Best 30 Gallon Air Compressors

image of red twin cylinder single stage compressorThe 30-gallon air compressor is the perfect size for most small shops. It offers sufficient airflow to run almost all air tools, with enough reserve that more than one mechanic can operate at a time.

These compressors are less portable than the smaller 20-gallon air compressor but are easier to install than the large, 60-gallon air compressors that are ideal for automotive painting and commercial cabinet shops.

You have some decisions ahead of you. In addition to the basics such as PSI and airflow, you will want to decide between oil-filled versus oil-free, output ability, and the electrical specifications.

Below, you will find our air compressor reviews and what Zachary Drumm thinks is the best 30-Gallon air compressor, as well as multiple alternatives for getting the tool that is right for your job.

ELECTRIC Compressors (30-Gal)

Campbell Hausfeld VT6258

product image of Campbell Hausfeld VT6258
SpecificationsRating
Max PSI135
CFM @ 90 PSI10
Horsepower3.7
Lubrication TypeOiled
Warranty1 Year Limited Warranty
Campbell Hausfeld offers a couple of options when it comes to 30 gallon compressors. They provide more flexibility by providing either a horizontal compressor or a vertical compressor with the same specifications. The tanks on these are ASME certified. The horizontal compressor is extremely attractive. It’s a low profile design, means that it slips right underneath your workbench. It’s one of the largest horizontal tanks that we have been able to find. However, either of these models offers an extreme amount of air supply that helps secure their spot as the best air compressor. The maximum PSI on these units is a little lower than the competition. At only 135 psi it has more than enough pressure to power any air tool on the market. However, by giving up that last 20 PSI that most of the competing models offer (most others offer 155 PSI), this one can deliver a much higher CFM — or air flow. image of man in autobody shopping working with orbital sander Both of these compressors are capable of producing 10 CFM at 90 psi. This higher CFM is almost enough airflow to run an automotive spray paint gun and plenty of air for running a cut-off grinder or sandblaster. It’s rare to find a compressor this size that can produce double-digit CFM values. This one comes equipped with a 120 Volt cord, but if you are using it heavily, go ahead and convert it to the 240 Volt wiring to assure you the most extended motor life. This dual voltage compatibility is convenient and makes it an extremely versatile tool that can expand with your needs. At 3.7 hp, it is a bigger motor than most compressors on the list. This one fills a viable gap between the smaller 2-hp motors and the commercial-level 5-horsepower models. Thanks to the oil bath lubrication system, the Campbell Hausfeld is designed for heavy-duty use. They state that it should last for 5000 hours of use — twice that projected for most oil-free models! A handy air pressure regulator and conveniently located pressure gauges provide at-a-glance control of the compressor’s output.

Industrial Air ILA188354 Compressor

product image of Industrial Air ILA188354
SpecificationsRating
Max PSI155
CFM @ 90 PSI5.7
Horsepower1
Lubrication TypeOiled
Warranty2 Year Limited Warranty

This Industrial Air compressor is high on our list. They’re offering a 30-gallon air compressor with a cast iron compressor head. If you’ve read our article on how air compressors work, you are keenly aware that these things build up heat like none other.

Heat is the ultimate destroyer of air compressors, and a cast-iron head helps the compressor disseminate the heat efficiently for a longer lifespan. Belt drive helps keep the sound down while providing ample cooling power and longevity to the pump head.

Further helping to cool the compressor is the belt driven pulley that moves air across the fin of the cast iron head.

As you would expect with a compressor of this caliber, this model is oil lubricated. The oil lubrication further helps extend the life of the compressor.

The twin cylinder pump is another nice feature. It helps maintain a higher 5.7 CFM at 90 PSI and ensures that you can rebuild pressure rapidly even when working. There is an easy oil level gauge for checking your levels.

The tank fills in about five minutes, thanks to this dual cylinder design. It’s a little heavy to move around, but the large pneumatic tires and the convenient handle makes it one of the more portable air compressors on this list.

The motor comes wired for a 20 amp 120 Volt circuit but can be adapted to a 240 Volt circuit for scenarios where high volumes of air are needed.

Finally, this compressor is rated with a 100% duty cycle; this means it can run virtually nonstop.

Overall, this ILA offers incredible value and versatility. You could load it up into your pickup truck, unload it at a job site, and run a crew of roofers off of it.

Or you can plug it into your shop, and keep your guys employed day after day.

Two-year limited warranty. 155 psi max pressure. 5.7 CFM at 90 psi includes synthetic oil

Porter Cable PXCMLC1683066

product image of Porter Cable PXCMLC1683066
SpecificationsRating
Max PSI135
CFM @ 90 PSI5.3
Horsepower1.6
Lubrication TypeOiled
Warranty3 Year Limited Warranty

What list would be complete without including a Porter cable on it?

I never end up placing Porter cable higher on my lists, which isn’t entirely fair to them: many of my friends have launched their companies with nothing but a Porter cable compressor and a few used pawn-shop tools.

When it comes to getting a great value, this company consistently delivers.

This model is an oiled unit. That means you can enjoy that longer lifespan that comes from the constant oil bath which keeps all of the moving parts bathed in oil. As with the ILA above, it also uses a dual cylinder piston design, which allows it to build air pressure more rapidly.

The induction motor is going to run more quietly and comes wired for either a 120 Volt outlet or 240 Volt use.

You will need to wire a plug onto the end of it before you connect it to the wall outlet.

With 135 psi, this one is a strong contender on the list. It also delivers 5.3 CFM at 90 psi. Backed by a one-year limited warranty, this might be the unit that your shop needs, especially if finances are a concern.

DeWalt DXCMLA1983012

product image of Ingersoll-Rand SS3F2-GM
SpecificationsRating
Max PSI135
CFM @ 90 PSI5.7
Horsepower2
Lubrication TypeOiled
Warranty1 year from date of purchase (requires sales receipt)

The DeWalt fills a critical need in the 30-gallon niche. It is only a single stage compressor, but it delivers 155 psi with a 6 CFM at 90 psi.

These specifications are still lower than what you would want for an automotive paint shop but ample for running HPLV spray equipment in your garage.

The 120 Volt plug makes it easy to connect to any outlet, and the massive air tank guarantees that your impact wrench will have ample airflow.

The automatic thermal overload is a nice feature to help protect the motor against power surges or overuse.

Once again, this is an oil free model. Oil-free pumps are a good choice for the home garage, and for the shop that can give the compressor plenty of breaks. However, they don’t offer the same longevity as a lubed design.

With a one year warranty, this compressor provides all of the basic features you could hope for in a 30-gallon model but lacks the design for heavy shop use.

DeWalt DXCMLA1983012

product image of Ingersoll-Rand DeWalt DXCMLA1983012
SpecificationsRating
Max PSI155
CFM @ 90 PSI6
Horsepower1.9
Lubrication TypeOil-Free
Warranty2-Year Pump 1-Year All Other Parts

The DeWalt fills a critical need in the 30-gallon niche. It is only a single stage compressor, but it delivers 155 psi with a 6 CFM at 90 psi.

These specifications are still lower than what you would want for an automotive paint shop but ample for running HPLV spray equipment in your garage.

The 120 Volt plug makes it easy to connect to any outlet, and the massive air tank guarantees that your impact wrench will have ample airflow.

The automatic thermal overload is a nice feature to help protect the motor against power surges or overuse.

Once again, this is an oil free model. Oil-free pumps are a good choice for the home garage, and for the shop that can give the compressor plenty of breaks. However, they don’t offer the same longevity as a lubed design.

With a one year warranty, this compressor provides all of the basic features you could hope for in a 30-gallon model but lacks the design for heavy shop use.

Husky C303H

product image of Husky C303H
SpecificationsRating
Max PSI175
CFM @ 90 PSI5.1
Horsepower1.7
Lubrication TypeOil-Free
Warranty2-Year Limited Warranty

Here is another massive compressor in a small form factor. As a dual stage compressor, this one is also capable of reaching 175 psi.

However, it only requires 120 Volt electricity supply. The 30 gallon tank inflates to it a full 175 psi in about 10 minutes. (If you don’t need that much pressure, it can inflate much faster)The 5.1 CFM provides ample flow for pretty much any HP LV scenario, including running an HP LV spray painting gun. It also is not that mild, with a decibel rating just under eighty.

The oil-free design will make this one a favorite among shops that don’t expect to use it daily. Since oil-free compressors have design limitations that reduce their lifespan, this compressor is ideal for the home mechanic who has lower daily requirements.

GASOLINE Compressors (30-Gal)

Dewalt DXCMH1393075

product image of Dewalt DXCMH1393075
SpecificationsRating
Max PSI175
CFM @ 90 PSI24
Horsepower11.7
Lubrication TypeOil-Free
Warranty 2 year pump, 1 year all other parts warranty

This DeWalt is always difficult to figure out as to where it goes on the list. Most of you are shopping for a compressor that you can use in your garage. This one is designed to use without electricity. There are a few excellent selling points about this model.

The first one is the Honda gasoline engine. It starts reliably and is excellent for a work truck or farm truck that frequently provides air pressure to remote job sites. For ease of use, you can be connected to a battery and enjoyed as an electric start.

The compressor over-delivers as well.

As a two-stage system, it is able to provide a higher PSI of 175. It also delivers better CFM with a 24 CFM at 100 psi. That is enough pressure to spray paint a vehicle a or run a sandblaster!

As you know, the dual stage compressors run hotter than most. This one uses a unique fan, integrated into the pulley, that provides built-in cooling and extends the life of the compressor.

demonstration of Dewalt DXCMH1393075 in back of truck

Of course, everything is oil lubricated. If you need the best compressor for a tire service truck, or to work on vehicles that are stranded far away from civilization, this is an excellent choice. However, for most of my readers, it is overkill.

Northstar 30 Gallon

product image of Northstar Gasoline-Powered
SpecificationsRating
Max PSI175
CFM @ 90 PSI24.4
Horsepower11.7
Lubrication TypeOil-Free
Warranty 4 Yr Consumer/2 Yr Commercial

I am continually impressed by the quality that goes into these gasoline-powered compressors. This one comes with a 12 hp Honda Motor. It is an electric start and comes with a 3-amp charging system to keep a small battery topped off.

With this rig, you will have 175 psi of maximum pressure, thanks to the two-stage compressor. The compressor itself has bearings on each end of the crank arm, to help extend the life of the entire unit is bathed in oil bath system.

Cast-iron cooling fins help spread the heat and extend your compressor’s life.

With 24.4 CFM at 90 psi of output, this compressor can rise to each. Roofers install it on the back of their truck and to enjoy a ready air supply for their crews.

Tire service trucks, find this one to be more than powerful enough to air up semi truck tires or run pneumatic equipment. Heavy equipment operators love the ability to do repairs and in remote places that civilization has not yet reached.

There are several great options when it comes to a gas powered compressor. However, with the larger Honda engine, and a two-year commercial warranty, this Northstar leads the way.

Ingersoll Rand IRTC2475F13GH

product image of IRTC2475F13GH
SpecificationsRating
Max PSI175
CFM @ 175 PSI25
Horsepower11
Lubrication TypeOil-Free
Warranty Two Year Limited Warranty (IR Lube Required)

The only bad thing I have to say about Ingersoll-Rand is that they have not figured out how to effectively advertise online.

This little gem brings a lot of commercial-level power to the bed of your pickup. With a dual stage, cast iron compressor, this compressor delivers 175 psi of operating pressure. It also matches most of the competition with 24 CFM airflow.

The 13 hp Honda Motor, helps provide peace of mind that your team can’t overload this setup.

And, if you use Ingersoll-Rand’s synthetic compressor oil, they provide a two year extended warranty. With a hundred percent continuous duty application and an expected lifespan of 15,000 hours, this compressor is going to work harder than any employee you hire.

IHA 9093080.ES

product image of IHA 9093080.ES
SpecificationsRating
Max PSI155
CFM @ 90 PSI18
Horsepower9
Lubrication TypeOil-Free
Warranty Two Year Limited Warranty

Honestly, the first two compressors on our list were a little bit overkill. This compressor from Industrial Air finds a middle ground that your bank account is bound to love. The 9 hp Honda engine, provides ample power for the three-cylinder compressor pump. As with the other models, this one uses a cast-iron head, and a pulley-driven fan blade to help cool the entire system.

What is different about this system is that it does not use the two-stage design. This means that it runs at a lower PSI (About 155 PSI). However, it does enjoy better air production, reducing the amount of time you have to wait for the tank to fill.

With 18 CFM, it’s more than enough power to run multiple mailing guns or a couple of impact wrenches. This one is an excellent choice to mount in the back of your truck, for all-day power.

product demonstration of unit mounted in service truck

Mechanic Tightening Nuts On Tire With Impact Wrench

Buying Guide: Which air compressor should you choose?

There are a lot of confusing options above. Hopefully we helped provide some clarity. IF you want to know WHY we chose our favorites, check out some of these specifications and how they influence your decision on the correct tool. 

Things to consider before purchasing your compressor

Airflow

The most important consideration is how much airpower you need. Our handy guide helps you get an idea of how much PSI and CFM are required for the most common pneumatic tools.

What is CFM?

CFM refers to “cubic feet per minute.” This amounts to the airflow a compressor can provide. Jobs such as painting a car, require high CFM loads in the range of 14. A nail gun, on the other hand, will only require about two CFM.

What is PSI?

PSI refers to “pounds per square inch.” This is the amount of force that a compressor can create. Most compressors can easily deliver 90 psi or more, which is the maximum pneumatic tools generally require (except for unique use cases).

Does horsepower matter?

One of the things you will notice is that many of the brands attempt to post the highest possible horsepower rating. Horsepower is only as useful as the airflow it can produce. In other words, horsepower can mostly be ignored except as it pertains to the CFM and PSI levels of the unit.

If more than one person is using those tools simultaneously, you need to multiply the airflow requirements by the number of tools in use at the same time.

Power

Most of the motors on our list are capable of operating at 120 V and 20 amps. However, you get the best performance out of many of these units by connecting them to a 240 V circuit.

Speak to an electrician, or check your power box to ensure that you will have an adequate supply for either scenario.

Daily Use

A surprising number of these units are designed as oil-free models. Oil-free compressors do not offer the same lifespan and are not the best choice for users who plan to use the compressor on a daily basis.

However, these oil-free models can offer immense savings for the Hobbyist.

Warranty

There is nothing more maddening than to invest in a brand that you know love and trust, only to have it fail. Warranties restore our trust in a company.

Double check that the warranty of the item you are seeking to buy. They often have limitations that shorten the warranty if the tool is used for commercial purposes.

Cooling

All of these compressors run hot. Make sure that you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines in providing space around them for the air to flow. At a minimum, these compressors will require a foot of space all around them, and possibly more if they are shut into a closet. Most of these models will need to operate in a large, open room.

Noise

Most of the electric compressors on this list run about 80 dB. By comparison, a human conversation occurs at around 60 to 70 dB. If you foresee this compressor being used heavily, noise might be an important consideration.

Two-stage vs. single stage air compressor

A single stage air compressor can only deliver about 150 psi. To reach a higher pressure point, the air has to be fed into a second cylinder, that amplifies the pressure to a higher point. For most power needs, a single stage compressor will be more than adequate. You can check the ratings on your power tools, but most pneumatic tools rarely need more than 90 psi. Many of the compressors on our list are a single stage compressor but offer more than one cylinder. This dual cylinder, single stage design allows it to deliver more airflow and shortens the amount of time needed to air up the tank.

Gas Powered VS. Electric Powered Air Compressors

Power

One of the frustrating things about air compressors is how much energy they require to create significant pressure. As you go up in size, compressors commonly require 240V of electricity in order to produce more air pressure. A gasoline-powered air compressor does not have nearly as many limitations. This is why you commonly see them produce over 20 CFM and 175 psi. Those numbers would be impossible to reach with a 120 voltage motor compressor.

Price

Because you are paying for a gasoline engine in addition to the compressor, the costs go up significantly with a gasoline-powered model.

Portability

Gasoline powered compressors offer the ultimate in portability. You can take them anywhere your truck can go. This makes them ideal for use in remote areas where electricity is not available. However, you do sometimes see them used by roofing and construction crews, who get tired of Fighting with the limited air power afforded by electrical units.

Vertical versus horizontal tank compressor

Generally, the tank shape does not affect how a compressor performs. Vertical compressors are excellent for shops that can provide dedicated wall space to the unit. Horizontal compressors can fit underneath a workbench, and allow you to maximize your space further.

What Size Generator To Run A 30 Gallon Air Compressor

product image durostar 4000

Ok, so you want a compressor that is electric-powered since you will normally have access to ample electrical supply. But, you also need a backup plan.

A gas generator gives you the flexibility to provide that power whenever you need it. The smallest generator that will run these compressors is going to need about 2400 watts (120 volts x 20 amps).

If I was shopping for a generator, I would probably look at this contractor-grade DS4000S

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