If you’re in the market for a two-stage air compressor, that means you’re prepared to do the heaviest duty work in construction or home repairs with a premium-priced unit. The double pressurized air, which is cooled and then re-pressurized in the second chamber, is powerful enough for the most intense home remodeling, repairs, and DIY projects.
Since a two-stage air compressor is a huge investment, you need to know the aspects that make one better than another and which features you need for your project’s needs. Particularly for heavy manufacturing and auto assembly tasks, you want the best of the best in terms of air compression technology to run your tools smoothly.
Here are short reviews of the best two-stage air compressors on the market in 2020 and an in-depth buyer’s guide to walk you through the features that you should be looking for when comparing the aptitudes of each unit against the needs of your project.
The Quincy Splash Lubricated Reciprocating Air Compressor is a 5-foot tall stationary air compressor with a 60-gallon tank capacity. You need to have a space planned out for this unit before you buy it – it weighs over 400 pounds and needs to be installed in a convenient location where it can stand secure and standing up.
Even then, you should consider strapping it down with a safety harness. However, the vertical tank design is reasonably slim and helps reduce the storage footprint of the unit, in case you’re a homeowner a little tight on space.
The Quincy QT-54’s two-stage drive pump and cast-iron cylinder indicate the sturdiest possible construction. This compressor operates at 1310 RPMs with 145-175 working PSI built to run at a 100% duty cycle so you know you can use this compressor without worrying about it stalling or recharging.
Its motor runs at 5 hp, meaning that you’ll need at least 230V on whatever power source you use to run this unit. The Quincy is known for reducing operating costs for extended work by running at a relatively low RPM, meaning that this compressor can produce more air at low horsepower.
For heavier projects, however, it’s nice to know that its maximum capacity is extremely high.
Its pump has been designed to last for 30,000 or more hours, meaning that you can run this compressor for all conceivable jobs for a lifetime. It performs at 15.9 CFM at 90 PSI and 15.2 CFM at 175 PSI, so you can rest assured that any of your air tools will perform well hooked up to the Quincy QT-54.
For its size, it also produces surprisingly little noise – only 75 decibels, which is comparable to a compact pancake compressor with much less power. This makes it ideal not only for a home environment but also for a mechanic garage, construction site, or auto body shop where you want to be able to hear while you’re working.
Quick recovery time on the compressor’s charge comes from its cast-metal construction increasing airflow with industry-leading filtering and air processing technology. This also prevents vibrations, meaning that your Quincy won’t be rattling against the wall or knocking things over while it’s running.
A long warranty rounds out the premium Quincy reciprocating air compressor with just a little more assurance that you’ll be buying a product that will last you a lifetime.
Why we like it
The Quincy Splash Lubricated Reciprocating Air Compressor is a premium choice in two-stage air compressors with its low running RPMs and high operating PSI. Though large, if you have the room for it, its 5 hp engine should be able to tackle any contractor-grade home repairs, maintenance, or auto bodywork that you need it to do.
Both novices and renovation enthusiasts would do well with this compressor, provided they have the power supply to handle it, the space to house it, and the need for all the power it offers.
The Campbell Hausfeld 2 Stage Air Compressor is even larger than the Quincy, with a huge 80-gallon tank and an equal max PSI of 175 (11.9 SCFM at 90 and 11.3 SCFM at 175).
It also requires a 230V power source, so make sure when you set it up that you have access to an adequate power supply. You want to be able to paint, use nail guns, rotate tires, operate woodworking air tools, and more without having to worry about blowing a fuse.
Despite its capacity, the Hausfeld has a slim vertical tank to give you more floor space and reduce the unit’s storage footprint. Comparatively, this unit is also a little lighter than most of this list, weighing in at 326 pounds, making it just slightly easier to unpack and move if necessary.
Like the Quincy, it boasts a 5 hp induction motor that allows you to maintain that high pressure for extended jobs. Its cast-iron lubricated pump is sturdy, with a listed lifespan of 5,000 reliable hours: not the highest on the list but more than enough to keep your projects going until it’s time to get a new unit.
This latest series boasts that it runs cooler than ever before to reduce the chances of the compressor overheating and recovers quicker as well. That means that you won’t be wasting as much time waiting around for your compressor to recharge.
Whether you’re using your air compressor for painting furniture, grinding, maintaining an engine, or running heavy-duty nail guns for a construction project, the Campbell Hausfeld should suffice.
Why we like it
The Campbell Hausfeld air compressor runs cool despite its powerful motor and competitive running PSI. Its 80-gallon tank is huge in its class, meaning that you’ll be spending even less time waiting for this compressor to recharge on an extended project. If you have a power supply that can take it and need its heavy-duty applications for auto, machinist, or heavy metal and woodworking jobs, Campbell’s compressor is a relatively compact and powerful option.
No list of heavy-duty compressors or power tools would be complete without a DeWalt entry. It’s competitive in this class of tools as well, with a similar 5 hp motor and 60-gallon tank as the Quincy. Its top of the line thermal protection keeps the motor safe from electrical fluctuations, which is an important safeguard when you’re buying a machine that draws this much power (230V) and costs this much.
An efficient cast-iron flywheel and cooling fan help the DeWalt’s powerful motor stay cool. This saves you a ton of time from having to wait for it to get back to safe operating temperatures during use. It even saves you money in energy costs since you don’t have to run it as long and it doesn’t run as hot (or blow any fuses). Its pressure controls and two air outlets are easily accessible and clear to read.
It’s clear oil level sight glass and 4” extension oil drain are also a benefit to this compressor’s smooth operation. Despite having a large tank, the DeWalt Two-Stage Air Compressor can be filled in only a couple of minutes. It automatically starts recharging once the levels drop below 135 PSI.
This industrial-grade air compressor delivers maximum CFM at 175 PSI. This means that it contains enough pressure to run two air tools at once, which is great for multitasking on a job site or in an auto shop, or even for family remodeling teams to run two nail guns or airbrushes at once.
Like other vertical tank designs, this air compressor has a reasonably low storage footprint. At 400 pounds, it may be advisable to secure it in a spot where there’s no danger of it tipping over. Gratefully, you have a lot of options because this tank is tall and undemanding in terms of floor space.
DeWalt offers a 2-year warranty on the pump to help you stay at ease when it comes to your purchase.
Why we like it
DeWalt is a well-known name when it comes to industrial-grade air tools and this compressor is no different. It’s competitive in factors such as its 5 hp motor, 175 maximum running PSI, and 60-gallon tank. An efficient oil drain and industry-leading thermal protection only sweeten the deal for those enthusiasts who just can’t get their contractor-grade work equipment unless it has the DeWalt name on the front.
This two-stage air compressor by Ingersoll Rand is comparable in price to many of the best compressors on this list and boasts a lot of the same performance features.
Firstly, it’s 60-gallon capacity tank can handle any workload, no matter how industrial, its 175 maximum operating PSI and 6-ASME receiver tank allow you to tackle even the most strenuous air compression applications, from intense auto bodywork to contractor-grade DIY home remodeling projects involving frame or deck building.
This durable cast-iron unit promises to be a long-lasting unit in your construction or DIY arsenal with over 15,000 hours of life at 100% continuous duty. Only the Quincy boasts a longer lifespan, but we can’t imagine using up even this much.
The Ingersoll Rand unit also uses a select synthetic lubricant for increased efficiency. It runs for 2,000 hours of operation before it needs to be changed out, which is about 4 times as long as normal petroleum-based lubricants take to wear out.
Due to its individually-cast cylinders and one-piece connecting rod, this air compressor has simple operation, maintenance, and service for such a heavy and complex machine. Like other units on this list, it weighs over 400-pounds, but its vertical tank design greatly reduces its floor footprint for easy storage.
Lastly, the Ingersoll Rand air compressor offers an optional start-up kit that contains all the parts and lubricant that you’ll need for a full year of maintenance on this machine, which is a great option for beginners in heavy-duty air compressors who may not know what it takes to maintain one through regular operation.
Backed by a two-year warranty and an extended pump warranty, it’s hard to go wrong with this Ingersoll Rand model.
Why we like it
This two-stage air compressor from Ingersoll Rand is competitive in this price range with its tank size and operating PSI. Above average trouble-free service time and an extended warranty are bonuses to an already sturdy construction that promotes easy maintenance. An optional starter’s kit that comes with parts and lubricant guaranteed to last longer than typical alternatives makes the Ingersoll Rand an attractive option to those who are just being introduced to this level of industrial-grade air compression.
The Industrial Air 60-gallon air compressor comes with a lot of the same conveniences as other units on this list. These include a maximum CFM at 175 PSI, which is more than enough power to use any industrial-grade air tool, or multiple tools simultaneously.
A patented pump design makes the Industrial Air compressor run cooler. Like the DeWalt DXCMV5076055, it has an easily accessible oil level sight glass and oil drain with a 4” extension. Its large 60-gallon capacity is standard comparably to the other air compressors on this list and its consistently low running pump RPM allows you to run this unit continuously without worrying about stalling.
Thermal overload protection technology gives you a buffer against blowing circuits while a wire form belt guard improves the compressor’s rate of cooling. This allows it to run smoother and even saves you money on electricity costs.
Easy to read tank pressure gauges and cast-iron flywheels complete a stable construction that makes for a versatile, high-volume compression unit.
Like others on the list, the Industrial Air unit weighs about 400 pounds and has a small storage footprint owing to its slim vertical tank design.
For the same intense 5 hp motor and average running PSI capacity of others on this list, the Industrial Air is another option.
Why we like it
The Industrial Air two-stage air compressor is another option for those looking to fine tune their choices on an industrial-grade compressor for use in remodeling or construction projects. With much of the same specifications in terms of motor power, PSI capacity, thermal overload protection, and cool running systems as other units on this list, it would be hard to go wrong with the Industrial Air version.
Comparing these compressors may seem difficult because many come with similar features. Knowing what to look for in terms of the aptitudes of each machine compared to your needs will help you find the unit that’s right for you.
This is why we’ve compiled this in-depth buyer’s guide, delving into the most relevant factors that separate and define each unit and what the implications are for your needs as a remodeling or DIY enthusiast.
1. Motor size
The machines on this list boast an impressive 5 hp motor and in this price range, a two-stage compressor should come equipped with one. If the models you’re looking at are comparatively priced but lower in power, you need to find better technology which is widespread and readily available on the market in 2020.
2. Maximum running PSI
To run multiple industrial-grade air tools simultaneously, your two-stage air compressor should come equipped with the capacity to run at 100% efficiency with a max PSI of at least 175. Any less and you may not be able to run two tools at once, which is extremely useful on a busy jobsite, in an auto shop, or on cooperative DIY projects at home.
If the specs on the model you’re considering don’t match up, search for those listed here: they all tick this box for efficient PSI management and effective running speeds.
3. Tank size
A tank with a 60-gallon tank capacity is industry standard for the best two-stage air compressors on the market. Most of the units on this list come equipped with exactly that. Only one (the Campbell Hausfeld model) has a distinct edge with 80 gallons.
While not everyone needs that extra capacity, that does set the Hausfeld apart. If you know that you’ll be running projects for even longer than normal (perhaps you run a busy body shop), you may be willing to shell out for that extra 20 gallons.
4. Thermal overload protection
Any two-stage air compressor given industrial-grade work to do on a steady basis runs the risk of overheating. That’s why the specs of your intended model should include thermal overload protection technology, tested and assured to keep your unit safe from dangerous overheating. You don’t want to blow a fuse or melt a motor simply from normal operations.
5. Voltage requirements
On the subject of blowing fuses, the voltage requirements of these compressors have a variable range. You want to make sure that you have an ample power supply to handle the compressor that you buy. If you know that your workspace doesn’t come equipped with a strong enough outlet, you may need to buy an industrial power supply or else do more research to find a compressor that matches your limitations.
6. Storage size
The shape profiles of the air compressors listed are a slim, vertical-style design that promotes easier storage. It reduces the unit’s floor footprint, which allows you to keep this unit stored with relatively little surface area devoted to it, which could be significant for cramped homeowners or those that work in smaller body shops.
Take note of the dimensions if available storage space is an issue for you.
Along the same lines of checking the compressor’s dimensions for storage availability, the weight of the units is also variable. Those on this list have a weight range of about 100 pounds, so if weight is an issue for you, you should check this statistic thoroughly.
When might it become an issue? Some people have bad backs and may want to take the edge off of moving this compressor around. If the unit is intended for a house where children are present, a little less weight may make the unit a little safer to have around.
To be safe, you should strap the compressor upright anyway to prevent it from falling in any case.
8. Oil drain
Not all the units on this list have an accessible oil drain, but some do. Maintenance on a huge compressor can be complicated so an intuitive oil level sight glass and drain with 4” extension can make a big difference.
Most units use standard petroleum-based lubricants for maintenance. However, the Ingersoll Rand model uses a select synthetic petroleum substitute that lasts 4 times as long without having to be replaced.
If this has been an issue for you in the past, then you may want to opt-in for a substitute to make maintenance easier for you, and less frequently required to boot.
The Ingersoll Rand model also comes with a startup kit of accessories, including the lubricant, and is the only unit reviewed on this list to do so.
This is especially useful for novices as an all-inclusive package with everything you need to get started on your new industrial two-stage air compressor could be a big help and save you from having to buy extra materials in the long-run.
The longevity of each unit is listed on its product specifications. It is the number of working hours that the unit is expected to last with no maintenance. This is an extremely variable factor when selecting your compression unit: some on this list claim to last 30,000 hours and others only 5,000 hours.
Keep in mind that except for the most long-lasting intense auto work associated with a shop, 5,000 hours is plenty for the lifespan of any compressor (those who use it that much will probably upgrade it before it’s finished anyway).
However, if the increased number gives you peace of mind in terms of the unit’s sturdy construction, look for those longer guarantees. Known companies like Quincy are known for these promises of sturdiness and longevity and have been delivering on those promises for decades.
11. Cooling technology
As mentioned, overheating is a huge problem for poorly constructed two-stage air compressors. In any unit you buy, you want to look for multiple convenience features for increased cooling. These could include dedicated cooling fans, industrial-style air filters, and a patented pump design that promotes efficient airflow and motor cooling.
This not only improves performance but reduces operating costs as well.
Cast-iron pumps and valves improve cooling, and thereby operating efficiency. Look over the specs of the machine to make sure it’s made of high-grade materials. You want this unit to last.
Two-stage air compressors are units fit for the most industrial-grade tasks in auto repair, maintenance, home remodeling, construction, painting, and more. For the huge capacity tanks and efficient operating PSI, these units come with a hefty price tag. This is why it’s so essential to know what you need so you can buy the unit that works best for you.
Out of these choices and for our needs the Quincy QT-54 Splash Lubricated Reciprocating Air Compressor is the top choice. Despite its comparable operating speeds and pressures to the other models on this list, we found it to be better constructed (and quieter) overall. Quincy guarantees that their unit will last 30,000 operating hours with no maintenance and it performs up to par in our testing.
Regardless of which model you choose, as a home renovation enthusiast you need a heavy-duty air compressor to give you access to the best nail guns, airbrushes, and maintenance machines available. Having a compressor with such a huge capacity will save you time and energy on these projects.
Use our buying guide to compare features that are essential for any two-stage air compressor under your consideration. At such a high premium, any of these compressors will be a huge investment that could take your auto shop or home renovation project to the next level. You want to be sure it’s the right one for you. If you’re looking for a more affordable air compressor take a look at our guides for best air compressors under $500, air compressors under $300, and air compressors under $200.
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.