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 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 Pancake Air Compressor
- BEST LARGE-CAPACITY: Emax Industrial 7.5 HP 80 Gal. Silent Air Compressor
- BEST COMPACT: Makita MAC210Q Quiet Series Air Compressor
- BEST PORTABLE: California Air Tools 2.0 Gal. 1.0 HP Ultra Quiet
- BEST FOR HOME GARAGE: California Air Tools Ultra Quiet Air Compressor
- BEST FOR TIRES: DeWalt 20V MAX Inflator
- BEST FOR AIR TOOLS: California Air Tools CAT-4620AC Compressor
- BEST FOR AIRBRUSH: Master Airbrush Model TC-77 Compressor
- ALSO CONSIDER: DeWalt Air Compressor for Trim
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 dog compressors have a 6- to 10-gallon tank, are maintenance-free, and are good for operating small air tools.
- Twin stack compressors have dual air tanks, are low maintenance, and are good for powering finish and trim tools.
- Single stage compressors 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 92 decibels (dB), but the best silent air compressor ratings are near 60 dB. To provide some context, 30 dB is equivalent to a whisper, 60 dB is the level of normal conversation, and a lawn mower engine is usually about 90 dB.
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 rpms, and ASME-certified air tanks.
An air compressor’s working ability is shown by three key measurements: horsepower (hp), air pressure that’s shown in pounds per square inch (psi), and airflow capacity that’s shown in cubic feet per minute (cfm).
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 a user 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 wheelbarrow-like 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 rpms 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.
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 ultra-quiet air compressor that takes on common projects like nailing, air brushing, blow cleaning, and inflating without disrupting the neighborhood. With its 8-gallon air tank, 1-hp motor, and oil-free dual-piston air pump, it produces a steady flow of 2.2 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 dB
- CFM at 90 psi: 2.2 cfm
- Volume: 8 gallons
- Only 60 dB, equivalent to a conversation
- 8-gallon air tank for longer runtime
- Large wheels for easy transport
- Good airflow capacity for small projects
- Bulky body style
- Limited airflow capacity
Get the California Air Tools 8010 air compressor on Amazon.
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 78.2 dB, 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: 78.2 dB
- CFM at 90 psi: 2.6 cfm
- Volume: 6 gallons
- Compact design is easy to carry and store
- 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
- Louder than others on our list
Get the DeWalt pancake air compressor on Amazon or at 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 28 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 ODP electric motors, magnetic starters, manual ball valve tank drains, powder-coated 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: 28 cfm
- Volume: 80 gallons
- Massive capacity: 28 cfm at 90 psi
- 80-gallon storage tank
- 30 percent quieter than the competition
- Commercial quality
- Large and expensive
- Requires a unique electrical circuit
Get the Emax Industrial silent air compressor at Tractor Supply Co.
The compact MAC210Q is easy to pack in the truck, carry around the work site, and store in the garage. It is our choice for the best ultra-quiet 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 60 dB, 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: 60 dB
- CFM at 90 psi: 2.6 cfm
- Volume: 2 gallons
- Lightweight and easy to carry
- 2.6 cfm at 90 psi
- Roll cage design protects against drops and collisions
- Efficient 1-hp motor and dual-piston pump
- Lower tank capacity
- No wheels
Get the Makita Quiet Series air compressor on Amazon or at The Home Depot.
California Air Tools takes our best quiet portable air compressor spot with its super lightweight, ultra-quiet model 2010A. The high-efficiency oil-free 1-hp pump operates at 60 dB, 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 air brushing, brad nailing, stapling, and inflating.
- Decibels: 60 dB
- CFM at 90 psi: 2.2 cfm
- Volume: 2 gallons
- Very lightweight at just over 35 pounds
- Rust-free aluminum tank
- Good working capacity for light-duty tasks
- 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 air compressor at The Home Depot or Lowe’s.
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 Ultra Quiet 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 70-dB 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: 70 dB
- CFM at 90 psi: 5.3 cfm
- Volume: 20 gallons
- Mobile hand-truck-style construction
- Excellent capability: 5.3 cfm at 90 psi
- Large 20-gallon air tank
- Automated tank drain valve and Easy Start system
- Requires larger storage space
- Not suitable for transportation
Get the California Air Tools ultra quiet air compressor on Amazon, at The Home Depot, or on 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: 80 dB
- Airflow: Adjustable: 3 to 160 psi, 15.2 to 0.5 cfm
- Volume: Tankless
- Compact and lightweight
- Useful for tires, balls, air mattresses, pool toys
- Digital pressure gauge with auto shutoff
- Battery, charger, and AC adapter sold separately
- Consumes battery life quickly
- No pressure gauge for high-volume mode
Get the DeWalt 20V MAX Inflator at The Home Depot or Ace Hardware.
When quiet air power is needed for high-demand projects on the go, the CAT-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 70-dB 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
- Powerful 5.3-cfm capacity at 90 psi
- Rust-free aluminum tanks
- No wheels
- Heavier than a compact air compressor
Get the California Air Tools CAT-4620AC compressor on 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 47 dB, 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: 47 dB
- 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
- Small pressure gauge may be difficult to read
- Vibration may cause the unit to “walk”
Get the Master Airbrush compressor on Amazon, on U.S. Art Supply, or at Walmart.
Another great portable quiet air compressor, the DeWalt Air Compressor for Trim 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 71.5-dB 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: 71.5 dB
- CFM at 90 psi: 3.0 cfm
- Volume: 2.5 gallons
- Compact and lightweight
- High maximum pressure and airflow capacity
- Larger air tank than other picks
- Not as quiet as other picks
Get the DeWalt air compressor for trim on Amazon or at The Home Depot.
When it comes to quiet air compressors, most casual users find them helpful for assorted light-duty tasks at home like inflating tires, nailing, and air-cleaning electronics. For these typical jobs around the house, the California Air Tools 8010 Air Compressor is a great solution. For those who need those capabilities in a more durable, compact, and portable package, DeWalt’s Pancake Air Compressor is an affordable and effective option.
How We Chose the Best Quiet Air Compressors
We researched dozens of online retailers for the best quiet air compressors available, 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: maximum pressure 120 psi (or higher), and 2.0 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.
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 rpms to pressurize more air with less movement, which makes them quieter overall. Typically 60 dB is considered among the quietest, and there are several options including the California Air Tools 8010 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 40 dB for some small, specialized types to more than 90 dB. Quiet air compressors operate in the 70- to 80-dB range, while ultra-quiet air compressors operate at 60 dB.
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 Ultra Quiet Air Compressor operates at 70 dB.
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.