergonomic design, and tires that generate traction. All together, these features improve the mobility and storage of the compressor, making it a handyperson’s dream.
By far the best value for money
Low operating noise
Robust and large tires delivering nice rolling traction on uneven surface
Easy-to-access controls with accurate placement
Access to the drain valve is a hassle
Some users may find the cooling system inefficient
2. California Air Tools 20040DC 20 gallon air compressor
The California Air Tools 20040DC 20 gallon air compressor replaces the older 4 HP 1740 model. It is another excellent option if you’re looking for a 20 gallon air compressor with a high CFM.
· Ultra quiet
The California Air Tools 20040DC air compressor operates at a fairly low decibel. This is because of the compressor’s unique design. It features a double piston pump/motor system that disperses a significant amount of air in a short time. Its separate 2 HP motors also operate at a low 1680 RPM. These two elements reduce vibration and noise to barely perceptible levels.
· Long life cycle
The California Air Tools 20040DC air compressor has a larger duty cycle to allow for longer run time. The dual piston pump can run for more than 3000 hours, a 30% increase in lifespan compared to older models.
· High CFM
One of the best parts of the California Air Tools 20040DC air compressor is its power — 10.6 CFM at 90 PSI. This is higher than most 20 gallon air compressors, and can run most of your air tools.
· Air drying system
The new air drying system provides optimal performance and maintenance of the California Air Tools 20040DC air compressor. It is designed to remove moisture from the air and protect the sensitive components.
The compressor utilizes an aftercooler and dryer, enabling the air dryer to function properly. The aftercooler cools the air as it’s released by the compressor. The vapor from the air then undergoes liquid condensation, which then enters the air dryer.
Ultra quiet; for a 4 HP engine, the 75 decibels is the best in its class
Quick tank refill in two and a half minutes
Recovery from 115 PSI to 125 PSI in 40 seconds flat
Dewalt never fails to deliver when it comes to air compressors. The same is the case with the Dewalt DXCMPA 1982054 20 gallon air compressor, which has all the good stuff. Unsurprisingly, this compressor has a 100% 5-star rating on Amazon.
· Best exterior and interior components
All the best components that you want in an air compressor come with the Dewalt DXCMPA 1982054 air compressor, including solid cast iron components, reed valves of stainless steel, ball bearings with automotive design, and an aluminum engine head.
· Stable temperature
The oil lubrication pump enhances the performance and durability of this compressor by keeping the operating temperature stable. Since temperature control is crucial to the durability of a compressor, this product can last a long time without breaking down.
· Quick pressure build-up
The 1.9 HP induction motor allows the pump to build pressure fast in the Dewalt DXCMPA 1982054air compressor. In fact, this compressor builds pressure faster than other compressors at the same price range.
· Convenient to load and transport
This Dewalt DXCMPA 1982054air compressor also scores high in portability. It features low-profile frames that make loading and transportation of the compressor easy and stress-free. The mobility is further enhanced by the pre-attached pneumatic tires and comfortable handles. The low-profile frame also keeps the unit steady while in use.
· PSI for multifaceted tools
The Dewalt DXCMPA 1982054 air compressor delivers a maximum pressure of 155 PSI. You can get 7.0 CFM at 40 PSI and 5.7 CFM at 90 PSI with this compressor. With these numbers, the compressor can meet the needs of professionals in the flooring, roofing, framing, and remodeling industries.
· Heavy support for impact tools with no issues
The air delivery and capacity of the Dewalt DXCMPA 1982054 air compressor can support impact tools with no problem. These include two flooring, roofing or framing nailers or four finish or brad nailers. You just can’t go wrong with a tough compressor like this.
Builds pressure quickly
Noiseless operation with no issues running the unit in a small garage
Cut out and cut in pressures are consistent
Drain valve is not easily accessible
The compressor requires its own 15A circuit
4. NorthStar Single-Stage vertical 20 gallon air compressor
If you’re not planning to exceed 5.0 CFM at 90 PSI, the NorthStar 20 gallon vertical air compressor is all you need.
· Dependable durability
The cast iron V-twin cylinder pump features oil lubrication with a cast iron head that ensures a durable service life. The placement of the bearings on each side of the crankshaft adds extra support with minimum wear and tear. Overall, you can expect this NorthStar 20 gallon vertical air compressor to last a couple of years.
· Consistent cooling
As you know, heat is an enemy to the durability of any air compressor. To counter this, manufacturers use various design to improve the cooling system in their compressors. As for the NorthStar compressor, manufacturers have incorporated a V-shape cylinder placement to dissipate hot spots and deliver steady cooling. This encourages better removal of heat and with less moisture.
The maximum pressure of 135 PSI with a 100% duty cycle in this NorthStar compressor is sufficient for any small-scale operation. At a decent 5.0 CFM for 90 PSI, you can operate many tools including a spray gun, air brush, nailer, nibbler, air ratchet, etc. You can also use impact wrenches with this compressor, but the downside is that you get rapid pressure bleeding. This may affect the performance of the compressor in the long run so it may be best to avoid high power requirement tools.
Low noise performance
Small footprint and high portability
Accessible air release valve
Quick pressure fill-up
Can hold air pressure for a long duration without leakage
Solid wheels with vibration dampers
Four years consumer warranty
Some users may find the ¼” air pressure regulator insufficient.
Inconvenient drain valve location
No instructions on how to configure the unit to a 230V.
Heavier than most compressors
Only 5.0 CFM at 90 PSI
5. Ingersoll Rand Garage Mate P1.5IU-A9 20 gallon air compressor
This compressor was manufactured exclusively in the USA using components of the highest quality. Due to its reliability, the Ingersoll Rand Garage Mate P1.5IU-A9 air compressor is one of the best 20 gallon air compressors on the market. It is suitable for professionals and handypersons alike.
Given the effectiveness of this air compressor, there are many copies and lookalikes. These copies come at a cheaper price but with inferior components. Be sure you’re buying the original product before completing your purchase.
· Power for any home applications
The Ingersoll Rand Garage Mate P1.5IU-A9 air compressor churns out a maximum pressure of 135 PSI. With this pressure, you can get an excellent 5.5 CFM at 90 PSI, which can power sanders, paint sprayers, nailers, drills, grinders, ratchets, impact guns, and many more. In addition, the 2 HP engine with a 100% duty cycle will provide uninterrupted operation under any conditions.
This Ingersoll Rand Garage Mate P1.5IU-A9 air compressor weighs around 200 pounds. But that shouldn’t scare you. It has a large and comfortable handle with pneumatic wheels to assist in mobility.
Moving it around the garage or workspace won’t be much of a hassle. But getting it from one site to the other may require an extra pair of hands.
· Safe and easy operation
This electric Ingersoll Rand Garage Mate P1.5IU-A9 air compressor has all the safety features you need. It features a manual motor protection in case of a thermal overload. There is also a belt guard enclosure to provide extra protection. The 20 gallon tank also has ASME certification, which is yet another reason to buy.
The tank comes with a service valve, relief valve, pressure gauge, and check valve for smooth operation. The drain valve at the bottom is also easily accessible, unlike with other compressors. It has a manual and automatic on/off lever and start/stop pressure switch for smooth operation.
It is unexpectedly quiet at 80 decibels
100% continuous duty cycle
All season synthetic oil lubricant for better efficiency
Service of 2000 plus hours between change outs
Durable cast iron frames and cylinder
At 200 pounds, it lacks portability
Only a single voltage with no conversion to 240 V applications
6. NorthStar Portable Gas-Powered 20 Gallon Air Compressor
This NorthStar horizontal 20 gallon air compressor is the horizontal version of the earlier NorthStar vertical 20 gallon air compressor. The choice of horizontal or vertical air compressor often comes down to space; if you don’t have much room to work with, the vertical compressor is the better choice.
The NorthStar horizontal 20 gallon air compressor features a twin cylinder pump with cast iron overhead. This allows for greater heat dispersion with no heat transfer between the two cylinders.
The belt drive pump with oil lubrication operates quietly and ensures the long life of the pump. You can also expect more than 5000 hours of pump life before you need a change out.
The NorthStar horizontal 20 gallon air compressor has a maximum pressure of 135 PSI. The various CFMs are 6.0 CFM at 40 PSI, 5.0 CFM at 90 PSI and 4.2 CFM at 135 PSI. With this power, you can operate tools like nailer, nibbler, impact wrench, air ratchet, and others.
Low noise operation
Quick air pressure fill-up
Metal belt guard
Ergonomic handlebar for extra support in mobility
Low regulator flow
7. Porter Cable PXCMF220VW 20 gallon air compressor
A relatively lightweight compressor for easy portability, this Porter Cable PXCMF220VW 20 gallon air compressor is budget friendly. It is also more suited for simple DIY projects that don’t require heavy pressure tools.
The Porter Cable PXCMF220VW air compressor delivers a maximum pressure of 150 PSI, which is a lot for a small compressor. However, this compressor can generate only 4.0 CFM at 90 PSI and 5.0 CFM at 40 PSI. That makes it suitable for light works like inflation, hobby painting, nailing, stapling, bolting, and wrenching. Any tool requiring more than 3 CFM at 90 PSI will not be ideal for this compressor.
· Excellent portability
When it comes to portability, this Porter Cable PXCMF220VW air compressor stands out. This compressor comes with 7 inch wheels for easy rolling and maneuverability. It also weighs only 97 pounds only, much lighter than other 20 gallon compressors. The air compressor’s compact structure also takes up small space, making storage easy.
· Durability and maintenance
This Porter Cable PXCMF220VW air compressor comes with an oil-free motor and pump. This requires less maintenance in contrast to an oil-lubricated compressor. Also, the oil-free compressor means that there is no need to check and change oils, and no need to maintain pulleys or belts.
The air compressor’s start-up is of low voltage, minimizing the current draw, and motor torque .
Unit is lightweight and portable
Small footprint, easy storage and placement
Excellent for light to medium air tools
Loud noise, user may need hearing protection
Tank drain is ¼” ball valve with a tendency to ice up during humid or warm weather
Takes a while to build pressure
8. NorthStar Portable Gas-Powered 20 Gallon Air Compressor
The most powerful compressor in this list is the NorthStar 20 gallon air compressor with Honda 1633cc OHV engine. The compressor has a gas power source with single stage belt drive compressor pump. It features superior cooling technology with low vibration for smooth and obstruction free operation.
The feature that stands out is the Honda GX160 OHV engine with enormous 5.5 HP. If you’re looking for a powerful 20 gallon air compressor, this is your best bet.
· Low vibration and high durability
No one wants an air compressor that might break down in the middle of a job. But there are many instances where air compressor will just break down without any warning. To avert itself from this annoying cause, theNorthStar 20 gallon air compressor comes with superior technology.
The low vibration technology feature in this compressor is a standout. This technology gives a dynamic balance to the pump and ensures smoother operation and longer service life.
· Extended pump life
Maintaining the temperature in the compressor is vital to prevent any overheating which can cut-short your compressor’s life. The orientation of the cylinders in this NorthStar 20 gallon air compressor eliminates any hotspot. This results in a constant cooling system, thereby prolonging the life of the pump.
All the components like a crankcase, heads, and pump cylinder are cast iron, which also helps in maintaining a long life. The pump also utilizes steel valves like the Swedish floating type, which are of premium quality. This further enhances the performance of the compressor and guarantees a hindrance free operation.
· The super Honda GX engine power
This Honda GX engine with 163cc in the NorthStar 20 gallon air compressor is a beast. This engine offers a quiet performance, better fuel efficiency, and easier operation.
The OHV (overhead valve) in this Honda engine also allows smooth fuel intake and a quicker and more robust exhaust system. With greater power output in this engine, the combustion system efficiently suits the output. All these OHV features contribute to a significant extension of the engine’s service life .
This NorthStar 20 gallon air compressor weighs around 196 pounds, normal for an efficient 20 gallon air compressors. Still, the compressor is portable with built-in wheels and a handle. The portability allows you to perform roofing work, contract and professional works, inflating tires, and lots of other applications.
· Superior CFM
This NorthStar 20 gallon air compressor has a maximum pressure of 130 PSI. You can get 13.7 CFM at 90 PSI and 14.6 CFM at 40 PSI. With this CFM, you can easily power common air tools. Interestingly, you can also operate orbital sanders within suitable CFM ranges.
Powerful engine puts it on par with many 30 gallon engines
Super quiet operation
Honda engine provides excellent fuel efficiency with low oil shutdown
Cylinder design encourages superior cooling
Bearings on both sides of the crankshaft for better support
Large flywheel for cooler operation
Five years warranty
Sensitive engine choke
9. Campbell Hausfeld DC200000 20 gallon air compressor
For a DIY enthusiast, an oil free compressor is ideal because of its minimal maintenance. Likewise, an affordable compressor is preferable to an expensive one. If these describe your needs perfectly, then you need the Campbell Hausfeld DC200000 20 gallon air compressor.
This air compressor ticks all the boxes that a small-scale user seeks — affordability, portability, reliability, and efficiency.
The Campbell Hausfeld DC200000 air compressor weighs only 92 pounds making it the lightest compressor on this list. It has a horizontal design with large wheels and a durable steel handle. All these features collectively make the compressor easy to move around. Couple lightweight with large wheels and you get a highly mobile air compressor.
· Ease of use and safety
The oil-free pump provides smooth operation and hassle-free maintenance. The control panels in the Campbell Hausfeld DC200000 air compressor are also easily accessible for reading and operation. The control panel also has a list of applications that are compatible with the compressor.
The induction motor comes with a full enclosure to protect users, and a long life span.
The Campbell Hausfeld DC200000 air compressor can deliver a maximum pressure of 150 PSI, which is quite a lot. It also has a reliable and decent 1.3 HP engine with 120 V. For a DIYer, you’ll mostly need a single voltage capacity. With 4.0 CFM at 90 PSI, you can tackle projects like bolting, nailing, stapling, hobby painting, and inflation.
Lightweight with large wheels for optimum mobility
Best in class for DIY enthusiasts
Cheap price with a strong performance
Oil-free operation for long life
Decent pressure build up but not as quick as you would expect
Buyer’s Guide best 20 gallon air compressor 2020
· Nothing beats the CFM
More important than the size of the tank or the horsepower is the CFM. This is the speed at which the compressor can supply air. While searching for a 20 gallon compressor, the CFM should be your number 1 priority. Most of the air tools will generally measure the CFM at 90 PSI so that should be your benchmark.
In this review, the compressors have a CFM ranging from 4 to 13.7 at 90 PSI. The compressors with the highest CFMs are the NorthStar 20 gallon air compressor with Honda 1633cc OHV engine and the California Air Tools 20040DC 20 gallon air compressor. On the other hand, Porter Cable PXCMF220VW 20 gallon air compressor and Campbell Hausfeld DC200000 20 gallon air compressor have 4 CFM at 90 PSI.
It is advisable to go for a compressor with a higher CFM rating than what your tools require for best results. For example, if your tool requires 2 CFM at 90 PSI, then go for a compressor with a minimum 3 CFM at 90 PSI. This way, you get better performance from your compressor.
· Oil and oil-free air compressor
Next to the CFM, you need to decide if you want an oil or oil-free compressor. Both types have their merits but oil-lubricated compressors are better for large scale operations. Even though they require more maintenance, they are durable and can work for longer hours. On the other hand, if you’re going to work on a smaller scale, an oil-free compressor is the better option. They are lighter, cheaper, and require less maintenance.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is a 20 gallon air compressor big enough?
Some users worry about the size of their tank. Though a larger tank is often preferable, it often comes with a higher price tag, bigger footprint, and more weight. The real question is whether or not a 20 gallon compressor will meet your tools’ needs. Figure that out and you have your answer. Nevertheless, for air tools with low load, a 20 gallon compressor will easily do the trick.
What size generator do you need to run a 20 gallon compressor?
Before we answer this, you should know that manufacturers do not recommend using a generator with a compressor. This is because the power fluctuations associated with generators may damage the compressor. However, if you need to use a generator, we recommend one with 3000 running watts with 4000 starting watts. Most of the 20 gallon compressors in this article operate at 15 A on 120V. So, even though you can operate the compressor with a 2000 running watt, a higher running watt will generate better performance.
Can I use the 20 gallon air compressor for business?
In this review, the NorthStar 20 gallon air compressor with Honda 1633cc OHV engine is a fantastic option for both business and professional uses. It is powerful and can match many 30 gallon compressors’ performance.
Once you figure out the requirement of your tools, choosing the best 20 gallon air compressor will become much easier. In this review, the nine best 20 gallon air compressors will suit the needs of a DIYer, a professional, or a contractor.
If you’re a DIY enthusiast working with low load tools, then the Porter Cable PXCMF220VW 20 gallon air compressor and Campbell Hausfeld DC200000 20 gallon air compressor are great options. They are both lightweight, cheap, oil-free, and reliable.
If you’re looking for something more powerful, then the Industrial Air IL 1682066 MN 20 gallon air compressor and Dewalt DXCMPA 1982054 20 gallon air compressor are great options. Both of them deliver more than 5 CFM at 90 PSI.
If you want more powerful still, nothing will beat the NorthStar 20 gallon air compressor with Honda 1633cc OHV engine and the California Air Tools 20040DC 20 gallon air compressor. They both deliver more than 10 CFM at 90 PSI, which is more than you would need from a 20 gallon compressor.