If you think that air compressors are just tools for auto mechanics and house builders, think again. From inflating tires and balls to cleaning electronic devices, powering air tools, painting, and more, quiet air compressors can help make chores easier around the house.
While all air compressors pressurize air by pumping it through a hose into a storage tank until the operator releases it for a wide variety of purposes, not all are designed for the same tasks. And because so many air tool applications exist, there are a wide variety of compressors with different ratings for air pressure, volume, flow rate, noise level, configuration, and more.
When shopping for the best quiet compressor, it is important to think through the ways it could be used in order to know which model has the right combination of specifications. To help narrow the field, we’ve researched and compiled our list of some of the best quiet air compressors for home projects.
Keep reading to find out the key considerations buyers navigate during the shopping process, and then continue on to read detailed product reviews of some of the best quiet air compressors on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: California Air Tools 8010 Air Compressor
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: DeWalt Heavy-Duty 165 PSI Pancake Air Compressor
- BEST LARGE-CAPACITY: Emax 350 Series 7.5 HP 80-Gallon Air Compressor
- BEST COMPACT: Makita MAC210Q Quiet Series 1 HP Air Compressor
- BEST PORTABLE: California Air Tools 2010A 1 HP Air Compressor
- BEST FOR HOME GARAGE: California Air Tools 20020A Quiet Air Compressor
- BEST FOR TIRES: DeWalt 20V MAX DCC020IB Corded/Cordless Air Inflator
- BEST FOR AIR TOOLS: California Air Tools 4620AC 2.0 HP Air Compressor
- BEST FOR AIRBRUSH: Master Airbrush Model TC-77 Airbrush Compressor
- BEST MULTIPURPOSE: Harbor Freight Fortress 175 PSI Air Compressor
- ALSO CONSIDER: DeWalt DWFP55130 2.5-Gallon 200 PSI Air Compressor
How We Chose the Best Quiet Air Compressors
We researched dozens of online retailers for the best quiet air compressors available and then selected the most capable performers for our review. Our priorities included performance ratings, noise ratings, overall functionality, and brand reputation. The award categories were selected according to search volume in order to create a useful guide for the most readers.
For most of our product categories, the selection process started with minimum performance standards: a maximum pressure of 120 pounds per square inch (psi) (or higher) and a 2.0 cubic feet per minute (CFM) (or higher) at 90 psi. These ratings provide a basic level of functionality for light-duty work. Exceptions to the minimum requirements included the “Best for Tires” and “Best for Airbrush” categories because of the unique needs of these specialized uses.
While we did not personally test out every product on our list of recommendations, we did manage to get our hands on the Harbor Freight Fortress air compressor for an in-person trial. Read below for our full verdict on that one.
Our Top Picks
We sought out the most popular brands and models at top retailer sites to compile our picks of the best quiet air compressors. Whether you need massive capacity for high-demand garage tools or a compact unit for DIY projects, we’ve got you covered. Read on for the reviews.
The California Air Tools 8010 is an ultraquiet air compressor that takes on common projects like nailing, airbrushing, blow cleaning, and inflating without disrupting the neighborhood. With its 8-gallon air tank, 1-horsepower (hp) motor, and oil-free dual-piston air pump, it produces a steady flow of 2.20 CFM at 90 psi, with a maximum pressure of 120 psi, for a wide range of light- and medium-duty tasks.
The two-wheeled cart frame makes it easy to transport this 48-pound hot dog–style compressor over uneven ground, while it is low enough to store beneath a workbench. This unit offers small-project indoor or outdoor versatility with low noise levels.
- Decibels: 60 decibels (dB)
- CFM at 90 psi: 2.20 CFM
- Volume: 8 gallons
- Only 60dB, equivalent to a conversation; reduced intrusive sound
- 8-gallon air tank results in longer runtime; suitable for small to large projects
- Large wheels make it easy to transport or maneuver
- Good airflow capacity for small projects
- Bulky body style may not be ideal for storing in small spaces
- Limited airflow capacity
Get the California Air Tools 8010 quiet air compressor at Amazon or The Home Depot.
This heavy-duty DeWalt pancake air compressor offers a well-proportioned 6-gallon tank that holds more air than many larger hot-dog compressors thanks to a maximum pressure rating of 165 psi. The oil-free pump pushes 2.6 CFM at 90 psi for good runtime and fast recovery.
The compact top-handle design with integrated cord wrap makes it easy to carry, haul, or store, with room to spare. At 75.5dB, however, it is a bit louder than others on our list. This compressor is a budget-friendly choice to support most light- and medium-duty air tool projects.
- Decibels: 75.5dB
- CFM at 90 psi: 2.6 CFM
- Volume: 6 gallons
- Compact design is easy to carry and store and maneuver around
- 165-psi capability packs more air into a smaller tank
- High-flow regulators and couplers for excellent tool performance
- Outstanding performance at this price point
- No wheels integrated into the design; may not be ideal for some users
- Louder than others on our list; may not be suitable for use at night
Get the DeWalt 165 quiet air compressor at Amazon or The Home Depot.
This is the air compressor for those who need to power a garage full of high-demand tools all at once. The powerful 7.5-hp oil-lubricated compressor is designed for commercial use. It delivers 33 CFM at 90 psi, with a 175-psi maximum, which is enough capacity to power five air sanders (or other high-capacity air tools) simultaneously.
This unit is loaded with professional-quality features such as open drip-proof (ODP) electric motors, magnetic starters, manual ball valve tank drains, powder-coated American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) tanks, and cast-iron 70,000-hour-rated pressure lubricated pumps. The patented Whisper100 low-profile air intake system reduces noise by 35 percent. It also requires hardwiring to its own circuit.
- Decibels: Not rated
- CFM at 90 psi: 33 CFM
- Volume: 80 gallons
- Massive capacity with 33 CFM at 90 psi for long-term use
- 80-gallon storage tank is ideal for larger projects
- 30 percent quieter than the competition for convenience
- Commercial quality durability for reliability
- Large and expensive
- Requires a unique electrical circuit for proper use
Get the Emax quiet air compressor at Tractor Supply Co.
The compact Makita MAC210Q is easy to pack in the truck, carry around the worksite, and store in the garage. It is our choice for the best ultraquiet air compressor in terms of compact size and airflow. The roll-cage design protects the pump and motor assembly from damage due to drops or collisions.
The top carry handle and slim profile make it more comfortable to carry. Its small but powerful oil-free 1-hp air pump operates at just 60dB, filling the 2-gallon tank to 135 psi. Quiet operation and a compact build make this compressor an ideal choice for indoor or outdoor projects.
- Decibels: 60dB
- CFM at 90 psi: 2 CFM
- Volume: 2 gallons
- Lightweight and easy to carry for convenience; suitable for those with mobility issues
- 2 CFM at 90 psi for small to large projects
- Roll-cage design protects against drops and collisions
- Efficient 1-hp motor and dual-piston pump for efficiency
- Lower tank capacity; may not be ideal for very long runtimes
- No wheels integrated into the design
Get the Makita quiet air compressor at Amazon or The Home Depot.
California Air Tools takes our best quiet portable air compressor spot with its super lightweight, ultraquiet model 2010A. The high-efficiency oil-free 1-hp pump operates at 60dB, filling the 2-gallon aluminum tank to a max capacity of 120 psi. It produces a working capacity of 2.2 CFM at 90 psi.
At just over 35 pounds, this compressor is very lightweight and easy to carry thanks to its low profile and top handle configuration. This is an excellent general-purpose air compressor for light-duty tasks such as airbrushing, brad nailing, stapling, and inflating.
- Decibels: 60dB
- CFM at 90 psi: 2.2 CFM
- Volume: 2 gallons
- Very lightweight at just 35 pounds for maneuvering or storing
- Rust-free aluminum tank lasts for long-term use
- Good working capacity for light-duty tasks
- Maximum 120 psi holds less air than other compact options
- Exposed pump and motor is susceptible to damage in transport
Get the California Air Tools 2010A quiet air compressor at Lowe’s or The Home Depot.
Our pick for the best quiet air compressor for home garage use delivers more power and airflow without increasing maintenance. For plenty of heavy-duty air power, the California Air Tools 20020A air compressor uses an oil-free 2-hp dual-piston pump and motor to fill its 20-gallon steel air tank to a maximum 125 psi.
The Easy Start feature reduces the required starting amps, saving energy and making cold-temperature starts less difficult. It operates at a comfortable 70dB noise level, producing 5.3 CFM at 90 psi for higher-demand air tools like sanders and spray guns. An automatic drain valve eliminates manually draining the tank. This unit features hand-truck-style construction for easy mobility around the garage.
- Decibels: 70dB
- CFM at 90 psi: 5.3 CFM
- Volume: 20 gallons
- Mobile hand-truck-style construction for ease of maneuvering
- Excellent capability at 5.3 CFM at 90 psi
- Large 20-gallon air tank for long runtimes
- Automated tank drain valve and Easy Start system
- Requires larger storage space than comparable options
- Not suitable for transportation to job sites
Get the California Air Tools 2010A quiet air compressor at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Air Compressors Direct.
No need to wait for a big air compressor to fill its tank just to pump up a tire. The DeWalt 20V MAX inflator offers a quick and easy solution that fits conveniently into the trunk of a car or behind the seat of a truck. It can be powered with a household 110 AC outlet, 12-volt DC automobile outlet, or a DeWalt 20V MAX rechargeable battery (battery, charger, and AC adapter are sold separately).
The threaded chuck establishes a secure connection to eliminate air leaks around the valve. Features include a high-pressure rubber hose for tires and balls, a high-volume hose for inflating air mattresses and pool toys, a digital pressure gauge with automatic shutoff, an LED light, and heavy-duty rubber feet.
- Decibels: 92dB
- Airflow: Adjustable: 3 to 160 psi; CFM N/A
- Volume: Tankless
- Compact and lightweight construction is ideal for transporting or storing
- Useful for tires, balls, air mattresses, pool toys, and more
- Digital pressure gauge with auto shutoff for convenience and ease of use
- Battery, charger, and AC adapter sold separately
- Consumes battery life quickly; may require more maintenance than comparable options
- No pressure gauge for high-volume mode
Get the DeWalt 20V MAX quiet air compressor at Amazon, Ace Hardware or The Home Depot.
When quiet air power is needed for high-demand projects on the go, the California Air Tools 4620AC is up to the task. It offers twin aluminum air tanks for a 4.6-gallon volume with an oil-free 2-hp motor that produces 125-psi maximum pressure.
The 5.3-CFM capacity at 90 psi will keep one or two air tools working steadily with less downtime than a compact compressor. The quiet 70dB working noise level makes indoor or outdoor projects more pleasant. At 64 pounds, this quiet air compressor is easy to carry thanks to a low-profile twin-stack configuration and top carry handle.
- Decibels: 70 dB
- CFM at 90 psi: 5.3 CFM
- Volume: 4.6 gallons
- Portable twin-stack configuration for ease of maneuvering
- Powerful 5.3-CFM capacity at 90 psi for effective performance
- Rust-free aluminum tanks are highly durable for long-term use
- No wheels integrated into the design
- Heavier than a compact air compressor
Get the California Air Tools 4620AC quiet air compressor at Amazon or Air Compressors Direct.
Airbrush artists looking for a compressor that provides steady, low-volume airflow for painting crisp details may want to consider the Master Airbrush Model TC-77. This whisper-quiet air compressor operates at just 47dB, which is ideal for use in indoor workstations.
The ⅛-hp motor delivers 0.6 CFM of airflow, with precision air pressure regulation from 0 to 57 psi. A small 0.08-gallon onboard air tank smooths airflow to eliminate all pulsation for outstanding detail. The compressor housing features a built-in airbrush holder and carry handle. The kit also includes a 6-foot braided air hose with an inline moisture filter.
- Decibels: 47dB
- CFM: 0.6 CFM (0 to 57 psi)
- Volume: 0.08 gallon
- 0.08-gallon onboard air tank to eliminate pulsation
- 0.6 CFM with adjustable airflow 0 to 57 psi
- Includes 6-foot air hose with inline moisture filter
- Quietest air compressor on the list for convenience; can be used at night
- Small pressure gauge may be difficult to read
- Vibration may cause the unit to “walk” slightly when in use
Get the Master Airbrush quiet air compressor at Amazon, U.S. Art Supply, or Walmart.
With its 10-gallon capacity and thoughtful design, the Harbor Freight 175-psi air compressor strikes a balance between portability and performance. It features large flat-free tires and a sturdy handle, making it easy to move around your workshop or roll out onto the driveway. However, weighing in at 83.3 pounds, it may pose a challenge for some users when it comes to lifting and transportation.
This Harbor Freight air compressor delivers a powerful and steady—yet quiet—airflow rate of 4.3 CFM at 90 psi, suitable for a range of light- to medium-duty pneumatic tools, making it one of the most versatile compressors on the lineup. However, for heavy-duty applications like paint sprayers and framing nailers that demand high airflow, the Fortress may not be able to keep up with continuous usage.
What our Tester Says: Bob Vila writer and product tester Glenda Taylor says about this air compressor: “While there’s a lot to like about this air compressor, my favorite feature is its quiet operation. As someone who’s worked around loud air compressors that have startled me every time they cycled on—once making me fall off a step ladder—I was thrilled with the soft operating sound of the Fortress.”
Read our full review of the Harbor Freight Fortress 10-gallon air compressor
- Decibels: 69dB
- CFM at 90 psi: 4.3 CFM
- Volume: 10 gallons
- Remarkably quiet during operation, surpassing traditional air compressors in noise reduction
- Ability to adjust pressure for optimal performance with various pneumatic tools
- Convenient handle and never-flat tires enable easy maneuverability and portability
- Relatively heavy at 83 pounds, which may limit its overall portability
- While not a quick-recovery compressor, it adequately meets most pneumatic needs
- Requires a separate purchase of an air hose, as one is not included
Get the Harbor Freight quiet air compressor at Amazon or Harbor Freight.
Another great portable quiet air compressor, the DeWalt DWFP55130 air compressor is built for high-volume nailing and quick recovery. It features a high-efficiency oil-free 1.1-hp motor, 2.5-gallon air tank, and 200-psi maximum.
The 3-CFM capacity at 90 psi is plenty of air power to keep a nailer working with minimal downtime. The low 71.5dB rating makes this a good choice for indoor or outdoor work. Weighing in at just 36 pounds and boasting a compact roll-cage design, this unit is easy to carry and well protected against drops and collisions.
- Decibels: 71.5dB
- CFM at 90 psi: 3.0 CFM
- Volume: 2.5 gallons
- Compact and lightweight construction is easy to move around and store
- High maximum pressure and airflow capacity for ease of use and effectiveness
- Larger air tank than other picks on this list
- Not as quiet as other picks available
Get the DeWalt DWFP55130 quiet air compressor at Amazon or The Home Depot.
What to Consider When Choosing a Quiet Air Compressor
There are many factors to consider when deciding on an air compressor. To get the greatest return on your investment, think about the ways you might use it and match the type of air compressor and its various specifications to those tasks.
There are five main types of compressors: inflator, pancake, hot dog, twin stack, and single stack.
- Inflators are small, lightweight, and tankless. They are usually stored in a vehicle for inflating tires and toys.
- Pancake compressors have a 1- to 6-gallon tank, are maintenance-free, are good for inflating tires, and have limited use with small air tools.
- Hot-dogcompressors have a 6- to 10-gallon tank, are maintenance-free, and are good for operating small air tools.
- Twin-stackcompressors have dual air tanks, are low maintenance, and are good for powering finish and trim tools.
- Single-stagecompressors have a 10- to 20-gallon-and-larger tank with a vertical construction. They are available as wheeled and stationary configurations and have heavy-duty components for higher usage: framing, woodworking, and automotive use.
Most air compressor noise ratings range from 40 to 92dB, but the best silent air compressor ratings are near 60dB. To provide some context, 30dB is equivalent to a whisper, 60dB is the level of normal conversation, and a lawn-mower engine is usually about 90dB.
Entry-level single-piston compressor pumps are typically loud, whereas similarly designed units made with higher-quality materials create less noise. The noise level, caused by friction in the motor, is affected by the pump design and the material of the components.
Double-piston, or duplex, pumps are more efficient and even less noisy because they move less to create the same amount of compressed air. Other noise-reducing solutions to watch for include cast-iron pistons, low revolutions per minute, and ASME-certified air tanks.
An air compressor’s working ability is shown by three key measurements: horsepower, air pressure that’s shown in pounds per square inch, and airflow capacity that’s shown in cubic feet per minute.
The horsepower rating shows both the motor’s strength and the unit’s overall efficiency. With higher-quality materials, better design, and tighter construction tolerances, it is possible to gain more overall capability while horsepower stays the same. The engine power is used to pump air into the tank. Most consumer-grade quiet air compressors fall in the 1.5- to 2.0-hp range because more powerful electric motors cannot use a standard household wall outlet.
To work properly, most air tools require 90 psi. Required airflow capacity ranges from about 2.2 to 5.5 CFM, depending on the tool. If multiple tools will be used simultaneously, total the CFM requirements of all tools to determine the CFM rating that the air compressor needs to perform all of the tasks.
Number and Size of Tanks
Quiet air compressors come with one or two air tanks ranging from less than 1 gallon to more than 20 gallons in size. Twin-stack air compressors incorporate two smaller air tanks rather than one larger tank as a space-saving way to increase available air volume.
As compressed air is released from the tank to operate tools, the pressure inside the tank gradually decreases. The drop in pressure triggers the pump to draw in more air. This is called recovery.
Although larger air volume means a longer fill time, more air means you can operate tools for longer intervals without triggering the pump to refill the tank. This is especially important when working with high-demand air tools like paint sprayers, sanders, and grinders, or when it’s not feasible to wait for the pressure to recover.
Power Source and Portability
Some large commercial-grade air compressors use diesel fuel, gasoline, or hardwired electrical service as a power source. For example, the largest-capacity compressors can require hardwiring on a heavy-duty circuit. Small, portable inflators may be powered by batteries or automobile outlet adapters. Battery-powered compressors offer limited capability for light-duty work.
However, quiet air compressors and most of the quiet air compressors used by construction professionals and DIYers, including the models in our roundup of Top Picks, are powered by readily available 110-volt electrical service. A standard household outlet or a portable generator supplies the needed current. For best results, manufacturers recommend using a heavy-duty extension cord.
Along with the power source, the compressor’s configuration affects its portability. Vertical hand-truck-style construction works well for space-saving applications, such as garage use, while facilitating movement around the flat, smooth floor. Compact portable units for outdoor and off-road work may be built with a top handle and no wheels, making them easier to hand carry, or in a horizontal configuration with one or two wheels for wheelbarrowlike transportation.
Oil-Lubricated vs. Oil-Free Pump
In order to protect the air pump’s internal moving parts from damaging effects of friction and heat, engineers use either of two methods.
Oiled lubricated compressors incorporate a system of rotating dippers to splash oil from a reservoir onto the moving parts. They are mostly large stationary machines used for all-day-long daily professional applications. They operate at higher revolutions per minute to deliver higher CFM and psi to meet the demands of constant tool use.
Oil-free air compressors are mostly small, lightweight, and portable units for on-demand use by DIYers, contractors, and building professionals. They are typically used to power one or two tools at a time. They are quieter, more efficient, and work well in colder temperatures. Oil-free compressors use a permanent wear-resistant chemical coating that is designed to last the life of the pump.
Brand and Warranty
After matching needs with a list of compatible quiet air compressors, be sure to check out the fine print before buying. Another important bit of information to consider is the reputation of the brand and how it backs its products. A 1-year factory parts-and-labor warranty is common within the industry, with issues handled directly by the manufacturer.
Quiet air-compressor warranties cover manufacturer defects but do not cover issues related to normal use, wear and tear, alterations, abuse, and the like. Particularly in the case of oiled air compressors, keeping up with scheduled preventive maintenance protects the equipment and the integrity of the warranty.
After reading up on the recommended shopping considerations and checking out our reviews of some of the best quiet air compressors, a few questions may linger. Ahead we have answered some of the most common questions shoppers ask about quiet air compressors.
Q. Which air compressor is the quietest?
Most quiet air compressors available to consumers are high-efficiency dual-piston pump types. They are engineered to exacting tolerances and operate at lower revolutions per minute to pressurize more air with less movement, which makes them quieter overall. Typically 60dB is considered among the quietest, and there are several options including the California Air Tools 8010 quiet air compressor.
Q. How do I make my air compressor quieter?
Most of the noise associated with air compressors is associated with the intake. For those who want to know how to make an air compressor quiet, simply install an air compressor intake silencer.
Q. How many dB is a quiet air compressor?
Overall air compressor dB ratings range from as low as 40dB for some small, specialized types to more than 90 dB. Quiet air compressors operate in the 70 to 80dB range, while ultraquiet air compressors operate at 60dB.
Q. What is an air compressor muffler?
An air compressor muffler, or silencer, is a noise filter that can be installed on the air intake to reduce noise.
Q. Is there a quiet 20-gallon air compressor?
Yes. Our “Best for Home Garage” pick, the 20-gallon California Air Tools 20020A quiet air compressor operates at 70dB.
Q. What tank capacity do I need for air tools?
Don’t be confused by tank size. Some tools work with less than 2.5 CFM, but others need as much as 5.5 CFM to function properly, regardless of tank size. Air tools are powered by airflow (CFM) at 90 psi, so start by looking for and comparing that spec.
Air tools that utilize quick bursts of air, like nailers, function just fine on smaller tanks, especially if the tank holds higher pressure (higher air pressure equals more air). After ensuring adequate CFM airflow for your tools, a larger tank simply provides more runtime before recovery. All that being said, a good starting point for low-demand air tools would be 2 gallons. For high-demand tools, 8 to 10 gallons would be better.
Q. How can I make my air compressor quieter?
Install a muffler, or silencer, to quiet a loud air compressor.
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