The 5 Best Air Compressors Under $200 [Updated July 2020]
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If you’re buying an air compressor for home remodeling projects but only want to spend $200, you need to know the limitations of that price range. You will be sacrificing power, tank size, and pressure capacity by limiting yourself in price.
However, you should not have to sacrifice versatility, portability, or functionality. This buyer’s guide will lead you through the models that are available for less than $200, the features that define them, and the aspects you need to consider when choosing an air compressor for your needs.
The DeWalt DWFP55126 Air Compressor is designed pancake-style to promote portability. Like many of the best options on our list of recommendations, you can get a smaller unit with a lot of features by saving money on the motor.
Despite this fact, the DWFP55126 performs extremely well in its size range, with an impressive 6-gallon tank. Though this unit only weighs 32 pounds to promote portability between job sites or around your house, that capacity should serve you well on any conceivable remodeling project. This thing should run without recharging for a good amount of time.
Additionally, it delivers a max PSI of 165, which is quite competitive. At the same time, it’s so small that it produces fewer than 80 decibels of noise: not the quietest model, to be sure, but plenty quiet when you factor in its performance.
For a compact design, this is also a keeper, with a conveniently small footprint for easy storability and transportation.
For air compressors within this price range, DeWalt once again has put out the most powerful and unit out there with a large capacity to match.
Why we like it
The DeWalt pancake air compressor is powerful in its size class, stores easily, and has a relatively huge tank. Remodeling enthusiasts looking for a lot of power in a small package should look no further, particularly those that value portability and capacity in their jobsite or home repairs air compressor unit.
This is the direct competition to the DeWalt DWFP55126 pancake air compressor, with its comparable size, weight, and tank capacity. It also offers portability and versatility when it comes to moving between sites. Those who have houses or workspaces with stairs or distant garages will be grateful for the Craftsman Air Compressor’s compact design.
The real draw to this model is its 13-piece accessory kit, making the Craftsman ideal for beginning home renovators that don’t have any accessories lying around. Since the price of these units often has to be inflated to accommodate those pieces that some enthusiasts have and you do not, the option to bundle them together for the unit’s price is a perk that some will refuse to pass up.
This accessory kit comes with many helpful attachments, including a tire gauge, blow gun, safety novel, inflator adaptor, Pvc air hose with coupler and plug, and more. Novice home remodelers will be excited to get everything they need in one low-cost package.
Weighing only 32.5 pounds, like the DeWalt, the Craftsman has a small storage footprint and is easy to lug around between jobs. It starts easily in cold weather and a dual compressor system gives the Craftsman an edge when it comes to reducing recovery time on longer projects.
A limited 1-year warranty rounds out the package for the Craftsman as one of the leaders of the pack for our list of recommended air compressors.
Why we like it
The choice between the Craftsman CMEC6150K and DeWalt DWFP55126 pancake air compressors is tough because they are both so competitive in this price range. The big sticking point may be your experience level. If you’re a novice home renovator, it’s hard to argue with the versatile 13-piece accessory kit that will save you time (and a headache) from having to assemble a full usable unit yourself from just the base compressor unit.
Yet another pancake air compressor, this time by Bostitch, with a few things to consider in comparison to the other models.
Similarly, this compressor boasts a sizable 6-gallon tank, has a low storage footprint due to its compact design, weighs only 31 pounds for convenient portability, and is particularly sturdy in terms of smaller air compressor models.
Bostitch boasts that due to superior construction, this compressor can be charged and used in only 2.5 minutes, a measure of convenience, to be sure.
One thing to keep in mind is that its record-breaking low cost comes with a downside, which is that the Bostitch air compressor comes with absolutely no additional attachments, hoses, or tools to complement the basic compressor. They can be bought for more money, but keep in mind when comparing the prices that as a novice home remodeler, you may need to shell out a lot to make up for what this package is lacking.
Still, if you’re looking for comparable power at 150 PSI in a mid-range, bare-bones air compressor that’s easy to transport and store, Bostitch’s compressor is a viable option.
Why we like it
The Bostitch pancake air compressor is competing in a highly competitive field of similarly sized compressors, all of which are compact, have a large capacity, and run smoothly. Bostitch technology may be preferable for its promises of efficient performance. Just keep in mind that the incredibly low price of this unit factors in the fact that it is for the base compressor only, and comes with no cords, hoses, heads, tools, or attachments to supplement beginners with the tools they need to get started on their repairs.
The last pancake air compressor on this list is by Porter-Cable. Like the Bostitch, this unit comes at an incredibly low price but comes with nothing except the unit, something to keep in mind if you’re just starting with your renovations and will need the extra hoses and tools and get going.
Its 150 PSI maximum and 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI allow it to run as smoothly and recover as quickly as most of the units on this list. Its construction is similar to the Bostitch, sitting with a small footprint in any storage space and weighing only 31 pounds for easy maneuverability.
Any home renovation task could benefit from this low-amp, yet powerful compressor, anything from inflating air mattresses to running a nail gun for light home repairs.
Rubber feet prevent wear to your floors and a durable oil-free pump keeps the compressor running without maintenance for a long time.
Those that need accessories can buy this unit with a kit for a little extra money, but still well within the target price range.
Why we like it
The Porter-Cable model comes with optional accessories and a lot of the same features as other pancake air compressors on this list, including a compact size, manageable weight, and competitive PSI.
This compressor is tiny and you need to take that into consideration. The Senco PC1010 only has a 1-gallon tank capacity, making it a much more portable but also slower-acting option. Senco designs their compressors as budget picks for people with very specific job requirements that don’t need a ton of horsepower (this model peaks at 0.5) or an excessive capacity.
For smaller DIY jobs that require an air compressor, this should work just fine. Those include light airbrushing, wood repairs, minor remodeling jobs, or even blowing dust out of dirty electronics.
Normal jobs that require an air compressor, even those as seemingly small as refiling a tire, will take longer because of the Senco’s reduced hardware specifications. However, the reason to get this model is its insanely lightweight design and unbeatable portability.
At only 20 pounds, this compressor stores just about anywhere, can be easily hauled to any job, and runs smoothly and quietly when you get it there.
Why we like it
When you’re buying the Senco, you need to realize that you’re sacrificing power for compact design and total portability. At the same time, this is a sturdy compressor that can handle cleaning and light remodeling tasks involving nail guns and airbrushes easily. Those looking for portability at a low price can’t go wrong with the Senco.
When comparing these air compressor units, several features come up over and over. Looking at this list and other units offered on the market, it’s important to know what every air compressor needs, the factors that you’ll be comparing, and the criteria for how to choose the compressor that’s right for you.
Here is a short buyer’s guide to help you do just that.
1. Motor capacity
With such a limited price range, you won’t get a ton of horsepower on air compressors in this class. Look for some that can get up to a 1 hp max and run on average at 0.5 hp. More than that and you’re bound to pay more, but less than that and you can probably find better.
2. Tank size
At this price range, you can easily find a tank as large as 6 gallons. However, more capacity means a noisier unit and one that’s heavier and harder to transport as well.
The only unit we reviewed that gets a significant lead on those factors is the Senco, whose 1-gallon tank promises a lightweight machine for those that need it for only the lightest air compression tasks.
3. Oil-free pump
Look for an oil-free pump listed on any features of an air compressor you’re considering. Consumer-grade air compressors shouldn’t need oil anymore and a cast-metal, oil-free pump will just ensure that your unit lasts as long as it should with no maintenance.
4. Model style
Most of the models on this list are pancake-style because those are typically the most compact and powerful in this price range. However, many single and twin stacked tanks out there are not, including the Senco.
If storage space is a big priority for you, pancake-style construction promotes a small storage footprint and easy portability. If not, units that are heavier but come with wheels and foldable handles are available as well.
Be sure to also look for anti-scratch rubber feet if you have wood floors and take into consideration the fact that not all air compressors can be stored easily. Some units have compartments built in to store all their accessories and attachments and some do not.
Remember when buying that it’s not just using the tank that should inform your decision but storing the unit and all its accessories as well.
Many base models don’t come with accessories, and this will probably lower the unit’s default price. However, before you spring for the cheapest units on the market, keep in mind that accessories are often mandatory when using an air compressor.
If you’re a novice home renovator, you may not have the essential tools lying around that will make your air compressor worth owning. These include hoses, gauges, adapters, attachments, and other tools that not only give your unit a versatile range of functions for you to choose from in maintenance and construction tasks but also allow the compressor to function in the first place.
As a novice, you may want to look for units that come with included or optional accessory kits to make sure you have everything you need to get your DIY projects up and running before you make a purchase.
6. PSI output
The effect of this statistic on the usability of your air compressor will be determined entirely by your needs.
If you’re looking to run heavy-duty nailers or other air tools like impact wrenches and drills with this compressor, you’re going to need a high and steady output. If you want the ability to run multiple tools at once (nail guns or airbrushes, for instance), the compressor needs to be able to run consistently at a certain split PSI across both hoses.
If you’re only looking to clean out electronics, run light airbrushing tools, fill up tires, or do other light homemaking and remodeling tasks, then you may not need as much PSI output capacity. Just make sure you know the requirements of what you plan on using the unit for before you buy a compressor that can’t handle the load.
Conversely, there’s no reason to spring for more power and pressure capacity than you need if you know that the compressor will only be used for light work. It all depends on your intentions and experience level.
Absolutely a factor at the forefront of many homeowner’s mind, the price of these units doesn’t vary too much owing to the low range. Those that are significantly below $200 are probably cheaper because they come only with the base unit and no hoses or accessories, or else they are significantly lower in power capacity and efficiency.
Budgeting is important but there’s not a lot of wiggle room when it comes to compressors in this range.
Choosing the right air compressor for your home renovation or remodeling jobs is a matter of comparing their features against your needs and experience level. If you have no experience, you may want to look for a compressor that’s lightweight, easy to break down and store, of mid-range power, and comes with all the tools and accessories that you need to get your renovation projects off the ground.
Despite its similarities to other models on this list, we can’t argue with the DeWalt pancake air compressor’s signature sturdy design for the best all-around choice when it comes to air compressors under $200. Its low storage footprint, high PSI output, and competitive tank size put it at the forefront of budget units.
While many on this list have the same features, DeWalt’s signature construction ups the efficiency on its motors, reduces recovery time, and performs better when used for light to mid-range remodeling tasks that require air tools. We liked this DeWalt model so much that it also made it onto our list of best air compressors under $300.
Regardless of which unit you choose, by selecting features that adhere to your experience level and the needs of your job, you can find an air compressor that has the compact size and reasonable power that you need as a new or experienced home remodeler, even at a budget price. If you’re looking for a more premium air compressor check out our recommendations for air compressors under $500.
I have an unhealthy obsession with contracting and renovation. I’ve been a contractor for over 15 years and I love tackling challenging projects to make them look amazing.