An air compressor is an essential tool for any home renovator or remodeler. Choosing the right model entails understanding the needs of the project you plan on undertaking and comparing them to the proficiencies of each machine.
Whether you need only light painting work around the house or plan on using an air compressor for more heavy-duty tasks in your work as a contractor or serious DIYer, one of these machines has what it takes to get your job done right.
Here’s a short guide to buying a quality air compressor for under $300 in 2020, including the aptitudes of each reviewed machine, a buyer’s guide, and our recommendations.
This is a heavy-duty option for serious DIYers. For those who need a compressor that can pull off industrial-grade tasks in even the most inclement weather, the Makita Electric Air Compressor has double the horsepower of a comparably sized compressor and plenty of convenience features.
The first thing to note is its large air filter, which ensures that the Makita won’t run out of steam halfway through the job. Copper has been strategically inlaid into the tubing in order to evenly distribute heat and prevent water from accruing in the tank, which is a huge issue on many air compressors of this size.
Another problem that compressors like this can have is being too cold to start, which is especially prevalent for those who use their air compressor outdoors for cleaning or painting projects. The Makita’s air pump is lubricated with oil so you can be sure that it will start in the morning even if you accidentally leave it out in the cold all night.
Next is its relatively noiseless operation, which is great for anyone but particularly noteworthy for home renovators who want to work without making the whole house sound like a construction site. With only a maximum sound output of 80 decibels, you can be sure that your painting task won’t wake up the whole neighborhood.
Its carrying handle is also particularly convenient for those with larger hands who need to carry their compressor between sites, either for multiple home renovations or on a construction job.
Why we like it
For contractor-grade air compression and a pump that goes up to 1720 RPMs, a low amperage, and a few key convenience features, the Makita Mac700 is a great all-around choice. For novices that want a reliable, industrial-grade compressor for painting work in their home renovations or contractors that want something with a little more power behind it, it’s easy to recommend the Makita.
The DeWalt Pancake Air Compressor is designed for people who are looking for something portable, either to take to multiple sites or to lug up and down the stairs of their house while they do different remodeling projects.
Despite weighing only 32 pounds, the DeWalt still delivers 165 PSI in a 6-gallon tank, which should be more than enough to get you through your DIY projects without any hiccups.
The small footprint on this machine makes it convenient to store in a toolshed and maneuver to the spot where you’re doing painting or auto work. It’s also relatively quiet, producing fewer than 80 decibels so that you, your family, and your crew don’t have to deal with an unmanageably noisy work environment.
Like the Makita, the DeWalt also has an easy starting mechanism for when the machine gets too cold or is being powered by an extension cord.
Why we like it
The DeWalt Pancake Air Compressor is a value option for home renovations that require a compressor. It has a large capacity relative to its size and packs a good amount of power for its price range. Any home renovator would be pleased with how little noise it makes and how easy it is to get upstairs, out around the house, or out to the car.
This is another pancake model, a 6-gallon air compressor that gives you maximum portability when you’re trying to finish up multiple projects or lug this thing out to your yard.
It comes with a 13-piece accessory kit that includes a blowgun, gauge, safety nozzle, adaptors, and more for added convenience. This is especially useful for novices who don’t have any spare heads or attachments laying around and want an all-in-one package for any conceivable project.
It has both a competitive weight at 32.5 pounds and a low cost. Its mechanism is quick to start in cold weather and its dual compressor system reduces recovery time for when you’re working on a longer project.
Like many on this list, it comes with a limited 1-year warranty just to give you some ease of mind when buying.
Why we like it
The Craftsman 6-gallon compressor is a cheaper option that comes with a lot of attachments for those that are buying their first compressor. It’s easy to carry, starts up in even inclement temperature conditions, and has competitive pressure and power usage in its class. Any amateur DIYer who doesn’t quite need the most heavy-duty services out of their air compressor would do well with the Craftsman.
You’ll have no problem powering this Bostitch air compressor from a regular house outlet. It’s the lowest priced compressor on the list so far despite having comparable features upgraded from previous Bostitch models. Just keep in mind that this one doesn’t come with any attachments or hoses at all.
150 PSI maximum capacity is enough for pretty much any household job and a competitive 31-pound weight makes it exceedingly portable, which is probably the number one factor on a compressor as sturdy as this one. To show off the Bostitch’s superior mechanical construction, it can be charged and ready to pump in only 2.5 minutes.
For mid-level work, this is one of the lightest models in its power class currently on the market.
Why we like it
For medium-level tools for use in light carpentry and painting, Bostitch is a convenient, semi-professional model that doesn’t come with any bells and whistles but is a great portable model for contractors that want an extra compressor to throw in their car or home renovators that want a convenient and quiet machine around the house.
This is another lightweight compressor with a peak performance of one horsepower but with a much-reduced air tank capacity of only one gallon. Senco air compressors are designed for very specific hobby and job requirements that you need to think about before buying this one.
At only 20 pounds, the Senco is the lightest on the list. If you’re doing work around the house in simple renovations and need a compressor to power a nail gun, Senco is perfect. This includes attaching trim, repairing cabinets, fixing railings, and other minor remodeling tasks.
For light airbrushing or even for blowing dust out of electronics in your garage, this Senco compressor is a highly portable, convenient option. Just make sure you understand that it’s designed for light work and that even filling up a tire will take much longer than it would with another model on this list.
Why we like it
The Senco is not designed for heavy-duty air compressor jobs with only one gallon in its tank and less power than other models on this list. However, someone who is a novice DIYer and just wants a highly portable compressor to power a nail gun or run a small airbrushing station could do well with this compact, highly specialized model.
1. Tank capacity
Many models have as much as a 6-gallon capacity to run for continuous tasks without needing to recharge. Specialized models are much smaller but still run fine for what they’re designed to do.
A peak of one horsepower is standard for a consumer-grade air compressor, but some on this list go up to two. Keep in mind how heavy-duty your job is when comparing these factors.
You may be moving the compressor around your house or to different job sites if you plan on using this unit as a contractor. Keep the weight, dimensions, and handle in mind when buying.
4. Noise output
On a construction site, it may not matter too much. However, for home renovation use, you may not want a noisy machine. Look at the listed maximum decibel output before buying if noise could be an issue for you.
Light home renovation and remodeling tasks can make extremely good use of an air compressor. Most of these will be able to run a nail gun and can handle modest tasks like airbrushing and tire refills.
Think about what tasks you intend to tackle before buying an air compressor and consider our top pick: the Makita MAC700. It’s the most powerful compressor on the list, completely versatile, and yet remains exceedingly portable.
Any home DIYer or craftsman would be lucky to have one of these units standing by. Consider their usefulness before you begin hammering in those nails by hand. Obtaining one of the best air compressors for under $300 could save you a ton of time. There are premium air compressors under $500 but if you’re looking for something less expensive you can check out our guide for the best air compressors under $200 as well.
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.